Can Baking Soda Boost Athletic Performance?

We know baking soda is good for taking the stink out of refrigerators and shoes. It's also an age-old remedy for tummy aches.  But could it be the latest sports-enhancing ingredient as well?  Maybe so, according to a new study that says baking soda might fight fatigue during sports.

A study published in the Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition says that dietary supplementation with sodium bicarbonate (baking soda) on the morning of a simulated tennis match helped athletes keep the fizz in their game.

The small study performed at the National Taiwan College of Physical Education, Taiwan, involved nine male tennis players.  After randomly being assigned to receive bicarbonate or placebo drinks, the players took part in a tennis skills test before and after a simulated match. The skills test included hitting balls from a ball-serving machine.  Their heart rates were monitored as were the accuracy of their shots.  Those who consumed the baking soda drink showed no decline in skilled tennis performance after the match while those who drank the placebo showed signs of fatigue.  The athletes also received blood tests and the combined test results suggest that sodium bicarbonate fights fatigue and increases athletic performance.

This is the first study of its' kind to suggest that baking soda could boost tennis performance. Researchers agree further studies are needed to establish any benefit for athletes outside the lab. They also admitted there were several limitations to this study. 

  • Only nine athletes participated.
  • The content of the simulated matches weren't exactly the same as real tennis matches (they were a little shorter). 
  • They didn't evaluate psychological strain differences between real and simulated matches. 
  • They also didn't know for certain what players ate or how much they trained between matches. 

Scientists also agreed that the participants' motivation to perform their best might have affected results. 

How could baking soda boost your athletic performance? Baking soda is a safe substance that regularly shows up in foods we eat every day, including cookies and cakes.  It's often used in antacids and heartburn remedies, toothpaste and other readily available products.  It might be worth conducting your own experiment.  Add a teaspoon of baking soda to your water bottle and hit the court. It may not turn you into a professional tennis star, but it won't do you any harm either. 



Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition
2010, 7:33doi:10.1186/1550-2783-7-33
Sodium bicarbonate supplementation prevents skilled tennis performance decline after a simulated match

Ching-Lin Wu, Mu-Chin Shih, Chia-Cheng Yang,  Ming-Hsiang Huang, and Chen-Kang Chang
Bicarbonate Adds Fizz to Players' Tennis Performance