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07.05.2012


Sodium bicarbonate-creatine combo keeps sprint times up to the mark

If you do a sport that requires repeated short bursts of explosive movement, you may benefit from a supplement that combines sodium bicarbonate and creatine. Sports scientist James Barber of California Polytechnic State University San Luis discovered this and described the effect in his thesis [Link]. An article will appear soon in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research.

Creatine [in the figure below right] enables muscle cells to contract repeatedly more often by providing the cells with more molecular energy. Sodium bicarbonate [in the figure below left] neutralises lactic acid and delays the moment at which muscle cells start to function less efficiently as a result of a higher degree of acidity. Sports scientists have tested both substances exhaustively and demonstrated their effectiveness. It would seem obvious therefore that it's worth combining sodium bicarbonate [you may know it as 'baking soda'] with creatine, but this combination has only been studied once. [J Strength Cond Res. 2004 May;18(2):306-10.] Which is why Barber decided to do a study.

Barber used 13 fit male students, who had to cycle on three occasions. On each occasion they had to sprint six times for 10 seconds as hard as they could, and between the sprints they had to cycle slowly enough to be able to recover.


Sodium bicarbonate-creatine combo keeps sprint times up to the mark


The students were given supplements two days before the exertion test. On one occasion they were given a placebo, the second time 20 g creatine per day, and the third time the students took 20 g creatine [Cr] and 0.5 g sodium bicarbonate [Sb] per kg bodyweight. The students took their supplements every day at 9:00, 12:00, 18:00 and 22:00. The supplements consisted of powder, which the students took with two glasses of water. The researchers also impressed upon the students that they should drink two litres of water every day.


Sodium bicarbonate-creatine combo keeps sprint times up to the mark


Sodium bicarbonate-creatine combo keeps sprint times up to the mark


The combined supplement worked better than creatine on its own. Peak power increased by a significant amount in the combined group but not in the creatine group. The figure below also shows that the relative peak power [peak power per kg bodyweight] is maintained better in the combined group than in the other groups.


Sodium bicarbonate-creatine combo keeps sprint times up to the mark


The students did not have serious stomach pain or gut problems.

"Using a convenient, acute 2-day supplement of creatine and sodium bicarbonate, we observed increased relative peak power (+7%) during the repeated sprints", Barber concludes in his article. "Although this may seem minimal, it may have a profound impact on increasing high intensity exercise performance in a real-world competition. At the elite or collegiate level in athletics, seconds (or less) may be the difference in winning an event, and a 7% increase in power output may play a pivotal role in deciding the outcome."

Source:
Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research, 23 March 2012, doi: 10.1519/JSC.0b013e318252f6b7.

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