Sodium bicarbonate supplementation and the female athlete: A brief commentary with small scale systematic review and meta-analysis: Sodium bicarbonate use in women

Bryan Saunders*, Luana de Oliviera, Eimar Dolan, Krzysztof Durkalex-Michalski, LARS MCNAUGHTON, Paul Swinton, Guilherme Artioli

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Sodium bicarbonate (SB) is considered an effective ergogenic supplement for improving high-intensity exercise capacity and performance, although recent data suggests that women may be less amenable to its ergogenic effects than men. Currently, an apparent paucity of data on women means no consensus exists on whether women benefit from SB supplementation. The aim of the current study was to quantify the proportion of the published literature on SB supplementation that includes women, and to synthesise the evidence regarding its exercise performance effects in women by performing a systematic review and meta-analysis. Electronic searches of the literature were undertaken using three databases (MEDLINE, Embase, SPORTDiscus) to identify relevant articles. All meta-analyses were performed within a Bayesian framework. A total of 149 SB articles were identified, 11 of which contained individual group data for women. Results indicated a pooled blood bicarbonate increase of 7.4 [95%CrI: 4.2 to 10.4 mmol·L-1] following supplementation and a pooled standardised exercise effect size of 0.37 [95%CrI: -0.06 to 0.92]. The SB literature is skewed, with only 20% (30 studies) of studies employing female participants, of which only 11 studies (7.4%) provided group analyses exclusively in women. Despite the small amount of available data, results are consistent in showing that SB supplementation in women leads to large changes in blood bicarbonate and that there is strong evidence for a positive ergogenic effect on exercise performance that is likely to be small to medium in magnitude.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages20
JournalEuropean Journal of Sport Science
Early online date25 Jan 2021
DOIs
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 25 Jan 2021

Keywords

  • Ergogenic aid
  • Anaerobic capacity
  • Acidosis
  • Glycolysis
  • Sex differences
  • High-intensity exercise

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