food and sports

Citrate and bicarbonate against acidosis

The administration of alkaline salts such as citrates and bicarbonates promotes the outflow of lactic acid from the muscles to the circulatory stream and counteracts the muscular and metabolic acidosis.

Muscular and metabolic acidosis can be determined by an unbalanced diet (tendentially hyperproteic and / or hyperlipidic, at the same time poor in carbohydrates and mineral salts deriving from vegetables and fruit), especially when combined with high intensity muscular work. In addition to ketone bodies and nitrogen residues, the other molecule that induces a lowering of the pH is a catabolite of the anaerobic energy mechanisms: lactic acid with the relative hydrogenions (hydrogen ions); lactic acid can be accumulated in the muscles and partly in the blood (in the form of lactate) as a result of excessive efforts, that is, greater than the capacity for muscle and hepatic disposal.

Lactic acid causes muscular / metabolic acidosis due to the resulting accumulation of hydrogen ions (H +); to maintain physiological pH levels, a similar condition must necessarily be buffered! The organism, in itself, has some buffer mechanisms useful for contrasting this situation which, if neglected, is potentially limiting as it determines a sense of fatigue and discomfort, with a consequent reduction in athletic performance. Wanting to enhance the buffering effect of physiological mechanisms, in addition to specific training it is also possible to carry out a dietary supplementation with citrate and / or bicarbonate.

The biochemical effects of citrate and bicarbonate are:

  1. Increased glycogenolysis
  2. Greater efflux of lactic acid
  3. Reduction of muscle lactacidosis
  4. Reduction of muscle hydrogenions
  5. Increased anaerobic glycolysis
  6. Increased blood bicarbonatemia
  7. Increased blood oxygen uptake
  8. Increased blood pH
  9. Reduction of blood acidosis

The DEMONSTRATED effects on the physical performance of citrate and bicarbonate are:

  1. Ergogenic benefit in high intensity aerobic performance
  2. Reduction of fatigue and improvement of recovery
  3. Compensation of fatigue processes detected in high intensity cycling
  4. Increased exercise tolerance due to reduced perception of fatigue
  5. Ergogenic benefit in the 1, 500-meter race
  6. Increased amount of work of maximal potency in repeated anaerobics

There are many experiments on the integration of citrate and bicarbonate in sports and the doses used range from 200-300mg / kg for bicarbonate to 500mg of citrate, all diluted in 400ml of drinking water between 90 and 180 minutes before the performance. At lower doses there were no ergogenic effects on performance. It should be pointed out, however, that at such dosages the laxative effect is almost assured, so it is advisable to test the integration starting from 10 times lower doses and then gradually increasing them; to improve tolerability it is also possible to divide the ration into several doses, to be taken every 20-30 minutes starting from 3 hours before the competition / training up to an hour before, together with generous amounts of water.

The integration of bicarbonate and citrates is synergistic with that of carnosine (which represents the most powerful intra-muscular lactic acid buffer) and its precursor, beta-alanine. To test the effectiveness of the supplementary protocol it is possible to follow a scheme of this type:

  • 2 days of light training
  • race simulation (cover the distance in the shortest possible time) without the integrator's prior assumption
  • 2 days of light training
  • simulation of the race (cover the distance as quickly as possible) after bicarbonate, citrate and possibly carnosine supplementation.

NB . It is advisable to pay attention to the sodium (Na) contribution related to the integration with sodium bicarbonate due to the well-known correlations between sodium-rich diet and arterial hypertension; moreover, we remind those who want to proceed with the integration of bicarbonate or citrate, that these molecules also possess a certain laxative function. Not surprisingly, the most frequent side effects are diarrhea and abdominal cramps.