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Sodium Bicarbonate in Protein Shakes?

Hey guys,

I remember reading in something written by Berardi that adding like 5g of sodium bicarbonate in the form of baking powder to protein shakes could help neutralize the net acid load of the shake and it would make your diet less acidic in general.

My 2 questions are:

  1. Is this true? Does anyone have more details on this?
  2. Can club soda be used as an alternative to backing powder?

Thanks guys

I don’t know the answers to your questions but I believe you would want to use baking soda, not baking powder. Baking soda is purely sodium bicarbonate.

Baking powder contains it but has other ingredients as well. I’ve never heard of ingesting baking powder.

Here is the study that Berardi cites http://www.ajcn.org/cgi/reprint/61/5/1058.pdf
(Reference #7 from his page on the topic, http://www.t-nation.com/free_online_article/sports_body_training_performance_diet_nutrition_bodybuilding/covering_your_nutritional_bases )

In addition to the better-recognized role of growth hormone in shifting fuel utilization from glucose to fatty acids in muscle (14), growth hormone was recently proposed to play a major role in acid-base homeostasis (13). Growth hormone accelerates renal acid secretion (13) and thereby facilitates elimination of acid from the body fluids, a potentially important role during strenuous exercise when acidogenesis may limit performance (24). Note that circulating growth hormone concentration increases in strenuous exercise and this response can be suppressed by bicarbonate administration (25). Interestingly, lowering plasma bicarbonate by acid loading (ammonium chloride) increases circulating growth hormone concentration (26), which is consistent with a role for growth hormone in acid-base homeostasis. In summary, a surprisingly small oral glutamine load was shown to be effective in elevating both the plasma alkaline reserves and growth hormone responses that may contribute to acid-base homeostasis. In addition, substitution of the growth hormone-dependent fuel mix favoring fat oxidation suggests a potential benefit in terms of body composition.

What I want to know is why bicarbonate/glutamine is even necessary if GH concentrations are ultimately king in maintaing the homeostasis, which to me would mean the acidosis affecting protein breakdown would be regulated by circulating GH anyway, not requiring exogenous glutamine/bicarbonate supplementation.

Hopefully, Bill Roberts will see this and feel as generous with his time as he has been lately :slight_smile:

I always have respect for Dr Berardi’s views and in several respects have personally adopted some things I’ve learned from him, and his articles are always worth reading.

However, the sodium bicarbonate in a pre, peri, or postworkout drink, if he suggested using it then, does not make sense to me. The study you cite gives another reason why it does not seem like the right thing to do.

It may very well be a good idea to increase consumption of alkaline-forming food and, personally, in fact for little reason other than Dr Berardi recommending such increased consumption I’ve added spinach to my diet reasonably frequently (spinach is far and away the king of the alkalinizers in terms of effect per calorie.)

But sodium bicarbonate I decided against and now you provide even more reason.

Bill, you animal. I knew you’d tag team this one with me.

I had the same conclusion after reading the selection I quoted from the study.

I would put money that Alan Aragon, if I had suggested that he review this specific study for his newsletter, would have said the same thing as you and me.

Pardon me while I go acidify myself with some juicy sausages and onion-infused quinoa…

Uh body is extremely efficient in maintaining constant pH. Unless you have some serious health issues, such as renal failure or diabetes, this is something most people should not even be concerned about. Excess carbonate in the system is either going to enter the blood stream and leave as CO2 or head to the kidneys for excretion.

Yeah this issue is kinda hot right now. Some people think it’s huge while others think it’s irrelevant. It certainly can’t HURT to add in some alkalizing foods. Now is it necessary? No, I’m sure plenty of people have gained muscle without being alkaline ALL the time. Like elih8er said unless you have some legit health concerns it’s probably just more minutia to (not) worry about.

Dr. Colgan mentions supplementing with it in Optimum Sports Nutrition.

supposed to be great for athletes performing almost maximal exercise between 30 secs to 6 minutes. And also good for pooping…fast.

http://ironpower.biz/sup/sup_energy2.htm

The concern of performing a little better in an event due to the body resisting pH change a little more is not the same as the concern of wanting to get the most effect and benefit out of training.

Not that the two must be opposites, but they don’t have to be the same either.

Bicarbonate is not a solution to raising your blood pH. Bicarbonate is immediately converted into CO2 via carbonic anhydrase; anymore to the system at optimal pH and you push the conversion of CO3 --> H20 + CO2.

This is basic physiology and debating the usefulness of bicarbonate in your protein shake is one of those palm to forehead moments…

You are omitting charge balance and the fact that sodium ions are left behind after the CO2 is blown off.

The resulting sodium ions (without the chloride that would usually accompany them and which cannot be “blown off” in the breath) can serve as substitutes for H+ charges.

So where for example sodium bicarbonate (NaHCO3) yields Na+ and HCO3- and this is in turn converted with addition of H+ from another acid, call it H3O+, to Na+, water, and CO2 blown off in the breath, the net result is that the acidity of the second acid, H3O+, no longer exists as it has been replaced by Na+ and H2O, neither being acidic.

The claimed effect is sound in terms of mechanism. It oversimplifies it to say simply that the carbonate is blown off and that’s that, as there is more to it that does have a temporary effect in increasing momentarily-slighly-low pH when that is the case.

However, the usefulness let alone “need” as some claim (Berardi did not) is another matter.

Bill, what do you think of the use of sodium bicarbonate as an ergogenic aid in sport? The notoriously conservative Australian Institute of Sport has classified it on their A list of supplements to use (ZMA, for instance, is on the C list–those with no proof).

While it might not be useful in a generic health aid or even a bodybuilding aid, do you think it might have merit in, say, the sport of wrestling (bouts of repeated, near maximal contractions of a period of approx. 6-8 minutes)?

http://www.ausport.gov.au/ais/nutrition/supplements/supplement_fact_sheets/group_a_supplements/bicarbonate

It well might.

I’d be much more dubious – wouldn’t say it’s impossible but have more doubt – about whether it would enhance a wrestler’s long term performance to use it every training session.

But as for using it at select times to personally evaluate its use and to get the dose personally right, if suited for the user, and using for matches, being beneficial for that doesn’t seem unlikely to me at all.

[quote]PonceDeLeon wrote:

What I want to know is why bicarbonate/glutamine is even necessary if GH concentrations are ultimately king in maintaing the homeostasis, which to me would mean the acidosis affecting protein breakdown would be regulated by circulating GH anyway, not requiring exogenous glutamine/bicarbonate supplementation.[/quote]

I understand why ingesting bicarbonate is dumb but the study suggests that oral glutamine is useful because it increases both bicarbonate and growth hormone.

What is the exact mechanism by which growth hormone regulates acid/base homeostasis? I was under the impression that if the kidneys were getting rid of acid they’d need something alkaline to neutralize it.

I think the abstract should be read as blood pH affecting GH, not GH changing so as to affect blood pH, which I don’t remotely think is the case.

[quote]Bill Roberts wrote:
It well might.

I’d be much more dubious – wouldn’t say it’s impossible but have more doubt – about whether it would enhance a wrestler’s long term performance to use it every training session.

But as for using it at select times to personally evaluate its use and to get the dose personally right, if suited for the user, and using for matches, being beneficial for that doesn’t seem unlikely to me at all.[/quote]

Assuming it allows for higher levels of sustained performance, wouldn’t this result in a greater gains?

This is the notion that creatine works on–the ability to eek out the extra performance results in bigger mass and strength gains, right?

Personally after eating lot of spinach for a couple of days i feel a lot better overall in comparison with broccoli (in this case i feel just more horny), the alkalizing properties of the spinach could be the reason.

I can feel the difference cause i tend eat spinach like every two months when i buy some bags in costco. I will be eating my veggies more frequently.

[quote]Fiction wrote:
Bill Roberts wrote:
It well might.

I’d be much more dubious – wouldn’t say it’s impossible but have more doubt – about whether it would enhance a wrestler’s long term performance to use it every training session.

But as for using it at select times to personally evaluate its use and to get the dose personally right, if suited for the user, and using for matches, being beneficial for that doesn’t seem unlikely to me at all.

Assuming it allows for higher levels of sustained performance, wouldn’t this result in a greater gains?

This is the notion that creatine works on–the ability to eek out the extra performance results in bigger mass and strength gains, right?[/quote]

No and no.

The first is an assumption that is not necessarily so. For example, if, as in the study, GH release is lessened as a result of a method that gets a little more endurance, will the cumulative result of training necessarily still be better?

And on creatine, no. The notion it works on is adding water weight to the muscles which for some people is a substantial amount with a result of weighing more and looking a little bigger. It has never been demonstrated so far as I know that using creatine results in better muscular growth whatsoever in any long term sense. It’s not why people do it. But at least there is no downside, such as reducing GH.

I take a green’s supplement with my shakes and make sure I eat lots of fruits and veggies in my diet. That should help with the PH. Perhaps try that?

[quote]Bill Roberts wrote:
It has never been demonstrated so far as I know that using creatine results in better muscular growth whatsoever in any long term sense. [/quote]

Maybe I’m misunderstnading you, but it seems like there is some evidence to the contrary.

These studies indicate that muscle growth due to creatine is possible:

“Thus, muscle hypertrophy and glycogen supercompensation are candidate factors to explain the ergogenic potential of creatine ingestion.”

http://jp.physoc.org/cgi/content/abstract/573/2/525

“In conclusion, the present study demonstrates for the first time that creatine supplementation in combination with strength training amplifies the training-induced increase in satellite cell number and myonuclei concentration in human skeletal muscle fibres, thereby allowing an enhanced muscle fibre growth in response to strength training.”