Can Caffeinated Gum Help Give Your Favorite Team the Upper Hand?

The Big Game is fast approaching, and some players may be packing caffeinated gum to boost their performance. But if they want to experience caffeine’s exercise-enhancing benefits, they may have to cut back on their daily use first: a small study found that only light caffeine users got a performance jolt from caffeinated gum. The double-blind study was published in the International Journal of Sport Nutrition and Exercise Metabolism and reported on by NutraIngredients. To begin, 18 male athletes, with varying caffeine intakes, underwent repeated sprint performance tests in which they ran ten 40-meter sprints, resting for 30 seconds between each sprint. Next, they repeated the sprint performance test, once after chewing caffeinated gum containing 200 mg of caffeine—the equivalent of about two cups of coffee—and again after chewing non-caffeinated but otherwise identical gum, in random order. The researchers discovered that:

  • When all the data was considered together, the caffeinated gum did not appear to affect the participants’ exercise performance.
  • When only data from light caffeine users (under 40 mg per day) was considered, chewing caffeinated gum was associated with better ability to maintain sprint performance compared with chewing non-caffeinated gum.
  • When only data from heavy caffeine users (over 140 mg per day) was considered, caffeinated gum was not associated with a change in exercise performance.

This preliminary research indicates gum with relatively low caffeine content could help certain athletes better maintain their endurance during bouts of exercise similar to those in a game or match. Still, important details remain to be explored, such as whether heavy caffeine users could experience exercise performance benefits with higher doses of caffeine, and whether there is an optimal time to chew caffeinated gum for a bump at the crucial moment. More research may hold the answers; but in the meantime, be sure to cheer as loud as you can for your team.

Source: International Journal of Sport Nutrition and Exercise Metabolism

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