HOCKEY NUTRITION: The everyday, nutritional product that can improve your hockey fitness performance

Do you want to improve your hockey performance as a result of improved fitness supplementation? Now that your interest is piqued you are perhaps wondering how much money and time you would actually have to invest to achieve these gains. What would you say if I told you it was only a few minutes per week and could cost as little as $15-20.00 for your entire season of training and playing? You will find this unique product in the grocery store. What is the secret? Just look for Baking Soda or as it is correctly known as sodium bicarbonate (NaHCO)

Sodium bicarbonate is an alkaline salt. Alkaline means it is a substance that possesses a pH (see below) on the basic side (8.4 to be exact where 7.0 is neutral). A salt is a chemical compound which has a hydrogen ion replaced by cation, which in this case is sodium. The chemical nomenclature for baking soda is NaHCO3. Sodium bicarbonate acts to buffer acids produced by the body during physical exertion. One of these acids is well known to us as lactic acid and another less familiar one is carbonic acid.

Sodium bicarbonate as an ergogenic aid has been studied extensively over the past 60 years. It is a challenging topic of investigation because so many other variables are at play in the final determination of athletic performance, and none of these can be completely controlled for. However, in a study that applied a meta-analytic technique to the results of 29 of the best-conducted studies on the topic, the statistical comparison of these scientific inquiries indicates that not only does sodium bicarbonate enhance athletic performance, it improves exercise time to exhaustion.

When you should use it?

Over 30 different studies have been published on sodium bicarbonate loading prior to exercise. The consensus obtained is that the effective dose is 0.3 to 0.4 grams per kilogram of body weight. For example, if you weigh 70kg your dosing range would be 21 to 28 grams. It should be ingested 60 to 90 minutes prior to exercise in a minimum volume of 0.5 litres of water.

Are there any side effects?

One of the more common side effects is gastrointestinal distress in the form of cramping, vomiting, and diarrhoea. One of the ways to avoid suffering this is to start supplementation at a lower dose and slowly increase it to the recommended range. Beginning with a dose of 0.1 to 0.2 grams per kilogram is a good starting point. Increase your concentrations over a series of workouts.

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