Baking Soda: The Legal Performance Enhancer

I just found this article which I think a few of you serious racers out there may be interested in:

The study suggests that baking soda can actually increase your speed by reducing the acidity produced in your muscles during heavy anaerobic activity such as running or swimming (or unicycle sprinting).

However, I think the effects would be rather minimal in the word of unicycling as more often than not we are limited by how fast we can keep the wheel spinning while under control rather than how hard we can push our bodies. As technique improves and overall fitness becomes the limiting factor we may then consider something such as this. Your thoughts?

I’m sorta sure that you can’t just jerk the PH of your blood around by eating stuff like baking soda.

Maybe you could die if you ate a box of baking soda, that is not my point. I don’t think trying to change your blood PH is a good idea.

The liver and kidneys work 24/7 to oppose those that would try.:wink:

eh? Do you know what you’re talking about? Or is this just a guess?

This is interesting, I may need to try this at NAUCC :wink:

Baking soda is used by lightweight rowers to empty themselves to reduce their weight before races. Eating it under other circumstances, or while any distance from a toilet, might be a bad idea

I just pick up a 12 pound bag at Costco.
I’'m going to use to for 101 other things instead of going faster.
It’s good sh**.

One way to raise pH is to eat less SUGAR. Some studies say that.

The PH of the blood becomes more acidic as carbon dioxide accumulates in the blood. This rising acidity causes the brain to trigger the urge to breath.

So I don’t think you can change the PH of your blood, it’s involved in to many vital processes.

If you read the study this article is based on, it’s only for very high effort very short sprint events - 200m swims is what they tested with.

So not much use for any of the interesting races.


Also, Lactic acid is good for you

Besides causing a harmless burn during weight lifting (to let you know you are running out of peak strength), Lactic acid is the preferred fuel for the heart.

Only heart muscle can convert lactic acid (from heavy lifting) into ATP (cell energy). This is so when extreme exercise causes your muscles to suck up all the blood sugar, your heart still has plenty of fuel.

So even if you could neutralize the acid in your muscles with bicarbonate (doubtful), you would lose whatever performance edge this gave, when your heart stopped. :astonished:

Performance enhancers are for losers

How do you define performance enhancer though? I mean a lighter unicycle will enhance your performance, as will weight weight training. Gatorade gives you electrolytes, baking soda lowers acidity… where do you set your limit?

Meat, dairy, eggs, and most grains are acidic. A base diet would be mostly fruits, veggies, and some of the more base grains. There are lots of books out there on this subject.

Reference on lactic (muscle) acid

Lack of oxygen is not necessarily responsible for an increase in lactate production or even lactate accumulation. Other causative factors may play a more significant role.

Blood lactate accumulation represents only the balance of production and removal. It says nothing about the absolute values of either of these.

Only relatively short, very intense activity causes lactc acid to accumulate. Lactic acid is not thought to be a contributor to fatigue in low-moderate intensity activity of any duration.

Lactate is an important substrate that can be used during submaximal exercise, recovery and at rest. It is the preferred source of fuel for the heart and brain.

Lactic acid or lactate ‘pooling’ is not the cause of delayed muscle soreness.

Lactate accumulation and not necessarily an increase in production, causes an increase concentration of hydrogen ions and corresponding acidosis. Lactate production may actually help to curb the development of acidosis.

Acidosis is thought to be a primary factor in muscular fatigue and is based on a good deal of research. Recent research is contesting this claim but it is still too early to dismiss acidity as a cause of fatigue.

Training accelerates lactate clearance, reduces lactate accumulation at any given workload and results in a greater level of lactate accumulation during maximal effort.

This is clearly an area that is far from resolved but what seems clear is that lactate can no longer be labelled definitively as the athlete’s enemy. On the contrary, gathering evidence suggests that many aspects of lactate production are beneficial to athletic performance.

I copied all of the above from the link below

This is a summery from this article. Note point 4 about lactic acid being the preferred fuel source for the heart, the only muscle that can use lactic acid for energy.

lol good point there.I have no idea where id set the limit

It’s an impressive design

The lactic acid produced by extreme muscle use is the preferred fuel for the brain, liver, kidneys and heart.

So if you go total exertion bananas and collapse in a heap totally exhausted, you feel tired as a dead dog, but not sick or stupid, and your heart is the last muscle in your body to stop from a lack of energy, because it alone is smiling, happily fed in a pool of blood rich in lactate, and it also gets first crack at the blood after it goes though your lungs.

If you ever want to get amazed and confused and overrun with complexity, google the Krebs cycle. This will give a look at the complexity of the chemistry behind body energy use. I like to pretend I remember 10 % of it, but I’m not really that good.:wink:

I don’t think it will hurt you that bad. A one-time test out to see what happens would be fine. I’d never use it for unicycling (perhaps because I don’t sprint on my uni) because it’s not competitive enough yet. I could use it out for track, though, but I don’t think I’d do that either because I wouldn’t want any adverse side effects during a meet and I don’t have enough interest to test it out on my own time.

1.5 seconds in the 200 m is huge, though! Although they probably didn’t do enough research. The better time could be a combination of the athlete just naturally getting a PR plus the placebo effect from the baking soda. I don’t really know though. 1.5 seconds is a really big decrease in time.

It was placebo controlled - you can see the main details at

They’d have to have got 9 athletes getting 9 personal bests in the right one of 3 swims.

It’s obviously a small trial, but they got a statistically significant result in it, and it’s from a very well known sports science department, so they probably didn’t do things too wrong.