The difference in athletes post-sodium bicarbonate digestion

The time to peak blood bicarbonate, pH and strong ion difference in elite adolescent swimmers following sodium bicarbonate ingestion.

The use of sodium bicarbonate may improve the performance of adolescent swimmers.


Research background

Recent research by Dr Gough and colleagues suggests that personalised dosing strategies may be necessary to maximise the ergogenic effects of sodium bicarbonate.

Additionally, this work has added to the complexity surrounding bicarbonates potential mechanisms by showing increases in the strong ion difference alongside other acid-base markers (bicarbonate and pH).

Therefore, a better understanding of these mechanisms is required to understand their roles in acid-base balance and exercise performance.

Research aims

We aimed to identify the behaviour of circulating measures of the strong ion difference, blood bicarbonate and pH following the ingestion of sodium bicarbonate. This is the first study to measure the dose-response relationship of all three of these variables simultaneously.

Therefore, this will be key information in the understanding of how acid-base balance can be optimised for athletes prior to competition.

How has the research been carried out?

The swimmers took sodium bicarbonate capsules following their typical pre-competition diet. Blood was then taken at 15-minute intervals to identify the time that each measure peaked in the bloodstream.

Research outcomes

The strong ion difference peaked earlier in the bloodstream than both bicarbonate and pH concentrations. This is a novel finding requiring further research to investigate if time to peak bicarbonate or strong ion difference is the most optimal dosing strategy when supplementing with sodium bicarbonate.