We know from previous #D2EW that supplementation with creatine and sodium bicarbonate (SB) alone improve anaerobic performances.

However, what happens when you stack these two supplements together and examine how it impacts high intensity performances in taekwondo athletes?

Sports that consist of high intensity bouts will cause the athlete to experience a burning sensation in the muscle; this is a result of hydrogen ions (acidity) accumulation.

High intensity exercise is also glycolytic in nature, meaning the athlete will use carbs for fuel at a higher rate. Hydrogen ion accumulation impairs muscle contractibility and your ability to breakdown glycogen to support high intensity exercise…and therefore impair performance.

Therefore, the role of SB is to decrease hydrogen ion content of the muscle, and subsequently offset fatigue during high intensity exercise. When combined with the ATP regenerating capabilities of creatine, it could be a match made in heaven?

Sarshin et al (2021) recruited 40 trained taekwondo athletes to supplement with creatine (20g/day), sodium bicarbonate (0.5g per kg/day) or both for 5 days prior to performance testing.

It’s worth noting that creatine + SB supplementation was split into four equal doses across the day to minimise gut issues.

Since this is a sport specific study, they used performance tests relevant to these athletes: 3 bouts of the taekwondo anaerobic intermittent kicking test (TAIKT). Of which, they could measure, peak power, mean power, fatigue index and blood lactate.

The results suggested that 5 days of supplementation improved anaerobic performances in all supplemental groups. In other words, they were able to minimise the natural decline in performance.

However, the creatine + SB group saw an additional benefit in mean power output, suggesting their repeatability improved when compared to SB and creatine alone – this most likely due to additive intracellular buffering capabilities of creatine.

To further complement these results, neither SB groups experienced the usual gut issues associated with SB supplementation, win-wn.

So, this is a pretty cool study and I would advocate a similar approach for many athletes who partake in repeated, high intensity type sports (not just combat sport athletes). However, I wouldn’t suggest this approach for athletes competing on a weekly basis as you’ll constantly be supplementing with high doses of SB, which would be an absolute melt.

I would also speculate that 20g/day of creatine would be unneeded if you routinely supplement with a 3-5g maintenance dose. I.e. this study used a loading phase as this has been shown to elevate muscle creatine stores in ~5 days, where if you were on a maintenance phase, you’d already have elevated stores (~20% greater than zero supplementation).

The question remains, what happens if you ‘super stack’ this approach with beta-alanine as research has suggested that beta alanine (intracellular buffer) and SB (extracellular buffer) further improve anaerobic performances when co-ingested.

Then, what happens when you add caffeine and perhaps some nitrates into the mix for the ultimate competition ready stack? Research will most likely provide us with the answer in due course, but until then, it’s time to experiment myself! 

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