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Beta-Alanine and Sodium Bicarbonate Stack

We have known for a while that beta-alanine improves performance, particularly for repeated bouts of high intensity training (weight training) [1].  More recently sodium bicarbonate has become the focus of research and its ability to enhance performance, even allowing you a chance to get more reps during sets to failure [2]:

“The results of this study suggest that sodium bicarbonate ingestion can enhance resistance exercise performance using a repetition to failure protocol in the first exercise in a resistance exercise session.”

So both are pretty good.  But together they are even better, which is what we call true synergy.  Not the “synergy” that supplement companies with 32 ingredients in one product claim (because we know damn well they cannot validate that claim with research).  But true synergy.  Here’s an extensive look at some research on the beta-alanine and sodium bicarbonate stack:


 

Sale et al. October 2011  – Effect of β-alanine plus sodium bicarbonate on high-intensity cycling capacity.

Protocol

  • 20 Young Men
  • 6.4 grams of beta-alanine per day (800mg’s 4x/day)
  • .3 g/kg of Sodium Bicarbonate (about 27 grams for a 200lb male), split into a breakfast dose (2/3rd’s of daily dose) and a dose 2 hours pre-workout (1/3rd of daily dose)
  • 15 men had no side effects from the large sodium bicarbonate doses.  5 experienced varying symptoms of bloating, cramps, diarrhea.
  • High intensity cycling capacity was tested including time to exhaustion, and total work done.

Results

  • 4% increase in time to exhaustion in the beta-alanine and sodium bicarbonate stack group (not statistically significant)
  • The beta-alanine included groups increased total work done by 14%

“However, coingestion of b-alanine and sodium bicarbonate did not confer any further significant benefit to exercise capacity despite a further 6-s (~4%) increase in TTE, although magnitude-based inferences suggested a ~70% probability of a meaningful positive difference.”

 


Bellinger et al. August 2012 – Effect of combined β-alanine and sodium bicarbonate supplementation on cycling performance.

Protocol

  • 14 highly trained male cyclists
  • 65mg/kg per day (about 5.85 grams for a 200lb male) of beta-alanine, taken in a split dose with 4 meals throughout the day
  • .3 g/kg of Sodium Bicarbonate
  • 3 of the 14 men complained of mild gastrointestinal discomfort after the sodium bicarbonate dose
  • Average power output over a 4 minute max effort cycling time trail was measured.

Results

  • 28 day of beta-alanine supplementation did not improve average power output
  • Sodium bicarbonate supplementation alone increased average power output 3.1%, and total work done 3%.
  • A beta-alanine and sodium bicarbonate stack increased average power output 3.3%, and total work done 3.2%. (note this was not statistically significant, and therefor ruled no better than sodium bicarbonate alone)

Ducker et al. December 2013 – Effect of Beta alanine and sodium bicarbonate supplementation on repeated-sprint performance.

 Protocol

  • 24 male Australian athletes (team sports)
  • ~6 grams per day of beta-alanine, split into 4 doses throughout the day
  • .3 g/kg of Sodium Bicarbonate, taken 1 hour before sprints
  • No side effects noted
  • Sprint times were measured from 3 sets of 6 x 20 meter sprints with 25 seconds rest between sprints, and 4 minutes rest between sets.

Results

  • Beta-alanine supplementation did not improve sprint times
  • Sodium bicarbonate supplementation alone improved sprint times -1.28 seconds
  • A beta-alanine and sodium bicarbonate stack improved sprint times an additional .58 seconds vs. all groups (again not considered statistically significant vs. sodium bicarbonate alone).

 

Hobson et al. October 2013 – Effect of beta-alanine, with and without sodium bicarbonate, on 2000-m rowing performance.

Protocol

  • 20 male trained rowers
  • 6.4 grams of beta-alanine per day for 4 weeks
  • .3 g/kg of sodium bicarbonate
  • 2,000 m rowing times were measured

Results

  • Beta-alanine increased rowing performance by -6.4 seconds vs. placebo
  • Sodium Bicarbonate increased rowing performance by -3.2 seconds vs. placebo
  • A beta-alanine and sodium bicarbonate stack improved rowing performance an additional -1.1 seconds vs. beta-alanine alone.

Tobias et al. August 2013 – Additive effects of beta-alanine and sodium bicarbonate on upper-body intermittent performance.

Protocol 

  • 37 Judo/jiu-jitsu competitorsbeta-alanine sodium bicarbonate
  • 6.4 grams of beta-alanine per day split into 4 doses/day for 4 weeks
  • .5 g/kg of sodium bicarbonate for 7 days
  • 8 of the 18 athletes in the sodium bicarbonate groups experienced gastrointestinal discomfort
  • Performance was measured with 4-bout 30-s upper-body Wingate Test with a 3-min recovery period between each bout.

Results

  • Total work done increased 7% for the beta-alanine group, 8% for the sodium bicarbonate group, and 14% for the beta-alanine and sodium bicarbonate stack.
  • Average power increased in the beta-alanine group, the sodium bicarbonate group, but increased the most (8.6% to 20.3%) in the beta-alanine and sodium bicarbonate stack.
  • Only the beta-alanine and sodium bicarbonate stack improved the ratings of perceived exertion.

 

de Salles Painelli et al. May 2013 – The ergogenic effect of beta-alanine combined with sodium bicarbonate on high-intensity swimming performance.

Protocol

  • 18 junior-standard swimmers
  • 3.2 g/day for 1 week, then 6.4 g/day of beta-alanine for 4 weeks taken 4 times per day
    beta-alanine and sodium bicarbonate stack
  • .3 g/kg of sodium bicarbonate 90 minutes before swimming trials only
  • No side effects were reported outside of excessive burping
  • 100m and 200m swimming performance

Results

  • 200m swim times decreased in the beta-alanine group and the sodium bicarbonate group.  However the greatest improvement in time was the seen with the beta-alanine and sodium bicarbonate stack.

“The coingestion of BA and SB further increased the 200-m time-trial performance by –1.18 s and the 100-m time-trial performance by –0.76 s, compared with BA alone, which makes the effect of supplementation, respectively, ~80% and ~70% likely to be meaningful.”

 


Mero et al. November 2013 – Effect of sodium bicarbonate and beta-alanine supplementation on maximal sprint swimming.

Protocol

  • 13 international/national level male swimmers
  • 4.8 grams/day of beta-alanine split throughout the day for 4 weeks
  • .3 g/kg of sodium bicarbonate 60 minutes prior to the swimming protocol
  • No side effects were reported
  • Performance was measured by times in max effort 100 meter swims

Results

  • Sodium bicarbonate supplementation improved swim times 2.4%
  • No significant difference was seen with the use of the beta-alanine and sodium bicarbonate stack.

 

-Travis DeGraff

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