posted Jun 7, 2012, 4:19 PM by Andrew Jamieson

Deciding on what supplements to take can be a headache, but here is something that has been shown to improve performance and the effectiveness of your training. And is cheap!

In Competition

Studies as early as 1931(2) showed the potential for baking soda (bicarbonate of soda) to buffer lactic acid in the exercising muscles. This meant that the athlete could sustain a high level of intensity for longer, and could therefore improve performance during competition. Unfortunately the baking soda caused intestinal distress in a lot of subjects and after many other studies lost popularity due to these side effects. Recent research by Dr David Bishop (team sport research group, University of Verona, Italy), the world expert in the effects of bicarb on human performance, shows minimal, if any distress if the baking soda is taken in two doses of 0.1g/kg of body weight at 90 minutes and 30 minutes prior to exercise.

Training benefit

In 2006 a study (3) showed a 9.6% larger improvement in power at lactate threshold (LT/AT/OBLA all terms used to describe the intensity at which lactate begins to accumulate in the blood – the best predictor of endurance performance) in subjects who did interval training combined with bicarbonate (baking soda) supplimentation when compared to those who just did the interval training. The bicarbonate/interval group also showed a 41% greater improvement in time to exhaustion (at 100% of VO2max) over the interval group. Another study (4) using rats showed an increase in cell mitochondria (the cells aerobic energy factories) of 7.5% and an increase in MCT4 (a protein responsible for lactate removal). The exciting thing is they only looked at slow twitch muscle fibres and the potential to increase mitochondria is greater in fast twitch muscle. Interestingly too, the number of mitochodria in fast twitch cells is one of the biggest determinants of speed/power at LT.

Part 2 next week will discuss:

  1. Fitlab recommendations on how to use baking soda in training
  2. more training effects from new and yet to be published research.

Check out Vorb post on this topic

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