Is this cooking staple a secret fitness hack?
Many fitness enthusiasts in Sandyford and Donnybrook, including Raw Gym-goers and home workout aficionados, are increasingly exploring the potential of sodium bicarbonate, commonly known as baking soda, to elevate their performance levels. This white crystalline alkaline powder with a pH of 8.4 has gained significant attention in the fitness world, where individuals are dedicated to training, personal training sessions, and health-conscious approaches to attain their goals.
Maintaining a healthy lifestyle that incorporates robust exercise routines and a balanced diet is crucial for those on a mission to lose weight, tone their bodies, and enhance overall fitness. While aerobic activities like running and home workouts play a central role in this fitness journey, there’s growing curiosity about how supplements like sodium bicarbonate can be a game-changer.
In the realm of health and fitness, striking the right pH balance is paramount. The body naturally endeavours to maintain a slightly basic pH level, typically ranging from 7.35 to 7.45, which is essential for numerous biological processes, including blood oxygenation and aerobic cellular respiration. The body regulates its pH balance through the respiratory system and excretion of bicarbonate through the urinary tract.
However, during high-intensity exercise, the body often grapples with meeting its oxygen demands, necessitating the use of the anaerobic energy system. This system predominantly generates energy from glycogen to produce adenosine triphosphate (ATP), but it results in the production of lactate, a byproduct that can hinder performance. Lactate harbours hydrogen ions that contribute to an increasingly acidic environment when you reach your anaerobic threshold, causing that characteristic muscle burn.
As you continue training, your kidneys naturally produce more bicarbonate (HCO3) to buffer the build-up of these hydrogen ions, allowing you to maintain a neutral blood pH for an extended period.
Supplementing with baking soda before exercise can optimise this process further by increasing bicarbonate levels in your system, facilitating the neutralisation of acidic pH levels in your muscles more efficiently, ultimately enabling you to perform at a higher level.
Sodium bicarbonate supplementation has shown its prowess in various muscular endurance activities like cycling, running, swimming, rowing, crossfit, and combat sports, such as boxing, judo, karate, taekwondo, and wrestling. High-intensity interval training (HIIT) and other skill-based sports have also experienced the beneficial effects of sodium bicarbonate, making it a well-documented, safe, and effective supplement with minimal side effects.
In a comprehensive meta-analysis, it was revealed that sodium bicarbonate supplementation can lead to a 1.7% increase in mean power output during high-intensity, short-duration races, making it particularly advantageous for activities lasting between 30 seconds and 12 minutes, where the lactic acid system primarily comes into play. Additionally, sodium bicarbonate can improve muscular endurance during repeated high-intensity exercise intervals.
One study showcased the promise of baking soda supplementation in enhancing performance during 2000-metre rowing events, particularly in the latter half of the competition.
As exercise duration lengthens, the reliance shifts to the aerobic energy system, where acidity buffering becomes less crucial. However, baking soda still plays a role by reducing muscle fatigue and increasing power output. It’s worth noting that a psychological placebo effect can also be at play, as baking soda can mitigate the sensation of muscle fatigue, ultimately contributing to an overall improved performance.
For those interested in supplementing with baking soda, the recommended dosage typically falls within the range of 0.2 to 0.5 grams per kilogram of body weight, with 300 mg per kilogram considered the optimal amount for maximising benefits while minimising side effects.
The timing of supplementation can vary among individuals, but athletes can optimise their peak performance by fine-tuning when they ingest baking soda. A common single-day supplementation protocol entails taking the dosage between 60 and 180 minutes before the workout, which can be administered in a single large dose or multiple smaller doses. Multiple-day protocols have also proven effective by ingesting smaller servings of baking soda in the days leading up to the event, thereby reducing the risk of side effects on the day of competition.
For those seeking to supercharge their performance with baking soda, it can be effectively combined with caffeine, beta-alanine, and creatine. Studies have demonstrated significant performance improvements when these supplements are used in conjunction with baking soda. For instance, a study involving elite 200-metre swimmers revealed that combining baking soda and caffeine led to an enhanced performance.
In a double-blind placebo study with trained individuals performing 10-second sprint intervals, it was found that sodium bicarbonate with creatine increased peak power by 7%, compared to a 4% increase with creatine alone. Furthermore, the combined supplement group maintained relative peak power for longer durations.
A crossover study involving swimmers indicated that the coingestion of beta-alanine and sodium bicarbonate contributed to improved performance. However, it’s important to note that further research is needed in this area.
Despite the potential benefits, it’s crucial to be aware of potential side effects associated with ingesting baking soda. Some athletes may experience gastrointestinal distress, as baking soda reacts with stomach acid, producing excess carbon dioxide, which can lead to symptoms like nausea, bloating, gas, abdominal pain, diarrhoea, or vomiting if consumed in excessive amounts.
If you’re considering supplementing with baking soda, it’s advisable to start with a relatively small dosage at least two hours before exercise to gauge your body’s response. You can then gradually increase the dosage and fine-tune the timing to optimise your performance effectively. In environments like Raw Gym, the integration of baking soda supplementation into training routines can provide an extra edge for individuals striving to achieve their fitness goals and enhance their overall health.