by Kris Pitcher
Sodium bicarbonate, or baking soda, loading is an interesting topic. It's something that explosive athletes, like track athletes have had interest in for some time.
When we are doing high intensity exercise we're creating an acidic environment as a result of the metabolic process. Our blood has to deal with the metabolic waste including lactic acid and hydrogen ions which are byproducts of the metabolic activity happening.
As these byproducts increase in our blood, we feel muscle fatigue. When you do a wall sit for 90 seconds and you feel like your legs are on fire...you're feeling the byproducts of the metabolic process. Science. Cool.
By supplementing, or loading, with baking soda an athlete would be able to create a less acidic blood environment. They could essentially fell less burn doing high intensity exercises. Typically, it's been used for exercises greater than 60 seconds in duration and not longer than 15 minutes. We are talking about explosive, sprinting types of high intensity work.
It's generally accepted that a load would be 0.3g/kg of body weight. The biggest issues for people are gastrointestinal issues ranging from bloating to severe diarrhea. Talk about explosive!
Protocols range from acute loading prior to your event. This would typically be done 1-2 hours pre-competition putting the baking soda in 1-2 L of water. Multi-day loading either prior to the event, or prior to training is also done.
Not exactly a mainstream protocol for running your weekend 5K. Remember 60 seconds to 15 minutes. Some people do add it to their water without gastrointestinal distress for enhanced performance. Me? I'm not likely to sprint anywhere.