Sodium Bicarbonate

Last Updated: September 28, 2022

Sodium Bicarbonate (baking soda) is a molecule that acts as a buffering agent against acidity in the human body, and appears to enhance physical performance in elite and novice athletes. It also may have health benefits and intestinal side effects.

Sodium Bicarbonate is most often used for


Sodium bicarbonate (baking soda) is a supplement that provides dietary bicarbonate, which can increase serum levels of bicarbonate (normally produced by the kidneys) and subsequently buffer acid production in the body. The main mechanism of action of sodium bicarbonate is in negating the effects of acidosis. It provides benefits both in situations of chronic mild acidosis, commonly seen in metabolic ailments or during aging as kidney function slowly declines, and in exercise-induced acidosis.

In athletes, the standard doses of sodium bicarbonate supplementation (200-300 mg/kg) reliably benefits performance when performance on the exercise is heavily influenced by metabolic acidosis, aka “the burn.” Brief high-intensity exercise performance, such as a single-bout of a 30-second Wingate test, does not benefit from supplementation with sodium bicarbonate,[2] but exercise involving multiple 30-second maximal efforts does, especially if short rest intervals are used between efforts. Supplementation with sodium bicarbonate is also unlikely to enhance performance during low-intensity long-duration exercise, although the evidence is mixed.

Overall, supplementation with sodium bicarbonate can enhance performance in high-intensity single- and multiple-bout exercise that last between about 30 seconds and 12 minutes.[1]

Benefits of sodium bicarbonate can be observed with a single dose taken 60-150 minutes before exercise, but supplementation should be approached cautiously as it can cause gastrointestinal side effects if too much is taken at once or, if it’s consumed too rapidly.

Additionally, 5 g of sodium bicarbonate taken daily appears to be somewhat effective in reducing acidosis induced by the diet or the aging process (although using potassium bicarbonate appears to be better), and therefore it may reduce the rate of bone loss over time in susceptible populations.

There are mechanisms in place for sodium bicarbonate to be a fat-burning agent (it increases ketone production and lipolysis and causes a minor increase in metabolic rate), but these have not yet been linked to actual weight loss in trials.

What else is Sodium Bicarbonate known as?
Note that Sodium Bicarbonate is also known as:
  • Baking Soda
  • Bicarb
  • Bicarbonate
Dosage information

Supplemental sodium bicarbonate can be baking soda bought from the grocery store; they are the same molecule, so store-bought baking soda will work.

When used before exercise, supplemental dosages of sodium bicarbonate are in the 200–300 mg/kg range. While 200 mg/kg seems to produce an ergogenic effect in most people, 300 mg/kg appears to be the optimal dose. Doses of 400–500 mg/kg are also ergogenic when taken before exercise, but not necessarily more than lower doses. These higher doses also tend to be associated with a higher degree of intestinal side effects.

If taking sodium bicarbonate acutely for exercise, a dose can be taken 60-150 minutes before anaerobic activities associated with metabolic acidosis (i.e., “the burn”) for maximum benefit.

In studies that used a multiple day (3 to 7 days) supplementation protocol, an overall sodium bicarbondate dose of 500 mg/kg divided into four smaller doses taken throughout the day was more effective than an overall dose 300 mg/kg.[1]

Some health effects (increase in metabolic rate or attenuation of metabolic acidosis) can be achieved at more reasonable doses, such as 5-10 g, and may be more practical for nonathletes.

Additionally, as 27.3% of sodium bicarbonate's weight is due to sodium, every 100 mg/kg confers about 27 mg/kg sodium to the diet; this needs to be accounted for, and severely limits usage by persons with salt-sensitive hypertension.

As the doses are measured in reference to body weight, obesity may result in a falsely high oral dose. If you are not within a normal or overweight BMI range, estimate your oral dose based on your “ideal weight” instead.

The means of consuming bicarbonate is important, as excessively high doses or rapid ingestion can cause gastric upset due to a reaction between bicarbonate and stomach acid. Bicarbonate should be sipped slowly over a period of a few minutes with a moderate amount of water (500 mL), and the first time bicarbonate is used a half-dose should be ingested to assess tolerance.

Rapidly ingesting the drink, or taking too much, is likely to induce stomach pain and nausea within an hour followed by increased diarrhea and flatulence; sticking to 200 mg/kg may alleviate the risk of these side effects.

Independent of the dose taken, caution should be exercised with the manner by which sodium bicarbonate is ingested, so as to minimize intestinal and gastric side effects; these side effects occur with rapid or excessive consumption of bicarbonate, and include nausea and diarrhea.

Examine Database: Sodium Bicarbonate
What works and what doesn't?

Unlock the full potential of Examine

Get started

Don't miss out on the latest research

  1. ^Jozo Grgic, Zeljko Pedisic, Bryan Saunders, Guilherme G Artioli, Brad J Schoenfeld, Michael J McKenna, David J Bishop, Richard B Kreider, Jeffrey R Stout, Douglas S Kalman, Shawn M Arent, Trisha A VanDusseldorp, Hector L Lopez, Tim N Ziegenfuss, Louise M Burke, Jose Antonio, Bill I CampbellInternational Society of Sports Nutrition position stand: sodium bicarbonate and exercise performanceJ Int Soc Sports Nutr.(2021 Sep 9)
  2. ^Jozo GrgicEffects of Sodium Bicarbonate Ingestion on Measures of Wingate Test Performance: A Meta-AnalysisJ Am Nutr Assoc.(2022 Jan)
Examine Database References
  1. Serum Bicarbonate - Siegler JC, Midgley AW, Polman RC, Lever REffects of various sodium bicarbonate loading protocols on the time-dependent extracellular buffering profileJ Strength Cond Res.(2010 Sep)
  2. Serum Bicarbonate - Costill DL, Verstappen F, Kuipers H, Janssen E, Fink WAcid-base balance during repeated bouts of exercise: influence of HCO3Int J Sports Med.(1984 Oct)
  3. Serum Bicarbonate - Price M, Moss P, Rance SEffects of sodium bicarbonate ingestion on prolonged intermittent exerciseMed Sci Sports Exerc.(2003 Aug)
  4. Serum Bicarbonate - D Ball, P L Greenhaff, R J MaughanThe acute reversal of a diet-induced metabolic acidosis does not restore endurance capacity during high-intensity exercise in manEur J Appl Physiol Occup Physiol.(1996)
  5. Serum Bicarbonate - Bouissou P, Defer G, Guezennec CY, Estrade PY, Serrurier BMetabolic and blood catecholamine responses to exercise during alkalosisMed Sci Sports Exerc.(1988 Jun)
  6. Serum Bicarbonate - Portington KJ, Pascoe DD, Webster MJ, Anderson LH, Rutland RR, Gladden LBEffect of induced alkalosis on exhaustive leg press performanceMed Sci Sports Exerc.(1998 Apr)
  7. Serum Bicarbonate - Bishop D, Edge J, Davis C, Goodman CInduced metabolic alkalosis affects muscle metabolism and repeated-sprint abilityMed Sci Sports Exerc.(2004 May)
  8. Serum Bicarbonate - Potteiger JA, Webster MJ, Nickel GL, Haub MD, Palmer RJThe effects of buffer ingestion on metabolic factors related to distance running performanceEur J Appl Physiol Occup Physiol.(1996)
  9. Serum Bicarbonate - Lambert CP, Greenhaff PL, Ball D, Maughan RJInfluence of sodium bicarbonate ingestion on plasma ammonia accumulation during incremental exercise in manEur J Appl Physiol Occup Physiol.(1993)
  10. Serum Bicarbonate - McNaughton L, Backx K, Palmer G, Strange NEffects of chronic bicarbonate ingestion on the performance of high-intensity workEur J Appl Physiol Occup Physiol.(1999 Sep)
  11. Serum Bicarbonate - L Mc Naughton, D ThompsonAcute versus chronic sodium bicarbonate ingestion and anaerobic work and power outputJ Sports Med Phys Fitness.(2001 Dec)
  12. Serum Bicarbonate - Edge J, Bishop D, Goodman CEffects of chronic NaHCO3 ingestion during interval training on changes to muscle buffer capacity, metabolism, and short-term endurance performanceJ Appl Physiol.(2006 Sep)
  13. Serum Bicarbonate - Cameron SL, McLay-Cooke RT, Brown RC, Gray AR, Fairbairn KAIncreased blood pH but not performance with sodium bicarbonate supplementation in elite rugby union playersInt J Sport Nutr Exerc Metab.(2010 Aug)
  14. Serum Bicarbonate - Webster MJ, Webster MN, Crawford RE, Gladden LBEffect of sodium bicarbonate ingestion on exhaustive resistance exercise performanceMed Sci Sports Exerc.(1993 Aug)
  15. Blood Acidity - Taylor DV, Boyajian JG, James N, Woods D, Chicz-Demet A, Wilson AF, Sandman CAAcidosis stimulates beta-endorphin release during exerciseJ Appl Physiol.(1994 Oct)
  16. Anaerobic Capacity - Lindh AM, Peyrebrune MC, Ingham SA, Bailey DM, Folland JPSodium bicarbonate improves swimming performanceInt J Sports Med.(2008 Jun)
  17. Anaerobic Capacity - Jason C Siegler, Damien O Gleadall-SiddallSodium bicarbonate ingestion and repeated swim sprint performanceJ Strength Cond Res.(2010 Nov)
  18. Anaerobic Capacity - Gao JP, Costill DL, Horswill CA, Park SHSodium bicarbonate ingestion improves performance in interval swimmingEur J Appl Physiol Occup Physiol.(1988)
  19. Blood Lactate (Exercise) - Pruscino CL, Ross ML, Gregory JR, Savage B, Flanagan TREffects of sodium bicarbonate, caffeine, and their combination on repeated 200-m freestyle performanceInt J Sport Nutr Exerc Metab.(2008 Apr)
  20. Net Acid Excretion - Nimrit Goraya, Jan Simoni, Chan-Hee Jo, Donald E WessonTreatment of metabolic acidosis in patients with stage 3 chronic kidney disease with fruits and vegetables or oral bicarbonate reduces urine angiotensinogen and preserves glomerular filtration rateKidney Int.(2014 Nov)
  21. Anaerobic Capacity - Bird SR, Wiles J, Robbins JThe effect of sodium bicarbonate ingestion on 1500-m racing timeJ Sports Sci.(1995 Oct)
  22. Anaerobic Capacity - Tan F, Polglaze T, Cox G, Dawson B, Mujika I, Clark SEffects of induced alkalosis on simulated match performance in elite female water polo playersInt J Sport Nutr Exerc Metab.(2010 Jun)
  23. Anaerobic Capacity - Price MJ, Simons CThe effect of sodium bicarbonate ingestion on high-intensity intermittent running and subsequent performanceJ Strength Cond Res.(2010 Jul)
  24. Anaerobic Capacity - Tiryaki GR, Atterbom HAThe effects of sodium bicarbonate and sodium citrate on 600 m running time of trained femalesJ Sports Med Phys Fitness.(1995 Sep)
  25. Anaerobic Capacity - Siegler JC, McNaughton LR, Midgley AW, Keatley S, Hillman AMetabolic alkalosis, recovery and sprint performanceInt J Sports Med.(2010 Nov)
  26. Anaerobic Capacity - Price MJ, Cripps DThe effects of combined glucose-electrolyte and sodium bicarbonate ingestion on prolonged intermittent exercise performanceJ Sports Sci.(2012)
  27. Blood Lactate (Exercise) - Gaitanos GC, Nevill ME, Brooks S, Williams CRepeated bouts of sprint running after induced alkalosisJ Sports Sci.(1991 Winter)
  28. Anaerobic Capacity - Robergs R, Hutchinson K, Hendee S, Madden S, Siegler JInfluence of pre-exercise acidosis and alkalosis on the kinetics of acid-base recovery following intense exerciseInt J Sport Nutr Exerc Metab.(2005 Feb)
  29. Insulin - Harris SS, Dawson-Hughes BNo effect of bicarbonate treatment on insulin sensitivity and glucose control in non-diabetic older adultsEndocrine.(2010 Oct)
  30. Insulin - Smellie WS, O'Donnell J, Davidson H, Couper J, Logue FCEffects of changes in acid base and calcium concentration on fasting serum insulin, proinsulin, and glucose concentrationsJ Clin Pathol.(1994 Nov)
  31. Blood Acidity - Price MJ, Singh MTime course of blood bicarbonate and pH three hours after sodium bicarbonate ingestionInt J Sports Physiol Perform.(2008 Jun)
  32. Blood Acidity - R Gougeon-Reyburn, E B MarlissEffects of sodium bicarbonate on nitrogen metabolism and ketone bodies during very low energy protein diets in obese subjectsMetabolism.(1989 Dec)
  33. Blood Acidity - V L Hood, U Keller, M W Haymond, D KürySystemic pH modifies ketone body production rates and lipolysis in humansAm J Physiol.(1990 Sep)
  34. Fat Oxidation - Smith GI, Jeukendrup AE, Ball DSodium acetate induces a metabolic alkalosis but not the increase in fatty acid oxidation observed following bicarbonate ingestion in humansJ Nutr.(2007 Jul)
  35. Glycemic Control - Schoppen S, Sánchez-Muniz FJ, Pérez-Granados M, Gómez-Gerique JA, Sarriá B, Navas-Carretero S, Pilar Vaquero MDoes bicarbonated mineral water rich in sodium change insulin sensitivity of postmenopausal womenNutr Hosp.(2007 Sep-Oct)
  36. Rate of Perceived Exertion - Zabala M, Requena B, Sánchez-Muñoz C, González-Badillo JJ, García I, Oöpik V, Pääsuke MEffects of sodium bicarbonate ingestion on performance and perceptual responses in a laboratory-simulated BMX cycling qualification seriesJ Strength Cond Res.(2008 Sep)
  37. Rate of Perceived Exertion - Stephens TJ, McKenna MJ, Canny BJ, Snow RJ, McConell GKEffect of sodium bicarbonate on muscle metabolism during intense endurance cyclingMed Sci Sports Exerc.(2002 Apr)
  38. Rate of Perceived Exertion - Zabala M, Peinado AB, Calderón FJ, Sampedro J, Castillo MJ, Benito PJBicarbonate ingestion has no ergogenic effect on consecutive all out sprint tests in BMX elite cyclistsEur J Appl Physiol.(2011 Dec)
  39. Rate of Perceived Exertion - Hunter AM, De Vito G, Bolger C, Mullany H, Galloway SDThe effect of induced alkalosis and submaximal cycling on neuromuscular response during sustained isometric contractionJ Sports Sci.(2009 Oct)
  40. Serum Bicarbonate - Marx JO, Gordon SE, Vos NH, Nindl BC, Gómez AL, Volek JS, Pedro J, Ratamess N, Newton RU, French DN, Rubin MR, Häkkinen K, Kraemer WJEffect of alkalosis on plasma epinephrine responses to high intensity cycle exercise in humansEur J Appl Physiol.(2002 May)
  41. Serum Bicarbonate - Vanhatalo A, McNaughton LR, Siegler J, Jones AMEffect of induced alkalosis on the power-duration relationship of "all-out" exerciseMed Sci Sports Exerc.(2010 Mar)
  42. Serum Bicarbonate - Driller MW, Gregory JR, Williams AD, Fell JWThe effects of serial and acute NaHCO3 loading in well-trained cyclistsJ Strength Cond Res.(2012 Oct)
  43. Serum Bicarbonate - Bishop D, Claudius BEffects of induced metabolic alkalosis on prolonged intermittent-sprint performanceMed Sci Sports Exerc.(2005 May)
  44. Serum Bicarbonate - Douroudos II, Fatouros IG, Gourgoulis V, Jamurtas AZ, Tsitsios T, Hatzinikolaou A, Margonis K, Mavromatidis K, Taxildaris KDose-related effects of prolonged NaHCO3 ingestion during high-intensity exerciseMed Sci Sports Exerc.(2006 Oct)
  45. Serum Bicarbonate - Kilding AE, Overton C, Gleave JEffects of caffeine, sodium bicarbonate, and their combined ingestion on high-intensity cycling performanceInt J Sport Nutr Exerc Metab.(2012 Jun)
  46. Serum Bicarbonate - Kozak-Collins K, Burke ER, Schoene RBSodium bicarbonate ingestion does not improve performance in women cyclistsMed Sci Sports Exerc.(1994 Dec)
  47. Serum Bicarbonate - Mueller SM, Gehrig SM, Frese S, Wagner CA, Boutellier U, Toigo MMultiday acute sodium bicarbonate intake improves endurance capacity and reduces acidosis in menJ Int Soc Sports Nutr.(2013 Mar 26)
  48. Blood Lactate (Exercise) - Sale C, Saunders B, Hudson S, Wise JA, Harris RC, Sunderland CDEffect of β-alanine plus sodium bicarbonate on high-intensity cycling capacityMed Sci Sports Exerc.(2011 Oct)
  49. Anaerobic Capacity - Lavender G, Bird SREffect of sodium bicarbonate ingestion upon repeated sprintsBr J Sports Med.(1989 Mar)
  50. Serum Bicarbonate - McNaughton L, Dalton B, Palmer GSodium bicarbonate can be used as an ergogenic aid in high-intensity, competitive cycle ergometry of 1 h durationEur J Appl Physiol Occup Physiol.(1999 Jun)
  51. Power Output - Carr AJ, Gore CJ, Dawson BInduced alkalosis and caffeine supplementation: effects on 2,000-m rowing performanceInt J Sport Nutr Exerc Metab.(2011 Oct)
  52. Power Output - Carr AJ, Slater GJ, Gore CJ, Dawson B, Burke LMReliability and effect of sodium bicarbonate: buffering and 2000-m rowing performanceInt J Sports Physiol Perform.(2012 Jun)
  53. Power Output - Kupcis PD, Slater GJ, Pruscino CL, Kemp JGInfluence of sodium bicarbonate on performance and hydration in lightweight rowingInt J Sports Physiol Perform.(2012 Mar)
  54. Power Output - Brien DM, McKenzie DCThe effect of induced alkalosis and acidosis on plasma lactate and work output in elite oarsmenEur J Appl Physiol Occup Physiol.(1989)
  55. Power Output - Nielsen HB, Bredmose PP, Strømstad M, Volianitis S, Quistorff B, Secher NHBicarbonate attenuates arterial desaturation during maximal exercise in humansJ Appl Physiol.(2002 Aug)
  56. Serum Bicarbonate - Volianitis S, Rasmussen P, Seifert T, Nielsen HB, Secher NHPlasma pH does not influence the cerebral metabolic ratio during maximal whole body exerciseJ Physiol.(2011 Jan 15)
  57. Training Volume - Artioli GG, Gualano B, Coelho DF, Benatti FB, Gailey AW, Lancha AH JrDoes sodium-bicarbonate ingestion improve simulated judo performanceInt J Sport Nutr Exerc Metab.(2007 Apr)
  58. Teeth Whitening - Mankodi SM, Conforti N, Berkowitz HEfficacy of baking soda-containing chewing gum in removing natural tooth stainCompend Contin Educ Dent.(2001 Jul)
  59. Teeth Whitening - Soparkar P, Newman MBEffects of a Baking Soda Gum on extrinsic dental stain: results of a longitudinal 4-week assessmentCompend Contin Educ Dent.(2001 Jul)
  60. Teeth Whitening - Soparkar P, Newman MBA clinical investigation to evaluate reduction in dental stain provided by the once-daily use of a breath mint or chewing gumCompend Contin Educ Dent.(2001 Jul)
  61. Neuromuscular Function - Siegler JC, Hirscher KSodium bicarbonate ingestion and boxing performanceJ Strength Cond Res.(2010 Jan)
  62. Lipid Absorption - Schoppen S, Pérez-Granados AM, Carbajal A, Sarriá B, Sánchez-Muniz FJ, Gómez-Gerique JA, Pilar Vaquero MSodium bicarbonated mineral water decreases postprandial lipaemia in postmenopausal women compared to a low mineral waterBr J Nutr.(2005 Oct)
  63. Serum Bicarbonate - Siegler JC, Keatley S, Midgley AW, Nevill AM, McNaughton LRPre-exercise alkalosis and acid-base recoveryInt J Sports Med.(2008 Jul)
  64. Neuromuscular Function - Wu CL, Shih MC, Yang CC, Huang MH, Chang CKSodium bicarbonate supplementation prevents skilled tennis performance decline after a simulated matchJ Int Soc Sports Nutr.(2010 Oct 26)