Who doesn’t like chewing gum? Exactly. Most everyone loves the rubbery stuff. It’s great while you work; it’s great when you’re bored out of your mind; and for some it even takes the edge off when you’re hungry. Not to mention that fresh breath, right? Well, check this out.
Eight male cyclists performed four separate exercise tests while using caffeine-containing gum. Three pieces of chewing gum containing 100 milligrams of caffeine apiece were administered at one of three time points—120 minutes precycling, 60 minutes precycling and five minutes precycling. In three of the four tests the 300 milligrams of caffeine was administered at one of the designated time points. During the fourth visit the subjects got a placebo at all time points.
Results: The caffeine-containing chewing gum enhanced cycling performance when administered immediately prior to cycling but not one or two hours before. Interesting. Another investigation looked at caffeine-containing chewing gum’s effect on fatigue and hormone response during repeated sprint performance. Nine males did four high-intensity-exercise bouts, consisting of four sets (five sprints each set). Sounds painful! The subjects got 240 milligrams of caffeine or a placebo via chewing gum following the second set of each experimental session. The average power output in the first 10 sprints relative to the last 10 sprints declined by 5.8 percent in the placebo and 0.4 percent in the caffeine trials, respectively.
The reduced fatigue in the caffeine trials equated to a 5.4 percent performance enhancement. Java anyone? Furthermore, salivary testosterone increased rapidly from rest (~53 percent) and prior to treatments in all trials. Following caffeine treatment, testosterone increased by an additional 12 percent compared to the placebo condition. On the other hand, cortisol concentrations were not elevated until after the third exercise set; following the caffeine treatment cortisol was reduced by 21 percent relative to the placebo.
Clearly, caffeine-containing gum works. Not only will it enhance your performance, but there’s even evidence to show that it can reduce delayed-onset muscle soreness, a.k.a. DOMS. In one study subjects did four sets of 10 reps on the preacher curl. They took either a placebo or caffeine one hour prior to lifting weights. Caffeine consumption resulted in less DOMS two and three days after training. Translation: You can train harder on those days because you won’t be quite as sore.
The best way to use caffeine gum is immediately before and/or during prolonged exercise. If you are lifting weights, you can chew on it an hour before you train.
—Jose Antonio, Ph.D.
Editor’s note: Jose Antonio, Ph.D., is an assistant professor at Nova Southeastern University in sunny South Florida and cofounder of the coolest sports nutrition society ever, the ISSN.
1 Ryan, E.J., et al. (2013). Caffeine gum and cycling performance: a timing study. J Strength Cond Res. 27:259-264.
2 McMahon, T., and Newman, D.G. (2011). Caffeine chewing gum as an in-flight countermeasure to fatigue. Aviat Space Environ Med. 82:490-491.
3 Paton, C.D., et al. (2010). Caffeinated chewing gum increases repeated sprint performance and augments increases in testosterone in competitive cyclists. Eur J Appl Physiol. 110:1243-1250.
4 Hurley, C.F., et al. (2013). The effect of caffeine ingestion on delayed-onset muscle soreness. J Strength Cond Res. 27:3101-3109.