T Nation

Taking Sodium Bicarbonate


C.T. What is the rationale for taking the small dose of Na-bicarbonate that you have mentioned taking with breakfast?


Sodium bicarbonate = baking soda ~ Alka seltzer. This will neautralize acids.

HCO3- + H+ --> H2CO3

(Bicarbonate reacts with acid, H+, to form carbonic acid.)

H2CO3 --> H2O + CO2

(Carbonic acid breaks down to form water and carbon dioxide).

This is also why increasing atmospheric CO2 leads to more acidic oceans. As the oceans absorb CO2, the CO2 + H2O --> H2CO3 (these reactions are in equilibrium).

This is also the buffer used in your blood, as bicarbonate can also neautralize bases: HCO3- + OH- --> CO3-2 + H2O, forming carbonate (-2 charge). This allows us to keep our blood between a very narrow pH.

Chemistry is cool!


I am a chemist and exercise physiologist. I know that bicarbonate buffers lactic acid and can boost endurance. My question is to CT as to what purpose he was taking it with breakfast every day for. I didn’t think it was for the immediate performance boost in his case so I wondered if it helps with some more general health issue.

…In part because my wife is also a cardiologist and says that chronic ingestion of alkaline substances actually triggers the body to counter-regulate and raise acid production. For example, regular use of bicarb can lead to gastric overproduction of HCl and intake of small amount of acid like vinegar, and HLa (fermented veggies and dairy) actually suppress HCl production and works well to prevent acid reflux-a not counterintuitive.


Good info. It’s certainly not as simple as “take more buffer, and your body is better as dealing with acidic conditions”. I am also a PhD chemist, though a synthetic organic chemist. What type of chemist are you?

Another thing to consider is that what goes into your stomach doesn’t make it intact into your body. I would anticipate that almost all sodium bicarb gets consumed attempting to neutralize stomach contents. There have been studies with athletes that seem to show ingesting bicarb helps with performance, and the speculation is that it helps with lactic acid scavenging, as you suggest. Though I find it surprising that would be the case, as the body has a built-in buffer system and is quite adept at keeping within a narrow range.

Another thing to consider is the sodium you are consuming if you supplement with a large amount of NaHCO3. Nearly 30% of the weight of NaHCO3 is from sodium. So if one eats 20 grams of NaHCO3, that’s ~6 grams of sodium. That’s nearly 3x the recommended dosage.


reduces acidity and good for kidney health