Baking soda: the unlikely sports supplement that really works
When next on the hunt for an addition to your supplement stack, you may need to look closer to home
In the kitchen, preferably.
Sodium bicarbonate (what you may know as baking soda) has a number of traditional uses, ranging from cooking, to teeth whitening and that primary school experiment where you mixed it with vinegar to create a volcano.
It just so happens that this traditional kitchen cupboard item could actually complement your hours spent in the gym, by boosting your power, endurance and general health.
How does baking soda boost performance?
Baking soda increases your levels of bicarbonate, normally produced by the kidneys. As a sports supplement, it can be taken in powder or capsule form.
It works by buffering lactic acid production, which tends to signal fatigue when it kicks in.
Studies show that it can actually benefit your power, performance and endurance. Around 200-300mg per kilo of body weight seems to be the best dose.
The sports and styles of training that benefit most from baking soda are those where you exert elements of physical power and explosiveness.
Boxing, tennis, short sprints, high-intensity resistance training and even judo have all observed the pros.
When should you take it?
Pre-workout or pre-event, you can take your dose of baking soda some 60-90 minutes prior.
The optimal dose has been shown to be 200-300mg per kilo of body weight.
Be careful not to exceed the recommended dose though - excessive amounts can cause stomach cramping, bloating and other possible side effects.
Baking soda for fat loss?
In theory, sodium bicarb may also help you lose weight. Supplementing with it increases your metabolic rate and the use of fat for fuel.
This definitely provides food for thought, but so far this hasn't been the focus of any scientific trials.
Arguably, the biggest benefit of baking soda is its cost.
Are there any side effects?
For those who have been medically advised to limit salt intake, you're best staying away from baking soda as it's so high in sodium.
At the very least, try and contact your GP if you're thinking of using it.