When I first started training, I had a major hard-on for stimulants. I absolutely LOVE the way that most pre-workouts make me feel. Super energized, totally focused, and ITCHY. If you’ve ever taken a big dose of beta alanine, you know what I’m talking about.
For me it always started with my face, and then during the workout, it would move to whatever muscle group I was training. This is a side effect of taking a vaso-dialator. Which is a supplement designed to make the blood vessels slightly larger which moves more blood throughout the body and improves the pump.
But I went WAY too far with it. And if you know me, you’re probably not surprised by this. I’ve been called “all or nothing”, “extreme”, and “shit for brains” because of my all-in tendencies, and none of those are 100% wrong.
I distinctly remember dropping 2 scoops of NO xplode into a bottle of Redline and pounding it at 4pm before training chest one day. NO xplode is listed at 225mg of caffeine per scoop, and Redline comes standard with 315mg of caffeine, so I was taking down about 775mg of caffeine in the afternoon before a fairly easy workout.
At least I remember it being easy. I think everything is easy on 750+mg of caffeine, except maybe sitting in traffic or meditating.
Either way, all this energy comes at a price. You don’t just get to walk away with extra energy and intensity without taking it from somewhere else. You always have to pay back the energy you’re borrowing from your coffee/preworkout/diet pills, etc.
Now most of us aren’t slamming excessive (or what we used to call “legit”) amounts of caffeine in the afternoons, as we’d probably turn into irritable anxious little monsters, but for most of us, 2-4 cups of coffee per day isn’t anything out of the ordinary. In fact, many people report not being able to start their day without a requisite level of caffeine.
And if coffee is your jam, great! I lived in Seattle for a few years, I know the struggle.
However, I wanted to turn you on to something that I’ve been using with great success in the last few years.
No, I’m not a smoker.
No I’m not trying to quit smoking
Yes, I realize cigarettes are bad for you.
Any more questions? Geez.
I’ve been using nicotine gum as a pre workout and energy boost for the last 3-4 years, and I love it.
Many people don’t realize it, but nicotine is a potent stimulant, and if used wisely, can improve your mental cognition, workouts, and help you function at your best. Nicotine isn’t only found in tobacco – you actually get tiny doses in eggplant and tomatoes as well! It’s an alkaloid from the nightshade family of plants, to which tomatoes belong.
Why Chew Nicotine Gum?
I enjoy the light energy boost that I get from the gum, without the crash later from high sugar energy drinks, or the negative effects that I get from coffee -restlessness, lack of deep REM sleep, and slight irritability.
I generally will chew a single piece over the course of 90 minutes, but more often then not, I’m not actually chewing it, but stashing it in my cheek, like a squirrel with a drug problem.
I don’t have any science to back this up, but based on my experience, if a cup of coffee will bring you from a 5 to a 9 after drinking 16oz, then a piece of nicotine gum will bring you from a 5 to a 7, then let you down gently after you spit it out. No long lasting effects, and the sensation leaves when you ditch the gum.
For me, this is perfect, because often times I need a quick pick me up before a workout, before I sit down to write, or before a big group workout. If you’re a trainer, salesperson, or someone else who lives and dies on how much energy you have, you may want to check it out.
In small doses, nicotine is shown to have significant cognitive enhancing effects on memory, attention, and fine motor skills.
Although smoking cigarettes has been shown to increase probability of Alzheimer’s, there is evidence to show that ingesting small doses of nicotine can potentially prevent Alzheimer’s.
Nicotine has also been shown to help reduce depression, although isn’t recommended for long term treatment. (patches were used in this study).
The first one is for real – nicotine is HIGHLY addictive. So if you’ve struggled with quitting smoking in the past, you probably want to stay away from this. I haven’t felt any cravings, and don’t do it every day, but the risk is there. It has been shown that nicotine has less addictive properties when ingested orally, but the potential is still real.
Most gum comes in 1mg, 2mg, and 4mg doses, and while an average cigarette contains 12mg of nicotine, you probably don’t want to get in the habit of chain-chewing.
Nicotine also can be potentially lethal when ingested in massive amounts. Research shows somewhere around the 500mg mark will kill you, which makes the toxicity a little higher than caffeine’s lethal dose, but let’s not risk it, eh?
The gum isn’t as good as regular gum. You might feel a “scratchy” feeling at the back of your throat for the first few minutes, but that subsides the more you chew it. But then again, I’m not doing it because it’s delicious.
Maybe It’s Not For You…
…and that’s fine. If there was a lesson to take away from this though, it’s that most things have some utility, and shouldn’t be demonized because of association with other other negative habits, or preconceived notions. I’d encourage you to do your own research, and also test things out on yourself. Even though your test is only on 1 person – the results of the test are of utmost importance to you.
If everyone you know is staying away from gluten due to allergies, do you need to adopt that as well because it’s “healthy”? Maybe, maybe not. The best way to find out is by doing a controlled self test and seeing how your body functions when you feed it gluten, or caffeine, or nicotine.
Try things out, be skeptical, break the mold.
Now who’s got some angry comments for me?