Does Chewing Gum Burn Calories? Yes—but Not Enough to Cause Weight Loss

There may be a way to increase heart rate while that doesn't involve picking up the pace or breaking more of a sweat. It's as simple as chewing gum while working out, but it's not a fix for anyone looking to lose major weight.

A study from Waseda University in Tokyo found that chewing gum while exercising actually helped increase the amount of energy people used and their heart rates. The results of the study were published in the Journal of Physical Therapy Science.

The 46 people involved in the study were between the ages 21 and 69. Researchers formed two groups. The control group was given a powder to ingest that contained the ingredients that gum does, minus the actual chewing gum. The test group was given two pieces of gum to chew. Participants in each group were then asked to walk for 15 minutes at a natural pace, according to the study.

The heart rates, walking speeds and distances traveled as well as energy expenditure of every participant were all measured, the study says. What the researchers found through monitoring the participants was that those who chewed gum saw a few changes across factors.

Heart rate changes and heart rates while the participants were walking "significantly increased" for those that actually chewed gum, the studyfound. For men over the age of 40, the benefits were even greater. The gum-chewing participants in that age group saw walking distance, walking speeds, steps and energy all increase, according to the study.

But while it is true that participants were likely burning more calories, it was simply because they were using marginally more energy. "There's increases for sure, but it's not that we should all be going out and buying gum," Keith Diaz, an assistant professor at Columbia University and a certified exercise physiologist, told Newsweek.

"Our heart rate is really just dependent on how much our muscles are moving," he added. Even the muscles that are used simply to chew gum, or food for that matter, can increase heart rate and the number of calories burned. "When you're chewing gum, there's more muscle usage," Diaz said. Estimates of the number of calories burned by an hour of gum chewing hover around 10 calories for most people, if they chew gum with no calories.

The authors of the study attribute the "significant" changes in heart rate to cardiac-locomotor synchronization, according to a release from Waseda University, or what happens when heart rate syncs up with the movement a person is doing like running, swimming or, in the case of the study, walking. But Diaz isn't sure this would necessarily happen, or lead to any significant amount of burned calories for those who manage to chew while they walk.

So chewing gum won't lead to any significant weight loss or a huge increase in the number of calories a person could burn. If that were the case, "That's a lot of gum chewing that's gotta be going on," Diaz said.

chewing gum
Visitors chew gum and pose for photos near the gum wall in Post Alley at the Pike Place Market in Seattle, Washington, on November 11, 2015. Chewing gum burns more calories than not chewing gum, but it's not enough to cause weight loss. Jason Redmond/Getty Images