Who else wants to know, “Why Do Bodybuilders Chew Gum?”
You’ve probably seen many YouTube videos with bodybuilders chewing gum while they train.
Arnie’s done it, and so has Ronnie Coleman.
So, why the fascination with chewing gum?
Does it have any health benefits?
Will it help you build muscle?
This all seems highly unlikely.
So, allow me to explain why many bodybuilders chew gum.
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Why Do Bodybuilders Chew Gum?
The main reason that bodybuilders chew gum is typically because they enjoy doing it. There are no actual bodybuilding benefits from doing so. With that being said, many bodybuilders and gym goers state that chewing gum really helps them to focus when they’re lifting. Furthermore, if a bodybuilder is in a cutting phase, or close to competition time, they will need to have certain restrictions on food and water. Chewing gum can trigger the flow of saliva, which will prevent a dry mouth. Plus, it is also known to suppress appetite and cravings for snacks.
1. There Are No Muscle-Building Benefits to Chewing Gum
Firstly, I should say that there aren’t actually any muscle-building benefits to chewing gum.
I know there are many scientific studies that may “prove” otherwise, but they also agree that the benefits are more likely caused by the placebo effect.
So, if you’re thinking of ditching the weights and chowing down on a regular intake of Wrigley’s or Trident, then I’ve got news for you.
I would say that the main reason that bodybuilders chew gum is simply because they enjoy doing it.
Personally, I‘ve never been a gum-chewer myself, and I actually think it could be dangerous in the gym environment.
Anyone for swallowing a stick of gum during a heavy bench press?
That being said, Arnie and Ronnie apart, this does appear to be a regular trait for most bodybuilders.
Here are some of the perceived benefits derived from this “bodybuilding pastime”.
2. Chewing Gum May Help You to Concentrate Better
The main reason that bodybuilders, and those in the gym environment, chew gum is because they believe it helps them to concentrate better.
Funnily enough, on the odd-occasion that I have decided to masticate on a stick of gum I did notice that I was far more focused on what I was doing.
There is actually scientific research into this phenomenon.
The conclusions from various studies show that chewing gum can help to improve concentration in both visual memory and audio memory tasks.
How this relates to lifting weights I’m not quite sure.
But, if a group of scientists from Cardiff University have conducted tests with positive results, who am I to argue?
The actual scientific explanation behind this is that gum can increase the flow of oxygen to the regions of the brain that are responsible for attention.
So, there’s definitely something to it.
What Does Chewing Gum Do to the Brain?
3. It Prevents a Dry Mouth
When you chew on gum this will increase the flow of saliva in the mouth.
I’m sure we’ve all experienced “cotton mouth” when training particularly hard at the gym.
For the vast majority of us we will swill down a massive gulp of water, or the beverage of our choice.
However, this may not be an option for a competitive bodybuilder.
The closer that a pro bodybuilder gets to a show, the more restrictions they will have on their diet and nutrition.
And this includes drinking water.
In fact, most bodybuilders will literally dehydrate themselves as much as possible in the week leading up to a show.
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Basically, this state of dehydration will mean that there’s less water between the muscles.
This in turn will make the skin tighter, which then gives that “ripped” appearance.
Admittedly, many bodybuilders take their hydration levels dangerously low, and this is not something I would suggest for your regular gym-goer.
However, dry mouth may impact the effectiveness of a workout.
This is usually because it’s harder to control your breathing, simply because your mind is concentrated on the lack of hydration.
So, in order to overcome this a bodybuilder will chow down on a stick of gum.
Talking of breathing, I have also heard those who say that chewing gum can actually help them to focus on their breathing better too.
4. Chewing Gum Can Suppress Hunger
I found this reason somewhat perplexing at first.
I know for a fact that whenever I have chewed gum it makes me extremely hungry.
However, what do you know? There is scientific evidence to prove that chewing gum can suppress hunger.
It has been revealed that chewing gum for at least 45 minutes will not only suppress hunger and appetite, but it can also promote fullness and curb cravings for snacks.
Looking at this from a bodybuilding perspective this is especially useful if a competitor is in a cutting phase.
There are certain days when a competitor has to consume an extremely low number of calories.
So, they will chew gum both in and out of the gym to ensure that they’re not overeating.
Some may argue that even though you don’t swallow gum there are carbs (sugar) released during the chewing process.
But in truth, this is pretty insignificant, and you won’t be consuming much more than 1-5 calories per stick of gum.
You could also argue that the non-stop jaw action will actually burn more calories than you’re consuming.
Does Chewing Gum Help With Weight Loss?
5. It Won’t Improve Your Jawline
I’ve often read articles online stating that chewing gum can improve the appearance of your jawline.
Basically, it can give you a chiselled jaw, and this is probably why bodybuilders chew gum.
I’m sorry, I can’t agree with that, and this is nothing more than hearsay.
Yes, having a good jawline is a part of bodybuilding, but it’s important to remember that the jaw is made up of bone.
So, you’re going to find it extremely hard to add considerable size to any bone in your body.
Okay, I’ll agree that you can certainly strengthen the muscles that surround the jaw from constant chewing.
However, this definitely won’t be enough to swell your jaw up to epic proportions.
In fact, it this principle were true wouldn’t most obese people have a fantastic jawline?
Realistically, having a good jawline comes down to good genetics and low body fat (much like many other areas of the body).
I will say that many bodybuilders will take Human Growth Hormone to improve the appearance of their jawline.
But, that’s another story altogether.
So, as you can see, there are no real muscle-building benefits to chewing gum.
There is scientific evidence that proves that chewing gum can increase concentration levels and suppress hunger.
Both of these things are ideal for competitive bodybuilders.
Plus, if a bodybuilder is currently reducing their water intake then chewing on gum can definitely help with a dry mouth during training.
However, any stories you hear about how gum can improve the appearance of your jawline are nothing more than idle gossip.
I’m sure most competitive bodybuilders will be aware of these various facts.
But, I still maintain that the main reason they chew gum is simply because they enjoy doing it.
Hi, I’m Partha, owner and founder of My Bodyweight Exercises. I am a Level 3 Personal Trainer and Certified Strength & Conditioning Specialist through the Register of Exercise Professionals, United Kingdom. I have been a regular gym-goer since 2000 and coaching clients since 2012. My aim is to help you achieve your body composition goals.