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Interesting piece in Time about a new study done by researchers at the University of Birmingham and Manchester Metropolitan University suggesting that energy drinks work because they affect the brain, not the muscles.

According to the story, the researchers found that most people believe that energy drinks boost cell and muscle performance, in fact they “activate reward and pleasure regions in the brain, a boost that can translate to better performance - and one that does not occur with other artificially sweetened beverages. In the study, volunteers who got sugary energy drinks were able to complete a physical-training session 2% faster than those who got artificially sweetened drinks, and improved their mean power output as well.” The story says that the “work supports the idea that the brain plays a critical role in pushing the body to achieve optimum performance. When the mouth tastes sugar, it may anticipate an influx of added fuel and therefore trigger the satisfaction and reward areas of the brain, in turn egging the body on to do more.”

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