Does Sodium Bicarbonate Make You Faster? w/ Dr. Jason Siegler – The Science of Getting Faster Podcast Ep. 8

The buffering capacity of Sodium Bicarbonate and Sodium Citrate has been well-studied for their potential to decrease the acidity of our blood during exercise, and ultimately attenuate fatigue.

In a larger effort to reevaluate the hyperhydration strategies in the lead-up to the Tokyo Olympics, Dr. Siegler and colleagues aimed to uncover if buffering agents such as Sodium Bicarbonate and Sodium Citrate have the potential to enhance performance in ways that had not been previously studied.

In this episode of the Science of Getting Faster Podcast, Dr. Siegler, a leader on the subject of buffering agents, joins us to discuss buffering agents and his study The Hyperhydration Potential of Sodium Bicarbonate and Sodium Citrate.

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  • (0:45) What is a buffer?
  • (3:05) How does our blood become more acidic during exercise?
  • (4:03) Can we train our buffering capacity?
  • (6:22) How do our bodies naturally buffer our blood?
  • (9:47) Can our nutrition impact the acidity of our blood and thus our buffering capacity?
  • (11:35) Currently, why do athletes supplement with buffering agents?
  • (14:30) At what intensity of exercise do buffering agents have the greatest impact?
  • (15:31)The side effects of buffering agents and how you can mitigate those side effects
  • (16:50) Why you might experience side effects and what those side effects are?
  • (18:50) Buffering agents for endurance events
  • (19:32) How long do buffering agents stay in your blood?
  • (21:10) How your supplementation regiment and method of delivery can impact GI symptoms
  • (25:21) Differences between Sodium Citrate and Sodium Bicarbonate
  • (26:25) Why this study is novel
  • (31:40) What is hyperhydration and why it is beneficial to endurance performance?
  • (34:08) Study protocol
  • (40:51) Supplementation and fluid regiment for both hyperhydration and buffering protocols
  • (47:20) The results! :tada:
  • (55:25) What does Dr. Siegler want to explore next with regard to buffering agents?
  • (57:43) What are Dr. Siegler’s recommendations for supplementing with buffering agents?

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And now Maurten makes a Bicarbonate product. Going to have to go back and give this episode a listen.


As I have discussed on this forum before I’m a frequent user of sodium bicarb loading and greenleaf/sims hyper hydration strategies…and in fact during one of those threads we mused that sodium bicarb might not be providing a so much of a buffering benefit as it was just working to mimic the greenleaf/sims salt loading protocol.

So interesting to see somebody take a more rigorous approach to answering that question!

I used sodium loading previous to my state TT win last year. I used sodium bicarb loading previous to my (one and only) triathlon podium finish last year. So both strategies can be used by a joe schmoe athlete…now, how much did they help? I don’t know. There is a good chance both helped but in such an uncontrolled situation, who can say for sure?

and now Maurten has a product that uses their hydro gel to help bypass the stomach and curtail GI impact, priced as one would expect from them.

Maurten’s pricing is really what made me look more into cheaper alternatives. I like their stuff but it’s just too expensive

Wonder how to adjust this for something like Unbound since they were thinking 90 minutes was long :roll_eyes:

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Here is what I would do. I normally mix 1.3tbsp sodium bicarb in 8oz of water…3x. Every half hour I’ll drink one. Wait 1/2hr after the last dose and race.

I would do the same thing for DK except I wouldn’t mix in the sodium bicarb. I’d just drink the water. Because nobody needs to buffer against lactate at DK. It’s a 200 mile race that’s going to take 10+ hours.


What I did not really understand: What is going on with sodium citrate? Can I use it the same way as sodium bicarb? Same amout and same ingesting protocol and expect similar results? Or is there a different effect expected in comparison with sodium bicarb?

Edit: ok, watched the results part again. If I understand correctly, Sodium citrate is almost expected to buffer as well as Sodium bicarb with less discomfort.

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I think you meant tsp rather than tbsp? Assuming you don’t weigh 312 kg :wink:

good catch, @Todd_Palmer! :rofl: Yikes. Even when I was competing I never weighed that much. Maybe half that much. :stuck_out_tongue_winking_eye:

One time I put a tsp of sodium bicarb in my smoothie and mixed it up. Bad idea. It totally exploded. I still find specs of dried blueberry smoothie on the wall from time to time. Had to paint the kitchen.

I was imagining some poor soul following the recipe and exploding in the same way :joy:

Btw i believe maurten uses sodium alginate as their thickener. This has also been used by fast food companies to make “triple thick” milkshakes in the past. Whos gonna DIY bicarb jello first? @Dr_Alex_Harrison

Edit: looks like the bicarb system uses xantham gum, a different thickener along with “bulking agents” modifed starch(corn starch?), hydroxypropyl cellulose(baking additive/thickener), magnesium stearate(emulsifier)

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So is the xantham / alginate in there to thicken AND get the bicarb past the stomach without causing GI distress?

As well as preventing G.I. distress, the new product also doubles bicarb absorption rate, meaning the gains are still coming seven hours deep into the longest monument or world championship race.

But what IS the marginal gain for the top 1% of endurance athletes and where with in a 4-6+ hour effort does the gain manifest? What kind of tactics need to be employed to maintain the gain?

Finally when is the Saturday AM app going to have a bi-line for this under nectar? @Dr_Alex_Harrison (just kidding…or am I?)

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Based on the picture

and the instructions to down it without chewing I’m guessing the mix is to just slow absorption similar to capsules


But couldn’t one just get a thicker capsule that can withstand the stomach that dissolves later and reduces the distress when straight baking soda is taken without the gelatin? I mean that’s what this is, using gelatin to delay absorption.

Unless it’s like the secret ingredient in my dad’s famous “Secret Ingredient Soup” :panda_face:

I think capsules are just not practical on the bike or maybe just the implication is bad if you saw a cyclist popping a handful of capsules. The slow release capsules contain the same Hydroxypropyl methylcellulose that is used by maurten. capsules have been used successfully for awhile now in track cycling IIRC. Maybe the maurten jello is just easier to get down

I have used their gels in my mix, and depending on how you’re feeling on the bike that can range from “okay” to “oh god it’s a big hot booger” :nauseated_face: This looks like the carb gels but more…a lot more.

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My guess is like tapioca pudding. I’m assuming the team is mixing it for them and hopefully keeping it cold

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