Published on May 9, 2014
There are times on the run when a caffeine shot seems like just the thing but unless you’re in a stage race with drop bags or have a particularly understanding partner willing to stand in a field waiting for you to pass, a can of energy drink just isn’t always practical. That, potentially, is where BLOCKHEAD comes in.
A new compressed energy gum, BLOCKHEAD is the creation of British sport scientist, Danny Lowe, who applied his knowledge of absorption methods to create a product that reportedly works five-times faster than caffeinated energy drinks. Each pack contains ten pieces, with each delivering 32mg of caffeine which, as it’s absorbed orally via the buccal mucosa membranes in the mouth rather than in the digestive tract and stomach, gets to work within around five to ten minutes of chewing (compared to 25-45minutes with drinks.)
The BLOCKHEAD taste starts not unlike a ‘traditional’ chewing gum flavour (what is that?) but quickly deteriorates into bitterness, not entirely pleasant and, in fact, not worse than some energy shot drinks. On the test runs there was a noticeable caffeine buzz within 15minutes and under slightly stricter control raised the resting heart rate by 20% within 10minutes and a fairly sustained 25% within 15minutes.
Caffeine is certainly proven to increase alertness but technically only improves endurance performance in high doses – around 3-6mg per kg of body weight – and as the maximum recommended daily consumption of BLOCKHEAD is three pieces (96mg) there’s probably only marginal gains to be had here. That said, the recommended daily allowance may be erring on the side of caution when you consider that a 250ml can of Red Bull – to take the market leader as a fairly representative example – contains 80mg of caffeine, which the Food Standards Agency suggests is: ‘the same as three cans of cola or a mug of instant coffee.’
Arguably there are other benefits to caffeine – and by association BLOCKHEAD – some (relatively small-scale) studies suggest that caffeine at doses around those found in a single espresso (70-80mg) have a positive effect on both lactic acid build-up and VO2 levels – basically the rate at which the body can absorb oxygen.
BLOCKHEAD, which is sugar-free, also packs in vitamins B3 (as niacin), B6 and B12 (all at 15% RDA per piece), along with taurine, an amino acid that, amongst other things, helps regulate the level of water and mineral salts in the blood.
Some confusion creeps in with BLOCKHEAD with the mint flavour – which does a better initial job of disguising the bitter taste – as each piece contains an increased 50mg of caffeine and the recommended daily consumption is listed as four pieces. At 200mg total that’s double the recommendation of the standard flavour.
Whatever the evidence – or exact levels required – the fact is that many rely on the occasional caffeine shot to get through an ultra (or the day) and BLOCKHEAD, with its fast absorption rate, offers an excellent and incredibly convenient way of doing it.
Single packs of BLOCKHEAD retail at £1.95, with cartons of 18 packs available at £28.08
Further details and online purchase of BLOCKHEAD at block-head.com