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Sports Drinks: Performance in a Bottle or the Perfect Placebo?

15 April 2014

The consumption of sports drinks by everyone from Sunday-league footballers to gym-goers to Olympic athletes has become commonplace in recent years, but where has this popularity come from and do they actually work?

These are the questions that Dr Shaun Phillips from Abertay University will be asking at the next Café Science event held in Dundee.

'Sports Drinks: Performance in a Bottle or the Perfect Placebo?' will take place at Dundee Science Centre on Wednesday, April 16.

Speaking ahead of the event, Dr Phillips said:

"Sports drinks are now ubiquitous at every level, from public parks and gyms to top-level performance centres. Therefore it's no surprise that sports drinks manufacturing is a multi-million pound worldwide industry that, through sponsorship and advertising, has become increasingly visible in our daily lives.

"Over several decades, research findings suggested that supplying the body with a source of carbohydrate during exercise, particularly of longer duration, meant that exercise could be performed better, or for longer. Recently, the evidence base has started to be reviewed with a more critical eye, and some surprising findings are coming to light that may require us to challenge what we think to be true regarding how carbohydrate supplements influence our exercise performance."

Dr Phillips is a Lecturer within Abertay's Division of Sport and Exercise Sciences. His research interests include perceptual regulation of performance, fatigue mechanisms and energy metabolism during exercise.

'Sports Drinks: Performance in a Bottle or the Perfect Placebo?' takes place at Infusions coffee shop, Dundee Science Centre at 6pm on Wednesday, 16th April. Doors open at 5.30pm, and the event is free and open to all. There is no need to book in advance but an early arrival is recommended.


Café Science was launched in January 2008, and has attracted over 5000 visitors since then. The monthly events are informal discussions led by leading local researchers that allow members of the public the opportunity to learn more about the ground-breaking science happening locally.

Café Science Extra allows members of the public to meet with up-and-coming scientists from the Universities of Dundee, St Andrews and Abertay, the James Hutton Institute, and Dundee Science Centre.

For more information please visit

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