The interplay between bicarbonate kinetics and gastrointestinal upset on ergogenic potential after sodium bicarbonate intake: a randomized double-blind placebo-controlled trial

Sci Rep. 2023 May 1;13(1):7081. doi: 10.1038/s41598-023-34343-0.


This double-blind placebo-controlled cross-over study utilized comprehensive monitoring of blood bicarbonate (HCO3¯) kinetics and evaluation of gastrointestinal (GI) upset to determine their impact on an ergogenic potential of sodium bicarbonate (SB) co-ingested with carbohydrate (CHO). Nineteen CrossFit athletes performed 6 bouts of 15 s Wingate Anaerobic Test (WAnT) 90 min post-ingestion of 0.4 g·kg-1 body mass (BM) of SB (SB + CHO treatment) or PLA (PLA + CHO treatment) with 15 g CHO. Blood HCO3¯ concentration was evaluated at baseline, 30-, 60-, 75- and 90 min post-ingestion, in between WAnT bouts, and 3 and 45 min post-exercise, while GI upset at 120 min after protocol started. Control (no supplementation; CTRL) procedures were also performed. An effective elevation of extra-cellular buffering capacity was observed 60-90 min post-ingestion of SB + CHO. At mean peak blood HCO3¯, or at start of exercise an increase > 6 mmol·L-1 in HCO3¯ was noted in 84% and 52.6% participants, respectively. SB + CHO did not prevent performance decrements in WAnT bouts. There were no significant relationships between changes in blood HCO3¯ and WAnTs' performance. Total GI was significantly higher in SB + CHO compared to CTRL, and stomach problems in SB + CHO compared to CTRL and PLA + CHO. There were inverse associations between peak- (p = 0.031; r = - 0.495), average- (p = 0.002; r = - 0.674) and minimum power (p = 0.008; r = - 0.585) and total GI upset, as well as average power and severe GI distress (p = 0.042; r = - 0.471) at SB + CHO. The implemented dose of SB + CHO was effective in improving buffering capacity, but did not prevent decrements in WAnTs' performance. GI side effects were crucial in affecting the ergogenic potential of SB and thus must be insightfully monitored in future studies.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Athletic Performance*
  • Bicarbonates
  • Cross-Over Studies
  • Double-Blind Method
  • Gastrointestinal Diseases* / chemically induced
  • Humans
  • Polyesters
  • Sodium Bicarbonate / adverse effects


  • Sodium Bicarbonate
  • Bicarbonates
  • Polyesters