Sodium Bicarbonate Ingestion and Exercise Performance: An Update
For many years coaches and trainers have recommended sodium bicarbonate (NaHCO3) to increase performance (Johnson et al. 1953). Since the 1970s, numerous studies have examined the effects of increased buffer capacity on acid-base balance, endurance, and power output. In addition, isolated muscle studies have elucidated the effects of pH and buffer concentration on contractile properties in muscle.
During maximal exercise blood and muscle lactate increases dramatically (Hermansen et al. 1972; Osnes et al. 1972). There has been considerable debate as to whether this represents anaerobic metabolism; however, it is generally agreed that increased blood and muscle lactate is a result of an increase in glycolytic flux (Brooks 1985). The increased dependence on glycolysis during exhaustive exercise results in altered acid-base balance. Increased production of lactic and pyruvic acids results in increased intra- and extracellular hydrogen ion concentration [H+]. Increased [H+] is buffered by bicarbonate ions (HC03-) as seen in the lowing reaction:
H+ + HC03- ⇌ H2CO3 ⇌ H2O + CO2
It has been hypothesised that decreased intra-and extracellular pH may contribute to fatigue during high intensity exercise. Consequently, an increase in buffer concentration may help to delay the onset of fatigue resulting from decreased pH. It is the purpose of this paper to briefly discuss this hypothesis and to examine numerous investigations utilising NaHCO3 administration in an attempt to enhance exercise performance.
Copyright © 1991, Adis International
Linderman, Jon K. and Fahey, Thomas D., "Sodium Bicarbonate Ingestion and Exercise Performance: An Update" (1991). Health and Sport Science Faculty Publications. 100.