Bicarbonate and Ketone Monoester: A Winning Combination for Endurance Athletes

Bicarbonate and Ketone Monoester: A Winning Combination for Endurance Athletes

In the realm of sports nutrition, the quest for performance-enhancing strategies remains at the forefront of scientific research and athlete interest alike. A recent study by Poffé et al. introduces an intriguing proposition: the combined intake of ketone monoester (KE) and sodium bicarbonate (NaHCO3) can significantly enhance endurance performance by mitigating the acid–base disturbances often associated with exogenous ketosis. This blog post delves into the key findings and implications of their groundbreaking research, shedding light on how this novel nutritional strategy could redefine endurance training and competition.

The Catalysts of Change: Ketone Monoester and Bicarbonate

The study under review, titled "Bicarbonate Unlocks the Ergogenic Action of Ketone Monoester Intake in Endurance Exercise," is a meticulously designed investigation into the effects of KE and NaHCO3 on endurance exercise performance. KE, a well-tolerated nutritional supplement, has been shown to elevate blood ketone levels, potentially offering an alternative fuel source during prolonged physical activity. However, its ingestion is also known to transiently decrease blood pH and bicarbonate levels, a condition that could impair high-intensity exercise performance. This study hypothesized that the concurrent intake of NaHCO3 could counteract these adverse effects, thereby unlocking the true ergogenic potential of KE.

Methodology and Major Findings

Involving nine well-trained male cyclists, the study utilized a randomized crossover design to compare the effects of KE, NaHCO3, a combination of both (KE + BIC), and a control drink on a simulated 3-hour cycling race followed by a 15-minute time trial and a sprint. The primary outcomes were mean power output during the time trial and time to exhaustion in the sprint, alongside assessments of gastrointestinal comfort and appetite perception.

The findings were compelling:

  • KE intake significantly elevated blood D-ß-hydroxybutyrate levels, indicative of ketosis, but also led to a decrease in blood pH and bicarbonate.
  • The addition of NaHCO3 not only mitigated these decreases but also resulted in higher blood ketone levels during the initial stages of the exercise.
  • Most notably, the KE + BIC condition improved mean power output during the time trial by 5% compared to the control, without adversely affecting gastrointestinal comfort or time to exhaustion in the sprint.

Implications for Endurance Athletes

These findings suggest that the combined intake of KE and NaHCO3 before and during endurance events can enhance late-stage high-intensity performance without causing gastrointestinal distress. This synergy between KE and NaHCO3 offers a promising new avenue for athletes seeking to optimize their performance through nutritional strategies. It appears that by preventing the acidosis typically induced by KE alone, athletes can better harness the energy potential of ketones, thus extending their ability to maintain higher intensities of effort towards the end of endurance events.

Future Directions and Considerations

While this study marks a significant step forward in sports nutrition research, further investigations are necessary to explore the long-term effects of combined KE and NaHCO3 supplementation, potential variations in response among different athletic populations, and optimal dosing strategies. Additionally, athletes and coaches should consider individual tolerance and consult with a sports nutritionist or medical professional before incorporating these supplements into their regimen.


The research conducted by Poffé and colleagues opens new horizons in the understanding of ketone supplementation's role in sports performance. By highlighting the ergogenic potential of combining KE with NaHCO3, this study not only contributes valuable insights to the scientific community but also offers practical applications for endurance athletes striving for peak performance. As the landscape of sports nutrition continues to evolve, such innovative approaches will undoubtedly play a pivotal role in shaping the future of athletic training and competition strategies.

Read the full research article by clicking here.


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