Palatable Flavoured Fluids without Carbohydrates and Electrolytes Do Not Enhance Voluntary Fluid Consumption in Male Collegiate Basketball Players in the Heat
Abstract: Using palatable fluids to enhance drinking in athletes who display insufficient compensatory hydration behaviour may mitigate the risks of hypohydration and performance deficits. However, it is unclear whether flavour can independently enhance fluid consumption. This study examined the effects of a colourless, artificially sweetened flavoured water (FW), without carbohydrates and with negligible amounts of sodium, compared to plain water (W) on fluid consumption in male collegiate basketball players in a practical game setting. Eighteen male basketball players (age 23.1 ± 1.3 years) played a 3v3 basketball small-sided game. The players were randomly assigned to consume either FW or W. Pre-game urine-specific gravity, fluid consumption, body mass, and hedonic taste perceptions were assessed. Basketball performance was analysed through notational analysis. Ratings of perceived exertion and thirst were recorded at pre-, post-game, and at each rest period. Heart rate was recorded throughout the gameplay. Despite significantly higher hedonic ratings for FW than W (6.78 ± 0.83 vs. 5.56 ± 1.33, p = 0.033, d = 1.36), there were no significant differences in fluid consumption (1083 ± 32 mL vs. 1421 ± 403 mL, p = 0.068, d = 0.92). Our result highlighted that using palatable fluids as a strategy to increase fluid consumption during high-intensity gameplay in the heat may not be effective if used without carbohydrates and electrolytes. Practitioners could consider both fluid palatability and composition in establishing a hydration plan for athletes.