Baking soda seems to be one of those ingredients that does everything. Your cake won’t rise? Add more baking soda. Want to get your old fake tan off? Scrub it with some baking soda. Got acid reflux? Drink some baking soda, obvs! But the latest apparent benefit of the pantry staple is one we could never have predicted.
According to new research, digesting baking soda can make your dreaded cardio session more bearable. In the German study, researchers had runners drink baking soda with 700 mls of water 90 minutes before a run. When the athletes increased their speed every three minutes on a treadmill, the baking soda drink enabled them to hit a faster max running speed before they tapped out from exhaustion.
What that means for you and I who aren’t planning on trying to outrun Usain Bolt is that it could make HIIT sessions that little bit easier. It confirms what scientists have suspected for decades — the bicarbonate helps to ward off the lactic acid you’re accumulating during the high-intensity effort. This means you can build up even more lactic acid, but not experience the muscle burn and therefore push harder and perform better.
So, if that’s the case, why isn’t baking soda in every sport drink on the market? Well, it’s known to give you diarrhoea and stomach aches — not exactly what you want before an exercise session. Sure enough, 15 of the 18 participants in the study reported digestive discomfort. So, until scientists find a way to harness the power of baking powder without it wreaking havoc on your gut, it’s probably best to stick to these all natural, pre-workout supplements.