The supermarket product that can significantly boost HIIT performance

Posted by Dayne Hudson in Sports Performance

Estimated reading time: 6mins

The supermarket product that can significantly boost HIIT performance 

Boost your HIIT performance with sodium bicarbonate.

In this study, 13 men around 23 years performed the beep test (also called the "Yo-Yo test" in some circles).

This is a test of fitness; gradually asking participants to speed up and reach a certain marker on the floor (eg, 25 metres) before the "beep" is heard.

The control group ahead of the test were given nothing, and the sodium bicarbonate group were given 0.4 g per kilogram of bodyweight.

So what did they find?

Not all subjects benefited the same, but one covered almost twice the distance when they used bicarbonate before the workout. On the whole, performance was increased. The authors concluded:

"...high-intensity intermittent exercise performance is improved by prior intake of sodium bicarbonate in trained young men."

So how on earth does this work?

The general consensus among our science friends is that muscle acidosis is associated with muscle fatigue during intense exercise.

You know that feeling of lactic acid when you're exercising that wears you out? That's where it starts.

The belief is that "lactate production causes acidosis and, in turn, that increased lactate production is one of the several causes of muscle fatigue during intense exercise."

And obviously, something like the beep test (or a HIIT session) challenges the normal levels of acid in muscles. And that's when you start getting tired and worn out.

Enter sodium bicarbonate, which promotes the buffer capacity in the blood and/or muscles. Basically, it's a whopping big shield from the bullets of acidosis.

And you can take sodium bicarbonate (one-fifth of it) at 90, 80, 70, 60 and 50 min prior to exercise, or all at once, depending on what you prefer.

What is sodium bicarbonate?

Sodium bicarbonate is a chemical compound. It's salt composed of sodium and bicarbonate. It's a white powder that is used as a raising agent during cooking (one example is during the making of cakes).

Baking soda. Great for cakes, and performance!
Baking soda. Great for cakes, and performance!

So buying some baking soda is as easy as taking a trip to your local supermarket.

Also, it might be helpful to combine your baking soda with beta-alanine, too.

This study had 17 amateur male footballers in their 20s either take a placebo or 3.2 grams of beta-alanine.

In the end, their yoyo test results were significantly better with beta-alanine. Take a look at the graph below:

https://jissn.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/1550-2783-9-39/figures/1

So it might be worth combining beta-alanine and sodium bicarbonate, and seeing how it goes for you.

Moreover, a recent review was done into sodium bicarbonate, whereby scientists wanted to outline precisely where it's effective.

Here's what they reported:

  • Supplementation with sodium bicarbonate (doses from 0.2 to 0.5 g/kg) improves performance in muscular endurance activities, various combat sports, including boxing, judo, karate, taekwondo, and wrestling, and in high-intensity cycling, running, swimming, and rowing.
  • The performance-enhancing effects of sodium bicarbonate are mostly established for exercise tasks of high intensity that last between 30 seconds and 12 min.
  • Sodium bicarbonate improves performance in single- and multiple-bout exercise.
  • Sodium bicarbonate improves exercise performance in both men and women.
  • For single-dose supplementation protocols, 0.2 g/kg of sodium bicarbonate seems to be the minimum dose required to experience improvements in exercise performance. The optimal dose of sodium bicarbonate dose for ergogenic effects seems to be 0.3 g/kg.
  • Higher doses (e.g., 0.4 or 0.5 g/kg) may not be required in single-dose supplementation protocols, because they do not provide additional benefits (compared with 0.3 g/kg) and are associated with a higher incidence and severity of adverse side effects.
  • For single-dose supplementation protocols, the recommended timing of sodium bicarbonate ingestion is between 60 and 180 min before exercise or competition.
  • Long-term use of sodium bicarbonate (e.g., before every exercise training session) may enhance training adaptations, such as increased time to fatigue and power output.
  • The most common side-effects of sodium bicarbonate supplementation are bloating, nausea, vomiting, and abdominal pain. The incidence and severity of side effects vary between and within individuals, but it is generally low.
  • Combining sodium bicarbonate with creatine or beta-alanine may produce additive effects on exercise performance. It is unclear whether combining sodium bicarbonate with caffeine or nitrates produces additive benefits.
  • Sodium bicarbonate improves exercise performance primarily due to a range of its physiological effects. Still, a portion of the performance-enhancing effects of sodium bicarbonate seems to be placebo-driven.
Get hold of some Bulk Nutrients beta-alanine here.
Get hold of some Bulk Nutrients beta-alanine here.

The bottom line for a supermarket product

For a supermarket product, sodium bicarbonate is worth your time. It can increase HIIT performance, although results vary. Take 0.2 to 0.5 g/kg of sodium bicarbonate which will also help your performance in muscular endurance activities, cycling, running, swimming, and rowing. The performance-enhancing effects are mostly established for exercise tasks of high intensity that last between 30 s and 12 min. It might be worth pairing sodium bicarbonate with beta-alanine or creatine.

References:

  1. Krustrup, P., Ermidis, G. & Mohr, M. Sodium bicarbonate intake improves high-intensity intermittent exercise performance in trained young men. J Int Soc Sports Nutr 12, 25 (2015). https://doi.org/10.1186/s12970-015-0087-6
  2. Fitts R. Cellular mechanism of muscle fatigue. Physiol Rev. 1994;74:49–94.
  3. Robergs RA, Ghiasvand F, Parker D. Biochemistry of exercise-induced metabolic acidosis. Am J PhysiolRegulIntegr Comp Physiol. 2004 Sep;287(3):R502-16. doi: 10.1152/ajpregu.00114.2004. PMID: 15308499.
  4. Krustrup P, Mohr M, Steensberg A, Bencke J, Kjær M, Bangsbo J. Muscle and blood metabolites during a soccer game: implications for sprint performance. Med Sci Sport Exerc. 2006;38:1165–71.
  5. Saunders, Bryan, et al. "beta-alanine supplementation improves YoYo intermittent recovery test performance." J Int Soc Sports Nutr 9.1 (2012): 39.
  6. National Center for Biotechnology Information (2022). PubChem Compound Summary for CID 516892, Sodium bicarbonate. Retrieved March 16, 2022 from https://pubchem.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/compound/Sodium-bicarbonate.

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