You probably have an orange box of baking soda sitting in the back of your fridge or on a shelf, waiting to be used in your next cookie recipe. From keeping your cookies nice and fluffy, to helping your freezer stay fresh, baking soda can do a lot of things. Believe it or not, that same orange box can improve your athletic performance, too. Studies have shown that sodium bicarbonate supplementation can effectively counteract the effects of lactic acid production, known as “burn,” increasing workout volume and maximizing training performance and synergy.
Baking soda is the common name for sodium bicarbonate. Sodium bicarbonate comes from trona deposits, a naturally occurring mineral found in ancient salt lake basins. Trona is processed into soda ash (sodium carbonate), which is then used as baking soda.
When used in baking, baking soda acts as a chemical leavening agent that reacts with an acid (like vinegar) to produce carbon dioxide, which creates air bubbles that help baked goods become soft, moist, and fluffy.
When taken as a supplement, sodium bicarbonate provides more dietary bicarbonate, which increases serum levels normally produced by the kidneys and counteracts the effects of acidosis, otherwise known as “acidosis.” By buffering exercise-induced lactic acid, you’ll be able to pull yourself out of fatigue, delay muscle fatigue, and subsequently improve athletic performance.
Sodium bicarbonate directly affects your body’s pH.
In chemistry, pH is a scale used to measure how acidic or alkaline (basic) a solution is.
A pH of 7.0 is considered neutral (pure water has a pH of 7.0). Anything below 7.0 is acidic, and anything above 7.0 is alkaline. For example, Kre-Alkalyn is between 7 and 14, making it more alkaline.
Depending on your body part, the pH will vary. However, during anaerobic (without oxygen) exercise, when your body exceeds the availability of oxygen supply, ATP is produced. The main by-product of anaerobic energy systems is hydrogen.
The added hydrogen lowers the pH of the muscles, creating an acidic environment. This can lead to the unwanted “burning” sensation we all experience during WOD, barbell failure, and anaerobic exercises such as sprinting and cycling. Sodium bicarbonate has a pH of 8.4 and can buffer hydrogen during anaerobic exercise.
The effect of sodium bicarbonate on athletic performance has been studied since the 1930s (R). The first study was conducted at Harvard University and only one participant was tested using 10 grams of sodium bicarbonate on a treadmill. The authors concluded that exercise performance can be enhanced by establishing an alkalotic pre-exercise state.Several studies have since investigated the effects of sodium bicarbonate and exercise, with the most relevant and well-recognized studies based on Journal of Applied Physiology 1977.
Following ingestion of calcium carbonate (placebo condition), ammonium chloride (acidosis condition), or sodium bicarbonate (alkaline condition), five participants underwent 40-min submaximal cycles until three separate Exhausted at 95% of maximum power output during the test.
On average, participants cycled 438 ± 120 s after ingestion of sodium bicarbonate, significantly longer than in the acidotic (160 ± 22 s) and control (270 ± 13 s) conditions (R).
As exercise intensity increases and the glycolytic system goes full throttle, your body can’t keep up with the pyruvate production. When this happens, your energy system switches from aerobic (with oxygen) to anaerobic (without oxygen). Pyruvate is then converted to lactate, or lactic acid, because your body cannot supply and shuttle oxygen to the bloodstream fast enough. As a result, you can lose strength, muscle fatigue, and “burn.” This happens around the 10-90 seconds of intense work. Booting up on the Air Assault for calorie max or high-intensity calorie rowing on the Concept-2 can burn you out and quickly wear you out as you hit your anaerobic threshold.
But what if you could somehow buffer the buildup of lactate and hydrogen ions, thereby prolonging and maximizing your exercise capacity? You can, you just need something alkaline (something with a pH greater than 7).
Kre-Alkalyn (alkaline) is a good example. Soda ash or sodium bicarbonate is added to micronized creatine to neutralize the pH, so it becomes more stable in stomach acid, improving absorption. Additionally, in addition to powering the production of adenosine triphosphate (ATP), it can also improve endurance and athletic performance by significantly effectively buffering lactic acid buildup, resulting in more power, speed and rapid energy output.
The study investigated the effects of sodium bicarbonate on several training regimens, including swimming, rowing, running, cycling,
in an item by Journal of the American Nutrition Association, the effect of sodium bicarbonate on the performance of the Wingate test was evaluated. The Wingate anaerobic test was developed in the 1970s to measure anaerobic capacity and capacity.
The review found that sodium bicarbonate had a significant effect on average power in studies using shorter rest intervals (R). Therefore, workouts using multiple 30-second maximal efforts do benefit from using sodium bicarbonate as a supplement. This is due in large part to exercise modalities such as CrossFit, high-intensity functional training, and endurance training.
Overall, sodium bicarbonate supplementation improved performance in high-intensity single and multiple workouts lasting approximately 30 seconds to 12 minutes (R).
More muscular endurance is directly related to more muscular strength. Substantial evidence suggests that sodium bicarbonate supplementation improves muscular endurance. Muscular endurance is usually assessed as the maximum number of repetitions performed at a given load or the maximum duration for which isometric force production is maintained (R).
Volumetric training regimens, using sodium bicarbonate for multiple sets to muscle failure, work best. More reps, more sets, and higher volume will inevitably produce greater muscle mass and strength (R).
According to the research conclusion of the International Society of Sports Nutrition,
For a single-dose supplementation regimen, 0.2 g/kg of sodium bicarbonate appears to be the minimum dose required to improve exercise performance. The optimal dose of sodium bicarbonate to produce a synergistic effect appears to be 0.3 g/kg. Single-dose supplementation regimens may not require higher doses (eg, 0.4 or 0.5 g/kg) as they provide no additional benefit (compared to 0.3 g/kg) and are associated with a higher incidence and severity of adverse reactions -Effect.
Scientific evidence shows that baking soda can produce and trigger greater changes in muscular endurance by effectively buffering lactic acid and increasing time to failure. The synergistic effect of sodium bicarbonate is mainly for high-intensity exercise tasks lasting 30 seconds to 12 minutes. Attention all CrossFit folks, adding Kre-Alkalyn or Sodium Bicarbonate to your pre-workout mix can dramatically improve your performance.
Want to improve your stamina and strength with sodium bicarbonate?
SWOLVERINE is an endurance athlete and active lifestyle brand. Designed for the elite athlete and the strong-minded individual, our products are designed to inspire your athletic performance. When you execute, we execute.
We believe that each individual can optimize not only their athletic performance, but their potential. We believe the way we can optimize performance is through transparency, clinically effective doses and clinically proven ingredients, and evidence-based results. We provide the nutrients you need to fuel an active lifestyle.