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Effects of chronic bicarbonate ingestion on the performance of high-intensity work


We have evaluated whether sodium bicarbonate, taken chronically (0.5 g · kg−1 body mass) for a period of 5 days would improve the performance of eight subjects during 60 s of high-intensity exercise on an electrically braked cycle ergometer. The first test was performed prior to chronic supplementation (pre-ingestion) while the post-ingestion test took place 6 days later. A control test took place approximately 1 month after the cessation of all testing. Acid-base and metabolite data (n = 7) were measured from arterialised blood both pre- and post-exercise, as well as daily throughout the exercise period. The work completed by the subjects in the control and pre-ingestion test [21.1 (0.9) and 21.1 (0.9) MJ, respectively] was less than (P < 0.05) that completed in the post-ingestion test [24.1 (0.9) MJ; F (2,21) = 3.4, P < 0.05, power = 0.57]. Peak power was higher after the 5-day supplementation period (P < 0.05). Ingestion of the sodium bicarbonate for a period of 5 days resulted in an increase in pH (F (5,36) = 12.5, P < 0.0001, power = 1.0) over the 5-day period. The blood bicarbonate levels also rose during the trial (P < 0.05) from a resting level of 22.8 (0.4) to 28.4 (1.1) mmol · l−1 after 24 h of ingestion. In conclusion, the addition of sodium bicarbonate to a normal diet proved to be of ergogenic benefit in the performance of short-term, high-intensity work.

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Accepted: 29 March 1999

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McNaughton, L., Backx, K., Palmer, G. et al. Effects of chronic bicarbonate ingestion on the performance of high-intensity work. Eur J Appl Physiol 80, 333–336 (1999).

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  • Key words Buffer
  • Base excess
  • Anaerobic work
  • Ergogenic aid