Background: Previous research has shown that ingestion of substances that enhance the body's hydrogen ion buffering capacity during high intensity exercise can improve exercise performance. The present study aimed to determine whether the chronic ingestion of an alkalizing supplement, which purports to enhance both intracellular and extracellular buffering capacity, could impact cardiorespiratory and performance markers in trained Nordic skiers.
Methods: Twenty-four skiers (12 men, 12 women), matched for upper body power (UBP), were split into treatment and placebo groups. The treatment group ingested Alka-Myte®-based alkalizing tablets (1 tablet/22.7 kg body mass/day) over seven successive days while the placebo group consumed placebo tablets (i.e., no Alka-Myte®) at the same dosage. Prior to tablet ingestion (i.e., pre-testing), both groups completed a constant power UBP test, three successive 10-sec UBP tests, and then a 60-sec UBP test. Next, skiers completed the 7-day ingestion of their assigned tablets followed immediately by a repeat of the same UBP tests (i.e., post-testing). Neither the skiers nor the researchers were aware of which tablets were being consumed by either group until after all testing was complete. Dependent measures for analysis included heart rate (HR), oxygen consumption (VO2), minute ventilation (VE), blood lactate (LA), as well as 10-sec (W10, W) and 60-sec (W60, W) UBP. All data were evaluated using a two-factor multivariate repeated measures ANOVA with planned contrasts for post-hoc testing (alpha = 0.05).
Results: Post-testing cardiorespiratory (HR, VO2, VE) and LA measures for the treatment group tended to be significantly lower when measured for both constant power and UBP60 tests, while measures of both 10-sec (W10: 229 to 243 W) and 60-sec UBP (W60: 190 to 198 W) were significantly higher (P < 0.05). In contrast, there were no significant changes for the placebo group (P > 0.05).
Conclusions: Following the 7-day loading phase of Alka-Myte®-based alkalizing tablets, trained Nordic skiers experienced significantly lower cardiorespiratory stress, lower blood lactate responses, and higher UBP measures. Thus, the use of this supplement appeared to impart an ergogenic benefit to the skiers that may be similar to the effects expected from consuming well-studied extracellular buffering agents such as sodium bicarbonate.