A secret that Krista Austin, Ph.D., of Performance and Nutrition Coaching, shares with her elites is taking sodium bicarbonate, or baking soda, in gel capsules.
“It will expand your blood volume, give you more sodium and act as a buffer for you to tolerate lactic acid better so you won’t be breathing as hard,” she reveals. “If you’re a salty sweater, sodium bicarbonate loading will help prevent cramping and dehydration.”
Here’s how to do it: Buy gelatin capsules from Whole Foods and fill with a tiny amount, about 0.3mg per kilogram of body weight, of baking soda. Don’t even contemplate not using the gel caps or else you’ll be “strapped to the toilet,” Austin says.
Take with a light carbohydrate beverage before hard, long tempo runs or long interval workouts a few times during training to ensure that your body can tolerate it. You may feel a bit heavier and thirstier; Austin recommends hydrating with Gatorade’s G2 sports drink when you’re trying this. In the five days before a goal race, Austin has her athletes take 10 capsules throughout each day with fluid. You can’t use this trick all the time, Austin warns, but when used sparingly, can be “one of the keys to dropping and doing push-ups after a marathon,” she says.