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A comparative analysis of the effects of sodium bicarbonate and sodium citrate ingestion on 800 meter sprint performance

1 May 1996


It has been well documented that during maximal, short duration exercise, such as the 800 meter sprint, numerous by-products are produced by the body's muscle cells. One of these by-products is lactic acid. Lactic acid is naturally generated during the breakdown of glucose, the muscle's primary source of energy for short, high intensity exercise. During maximal exercise exceeding a few seconds in duration, lactic acid builds up in the muscle cells quicker than it can be removed. With its accumulation, the muscle's natural acid-base balance is disrupted. When too much acid builds up, the muscle's contraction process is disrupted, which limits an athlete from achieving optimal performance. This problem may be delayed by ingesting certain compounds that help minimize these effects, and therefore allow greater athletic performance to be achieved.

Previous studies have demonstrated that ingestion of sodium bicarbonate or sodium citrate lead to enhanced performance in the 400 and 800 meter sprint events. Therefore, it was the intent of this study to: 1) compare sodium bicarbonate to sodium citrate and their effects on enhanced performance and 2) determine if one or both substances decreases the sensation of fatigue during the 800 meter sprint (this is known as the athlete's level of perceived exertion).

A two way ANOV A with repeated measures was performed and statistical significance was found with the comparison of blood bicarbonate levels pre- and post-race. for male (p=.01) and female runners (p=.001). Significance was also found with pre-race pH levels after ingestion of sodium bicarbonate, pre-race blood bicarbonate levels after ingestion of both buffering agents, and post-race blood bicarbonate levels under the sodium citrate condition for all subjects (p


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