Disclaimer: This is for educational purposes only. I do not intend you to use this and hold myself responsible if you do so. Kindly consult a doctor before.
Nicotine” – the moment you hear this word all you can imagine is tobacco and cigarettes. They’re so stereotyped that all we know is that they’re injurious to our health. Absolutely, they are. Period. But what if I tell you that “nicotine” in isolation can have positive benefits on your mental and physical performance?
“Come on HN, Isn’t nicotine the cancer-causing culprit found in cigarettes”?
Well yes, it is the key ingredient found in cigarettes and tobacco. But it’s just one of the thousands of chemicals present inside them and not the bad buy.
The harmful effects are due to the carcinogens and the rest of the chemicals present inside them. Nicotine in isolation has several positive effects and is one of the secret drugs that many bodybuilders use in their programs to reach their fitness goals.
Nicotine in Bodybuilding?
Many years back there used to be a professional bodybuilder at my gym who always used to chew gums while working out and in the changing room. The box full of gums didn’t look like the normal chewing gums.
Me being an admirer of his physique, I at times used to notice his actions and the stuff he eats. Again one fine day when he was done with his workout and going for a shower. He just popped out 2 gums out of the box and started chewing them slowly.
I couldn’t hold up my curiosity this time and asked him, “Hey bro, I’ve always seen you eating these gums, what are these”?
Nicotine, he answered with his heavy voice and a smile. “They help me to relax after the workout and sustain my diet” (goes to the shower).
I liked his honesty, but this intrigued me to find out how the goddamn nicotine can be beneficial in bodybuilding?
I went back home and thoroughly researched it. The benefits of nicotine in bodybuilding literally stunned me and probably even you might have not heard about these.
Benefits of Nicotine in Bodybuilding
(1) Increases FOCUS and Brain Function:
Just like caffeine, nicotine is a stimulant that increases focus and alertness, decreases fatigue, and wires your brain. Nicotine stimulates the CNS even at low doses and increases the reaction time.
The neuro-transmitters it enhances are responsible for mood elevation and the ability to concentrate. It can also enhance psychomotor performance. These effects would be very much evident amongst non-smokers. (1) (2)
(2) Elevates Mood:
Nicotine stimulates the CNS and enhances the release of neurotransmitters like dopamine and norepinephrine.
At higher doses, it has been also found that it enhances serotonin (feel-good hormones) that calms the brain giving a ‘happy high’. (3)
(3) Appetite Suppressant:
Nicotine has a strong appetite suppressing effect. It literally kills your hunger and food cravings. It works like a charm when one is on a calorie-deficit diet and managing to eat lesser calories.
Many bodybuilders widely use this as their ‘cutting aid’ and supplement during their aggressive cutting phase. It’s one of their secret sauces in their cutting stack.
Caffeine itself works as a natural appetite suppressant and studies have shown that the appetite suppressant effects of nicotine are further accelerated by caffeine. (3) (4)
Caution: Both are stimulants and too much caffeine with nicotine can cause nausea and increased heart rate if they’re not well-tolerated by your body. Consult your doctor before using anything.
(4) Lowers Stress Levels:
Nicotine has a calming effect. It relaxes your mind, decreases cortisol levels, and anxiety. That’s why many bodybuilders also consume it post-workout for relaxation and recovery purposes.
(5) Burns More Calories, Better Muscle PUMPS:
In studies, it’s seen that nicotine increases the heart rate, blood flow, and burns more calories during exercise, and even at rest.
It slightly elevates the BMR. This is due to the release of norepinephrine and epinephrine (catecholamine’s) which increases lipolysis (fat burning in simple terms). These hormones have a direct action on the fat tissue.
Performance benefits of nicotine have been seen especially in endurance type of sports/training. It increases the pain tolerance capacity and might be beneficial when it comes to your repetitive strength or strength to endure pain. This can be a plus in a variety of sports. (3)
As mentioned, this is just for informational purposes. Me as a fitness coach never recommend consuming nicotine while exercising, or in general.
(6) Smokeless. May help you quit SMOKING:
Nicotine chewing gums are smokeless and bypass the respiratory tract. Your lungs are not at the stake while you continue to get the nicotine high. Mainly due to this reason it has gained a lot of popularity amongst athletes.
If you’re addicted to cigarettes, Nicotine gums can also help you to quit smoking. Whenever you get the withdrawal or crave for a cigarette, you can pop up a gum. You can gradually taper down the doses and quit it over time.
A recent meta-analysis also showed that exercising has the capacity to attenuate smoking cravings. Your willpower and mindset have a lot to do when it comes to ‘not getting addicted to anything or leaving any substance addiction’.
(7) May help you deal with CAFFEINE ADDICTION:
If you’re one of those who really are dependent on caffeine, pre-workout supplements, and consume way too much (which is not good), this can help. Nicotine works similarly to caffeine in terms of performance enhancement. Unlike caffeine, nicotine doesn’t disrupt your sleep if consumed at night. So many prefer cutting back caffeine during the later part of the day and have nicotine gum smartly when they need a mental boost.
Bodybuilders generally have a high tolerance towards it as they use it as a pre-workout. Many pre-workout supplements also have caffeine as their primary ingredient.
Nicotine being a stimulant can help you to curb your caffeine addiction and provide you similar ergogenic and mental benefits.
Well, whether nicotine by itself is addictive or not is highly debatable. Some say it’s not the nicotine in isolation and nicotine by itself doesn’t have addictive properties like smoking and consuming tobacco. Many compare it to be as addictive as heroin and cocaine.
I’ve personally tried 2mg nicotine chewing gums for many days and didn’t find them addictive at all. But it’s just my mindset which doesn’t make me addicted to anything.
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I by no means recommend you to consume it and hold myself responsible if you do so.
I’m just making you aware of the positive benefits of nicotine in bodybuilding, and how many bodybuilders use it for their benefit. Do your own research and come to your own conclusion. I’m sure you would come across a lot of positive benefits of nicotine in bodybuilding as well.
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Cognitive Effects of Nicotine [Authors: Gerald Valentine and Mehmet Sofuoglu]
Nicotine effects on alertness and spatial attention in non-smokers [Authors: William S. Grieser, Daniel P. Zajdel,
The effects of caffeine, nicotine, ethanol, and tetrahydrocannabinol on exercise performance [Authors: Dominik H Pesta, Siddhartha S Angadi, Martin Burtscher, and Christian K Roberts]
The appetite-suppressant effect of nicotine is enhanced by caffeine [Authors: A. Jessen, B. Buemann, S. Toubro, I. M. Skovgaard, A. Astrup]
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