Bicarbonate loading is a popular ergogenic aid used primarily by athletes in short-duration, high-intensity sporting events and competitions. For some time this supplementation method has been used as a little trick by runners, when they know a particular training or race stimulus results in high levels of lactic.
Today The Stride helps you understand how bicarb loading works at a physiological level, and makes some suggestions as to how you can use it in your training and racing as the technique is perfectly legal.
When blood is pH neutral or “normal”, the numerical values are between 7.38-7.42. As we sprint or perform high intensity exercise blood becomes acidic and our values drop below 7.38. This is called acidosis, and is responsible for giving you feeling of “lactic” burn. The effects of this can be visibly seen with a prime example being 400m runners at the 300m period of the race.
How bicarb loading is effective is that it makes your blood alkalitic prior to activity pH > 7.42. This is so when we sprint or perform high intensity exercise the bioproduct caused by the activity will cause our blood levels to fall back to resting levels, rather than becoming acidic. The runner won’t experience anywhere near the same unwanted and unpleasant lactic burn, and in turn can run faster by holding top speeds for longer.
When ingesting bicarb research shows that it effective in a slow and gradual loading pattern over approximately 5-days. This technique has been shown to be effective in both sport performance, as well as reducing unwanted side effects such as bloating etc. However, if you’re considering using the technique of bicarb loading, we always recommend that you trial its use and effectiveness in training sessions first. This is you can know how effective it will be, whether or not you have any unwanted side effects (bloating etc), and are fully aware of the feeling of being on sports supplementation.
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