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This is part 5 of a multi part series. Part 1 was the ESPN radio interview. Part 2 looked at the history of Ethical Cheating or Ergogenic Aids and some of the disgusting food choices. Part 3 discussed coffee and caffeine. Part 4 discussed Nootropics.
Let’s go over some of the common products you can buy today over the counter and NOT test positive, and remember this is only a short list.
Here are some of the food groups, common sources, chemical names, and classification (in no particular order):
- coffee, caffeine, stimulants
- RedBull, 5 Hour, Vitalyze, phenylalanines including Tyrosine & Taurine, nootropics
- baking soda, TUMS, sodium bicarbonate, beta alanine, lactic acid buffers
- Viagra and other Nitric Oxide products including L-Citrulline Malate and L-Arginine, vasodilators
- Quercetin (new product… discussed briefly here)
- IHT or Intermittent Hypoxic Training methods (tents, chambers, masks, etc.) to increase erythropoietin (EPO) levels and therefore increase red blood cells.
Baking Soda, TUMS and Rolaids
Is popping a few Tums or Rolaids considered illegal before your 400 or 800 meters ? How about a mountain of baking soda in your morning pancakes? Isn’t that what makes McDonald’s and Denny’s pancakes so light and fluffy?
Baking soda loading has been used for decades. We were using it back when I was an open athlete, and that was a long time ago (about the same time as mullets, MTV and music videos)
For those who want to try it, the correct dose of baking soda (or sodium bicarbonate) is 0.3 grams per kilo bodyweight one hour before competition (good luck with your event being on time!). At 85 kg, that’s 25.5 grams or about 2.5 tablespoons of baking soda. (That’s over double a typical creatine serving)
That’s a lot of baking soda!
The side effect is, of course, diarrhea.
If you are going to try sodium bicarbonate and/or beta alanine, please use a Time Trial setting with a toilet nearby!
My personal stance on this: Baking soda loading has a better effectiveness when you have multiple races in a day, say a 200 and 400m one hour apart.
Another way of buffering lactic acid is consuming carnosine which plays a significant role in pH balance of muscle cells. Carnosine is synthesized from the amino acids L-histidine and beta-alanine.
So by taking beta-alanine, you increase carnosine, which buffers lactic acid better.
The suggested dose is 4-6 grams spread throughout the day for 4 weeks (each pill is about 800 mg, so that means 2 pills every 3-4 hours). Like Creatine, beta-alanine should be measured through your lean body mass, and not overall weight.
They have proved that carnosine levels do increase after beta-alanine supplementation… they just haven’t proved it really works in the 400 meters. It’s possible that in a 50 sec 400m, true lactic acid is produced over the last 20 seconds, which may be too short for beta alanine to work. Thus 800m (and 1500m) runners may truly benefit from beta-alanine supplementation.
The results are inconclusive, and beta-alanine is legal to take. I personally know athletes who take it and swear it works.
Again, if you are going to try sodium bicarbonate and/or beta alanine, please use a Time Trial setting!
Further studies and articles on Baking Soda on this Blog, read:
- Baking Soda for 400/800m Races, but Shrinks Tumors?
- Is Bicarbonate of Soda a Performance-Enhancing Drug?
- Bicarbonate Loading Raises Ethical Issues As Performance-Enhancing Aid
- Acidosis, Acidic and Alkaline Diets
- Stress, Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS), and the Runs