Purpose: We recently reported that oral ketone ester (KE) intake before and during the initial 30 min of a 3 h 15 min simulated cycling race (RACE) transiently decreased blood pH and bicarbonate without affecting maximal performance in the final quarter of the event. We hypothesized that acid-base disturbances due to KE overrules the ergogenic potential of exogenous ketosis in endurance exercise.
Methods: Nine well-trained male cyclists participated in a similar RACE consisting of 3 h submaximal intermittent cycling (IMT180') followed by a 15-min time trial (TT15') preceding an all-out sprint at 175% of lactate threshold (SPRINT). In a randomized crossover design, participants received (i) 65 g KE, (ii) 300 mg·kg-1 body weight NaHCO3 (BIC), (iii) KE + BIC, or (iv) a control drink (CON), together with consistent 60 g·h-1 carbohydrate intake.
Results: KE ingestion transiently elevated blood D-ß-hydroxybutyrate to ~2-3 mM during the initial 2 h of RACE (P < 0.001 vs CON). In KE, blood pH concomitantly dropped from 7.43 to 7.36 whereas bicarbonate decreased from 25.5 to 20.5 mM (both P < 0.001 vs CON). Additional BIC resulted in 0.5 to 0.8 mM higher blood D-ß-hydroxybutyrate during the first half of IMT180' (P < 0.05 vs KE) and increased blood bicarbonate to 31.1 ± 1.8 mM and blood pH to 7.51 ± 0.03 by the end of IMT180' (P < 0.001 vs KE). Mean power output during TT15' was similar between KE, BIC, and CON at ~255 W but was 5% higher in KE + BIC (P = 0.02 vs CON). Time to exhaustion in the sprint was similar between all conditions at ~60 s (P = 0.88). Gastrointestinal symptoms were similar between groups.
Discussion: The coingestion of oral bicarbonate and KE enhances high-intensity performance at the end of an endurance exercise event without causing gastrointestinal distress.
Copyright © 2020 The Author(s). Published by Wolters Kluwer Health, Inc. on behalf of the American College of Sports Medicine.