Triathlete’s Muscle Burning

Feel the burn? If you’ve felt your muscles burning intensely while you were training hard, you’re in good company.

One will always remember a certain type of uneasiness and, as a result, seek efficiency in managing it.

Endurance athletes often look for methods to reduce the amount of lactic acid which builds up in their bodies, and the offering of nutritional supplements that can supposedly help to do this may look attractive. What supplements are beneficial for reducing lactic acid and does that actually aid in relieving the sensation?

“Lactic Acid Buildup” or “Lactate Threshold”

When you work out, your body draws on oxygen to metabolize glucose to provide energy. However, when engaging in strenuous exercise (such as interval training), the body can use lactate as a fuel source to create ATP within the mitochondria.

In the liver, lactate can be transformed into glucose through gluconeogenesis, thereby providing the sugar needed to create energy for muscular movement especially when oxygen is not readily available.

It has been calculated that close to three-quarters of lactic acid generated inside the muscle cells is reprocessed into glucose and applied as energy. This means that lactate can be an important fuel source for sustaining energy output during physical activity, allowing athletes to maintain their current speed.

It is noteworthy that regular physical exercise increases the muscles’ ability to use lactate more efficiently. Although not widely believed, lactate is formed and utilized both in aerobic and anaerobic conditions.

By gathering more updated information on the study of sports physiology, it is now widely accepted that lactic acid, which occurs when lactate and a hydrogen ion come together, is not the main factor in causing tiredness or the uncomfortable sensation of a muscle burn.

When ATP breaks down to create energy, hydrogen ions are released, which causes the acidity inside the muscular tissue to increase, resulting in a burning sensation.

The increased need for ATP to meet the energy requirements of a body in motion is probably going to cause a more intense burning feeling.

Anaerobic metabolism will probably be implemented when the muscles can not generate sufficient ATP by relying on oxygen, necessitating a transition to another method.

A major consequence of the anaerobic pathway is an increase in hydrogen ions, which results in a more acidic muscle environment.

If the acidity of an athlete’s body becomes too acidic, they will likely have to reduce their level of activity. For certain individuals, this could even cause sensations of queasiness, definitely not advantageous to a PR effort.

Remember that muscle acidosis is only one of the possible reasons for tiredness during physical activity, the other factors being depletion of glycogen stores and psychological issues.

It doesn’t make much sense when athletes claim they are practising to raise their “lactate threshold,” when lactate is something to rejoice over.

Let’s finally put an end to the notion that one needs to discharge lactic acid from their muscles after an exercise to reduce muscle soreness.

Muscle soreness after exercise is actually caused by tiny ruptures in the muscle fibres, and not by the buildup of lactate. Thus, lactate has been incorrectly held responsible for fitness-related transgressions, and the false attribution persists to this day.

It is possible that, through the use of certain supplements, athletes can reduce their chances of experiencing acidosis during demanding physical activities, regardless of the connection to lactic acid. This could cause better results and, quite simply, more pleasure from exercising.

Sodium Bicarbonate

Sodium bicarbonate (NaHCO3), more commonly referred to as baking soda, is a slightly alkaline salt composed of sodium and bicarbonate ions.

The International Society of Sports Nutrition has concluded through research that taking sodium bicarbonate before physical exercises like intense cycling, running, and swimming, which lasts between 30 seconds to 12 minutes, can improve performance for both males and females.

A review of research published in the Sports Medicine journal came up with enough evidence to back up the idea that the use of sodium bicarbonate can upraise both large and small muscle staying power.

The majority of the advantages of this might be most obvious close to the end of a long workout, possibly giving you that last bit of motivation to reach the finish.

How does it help? Sodium bicarbonate is seen as a stabiliser to stop the pH level from decreasing too much in your muscle cells when you do vigorous physical activity. It is possible that this could aid someone in sustaining greater effort for a longer time frame, thus giving them a competitive advantage.

During exercise, the bicarbonates and other buffering elements in the body are essential for removing the surplus hydrogen which has been produced from the degradation of ATP in the muscles. This makes it possible for the muscle to regain a less acidic level and thus extend the period until exhaustion.

A recent study published in the Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition revealed that taking sodium bicarbonate can increase the pH of muscles by improving anaerobic metabolism.

The perceived difficulty of exercising could be reduced with this advantage. An important factor that cannot be ignored is that some of the performance-enhancing effects of taking sodium bicarbonate may be due to the dependable placebo effect.

You believe that taking a dose of baking soda will aid you in making it up that tough incline, and it indeed helps.

It looks like exercise that is more intense, but shorter in length, gets the most advantage from taking sodium bicarbonate. Bursts of hard work and high-intensity interval training can benefit from taking a quantity of baking soda before the exercises begin.

As opposed to this, a jog or bike ride in the first zone would not create much improvement since the effort is not intense enough to increase the acidity of the muscles.

A quantity of 0.3 grams for every kilogram of body weight ingested 60 and 180 minutes before exercise or a competition appears to be the ideal quantity that provides a beneficial effect with little prospect of undesirable negative effects, such as swelling, vomiting and abdominal discomfort.

Ingesting your sodium bicarbonate together with a high-carb meal, as well as in enteric-coated pills, might be potential ways to reduce any unfavourable effects. Certain people will dissolve the appropriate measure of baking soda in hot water and gulp it down.

For extended periods of exercise, taking a total of 0.4 or 0.5 grams per kilogram of body weight of sodium bicarbonate for 3 to 7 days before a strenuous activity has been proven to be beneficial.

Breaking down the total daily dose of sodium bicarbonate into smaller portions and consuming them at various points in the day is a sensible approach. For example, take 0.1 to 0.2 g/kg of the substance at breakfast, lunch, and dinner.

The plus of protocols that require multiple days of use is that they could decrease the danger of negative reactions on the day of the event. A mid-race port-a-potty run is never enjoyable.

How pH affects exercise performance

In the field of chemistry, a pH scale is used to measure the level of acidity or alkalinity (basicity) of a solution. A pH of 7.0 is thought of as being neutral in nature (pure water has a pH value of 7.0). A pH level below 7.0 indicates an acidic environment, while a pH level above 7.0 denotes an alkaline environment.

The acidity level of the human body fluctuates depending on where in the body it is measured. As an illustration, our blood has an alkalinity of about 7.4 whereas stomach acid is exceedingly acidic, measuring at 1 to 3 on the pH scale.

The fascinating thing is that our bodies maintain a balanced pH level, guaranteeing that they stay in good working condition. The acid-base condition is managed mostly by our kidneys and lungs and is recognized as such.

Despite this, some health issues and external forces may interfere with this equilibrium. Exerting yourself at a demanding level, referred to as anaerobic exercise, is another contributing element.

When exercising without the use of oxygen, the requirement of oxygen in your body is higher than what is available. Due to this, your muscles cannot count on oxygen to produce adenosine triphosphate (ATP), the energy “fuel” to your body’s cells.

Researchers are still attempting to grasp the concept, however, they are certain that a major consequence of the anaerobic process is the production of hydrogen (H+).

An excessive amount of hydrogen in the muscles used for exercising reduces the pH of the muscles, resulting in a condition of acidity. This results in the unpleasant “burning” sensation that many of us have experienced during activities like sprints and weight lifting that do not use oxygen.

Most research nowadays does not support the common opinion that lactic acid or lactate is the primary reason for burning or tired muscles. It has been suggested that lactate can actually lessen the number of hydrogen molecules in muscle tissue.

How sodium bicarbonate helps maintain pH

Sodium bicarbonate has an alkalinity of 8.4, and it could help to mitigate an extra level of hydrogen when doing aerobic physical activity.

Your kidneys generate bicarbonate (HCO3) to help sustain the appropriate acid-base balance of your body fascinatingly. This substance is one of the main components that help to counterbalance acidic levels in your body by taking in a hydrogen ion and making the pH of the substance more basic.

During physical activity, bicarbonate and different neutralizing agents cooperate to remove hydrogen from the muscle which is functioning and channel it into the bloodstream, causing the muscle to come back to a less acidic condition.

It has been suggested that taking a sodium bicarbonate supplement may help muscles sustain workouts for a more extended period.

Sodium Bicarbonate and Sports Performance

Adding sodium bicarbonate can potentially increase metrics of performance including speed, strength, ability to do a job, and the amount of time until exhaustion.

Specifically, sodium bicarbonate appears to be advantageous in terms of increasing muscular stamina. A report of investigations discovered that taking an extra dose of sodium bicarbonate results in greater muscular stamina and output in both little and large muscle assemblages.

It can be especially advantageous to consume the supplement during a single stretch or multiple sessions of hard physical activity that range from one to seven minutes.

It seems that some of the advantages of this activity seem to be most noticeable towards the finish of a lengthy exercise activity, which might assist somebody in giving their last effort.

An example of this would be an examination of the last 1000 meters of a 2000-meter (1.24 mile) rowing event which led to an enhancement of 1.5 seconds in the performance. Given the small margins between winners in races, a slight increase in performance can make a big difference.

The outcomes are alike for biking, running swiftly, paddling, and group athletic activities.

However, the benefits can vary from person to person. The amount of time a person can spend on a specific activity may vary depending on their gender, their personal limitations, and their degree of training.

Interval training involves alternating between high-intensity and low-intensity exercises during a single workout.

Intervals can be utilized in a range of physical activities, including running, biking, rowing, swimming, Olympic weightlifting, and CrossFit.

In an experiment with 13 male athletes, usage of sodium bicarbonate resulted in a 14% improvement on the Yo-Yo intermittent recovery test level 2, an examination which tests a participant’s capacity to do anaerobic exercises in repetition.

The athletes felt less exhausted than the participants in the control group.

A study on people who do CrossFit revealed that they saw an enhancement in their abilities, like having more reps, a quicker time to their ventilatory threshold, and a greater total workload. Furthermore, exercise results in a poor outcome – a certain form of CrossFit interval exercise method – had a 3.1% higher outcome in comparison with the placebo group.

A different cycling study revealed that participants given sodium bicarbonate had a noticeably longer endurance (4.5 minutes) in comparison to the placebo group.

Other research has revealed that taking sodium bicarbonate can help raise output during interval and high-intensity workouts, particularly in sustaining time to fatigue and muscle endurance.

The International Society of Sports Nutrition has found that taking sodium bicarbonate can help athletes improve their performance in physical activities that involve a lot of muscular endurance and high intensity, including cycling, swimming, running, rowing, boxing, judo, karate, taekwondo, and wrestling.


Effects of sodium bicarbonate on muscle strength.

Studies have been inconclusive regarding the ability of sodium bicarbonate to enhance muscular strength.

A research project found that weightlifters who had prior experience and took a dose of sodium bicarbonate one hour before training were capable of doing six more squats during the first out of three sets. However, there were no differences in bench press repetitions.

A recent comprehensive analysis found no notable enhancements in muscle strength, which is measured by the weight lifted or the strength a muscle can produce, following the utilization of sodium bicarbonate.

Researchers postulate that the utilization of sodium bicarbonate for increasing muscle strength is relatively thin, caused by the brief time frame and the utmost power necessary to do so. Although it is only speculation at this point, it may avert a decrease in strength associated with tiredness.

Up until this point, it appears that sodium bicarbonate has more of an effect on muscle endurance – the period that the muscle can be used actively – than on muscle strength.


Supplements and dosage instructions

Capsule or tablet versions of sodium bicarbonate are available as dietary supplements. You can purchase baking soda in its raw form, though the majority of studies conducted use pills or tablets.

No matter which form of supplement is chosen, the anticipated gains are the same.

The International Society of Sports Nutrition recommends that one should have 0.3 grams of something for every kg of their own body weight and that this should be eaten between one and three hours before exercising. It does not seem that taking a greater quantity than this will provide extra advantages.

However, consuming sodium bicarbonate right before doing exercise can lead to digestive issues for certain individuals. If this applies to you, think about administering smaller dosages of 0.1–0.2 grams each kilogram of body weight during the day, for example during morning meals, lunch, and dinner.


Safety and side effects

It is considered to be secure to take 0.3 grams of sodium bicarbonate per kilogram as per the advice given. When sodium bicarbonate is combined with the acid in the stomach, it will create gas. These symptoms could lead to aching in the stomach area, feeling swollen, feeling sick, having loose stools, and throwing up.

It appears that with increasing doses of a certain medication, gastrointestinal distress may be exacerbated. Further, not everyone will experience these side effects. The harshness of effects may differ depending on the dosage and individual sensitivity.

You can reduce adverse effects by having sodium bicarbonate with a high-carb meal, separating your dosage over multiple times during the day, ingesting the supplement 3 hours before your workout and/or consuming enteric-coated tablets, which won’t upset your stomach as much.

Eating sodium bicarbonate can elevate one’s blood sodium levels, which could lead to a rise in blood pressure for certain individuals.

Furthermore, a high intake of sodium can cause your body to hold onto more water. Drinking more fluids may be helpful for those who are doing physical activity in hot temperatures, yet it can be detrimental for those involved in sports that involve weight classes.

It is essential to consult a medical expert before consuming sodium bicarbonate. This may not be an appropriate choice for individuals suffering from specific health issues like high blood pressure and/or heartburn.


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