Sports Medicine

, Volume 47, Issue 10, pp 2117–2127 | Cite as

The Reproducibility of Blood Acid Base Responses in Male Collegiate Athletes Following Individualised Doses of Sodium Bicarbonate: A Randomised Controlled Crossover Study

  • Lewis A. GoughEmail author
  • Sanjoy K. Deb
  • Andy S. Sparks
  • Lars R. McNaughton
Original Research Article



Current evidence suggests sodium bicarbonate (NaHCO3) should be ingested based upon the individualised alkalotic peak of either blood pH or bicarbonate (HCO3 ) because of large inter-individual variations (10–180 min). If such a strategy is to be practical, the blood analyte response needs to be reproducible.


This study aimed to evaluate the degree of reproducibility of both time to peak (TTP) and absolute change in blood pH, HCO3 and sodium (Na+) following acute NaHCO3 ingestion.


Male participants (n = 15) with backgrounds in rugby, football or sprinting completed six randomised treatments entailing ingestion of two doses of 0.2 g·kg−1 body mass (BM) NaHCO3 (SBC2a and b), two doses of 0.3 g·kg−1 BM NaHCO3 (SBC3a and b) or two control treatments (CON1a and b) on separate days. Blood analysis included pH, HCO3 and Na+ prior to and at regular time points following NaHCO3 ingestion over a 3-h period.


HCO3 displayed greater reproducibility than pH in intraclass correlation coefficient (ICC) analysis for both TTP (HCO3 SBC2 r = 0.77, P = 0.003; SBC3 r = 0.94, P < 0.001; pH SBC2 r = 0.62, P = 0.044; SBC3 r = 0.71, P = 0.016) and absolute change (HCO3 SBC2 r = 0.89, P < 0.001; SBC3 r = 0.76, P = 0.008; pH SBC2 r = 0.84, P = 0.001; SBC3 r = 0.62, P = 0.041).


Our results indicate that both TTP and absolute change in HCO3 is more reliable than pH. As such, these data provide support for an individualised NaHCO3 ingestion strategy to consistently elicit peak alkalosis before exercise. Future work should utilise an individualised NaHCO3 ingestion strategy based on HCO3 responses and evaluate effects on exercise performance.


HCO3 NaHCO3 Intraclass Correlation Coefficient Carnosine Absolute Change 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.



The authors are grateful for the technical assistance received during data collection and thank fellow colleagues who provided laboratory space, even during busy times.

Compliance with ethical standards


No sources of funding were used to conduct this study or prepare this manuscript.

Conflicts of interest

LA Gough, SK Deb, SA Sparks, and LR McNaughton have no conflicts of interest that are directly relevant to the content of this article.


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  • Lewis A. Gough
    • 1
    Email author
  • Sanjoy K. Deb
    • 1
  • Andy S. Sparks
    • 1
  • Lars R. McNaughton
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Sport and Physical ActivityEdge Hill UniversityOrmskirkUK

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