Effects of Caffeine, Sodium Bicarbonate, and Their Combined Ingestion on High-Intensity Cycling Performance

in International Journal of Sport Nutrition and Exercise Metabolism
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Purpose:

To determine the effects of ingesting caffeine (CAFF) and sodium bicarbonate (SB), taken individually and simultaneously, on 3-km cycling time-trial (TT) performance.

Method:

Ten well-trained cyclists, age 24.2 ± 5.4 yr, participated in this acute-treatment, double-blind, crossover study that involved four 3-km cycling TTs performed on separate days. Before each TT, participants ingested either 3 mg/kg body mass (BM) of CAFF, 0.3 g · kg−1 · BM−1 of SB, a combination of the two (CAFF+SB), or a placebo (PLAC). They completed each 3-km TT on a laboratory-based cycle ergometer, during which physiological, perceptual, and performance measurements were determined. For statistical analysis, the minimal worthwhile difference was considered ~1% based on previous research.

Results:

Pretrial pH and HCO3 were higher in SB and CAFF+SB than in the CAFF and PLAC trials. Differences across treatments for perceived exertion and gastric discomfort were mostly unclear. Compared with PLAC, mean power output during the 3-km TT was higher in CAFF, SB, and CAFF+SB trials (2.4%, 2.6%, 2.7% respectively), resulting in faster performance times (–0.9, –1.2, –1.2% respectively). Effect sizes for all trials were small (0.21–0.24).

Conclusions:

When ingested individually, both CAFF and SB enhance high-intensity cycling TT performance in trained cyclists. However, the ergogenic effect of these 2 popular supplements was not additive, bringing into question the efficacy of coingesting the 2 supplements before short-duration high-intensity exercise. In this study there were no negative effects of combining CAFF and SB, 2 relatively inexpensive and safe supplements.

The authors are with the Sport Performance Research Institute New Zealand, AUT University, Auckland, New Zealand.