Is the difference in energy gum effect sex-dependent?
The usage of caffeine chewing gum, also known as athletes chewing gum or energy gum, is commonly used in training sessions as a pre-workout replacement. Building up strength, endurance, but also certainly in the field of muscle recovery ensures that these types of products have been widely acclaimed among professional athletes for some time.
Recent studies have shown that there are indeed differences between the usage of caffeinated products by male and female (professional) athletes. It should be noted that most scientific studies in the field of caffeine consumption and determining the increasing physical load have been conducted most often on men and to a lesser extent on women. This could be a point of interest for future scientists or researchers who study this matter.
Research in the field of endurance, speed, strength, but also focus and concentration are of course not tied to gender. The amount of caffeine in relation to body weight and physique at which the ideal values can be determined is also for both men and women.
Interestingly, the study, which focused on the effects of caffeine supplementation on athletic performance, compared between sexes and with an identical placebo situation (dose, duration, and timing), showed that there were indeed differences between the sexes. The ergogenic (performance-enhancing) effect of acute caffeine intake on anaerobic performance may be higher in men than in women. Naturally, caffeinated chewing gum or energy gum, comes to the fore, as this product produces a rapid release of the caffeine followed by a rapid absorption through the oral mucosa. The amount of caffeine per kilogram of body weight is explained in more detail later in this blog.
In particular, it appears that men with the same dose of caffeine can handle more strength, greater overall weight, and produce more speed than women.
The systematic review further concluded that 4/4 studies (100% of the number of studies on this topic) found no gender differences in terms of caffeine supplementation on aerobic performance and 3/3 (100% of the number of studies on this topic) on the fatigue index.
Aerobic performance and training are aimed at a low to moderate load but with a longer training duration. The lower heart rate range is around 70-80 percent of your maximum heart rate and sports characterized by aerobic performance are generally endurance sports in the form of swimming, running, cycling, cross-country skiing, biathlon, and skating, with all sprint forms of these sports, obviously excluded.
The fatigue index is a concept used in the study of the development of fatigue during anaerobic exercise.
Anaerobic exercise actually consists of activities such as sprinting where the fatigue index can be measured with a series of timed sprints.
In this scientific research, a structured search was conducted according to the guidelines Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Review and Meta-Analyses (PRISMA) in the databases Web of Science, Cochrane Library, and Scopus.
In addition to this research, very recently, in January 2021, a critical review of the available literature on caffeine intake was carried out by the International Society of Sports Nutrition (ISSN).
A number of conclusions were attached to this, which are currently used as a guideline and where trainers, performance coaches, but also the athletes themselves, can read how this can be interpreted.
The core of this review comes down to the fact that many studies have shown that taking any form of caffeine supplementation directly results in improved exercise performance. As already mentioned above, it depends on the type of training or type of sport that is practiced, whether there are differences between men and women.
The form of stamina, in this case, aerobic endurance, seems to have the greatest and certainly the most consistent benefits. However, the moderate to large benefits differ greatly from person to person and as such will also have to be tested individually.
The effect that can be achieved partly depends on the amount of caffeine intake per kilogram of body weight. More is certainly not always better and this could explain that there has been an increase in (professional) athletes that are switching to the use of caffeinated chewing gum or energy gum because it is sufficient, but certainly no overdose.
It has been consistently shown that caffeine use improves training sessions when the amount of caffeine is between 3-6 mg/kg body weight. This applies to both male and female athletes.
- At lower doses of caffeine or other energy actives based on caffeine such as guarana or even active ingredient such as taurine, it is assumed that the minimum doses should still be around 2 mg/kg body weight. If the dose is below this, it is assumed for the time being that there will be no measurable effect and that it is in line with the measured placebo effect. Here too, the rule applies that the amount of intake for men and women will be the same, but of course, measured according to kilograms of body weight.
- At doses much higher than 3-6mg/kg body weight, the side effects start to play a greater role and the effect of the caffeine intake has a more negative effect than it produces an ergogenic effect. The tests performed with 9mg/kg body weight clearly showed this, again equally in men and women. It is therefore rather counterproductive to use caffeine supplementation with these high doses and is therefore strongly discouraged.
Timing is key
The moment of supplementation is an important point of attention. The most commonly used timing of caffeine supplementation is around 45-60 minutes before exercise. This is because most caffeine supplementation (think of energy bars, energy drinks, energy pills) goes through the gastrointestinal tract, after which absorption by the body takes place around 25-45 minutes.
The optimal timing of caffeine intake depends on the source of caffeine. Compared to for example caffeine capsules, gels, or shakes, caffeinated chewing gum requires a shorter waiting time from consumption to the start of the training session. This has to do with the absorption through the oral mucosa. The intake time can be greatly shortened, namely between 5-10 minutes.
This gives athletes the opportunity to take a sugar-free energy boost when they are getting changed in the changing rooms or, for example, when you are in the tunnel or call-room before your competition or game starts. It is of course important to calculate how many pieces of energy gum you need to take in order to get the ideal amount of caffeine in relation to your body weight.
Assuming a weight of 60 kilos, the ideal supplementation of 3-6 mg/kg body weight. This quickly leads you to a minimum supplementation of 180 mg. To achieve this with an energy gum, your energy gum must have sufficient active energy substances.
There are energy chewing gums on the market where the amount of active energy substance is only between 12.5 and 80 mg, it is then easy to calculate how many gums you have to take before an actual effect occurs, and it shifts from the placebo effect to an actual performing-enhancing effect. You also have to consider whether it is physically possible/pleasant to take 2 (or more) of some gums at the same time, given the size.
GRIZZ Energy Gum contains 120 mg of active ingredients in a small format, so it's easy to take 1 or 2 gums before starting.
Calculate the supplementation that is recommended for you as an athlete (M/F)
|Bodyweight (in kg)||Minimal supplementation (mg)||Ideal supplementation (mg)||Max. supplementation (mg)|
A simple, scientific indication for men and women who want to calculate what the ideal caffeine supplement should be to actually contribute something to their training or sports performance and not fall under the placebo effect. This does not only apply to top athletes, but also to all “amateur” sports people who are just starting out.
One caveat noted by the authors concerns the genetically determined sensitivity to caffeine, in other words, there are differences in caffeine metabolism and the subsequent physical and psychological response may vary from person to person. Of course, this also applies to the possible side effects that are related to caffeine.
On the other hand, the positive effects on the cognitive level have not yet been taken into account, despite the fact that these effects have been demonstrated for a long time and have a clear added value for many athletes in their branch of sport. Think of alertness, focus, and concentration. In fact, caffeine can improve cognitive and physical performance in some individuals when deprived of sleep.
A final interesting note concerns training in the heat and/or at altitude; these workouts are best supported when doses range from 3-6 mg/kg and 4-6 mg/kg, respectively. So vary more instead of taking the same supplementation as usual.
You can also think of taking an energy gum (or 2) at the start of the training and supplementing with another 1 or 2 in between to obtain the maximum return.
Again, there is no difference in amounts between the sexes.