Sodium Bicarbonate is one of five ergogenic aids that the IOC recognizes as having enough research to support its use in athletics and yet few practitioners are aware of its benefits. During this presentation we'll focus on how the research has evolved over the last 60+ years as well as the practical implications for use in sport for both day of performance and the potential for improved recovery.

Q&A for Session #6

  • Is Bi carbonate consumption legal?
    • There are 3 levels permissible and non permissible available according to wada.
  • The GI issue is a huge issue for many and there would need to be more definitive strategies to address this first before being able to sell an athlete on continuing to use it - dietary strategies or other tools that you have heard athletes have had success with?
    • There is a couple, mixing w/ CHO and spacing out time. There will be trial and error, some athletes just cannot tolerate it. I think it really comes down to working w/ athletes especially in those sports where is is easily measurable. Toast and jam is a good one. You have to work w/ the individual athlete and CHO works really well with it, but some athletes just cannot tolerate it. Tolerance can be built up. Not a magic bullet, not something you can go win a NCAA championship with it but it might be something that can get them that 1%.
  • How much of the benefits you've mentioned of sodium bicarbonate can be attributed to the sodium load itself?
    • Sodium bicabonate is 27% sodium, 30 g of Bicarb.. Under 9 g of sodium could alter the blood pressure. 
  • What is the timing (before, during)?
    • So it really depends on the athlete, some take 30-60 min before. I would suggest playing with it. Say an athlete comes in and takes the first 3rd 2hr before competition and slowly giving more doses. I would never take it all at the same time, too many pills and the powder form would not have a good reaction.
  • How about alkaline water? do you think it can help as bicarbonate but with less GI issues?
    • No, its just hard to believe. How much absorption happens is also important of Sodiumbi carb. Some bicarb interacts with the gut. It depends on how much hits the blood stream, due to hypervariable metabolism.
  • Would you recommend sodium bicarb for alpine skiers? and is it better for certain disciplines i.e. slalom vs. downhill?
    • Yes I would reccomend it. When you think about it, anytime you are living in a high lactate environment you want to clear the lactate as soon as possible. When lactate is produced in the muscle cell it also produces that ion. Bicarbonate will pick up that H+ ion and lactate will be used as an energy source. Beta-Alanine is also something I would look at for skiers, most injuries occur in the last third of the race.
  • Can you review the loading specifically. What is the recommendation per kg and timing?
    • Usually 0.3g/Kg,,,, Between 30 , 60, 90 mins pre events.
  • Is there any benefit to adding a small amount (<0.3g/kg) to a post workout recovery drink if some athletes reported less soreness from bicarb loading?
    • The head of Clemson football has been putting Alka-Seltzer in football players gatorade. In addition, I am also a big fan of a placebo. If an athlete asks for it because they think it makes them feel better, then do it. From a physiological perspective, it doesn't necessarily help. For some the bicarobnate will settle the stomach and make them feel better, especially with acid reflux.
  • Are there benefits of Sodium Bicarb and Long Aerobic Events?
    • I think anywhere we are going to be producing H+ ions there will be benefits. When running long distance it is how close to the threshold can I stay. We see benefits in 1/2 and full marathons, there is a lot of research out there. Yes I think there is benefits for bicarb across all sports.