Beta alanine, baking soda or both? What maximizes 4-min all-out cycling performance?
Against that background and in view of the results of a recently published study by researchers from the School of Human Life Sciences at the University of Tasmania in Australia (Bellinger. 2012), it could thusly (once more) be advisable that you initially resort to the stuff that is already sitting in your kitchen cabinet, before you spend extra bucks on expensive supplements... I guess, you are now asking yourselves what the hack this idiot is talking about now, so I guess, I best let you know what you have to look for: Baking soda! As a (hopefully) faithful student of the SuppVersity, you will be aware that I am a huge fan of this cheap, readily available and - potential diarrhea aside - side-effect free alkalanizer (cf. "Baking Soda for Stressed White Blood Cells" and "Sodium Bicarbonate, An Ergogenic Aid from Your Kitchen Cupboard").
|Image 2: "Cholesterol is the devil and sodium is his little brother!" Everyone who still believes everything the medical orthodoxy says, please raise your hands!|
Training log, diet log, wash-out periods - all in the name of science
Moreover, the subjects were asked to record their dietary intake in the 24h before the first performance trial, so that they could replicate the latter on the subsequent 2nd trial, which took place after a 2-day washout period, so that the subjects which had received the active sodium bicarbonate treatment (0.3g/kg NaHCO3 with 10ml/kg water to wash the capsules down) in the first trial would not derive any remaining benefit from that in the second trial, where the subjects that had previously been assigned to the placebo group, received the NaCHO3-filled capsules, while the others swallowed a placebo 90 minutes before they performed a single 4-min maximal bout of cycling on identical air-braked, front access cycle ergometers.
|Figure 1: Absolute (left) and relative (right) increase in average power and total work during 4-min all out sprints on a cycle ergometer in response to chronic (28-day) beta alanine, acute (90min pre) baking soda, or combined supplementation (data adapted from Bellinger. 2012)|
Sodium bicarbonate only for track cyclists? And what about beta alanine?
While obviously the fewest of you will be professional track cyclists, some of you may perform other sports which require intermediate all-out sprints in the 2-6 minute range - you, and everyone who is doing some sort of "sprinting" exercise as part of his / her high intensity (interval) cardio training, once in a while could thusly very well benefit from the ph-buffering effects of baking soda - probably even more so than from beta alanine, of which I am still surprised that people are taking it chronically. After all, the wash-out period for beta alanine is >15 weeks and does not appear to depend on either the amount or intensity of exercise that is performed (Baguet. 2009; Stellingwerff. 2011). It would thusly be prudent to load up on carnosine by supplementing ~800mg of beta alanine for 6 weeks once in a while to maximize the intra-muscular buffer-capacity and to use a whopping dose of 0.3g/kg sodium bicarbonate, whenever you feel that you need a small, but statistical significant performance boost or just want to make sure not to get over-acidic during your workouts.