I spoke about caffeine HERE in a previous article, and in particular about the effect of caffeine for sports performance. Caffeine is one of the only sport performance supplements worth taking (with the specific aim to improve performance), where your return on investment may actually be worthy of the financial cost of the product and the labour required to supplement with it. See the article HERE for another sport performance supplement that, while being expensive and labour intensive, might be one of the ONLY other supplements worth trying.
One product I have trialled recently, with both a boxer and an endurance cyclist I worked with, is Superfast energy Gum (caffeine chewing gum). Superfast contains caffeine, along with B vitamins and other minerals. 2 pieces of caffeine chewing gum contain 100mg of caffeine (1 piece is 50mg). As a reference, acceptable/suggested doses of caffeine prior to sport performance – in people who can tolerate caffeine well – would be in the range of 200-400mg (45 minutes prior to performance). So although the recommended dose is 2 pieces, it is very likely that actually 3, 4 or even 5 pieces of Superfast would be fine (and probably more performance enhancing).
The cool thing about the caffeine chewing gum: the caffeine is absorbed much quicker compared to other forms. For example, when taking caffeine as a tablet or a powder, it typically reaches a peak in the body 45 – 60 minutes later. Superfast suggests that the Gum delivers caffeine 6 times quicker i.e. within 5 – 10 minutes of chewing.
Other benefits of caffeine chewing gum: logistically very easy to transport and store, lightweight, and doesn’t require cooking or refrigeration. Leaves a fresh taste in the mouth, increases saliva production and might avoid gastrointestinal (stomach) issues associated with coffee or caffeine powder consumption. Also, as it’s chewing gum (and not a tablet consumed with liquid or caffeine as coffee), it doesn’t necessitate an increase in fluid consumption.
Case study: The Boxer. I decided to utilise Superfast with a Boxer I recently consulted. This was primarily going to be used for his actual fight. In order to best prepare him, and find the optimal dose, we decided to experiment with it in training. We decided to use it for his hardest session of the week – sparring – and we decided to begin with 2 pieces of gum 15 minutes prior to the session. The following week this moved to 3 pieces, then 4 the week after that. 5 pieces was the level we settled on (and this was based on the subjective feelings of the boxer). Then, come the fight, the boxer took 5 pieces of the gum ~20 minutes prior to the fight. He felt strong, powerful, and alert, particularly in the early rounds, and fought well throughout the match.
Take home message: if you’re thinking of trying any supplement – with the aim of enhancing sports performance – then Caffeine should be at the top of your list. Take Caffeine at a dose of 200 – 400mg, or alternatively 3 – 6mg/Kg of Body weight i.e. 70kg athlete, 210mg up to 420mg. Caffeine can assist both sports performance, and a hard/heavy training session. If you are taking caffeine, consider the form in which you consume it: via coffee, tablet, powder or gum. Lastly, taking caffeine in a gum format might prove to be an all-round more effective method, both directly enhancing performance and indirectly, due to the non-performance enhancing qualities (previously mentioned).