A cup of coffee (or three) in the morning is more than a pleasant ritual: It’s an important way to wake up, get the blood flowing and stay focused at work. Of course, coffee isn’t everyone’s — pardon the pun — cup of tea. Now, some people are switching to trendy caffeinated gum for their morning jolt of energy. What is this new pick-me-up, and how safe is it?
Caffeinated Gum Bootcamp
Caffeine gum looks and tastes like other gum, but it has a serious amount of caffeine as the star ingredient. Caffeine content varies by brand, ranging from 10 mg to 100 mg per piece. In comparison, a small cup of brewed coffee has 100 mg on average.
Athletes, Fighters and … Working Moms?
The U.S. military has used caffeine gum during special forces operations for a long time. When soldiers need a performance boost or have to stay alert for long periods, they pop a piece of the supercharged gum.
Now, everyday people are getting in on the action. When working parents have to leave early for work, instead of a drive-thru, a piece of caffeinated gum provides the shot of adrenaline they need. When they hit an afternoon energy slump, it’s time for — you guessed it — more gum.
A Bite-Sized Energy Boost
How effective is caffeine gum? That depends on the amount of caffeine in each brand. A shot of 100 mg of caffeine can undoubtedly make a difference:
- Alertness: The caffeine rush wakes you up big time, getting rid of grogginess and brain fog, and kicking your brain into high gear.
- Mental performance: Caffeine can improve mental focus, learning, memory and reaction times.
- Energy levels and mood: Caffeinated gum can energize your muscles and mind, chasing away tiredness and holding back fatigue. Caffeine also stimulates feelings of wellness and encourages a positive mood.
- Muscle performance: Caffeinated gum offers significant improvements in muscle performance and endurance (about 5%). In other words, it really can help athletes run faster, swim further and play harder.
- Fast caffeine absorption: A big advantage of caffeine gum versus coffee is that chewing gets the caffeine into your bloodstream more quickly. You get an energy boost right away. Plus, a small pack of gum is pretty convenient on the go.
The Darker Side of Caffeinated Gum
Coffee, energy drinks and other caffeine sources always have a few risks to keep in mind. You mainly need to limit your total caffeine intake. Too much caffeine can trigger negative effects:
- High blood pressure
- Racing heart rate
Swapping coffee for gum also means you’re getting less water. To stay hydrated, you would need to increase your liquid intake.
How Much Caffeine?
Doctors generally say that 400 mg of caffeine a day is safe. Caffeinated gum can make things tricky because it’s so easy to pop too many pieces. Even the Department of Defense tells soldiers to use caution with the stuff:
- Chew only one piece of gum at a time
- Wait 15 minutes before chewing another
- Don’t have more than two pieces in three hours
- Don’t go beyond four to eight pieces a day
Another option is to choose great energy-boosting alternatives such as green tea or matcha powder juices and smoothies. They provide the benefits of caffeine but also deliver filling protein and fiber, protect your cells with antioxidants, and keep you hydrated.