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Sodium bicarbonate supplementation and the female athlete: a brief commentary with small scale systematic review and meta-analysis.

Saunders, Bryan; de Oliveira, Luana Farias ; Dolan, Eimear; Durkalec-Michalski, Krzysztof; McNaughton, Lars; Artioli, Guilherme Giannini; Swinton, Paul Alan


Bryan Saunders

Luana Farias de Oliveira

Eimear Dolan

Krzysztof Durkalec-Michalski

Lars McNaughton

Guilherme Giannini Artioli

Paul Alan Swinton


Sodium bicarbonate (SB) is considered an effective ergogenic supplement for improving high-intensity exercise capacity and performance, although recent data suggests that women may be less amenable to its ergogenic effects than men. Currently, an apparent paucity of data on women means no consensus exists on whether women benefit from SB supplementation. The aim of the current study was to quantify the proportion of the published literature on SB supplementation that includes women, and to synthesise the evidence regarding its effects on blood bicarbonate and exercise performance in women by performing a systematic review and meta-analysis. Electronic searches of the literature were undertaken using three databases (MEDLINE, Embase, SPORTDiscus) to identify relevant articles. All meta-analyses were performed within a Bayesian framework. A total of 149 SB articles were identified, 11 of which contained individual group data for women. Results indicated a pooled blood bicarbonate increase of 7.4 [95%CrI: 4.2 to 10.4 mmol·L-1] following supplementation and a pooled standardised exercise effect size of 0.37 [95%CrI: -0.06 to 0.92]. The SB literature is skewed, with only 20% (30 studies) of studies employing female participants, of which only 11 studies (7.4%) provided group analyses exclusively in women. Despite the small amount of available data, results are consistent in showing that SB supplementation in women leads to large changes in blood bicarbonate and that there is strong evidence for a positive ergogenic effect on exercise performance that is likely to be small to medium in magnitude.


SAUNDERS, B., DE OLIVEIRA, L.F., DOLAN, E., DURKALEC-MICHALSKI, K., MCNAUGHTON, L., ARTIOLI, G.G. and SWINTON, P.A. [2021]. Sodium bicarbonate supplementation and the female athlete: a brief commentary with small scale systematic review and meta-analysis. European journal of sport science [online], Latest Articles. Available from:

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Jan 14, 2021
Online Publication Date Jan 25, 2021
Deposit Date Jan 15, 2021
Publicly Available Date Jan 26, 2022
Journal European journal of sport science
Print ISSN 1746-1391
Electronic ISSN 1536-7290
Publisher Taylor & Francis
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Keywords Ergogenic aid; Anaerobic capacity; Acidosis; Glycolysis; Sex differences; High-intensity exercise
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