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Nasal spray (NAS) containing caffeine (CAF) or glucose (GLUC) activates sensory(motor) cortices.


To investigate the influence of CAF or GLUC NAS on exercise and cognitive performance.


Eleven male subjects (age 22 ± 2 y) performed a maximal cycle test and 2 familiarization and 3 experimental trials. Each trial included a 30-s Wingate test and a 30-min time-trial (TT) performance test interspersed by 15 min of rest. Before and after each exercise test a Stroop task was conducted. Placebo NAS with or without CAF or GLUC was provided before each exercise session and at each completed 25% of the TT. Exercise-performance, physiological, and cognitive measures were obtained. Magnitude-based inferences determined the likelihood that NAS solutions would be beneficial, trivial, or negative to exercise-performance measures based on the smallest worthwhile effect. Physiological and cognitive measures were analyzed using (non)parametric tests (P < .05).


GLUC NAS substantially increased the average power output during the TT (very likely beneficial: 98%). No further worthwhile exercise-performance enhancements were found for both substances. In addition, no significant differences in physiological and cognitive measures were observed. In line with mouth rinsing, GLUC was shown to substantially enhance endurance performance, probably due to the activation of the olfactory pathway and/or extra-oral sweet-taste receptors.


GLUC NAS enhances endurance performance, which indicates a novel administration route. The higher activity in sensory brain cortices probably elicited the ergogenic effect. However, no further physiological and cognitive changes occurred, indicating that higher doses of substrates might be required.

De Pauw, Roelands, Van Cutsem, Decroix, Valente, and Meeusen are with the Dept of Human Physiology, Vrije Universiteit Brussel, Brussels, Belgium. Taehee and Lettan are with the Dept of Chemistry, Chatham University, Pittsburgh, PA. Carrillo is with the Dept of Exercise Science, University of Thessaly, Thessaly, Greece.

Meeusen ( is corresponding author.