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Bryan Saunders, Craig Sale, Roger C. Harris and Caroline Sunderland

Purpose:

To determine whether gastrointestinal (GI) distress affects the ergogenicity of sodium bicarbonate and whether the degree of alkalemia or other metabolic responses is different between individuals who improve exercise capacity and those who do not.

Methods:

Twenty-one men completed 2 cycling-capacity tests at 110% of maximum power output. Participants were supplemented with 0.3 g/kg body mass of either placebo (maltodextrin) or sodium bicarbonate (SB). Blood pH, bicarbonate, base excess, and lactate were determined at baseline, preexercise, immediately postexercise, and 5 min postexercise.

Results:

SB supplementation did not significantly increase total work done (TWD; P = .16, 46.8 · 9.1 vs 45.6 · 8.4 kJ, d = 0.14), although magnitude-based inferences suggested a 63% likelihood of a positive effect. When data were analyzed without 4 participants who experienced GI discomfort, TWD (P = .01) was significantly improved with SB. Immediately postexercise blood lactate was higher in SB for the individuals who improved but not for those who did not. There were also differences in the preexercise-to-postexercise change in blood pH, bicarbonate, and base excess between individuals who improved and those who did not.

Conclusions:

SB improved high-intensity-cycling capacity but only with the exclusion of participants experiencing GI discomfort. Differences in blood responses suggest that SB may not be beneficial to all individuals. Magnitude-based inferences suggested that the exercise effects are unlikely to be negative; therefore, individuals should determine whether they respond well to SB supplementation before competition.

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Luana Farias de Oliveira, Bryan Saunders and Guilherme Giannini Artioli

Sodium bicarbonate (SB) is an ergogenic supplement shown to improve high-intensity exercise via increased blood bicarbonate buffering. Substantial amounts of the ingested bicarbonate are neutralized in the stomach. Bariatric surgery results in a small gastric pouch which dramatically reduces exposure time of any ingested food in the stomach. The aim of this study was to examine the pharmacokinetics of orally ingested SB in a postgastric bypass individual to determine the magnitude of changes in blood bicarbonate and associated side effects. We hypothesized that SB supplementation in a gastric bypass model would result in greater blood bicarbonate increases and fewer side effects than in healthy individuals due to minimal bicarbonate losses in the stomach. One postbariatric male ingested 0.3 g/kg·body mass of SB on three occasions (SB1, SB2, and SB3) and 0.3 g/kg·body mass of placebo on a further occasion. Blood bicarbonate was determined before and every 10 min following supplement ingestion for 3 hr and then every 20 min for a further 1 hr. Side effects were reported using an adapted questionnaire at identical time points. Maximal increases in blood bicarbonate with SB were +20.0, +15.2, and +12.6 mM, resulting in maximal bicarbonate concentrations of 42.8, 39.3, and 36.2 mM. Area under the curve was SB1: 8,328 mM/min; SB2: 7,747 mM/min; SB3: 7,627 mM/min, and 6,436 mM/min for placebo. Side effects with SB were scarce. Maximal bicarbonate increases were well above those shown previously, with minimal side effects, indicative of minimal neutralization of bicarbonate in the stomach. The large increases in circulating bicarbonate and minimal side effects experienced by our postgastric surgery bypass patient are indicative that minimizing neutralization of bicarbonate in the stomach, as would occur with enteric coated capsules, may optimize SB supplementation and thus warrants investigation.

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Bryan Saunders, Craig Sale, Roger C. Harris and Caroline Sunderland

Purpose:

To investigate the separate and combined effects of sodium bicarbonate and beta-alanine supplementation on repeated sprints during simulated match play performed in hypoxia.

Methods:

Study A: 20 recreationally active participants performed two trials following acute supplementation with either sodium bicarbonate (0.3 g·kg−1BM) or placebo (maltodextrin). Study B: 16 recreationally active participants were supplemented with either a placebo or beta-alanine for 5 weeks (6.4 g·day−1 for 4 weeks, 3.2 g·day−1 for 1 week), and performed one trial before supplementation (with maltodextrin) and two following supplementation (with sodium bicarbonate and maltodextrin). Trials consisted of 3 sets of 5 × 6 s repeated sprints performed during a football specific intermittent treadmill protocol performed in hypoxia (15.5% O2). Mean (MPO) and peak (PPO) power output were recorded as the performance measures.

Results:

Study A: Overall MPO was lower with sodium bicarbonate than placebo (p = .02, 539.4 ± 84.5 vs. 554.0 ± 84.6 W), although there was no effect across sets (all p > .05). Study B: There was no effect of beta-alanine, or cosupplementation with sodium bicarbonate, on either parameter, although there was a trend toward higher MPO with sodium bicarbonate (p = .07).

Conclusions:

The effect of sodium bicarbonate on repeated sprints was equivocal, although there was no effect of beta-alanine or cosupplementation with sodium bicarbonate. Individual variation may have contributed to differences in results with sodium bicarbonate, although the lack of an effect with beta-alanine suggests this type of exercise may not be influenced by increased buffering capacity.

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Rebecca Louise Jones, Trent Stellingwerff, Guilherme Giannini Artioli, Bryan Saunders, Simon Cooper and Craig Sale

To defend against hydrogen cation accumulation and muscle fatigue during exercise, sodium bicarbonate (NaHCO3) ingestion is commonplace. The individualized dose-response relationship between NaHCO3 ingestion and blood biochemistry is unclear. The present study investigated the bicarbonate, pH, base excess and sodium responses to NaHCO3 ingestion. Sixteen healthy males (23 ± 2 years; 78.6 ± 15.1 kg) attended three randomized order-balanced, nonblinded sessions, ingesting a single dose of either 0.1, 0.2 or 0.3 g·kg-1BM of NaHCO3 (Intralabs, UK). Fingertip capillary blood was obtained at baseline and every 10 min for 1 hr, then every 15 min for a further 2 hr. There was a significant main effect of both time and condition for all assessed blood analytes (p ≤ .001). Blood analyte responses were significantly lower following 0.1 g·kg-1BM compared with 0.2 g·kg-1BM; bicarbonate concentrations and base excess were highest following ingestion of 0.3 g·kg-1BM (p ≤ .01). Bicarbonate concentrations and pH significantly increased from baseline following all doses; the higher the dose the greater the increase. Large interindividual variability was shown in the magnitude of the increase in bicarbonate concentrations following each dose (+2.0–5; +5.1–8.1; and +6.0–12.3 mmol·L-1 for 0.1, 0.2 and 0.3 g·kg-1BM) and in the range of time to peak concentrations (30–150; 40–165; and 75–180 min for 0.1, 0.2 and 0.3 g·kg-1BM). The variability in bicarbonate responses was not affected by normalization to body mass. These results challenge current practices relating to NaHCO3 supplementation and clearly show the need for athletes to individualize their ingestion protocol and trial varying dosages before competition.