Many researchers have investigated the effects of induced metabolic alkalosis, by ingestion of sodium bicarbonate, on anaerobic exercise performance. But the results have been inconsistent and often contradictory. The purpose of this review was to synthesize the varied findings using a meta-analytic approach. Twenty-nine investigations met our inclusion criteria. Results show that , ingestion clearly results in a more alkaline extracellular environment. The dosage, however, was only moderately related to the increase in pH and HCO3-. Overall, performance was enhanced but the range of effect sizes was large, -0.12 to 2.87. In studies that measured time to exhaustion, there was a mean 27±20% increase in duration. The treatment effect, however, was only weakly related to the degree of induced alkalosis. But in comparing the 19 studies that showed a positive treatment effect with the 16 that showed no effect, the former were associated with a greater increase in pH following ingestion of a somewhat larger dosage, and a greater decrease in pH with exercise.
The authors are with the School of Kinesiology & Physical Education at the University of Northern Colorado, Greeley, CO 80639.