ReFuel Summer 2019:20 - Page 3

CAFFEINE GUM Is it worth the chew? hether it is from coffee, energy drinks or tablets, caffeine is one of the most well researched ergogenic sports supplements on the market. Research to measure its ergogenic benefits has been undertaken across many sporting disciplines from endurance and time-trial events to sprinting and power-based sports and in many cases has repeatedly demonstrated significant performance benefits including reduction in perception of fatigue, improved power output and muscle contraction, heightened mental state and faster reaction time. In the past decade, caffeine gum has presented as a novel delivery method for this popular supplement and research on its use has been conducted in multiple sports with promising results. W What sets caffeine gum apart from other delivery methods, aside from compactness and water free administration, is the rate at which caffeine in this form is absorbed. Traditional forms such as in drinks, gels or tablets are absorbed in the stomach within 45-60 minutes. With gum, most of the caffeine absorption occurs via the highly permeable tissue of the mouth referred to as the buccal mucosa where stimulatory effects are seen in as little as 5-10 minutes. This may be of interest to athletes from a few vantage points. In sporting scenarios such as half time where the enhancement of caffeine in the second half may be of benefit but where time is limited, caffeine gum may be a real asset. It may also be a consideration for those who experience stomach upset from caffeine, a common complaint from athletes who experience IBS. Because only a small amount of the ingested caffeine goes on to be absorbed in the gut, gum is less likely to cause symptoms. However, as with all sports supplements, the reported benefits of caffeine on performance are not experienced universally. Anxiety and over-stimulation are amongst some of the side effects reported beyond gut upset. Early research has shown that genetic variations concerning genes related to caffeine metabolism may predict individual outcomes, which may assist in tailoring supplementation recommendations in the future. A final consideration is caffeine dosage. A selection of studies have indicated that caffeine supplementation may only enhance performance where habitual caffeine intake is within the lower range, (perhaps 1-2 coffees per day). The doses of caffeine used to enhance sporting performance go well beyond a normal cup of coffee. A low to moderate range dose is between 3-6mg per kilo of body weight, a range used by many studies examining the ergogenic effects of caffeine (approx. 200-300mg). Several of the commercially available gums come with caffeine dosage of between 50-100mg per stick. Caffeine in gum form requires adequate chewing time to release the full dose form the gum (2-3 minutes). Practically speaking, it may not be feasible to chew upwards of three large pieces of gum in a short amount of time. Overall, there are certainly clear scenarios where caffeine gum administration may be superior to other delivery methods, including where time, water access and space are principal considerations. However as with all supplement recommendations, individual needs and tolerance should be assessed by an Accredited Sports Dietitian before use. HARRIET WALKER, ACCREDITED SPORTS DIETITIAN Harriet Walker is an Accredited Sports Dietitian who runs her own private practice Athletic Eating and is the consulting sports dietitian for 98 Gym and Body Science. SUBSCRIBE HERE Summer 2019-20 ReFuel Magazine 3