An interesting question that is sometimes asked is whether or not nicotine pouches affect muscle growth. This is an interesting question because why would nicotine pouches possible affect your muscle growth?
To determine whether nicotine pouches have any impact on muscle growth, we need to look closer at its ingredients. Could there be any ingredients in nicotine pouches that affect muscle growth?
In this article, we will take a closer look at this topic and see if there is any truth to this idea.
Before we dive into the specifics, let’s first understand the basics of nicotine, which is the most important ingredient in nicotine pouches.
Nicotine and Its Effects on the Body
Nicotine is a natural alkaloid that is found in tobacco plants. It is the primary psychoactive substance responsible for the addictive nature of tobacco products. When nicotine is consumed (in the case of nicotine pouches, via the oral mucosa), it rapidly enters the bloodstream and crosses the blood-brain barrier, affecting the central nervous system. Nicotine is a stimulant that activates the release of neurotransmitters, particularly dopamine, which leads to feelings of pleasure and alertness.
Nicotine as a Stimulant
Nicotine works as a stimulant by binding to nicotinic acetylcholine receptors in the brain. This interaction triggers the release of neurotransmitters, including dopamine, norepinephrine, and serotonin. The increase in dopamine levels contributes to enhanced mood and heightened cognitive function.
How Nicotine Interacts with the Central Nervous System
When the pouch is placed under the lip and the nicotine is absorbed via the oral mucous, nicotine reaches the brain within seconds. This influences the neural pathways associated with reward, attention, and motor function. The release of neurotransmitters contributes to increased heart rate, improved concentration, and a sense of euphoria. It’s worth noting that humans develop a tolerance for nicotine the more we use it, meaning that over time, you may need higher doses of nicotine to achieve the same effect. This explains why more experienced users generally use stronger nicotine pouches than beginners.
Short-term and Long-term Physiological Effects
In the short term, nicotine usage can elevate heart rate and blood pressure which leads to increased alertness and reduced appetite. Over the long term, chronic nicotine use is associated with changes in neural pathways, in other words, addiction.
The Link Between Nicotine and Exercise
The relationship between nicotine and exercise, in particular muscles is something that needs to be studied further but interestingly enough, there is some truth to the idea of nicotine and muscle growth. At the same time, it’s important to point out that the evidence is inconclusive on whether nicotine increases athletic performance.
It’s difficult to come to a definite conclusion regarding this topic as some findings are contradictory.
For example, according to Medical News Today, ”Nicotine can reduce testosterone production, which is important for muscle growth and performance. It can also increase cortisol levels, which break down muscle tissues, impairing growth, recovery, and performance.” (Source)
Moreover, a 2017 systematic review found that 16 of 28 studies suggest that nicotine increased heart rate. This can improve athletic performance. Moreover, other studies also indicate that nicotine can increase blood pressure and flow. With that said, these effects could help improve performance. At the same time, this review found that performance only increased in a small number of studies. (Source)
A 2020 review also suggests that nicotine increases motor skills. The 2017 review found that two of the 10 studies should a link between nicotine and muscle performance. With that said, it’s evident that more studies need to be conducted to better understand the true effects of nicotine on muscles and performance. (Source)
Nicotine and testosterone
Perhaps the most interesting link between nicotine and muscle growth is related to testosterone.
This study (https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/24457405/) concluded that ”cigarette smoking has a positive and independent effect on testosterone levels.” Obviously, smoking is not the same as nicotine pouches, but the increased testosterone is the result of the nicotine in cigarettes, a similar effect could be expected for nicotine pouches. With that said, there would ideally need to be studies that specifically look at the relationship between nicotine pouch usage and testosterone levels to draw any definite conclusions.
In another study, there were similar results. They concluded that ”Both total and free testosterone levels increased significantly with increasing number of cigarettes smoked daily (p < 0.001). Smoking men had 15% higher total and 13% higher free testosterone levels compared with men who never smoked. Thus, smoking seems to be an important confounding factor when evaluating testosterone levels” (Source)
The reason testosterone is so important is because it is considered the major promotion of muscle growth and therefore increase in muscle strength in response to resistance training in men.
In certain sports, especially those requiring sustained endurance, athletes have explored the use of nicotine as a performance-enhancing aid. The potential benefits may include improved focus, reduced perceived exertion, and enhanced endurance. However, it is worth weighing these potential benefits against the known health risks associated with nicotine use and consider the individual variability in responses.
Livestrong states that nicotine may improve your weight lifting by increasing your blood flow. Considering the fact that good circulation is important to building muscle, it could, therefore, help in muscle growth. Ultimately, your blood transports oxygen to your muscles which help them contract when you lift weight. When the blood delivers essential nutrients to repair your muscles after they have been broken down from training, the increased blood flow from nicotine could assist in this.
All in all, it’s important to note that one of the reasons why studies may come to different conclusions may be because of nicotine doses as ell as the nicotine delivery method. There are no studies that have looked specifically on nicotine pouches, testosterone levels, and nicotine strengths, so it’s difficult to come to any definite conclusions. Moreover, we all know that smoking can negatively affect your lungs and have other health complications, which is why results from smoking cannot be directly applied to nicotine pouch usage, especially when it comes to aspects like training and muscle growth.