Healthspan Elite Kick-Start Gum is a caffeinated chewing gum that is batch tested, combining a novel delivery method with the reassurance of a tested product.
I was interested in this product for a number of reasons:
Firstly, Healthspan are a well recognised and respected supplement company that over the last two years have branched into sports supplementation in a big, evidence based way by working with leading practitioners, teams and developing new products as a result of these partnerships. Secondly caffeine works with respect to endurance exercise, it just does. So for a runner and sports scientist who tends to focus on the longer side of sport, caffeine products are always interesting. Finally, there’s the method of delivery. My PhD work is focusing on menthol mouth rinsing and there is also a more established literature base around oral carbohydrate and caffeine exposure. So if it goes in your mouth for a while and may improve performance, again, I’m interested.
The gum itself comes in quite large dragées, and their blue and white exterior is quite attractive (for an interesting paper on supplement perception and colour see here). The initial flavour is slightly bitter (that’ll be the caffeine) but this soon fades and the minty taste that remains is pleasant. Recommended doses are 1-2 tabs, with up to 4 being permitted per day. This equates to approximately 1 cup of standard filter coffee per capsule; at the time of writing however, I’ve not had chance to investigate the kinetics and or uptake of caffeine via gum in any great detail (this is the one paper I’ve had a chance to flick through). Although the caffeine content of the gum is equivalent to a common ‘dose’ of coffee, I imagine there will be differences in caffeine uptake (and subsequent performance effects) between coffee, gum and other caffeine containing products (energy drinks, tablets, etc.).
I tried the gum prior to an evening (6:30pm ingestion; 7pm-ish start) track session at 5km type pace; I didn’t experience any severe alertness or a hit as such, more a gentle background hum of consistency throughout my session with no clear drop off before going to bed that night, but no trouble falling asleep either (thankfully!). There were also no stomach issues, cramps or any other symptoms that are often reported with coffee consumption. I plan to experiment with the gum on a morning session, and also prior to a fasted long run to see how things hold up there too, as this is when I typically coffee up before training.
Overall a solid product that I’m looking forward to experimenting with further in my own training and when guiding others, especially marathon runners or ultra-endurance athletes. At £24.99 for 120 pieces we’re talking 20p per tab – much cheaper than a cup of highstreet java without having to queue. I can also see application across the board in team sports, or even in specific training sessions such as fasted training or power-based work. Interesting stuff indeed for anyone looking to incorporate caffeine into their training and competitive regimes, especially if you don’t like coffee, or prefer a tighter control over your caffeine intake.