Alkaline Salts and Metabolic Acidosis

Muscle and metabolic acidosis are common occurrences in high-intensity physical activities. These conditions can result from an unbalanced diet, particularly one that is high in proteins and fats, but low in carbohydrates and mineral salts derived from fruits and vegetables. One of the key contributors to these conditions is lactic acid, a by-product of anaerobic energy mechanisms, which can accumulate in muscles and blood, leading to a drop in pH levels. This imbalance can cause fatigue and discomfort, ultimately leading to a decrease in athletic performance. However, administering alkaline salts such as citrates and bicarbonates can help counteract these effects.

Understanding the Biochemical Effects of Citrate and Bicarbonate

The administration of citrate and bicarbonate brings about several biochemical effects that help counteract the impact of lactic acid accumulation. These effects include:

  • Promoting glycogenolysis, which is the breakdown of glycogen to glucose-1-phosphate and glycogen.
  • Facilitating the efflux of lactic acid, which helps to reduce its accumulation in muscles.
  • Reducing muscle lactacidosis and hydrogen ions, which are responsible for the drop in pH levels.
  • Enhancing anaerobic glycolysis, which is the conversion of glucose to lactate when oxygen is limited.
  • Increasing blood bicarbonate levels, which helps to neutralize the acid in the blood.
  • Boosting blood oxygen uptake, which enhances aerobic respiration.
  • Elevating blood pH, which helps to restore the body's pH balance.
  • Lowering blood acidosis, which reduces the risk of metabolic acidosis.

The Impact of Citrate and Bicarbonate on Physical Performance

The administration of citrate and bicarbonate has been proven to have several positive effects on physical performance. These include:

  • Providing an ergogenic benefit in high-intensity aerobic performance.
  • Reducing fatigue and improving recovery after strenuous workouts.
  • Compensating for fatigue processes detected in high-intensity cycling.
  • Increasing effort tolerance by reducing the perception of fatigue.
  • Providing an ergogenic benefit in 1,500-meter running.
  • Increasing the amount of work of maximal power in anaerobic repetitions.

How to Incorporate Citrate and Bicarbonate into Your Routine

The doses of citrate and bicarbonate used in sports vary, but a common range is 200-300mg/kg for bicarbonate and 500mg of citrate, all diluted in 400ml of water. This mixture should be consumed between 90 and 180 minutes before performance. For those who are new to this regimen, it's recommended to start with ten times lower doses and gradually increase them to avoid any potential laxative effects. It's also possible to split the dose into several smaller doses to be taken every 20-30 minutes, starting from 3 hours before the activity until an hour before, along with generous amounts of water.

The Synergistic Role of Carnosine and Beta-Alanine

Carnosine and its precursor, beta-alanine, can work synergistically with bicarbonate and citrates to enhance the buffering effect against lactic acid. To test the effectiveness of this supplementation protocol, you could follow a pattern of light training, race simulation without supplementation, more light training, then race simulation with supplementation.

Precautions When Using Citrate and Bicarbonate

While citrate and bicarbonate can be beneficial, it's important to be mindful of the sodium content in sodium bicarbonate due to potential links between high sodium diets and arterial hypertension. Also, citrate and bicarbonate have a laxative effect, and the most common side effects are diarrhea and abdominal cramps. Therefore, it's crucial to start with lower doses and gradually increase them to gauge your body's response.

As said previously, the administration of alkaline salts like citrate and bicarbonate can play a significant role in counteracting muscle and metabolic acidosis, enhancing athletic performance, and improving recovery. However, it's crucial to use them responsibly and with an understanding of their potential side effects.

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