American Physiological Society (APS) via Newswise – Rockville, Md. (December 22, 2021)—Researchers find in a new study that drinking a solution of sodium bicarbonate and water prior to exercising in heat improved outcomes. The study is published in the Journal of Applied Physiology, and was chosen as an APSselect article for December.
Exercising in the heat can lead to hyperventilation, decreased performance and risk of heatstroke. In a first-of-its-kind study, researchers from the Prefectural University of Hiroshima, Japan, investigated whether drinking a sodium bicarbonate (baking soda) beverage could mitigate the effects of exercising in the heat.
The team recruited 11 healthy men for a crossover-style study. Participants each completed two experimental sessions consisting of one trial and one control. Each session was separated by at least three days and conducted in an environmental chamber set to 95 degrees F.
The sodium bicarbonate solution was 300 mg per kilogram body weight mixed with 4.5 mL of mineral water per kilogram body weight. The control solution was a comparable amount of saline (salt water). Both beverages included grape syrup and aspartame to blind participants to their contents. Participants consumed the beverages 90 minutes before beginning to exercise.
The sodium bicarbonate trials showed a number of improved metrics. Participants showed reduced measures of hyperventilation, improved ratios of carbon dioxide in the blood and greater blood flow in the brain. Perhaps most telling, the participants reported lower perceived exertion.
“Sodium bicarbonate ingestion may be a beneficial strategy to mitigate the risk of heatstroke and decreased exercise performance in the heat,” researchers wrote.
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