Posted by Dayne Hudson in Sports Performance
Estimated reading time: 6mins
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.
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).
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:
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:
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.