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Is Chewing Gum While Running a Good Idea?

 

We all have those little habits. You know, the ones we do without even thinking about it.

For some, it’s smoking (shhh). For others, it’s popping our joints, or biting our lip. And for some people, that little habit is chewing gum.

If this sounds like you, perhaps you’ve tried chewing gum while running. It’s not something everyone does, but it actually does have some helpful advantages.

On the other hand, there are also some concerns you should be aware of if you chew and run at the same time.

Let’s check out the pros and cons of chewing gum while running so you can decide if it’s a good idea or not!

Pros

Respiratory Benefits

Breathing is pretty important when you’re running!

Chewing gum while you’re running can help you to get in the habit of breathing through your nose instead of your mouth, which may actually improve performance.

If you’re chewing on peppermint or spearmint flavored gum, the strong flavor can also help to clear your nasal passages and sinuses and open up the chest. This will help you to breathe better, especially while doing intervals or running up a steep hill.

Relaxation

In some cases, chewing gum can help to relax your jaw, neck, and chest muscles. You may be surprised at how much tension most of us hold in our upper body!

It can end up throwing your form off and developing into injuries, so anything that can help relieve tension and ease those muscles up is actually pretty helpful.

Boosts Metabolism

The gum doesn’t necessarily speed up your metabolism in itself. But the act of chewing gum leads to a couple of interesting things.

First, research indicates that chewing gum can help to decrease appetite, which leads to a slightly reduced calorie intake.

Second, you may be surprised to learn that the same study suggests that you can burn up to 5% more calories just by chewing gum! However, this is really only effective if it’s in conjunction with a healthy diet and regular exercise.

Take note that some artificially sweetened gum can have a laxative effect when consumed regularly throughout the day. Don’t confuse this with a speedy metabolism, though!

Prevents Dry Mouth

Whether you run with your mouth closed most often or you’re an open-mouth breather when you run, chewing gum can help to keep your breath fresh.

Keeping your mouth closed for long periods of time while running can lead to stale breath. On the other hand, breathing heavily through your mouth while running can cause dry mouth, which also tends to end with not-so-fresh breath.

Chewing gum, though, can actually help keep your breath fresh and your mouth feeling clean and minty. Even non-minty flavors can just keep the moisture in your mouth and keep you with fresh breath for the duration of your run.

Improves Rhythm

Surprisingly, the motion of chewing gum can help you to keep on rhythm while you’re running.

It can help to keep the mind focused on your cadence, which not only helps you to fall into that hypnotic, rhythmic state but also makes your run go by quicker.

Cons

Choking Hazard

This is the biggest possible hazard when it comes to chewing gum while running!

Although one piece of gum may seem like it doesn’t take up much space in your mouth, in a matter of seconds it can go the wrong way and become a choking hazard.

The problem with gum is that it doesn’t dissolve in your mouth, so if it does get stuck in your throat, you’ll need to dislodge it as quickly as possible. If you’re running with a friend, it’s a good idea to make sure they’re familiar with the Heimlich maneuver!

May Change Breathing Pattern

Although the mintiness of gum can help with breathing, it can hamper your breathing pattern a little. Instead of just running and breathing like you normally would, you now need to fit chewing into the mix too.

This can cause your breathing to go a little all over the place. It may take some time to get it back to normal and you may need to consciously work on bringing it back to a normal rhythm. You’ll need to match your chewing to your breathing, and not the other way around!

Can… Cause Dry Mouth

We know, preventing dry mouth was one of the pros. But there’s also a chance of it going the opposite way.

Some runners find that chewing gum actually accelerates the effects of dry mouth and becomes uncomfortable, leaving them feeling dehydrated. You’ll have to experiment with it and find out which way it goes for you.

Artificial Sweeteners

When you see “sugar-free” on a gum package, chances are there are artificial sweeteners in it. Now, this isn’t necessarily a terrible thing if you’re chewing a piece or two every day.

But if you’re going through a full pack of gum in a day, the amount of artificial sweeteners going into your body can actually have a negative effect.

Some studies have found that high consumption of aspartame may be linked to moodiness and decreased spatial awareness. Some people also may have a bad digestive reaction to artificial sweeteners.

Not all gum has artificial sweeteners in it, but those that don’t usually contain high levels of sugar, which also isn’t great for us.

May Have a Laxative Effect

All those artificial sweeteners can have a laxative effect! Nobody wants to be halfway through a run when that kicks in. The runs will have a whole new meaning!

Typically, this is only something you have to worry about if you chew a lottttt of gum. But it’s well worth keeping in mind because it’s a mistake you only make once.

Most Likely Won’t Improve Performance

Chewing gum has some benefits, but improving performance typically isn’t one of them!

The only exception is if the gum contains caffeine, which some do. But these doses are usually small and may give you a bit of a buzz, but won’t necessarily provide great performance-enhancing benefits.

Product Recommendations

If you want to try out running with gum. Or you already do, but want to up your run/chew game, then here are our top picks for running gum.

Best Overall

1. Run Gum

As its name suggests, this gum is ideal for runners. In fact, it was created by runners like you, designed for elite athletes. It’s made to offer a performance boost thanks to the caffeine content and easy use.

One of the great things about Run Gum is that the caffeine gets absorbed super quickly into your bloodstream. The linings of the cheeks and gums are extremely absorbent, so the minute that caffeine gets into your mouth, it can start giving you a buzz.

But caffeine isn’t all you’ll be getting, either. While each piece of gum contains 50mg of caffeine, it also has 20mg of taurine, an amino acid that offers a light energy boost as well as heart-protective properties.

To round out the good stuff in this gum, you’ll find an abundance of B-vitamins. They’re also suitable for just about any kind of runner, being vega, kosher, and halaal.

They come in a bunch of different flavors, both minty and fruity. You can choose from a full pack of your favorite flavor, or order a variety pack so you never get bored.

It’s super easy to fit these little gum pieces into your pocket or running belt. Each bite-sized piece is smaller than a quarter. The only potential problem is losing them in a pocket or bag!

PROS:

  • Available in various flavors
  • Smaller than a quarter
  • Caffeine, taurine, and B-vitamins
  • Kosher, halaal, and vegan-friendly

CONS:

  • May have a chalky texture when you first start chewing it
 

Top Runner-Up

2. Rev Gum

These little gum pieces come in two strengths: regular and extra strength. The regular strength gum will dose you with a nice 60mg of caffeine (equal to an espresso), while the extra strength ups that to a double-espresso worth, 100mg.

You can choose from a variety of minty flavors, including peppermint, polar mint, and spearmint. There are no fruity flavors here, unfortunately, but the mintiness does help open up the nasal passages and the chest.

You’ll get 6 pieces of gum (or “gems”) in a pack. Each one is low calorie (fewer than 5 per piece), packs a caffeine punch without inducing jitters, and is small enough to take with you wherever you go.

This gum is sugar-free, but it does contain aspartame. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but chomping on too much of this gum may cause digestive upset or a laxative effect. Be careful!

PROS:

  • Sugar-free
  • 60 to 100mg of caffeine
  • Low calorie
  • No jittery feeling

CONS:

  • Contains aspartame
 

Best Value

3. Military Energy Gum Caffeine Gum

If you want a military-tested and approved product, this gum is it. It’s gone through rigorous testing by none other than the U.S. Army Medical Research team and active military recruits, and it’s passed with flying colors.

You know that if this gum helps to boost soldiers’ alertness and energy, they can certainly help you run farther and harder.

Each gum drop contains 100mg of caffeine, which is a significant amount for a nice boost. It’s like a cup of strong coffee, without needing to run to the bathroom later!

It’s quick-absorbing, offering a sharp burst of energy in record time. According to the manufacturer, chewing for 5 minutes will allow you to absorb 85% of the caffeine content. If you want it all, chew for 10 minutes.

When you consider how much of a boost you get from a tiny chewy thing, it’s not hard to see why this comes in as our best value product.

There are 5 pieces in each pack, and it can be resealed once it’s opened to keep them fresher for longer. Choose from Spearmint, Arctic Mint, or Cinnamon flavors! Or, buy an 8-pack with a couple of packets of each.

PROS:

  • 100mg of caffeine in each piece
  • Resealable package
  • Available in various flavors
  • Developed and tested by the U.S. Army Medical Research

CONS:

  • May be a little bitter when first chewing it
 
 
The Wired Runner
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