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Personalising sodium bicarbonate supplementation to maximise performance

Helping athletes maximise their performances with personalised supplements of sodium bicarbonate, a hitherto inconsistent performance enhancer. 

This research project investigated the use of sodium bicarbonate as a supplement in professional athletes.

Researchers

  • Lewis Gough
  • Sanjoy Deb
  • Andy Sparks
  • Nathan Hilton
  • Lars McNoughton 

Research background

For many years, the use of sodium bicarbonate has been considered a useful supplement to enhance performance. Traditionally, and up until around 2016, there has been suggestions that an individual would ‘respond’ or ‘not-respond’ to the supplement.

This project was focused on identifying factors that might reduce this variation in response.

We did this by changing the ingestion timing of the supplement, such that instead of administering the supplement at a set time frame, we instead administered this supplement at the individual time to peak bicarbonate concentration.

This was in light of our early work showing that the individual time to peak bicarbonate concentration could vary between 40 and 180 min in participants of similar characteristics. Maximising the concentration of bicarbonate is suggested to improve the chances of securing a performance benefit from this supplement.

This is a joint project between BCU, Edge Hill University and the University of Westminster.

Research aims

We have already seen that on the back of this research we have observed changes in the practices of athletes, and it now being more widely considered. We have also built significant funding partnerships with various organisations to continue with this research in an attempt to understand the responses to this supplement in more detail.

We hope this will become and impact case study in the future building towards the next REF cycle.

Results

We have seen significant changes in the way athletes are ingesting/using sodium bicarbonate as part of their nutritional strategies and we are also continuing to research on this topic.

A list of papers associated with the research project can be found on the dedicated ResearchGate page.