Intravenous bicarbonate and sodium chloride both prolong endurance during intense cycle ergometer exercise

T H Mitchell, G Abraham, S Wing, S A Magder, M G Cosio, A Deschamps, E B Marliss
American Journal of the Medical Sciences 1990, 300 (2): 88-97
To determine the effects of neutralizing exercise systemic acidosis via the intravenous route upon endurance and metabolic responses, eight lean, normal, postabsorptive men exercised to exhaustion at about 80% of their VO2 max (69 +/- 3%, mean +/- SEM, of maximum power output) on a cycle ergometer. Exercise studies were performed either with no infusion (control) or with a total infusion volume of about 1.5 L, mainly as 1.3% sodium bicarbonate or as 0.9% sodium chloride (NaCl), infused (double-blind) throughout exercise. The sodium bicarbonate was to prevent acid-base change, the sodium chloride was as a control for the volume infused. Arterialized venous blood and breath-by-breath analysis of expired gases were obtained. [H+] (nmol.L-1) and [HCO3-] (mmol.L-1) at exhaustion were similar in control and NaCl (46.5 +/- 1.8, 19.9 +/- 0.9), but remained unchanged from rest values with bicarbonate (38.4 +/- 0.9, 24.8 +/- 1.5, p less than 0.005 vs control and NaCl). At exhaustion, VO2, VCO2, RER, heart rate, and systolic BP as well as FFA, glycerol, alanine, insulin, norepinephrine, and epinephrine did not differ among protocols. Endurance was markedly prolonged (p less than 0.01) with bicarbonate (31.9 +/- 5.8 min) and NaCl (31.8 +/- 4.1 min) compared with the control (19.0 +/- 2.9 min) condition. Plasma glucose at exhaustion was higher (p less than 0.025) in the control compared to bicarbonate and NaCl experiments, while lactate was higher (p less than 0.025) in the bicarbonate than in the control and NaCl experiments. Thus, the prolonged endurance with sodium bicarbonate infusion could not be explained either by its effect of maintaining blood acid-base equilibrium or concomitant metabolic changes.

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