Impact of carbohydrate ingestion on cognitive flexibility and cerebral oxygenation during high-intensity intermittent exercise: A comparison between maple products and usual carbohydrate solutions


Background: The aim of this study was to compare the effects of carbohydrate (CHO) drinks (6% per volume) sweetened with maple (syrup or sap) to a commercial sports drink, glucose, and a control solution (water) on cognitive flexibility during high-intensity intermittent exercise. Methods: Eighty-five active men completed six 3-min bouts at 95% of their maximal aerobic power on a stationary bike, with 3 min of passive rest between efforts. Subjects were randomly allocated to an ingestion condition. Following each exercise bout, subjects ingested 166 mL of the experimental solution, drinking a total of 1 L of the same solution throughout the experimentation. Cognitive flexibility was measured using reaction time and accuracy on the Stroop task. The cognitive task was performed a total of 10 times, including 15 and 30 min post-exercise. Glycemia and cerebral oxygenation were also measured at each time point. Statistical analyses were performed using a two-way ANOVA (Condition × Time) with repeated measures. Results: The ingestion of maple products and the commercial sports drink led to a lesser increase in glycemia than glucose ingestion. CHO ingestion, when compared to water, induced a slight reduction in reaction times on the cognitive task, especially in the switching trials. CHO ingestion had no impact on cerebral oxygenation. Conclusions: This study shows that CHO ingestion, regardless of its type, tends to improve cognitive performance throughout exercise, especially during difficult cognitive tasks.