The University of Georgia had 16 endurance athletes between the ages of 18 and 45 complete a 7.9-mile race, with each swishing and spitting out a drink eight times. They either got plain water, a water-based solution made with table sugar, or one with artificial sweeteners.

Turns out, swishing sugar water around can improve endurance by 5% during competition.

“It was surprising to us how drastic the improvement in times was,” said Jamie Cooper, an associate professor in the department of foods and nutrition and corresponding author on the paper, told UGA Today. “These were endurance-trained individuals, so to see a 5 percent improvement in performance—almost three minutes on average—was huge.”