Buffer Supplements: Baking Soda and Beta-Alanine

Baking soda and beta-alanine have similar uses. The question is, can you combine them to make buffer supplements? Keep reading to learn more.
Buffer Supplements: Baking Soda and Beta-Alanine

Last update: 02 May, 2020

There are four types of sports supplements– A, B, C, and D- depending on the level of scientific evidence for their use. Buffer supplements, baking soda, and beta-alanine belong to evidence group A. In other words, they’re proven to have benefits.

Scientific bases of buffer supplements

Both beta-alanine and baking soda are buffers. What does this mean? A basic part of the physiology of all organisms is homeostasis. Here, the body maintains the balance between the different systems. That way, everything works perfectly.

In living beings, changes constantly happen that cause pH imbalances. The balance between acidic and basic in the human body is essential since some chemical reactions only happen at a certain pH. The body’s way of regulating it is either through buffer supplements or the respiratory and renal systems.

Shock absorbers or buffers

The pH values compatible with human life range from 6.8 to 7.8, although 7.4 is the best normal value. Buffers, or buffer systems, are responsible for keeping these values within this range.

Depending on their chemical nature, they are classified as organic or inorganic. In fact, it depends on where they’re located, either plasma (in the blood) or tissue.

Baking soda on a table.

Among organic buffers, hemoglobin, proteins, and amino acids stand out. Regarding inorganic buffers, two are important: the bicarbonate carbon buffer and the phosphate buffer. This is the scientific basis for the use of beta-alanine and baking soda as ergogenic acids.

Baking soda

When you do high-intensity exercise, a buildup of waste substances- carbon dioxide and lactate- occurs in your muscles and blood. The muscular exhaustion during exercise partly happens because of this. However, the human body has systems to help this: buffers.

Using baking soda has been proposed to decrease muscle exhaustion in high intensity, short-duration workouts.

To take it, most studies recommend 0.3 grams of baking soda per 1/2 pound of weight, between 60 and 90 minutes before exercise.

Finally, although baking soda shows an improvement, some patients experience gastrointestinal discomfort. As always in sports nutrition, we recommend checking your tolerance before a competition.


The scientific bases of beta-alanine are its relationship with one molecule- carnosine. This molecule regulates pH at the molecular level. Also, taking this supplement boosts carnosine levels.

While taking this supplement, some people showed a delayed onset of fatigueWe recommend that they work with effort for one to four minutes. In exercises of less than one minute, they didn’t notice improvements.

Regarding dosage, we recommend between three and five grams per day for two weeks or ten days. The daily maximum is five grams because taking more doesn’t have any extra benefits.

Also, keep in mind that one of the most common side effects is paresthesia. This is a tingling sensation or chills. In these cases, it’s best to divide the dose throughout the day.

Buffer supplements in the form of a pill.

Buffer supplements: conclusion

  • Using baking soda is more effective than beta-alanine. However, combining them can be a good strategy.
  • Pay attention to the side effects of both of them. With beta-alanine, you might experience paresthesias. On the other hand, baking soda can cause digestive discomfort.
  • Take the baking soda between 60 and 90 minutes before working out, mixed with water, lemon or vinegar.
  • They are very useful in HIIT workouts.
  • Each person might have differences in performance responses.

In addition, take this into account, depending on the sport:

  • Olympic rowing- as long as it’s not more than 10 seconds or fixed bench rowing where each regatta is 20 seconds. In both cases, it’s best to use both types of buffer supplements.
  • Mountain biking- the Olympic cross country modality or Criterium type tests in road cycling.
  • 100-meter speed swimmer.

Finally, it’s extremely important that you never take supplements without professional supervision. Talk to a nutritionist before using these products.

All cited sources were thoroughly reviewed by our team to ensure their quality, reliability, currency, and validity. The bibliography of this article was considered reliable and of academic or scientific accuracy.

This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.