Caffeinated gum is a quick and efficient way for Warfighters to consume caffeine in order to improve physical performance and maintain cognitive capabilities temporarily during situations that demand vigilance. Because the caffeine is absorbed through tissues in the mouth, it enters the bloodstream faster than foods, beverages, and supplements do. In addition to the rapid absorption of caffeine, caffeinated gum offers other benefits such as being lightweight, compact, and providing caffeine in an appropriate amount when needed. However, caffeinated gum might not always be the best choice depending on your situation, needs, and preferences.

How much caffeine is in caffeinated gum?

Caffeinated gum provided in U.S. military rations contains 100 mg of caffeine per piece, whereas the amount in commercial brands ranges from 10–100 mg per piece. Some commercial-product websites/labels are less specific and simply state that each piece or serving contains as much caffeine as a cup of coffee or an energy drink—products in which the caffeine content can vary widely.

Can caffeinated gum improve performance?

With tasks requiring sustained attention, caffeinated gum can help. Caffeinated gum can also reduce sleep inertia—the grogginess and lack of alertness you experience upon awakening. In addition, caffeinated gum can improve reaction times, run times, and performance on physical tasks in sleep-deprived individuals.

How do I use caffeinated gum?

If you use caffeinated gum (from your rations), chew one piece at a time for 5 minutes, and if you aren’t alert within 15 minutes, chew a second piece. Do not exceed 2 pieces in a 3-hour time period or more than 8 pieces in 24 hours. Please visit the OPSS article about caffeine to learn more about using caffeine for performance.

Is caffeinated gum the best option for caffeine?

According to the Committee on Military Nutrition Research (CMNR), caffeinated gum offers practical operational advantages for service members in heat or desert operations and is appropriate in situations where rapid caffeine absorption is needed. Caffeinated gum is also a good choice when weight or bulk is a concern, such as during aviation missions. On the other hand, since inadequate food intake and dehydration is a concern during military operations such as in cold weather and at high altitude, caffeinated foods and beverages offer the advantage of delivering other nutrients and fluids. Depending on your situation, more than one caffeine source should be considered.

Warfighters and “warrior athletes” might find caffeinated gum to be the most advantageous form of caffeine due to its quick absorption and low risk of gastrointestinal distress. Other factors to consider are taste and overall preference.


Caffeinated gum can offer benefits during certain military operations. These include rapid absorption of caffeine, ease of use, portability, accurate dosing (if indicated on the label), and ability to withstand extreme temperatures during military performance situations. Other sources of caffeine also should be considered depending on mission requirements. If you choose to use caffeinated gum, it’s a good idea to choose a product with a known amount of caffeine. Although caffeine can help performance, you should be aware of how your body responds to it.

Updated 26 February 2019


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