Study seeks to expose caffeine’s effect during sports

Dwayne Yates

Doctoral student’s experiment asks cyclists to chew gum

Edward Ryan, a doctoral degree candidate, will perform an experiment giving cyclists chewing gum containing caffeine and timing its effect on the individuals.

“We’re trying to find the best time to administer caffeine prior to cycling,” Ryan said. “Over 50 percent of cyclists use caffeine. That is an estimate.”

Ryan said he hopes to have 10 cyclists participating in his study. Cyclists will come in for an individual trial where they will be given a piece of gum at three different times – one piece two hours before they cycle, another piece one hour before they cycle and the last piece right before they cycle.

One of those pieces of gum will be Stay Alert Gum, which is caffeine gum. It is used by the United States military to keep soldiers alert during over-night missions.

The cyclists will then cycle for 45 minutes.

Duane Corbett, a graduate student in exercise science and a competitive cyclist, is volunteering in Ryan’s study.

“Current research is suggesting that caffeine helps with one-hour minimum racing,” Corbett said. “It would be very beneficial to know the most optimal time to take it prior to competition.

Corbett said he uses caffeine only before races lasting longer than an hour. He said cyclists use caffeine to keep their stamina up throughout races.

This is a double-blind experiment, which means neither the cyclists nor the researchers will know when the cyclists are given caffeine until the study is over. Ryan won’t know when each of the cyclists was given caffeine until the study ends in mid-March.

“There’s a lot of area to look into on how to benefit from (caffeine) and even limitations to how we can incorporate that into a sport where we need to put standards and guidelines (on),” Corbett said. “Any time you’re using a substance, you need to know everything you can about it to use it safely.”

The study is Ryan’s doctoral dissertation and it is being conducted in the exercise science laboratory of the College of Education, Health and Human Services.

Kent State’s Institutional Review Board has approved Ryan’s experiment, but he is still waiting to receive some chemicals that will tell him when cyclists had caffeine.

Contact College of Education, Heath and Human Services reporter Dwayne Yates at [email protected]