Does Drinking Baking Soda Help Lose Weight?

by Ahmed Zayed, MD on September 16, 2020
Last updated on May 23, 2021

With the hope to slim down successfully and without too much hassle people are eager to try different methods and ingredients. Weight loss requires a great deal of dedication and desire to make the necessary lifestyle changes. 

baking soda

To support this endeavor many men and women use different products, herbs, and other ingredients. Baking soda is one of them. You’ve probably heard a lot about the use of baking soda in weight loss. The chances are high you also read tons of articles that recommend using baking soda for this purpose. 

But, does it really work? You’ll find out in this post. 

What is baking soda?

Baking soda, or sodium bicarbonate, is a kitchen staple. You probably have it in your kitchen right now because, let’s face it, baking soda is versatile and incredibly useful. 

Before we discuss its potential role in weight loss it’s important to address the basics of baking soda. Sodium bicarbonate is an odorless white crystalline powder that is naturally basic or alkaline (1). As a leavening agent baking soda is used in baked goods like muffins, cakes, and cookies. But it also has many other uses and purposes. 

When combined with the acidic ingredient and a liquid baking soda becomes activated. Once activated, it produces carbon dioxide which allows baking goods to rise and become fluffy and light.

Many people use terms baking soda and baking powder interchangeably. They aren’t the same, though. Since the goal of this post is to provide more information about baking soda and its potential uses, it’s crucial to understand the difference between sodium bicarbonate and baking powder. 

You see, baking powder is a complete leavening agent. It contains baking soda and acid necessary for product to rise. Baking powder may contain cornstarch too. Cornstarch in baking powder acts as a buffer and its role is to prevent the base (baking soda) and acid from activating during storage.

Can baking soda support weight loss?

The use of baking soda for weight loss has become a trend among social media users. But you know how social media works; not everything you see there is true. What about baking soda then? Can it really help you slim down?

First, it’s important to clarify that studies exploring the role of baking soda on weight loss are practically nonexistent. That doesn’t mean baking soda is unhelpful for weight loss. Actually, it can give you support to slim down. 

It’s not likely that baking soda is some sort of a revolutionary ingredient that will lead to dramatic weight loss. Extensive research on this subject is necessary to learn how baking soda could work. Below you’re going to see how it could have a positive effect on weight loss.

Direct effect on weight loss is unlikely

Although it’s easy to think that baking soda can directly boost weight loss, that’s not likely. 

Baking soda is alkaline and the common belief is that alkalizing effects prevent weight gain and support weight loss. This particular theory has been debunked by scientific research. Your body uses strictly regulated processes to regulate pH levels. Your diet doesn’t have a major influence here (2). 

Yet another theory is that adding baking soda to bathwater promotes weight loss by replenishing magnesium and sulfate levels. These nutrients have the potential to eliminate toxins out of your body and speed up the metabolic rate. At the moment, no scientific evidence supports this claim. It’s crucial to carry out studies on this subject to understand whether baking soda can directly support weight loss and if so, then how. 

For example, evidence shows that baking soda has the potential to soothe an upset stomach (3) because its alkaline nature can tackle stomach acid. As a result, you may feel less bloated or that your stomach feels lighter. While this is a great feeling it doesn’t have a direct impact on your body weight. 

At the moment, evidence on the direct effects of baking soda on weight loss is scarce and this topic deserves thorough research. You’re probably feeling discouraged right now and thinking there’s no way baking soda can promote weight loss. While direct influence is weak, the indirect impact of baking soda on weight loss is a lot stronger. 

Improved athletic performance

The fundamental part of weight loss is regular exercise. Probably one of the best activities for weight loss is high-intensity interval training (HIIT). HIIT workouts combine short bursts of intense exercise followed by lower-intensity exercises. 

Before every workout, you want to do as much as possible in order to obtain the best results. It turns out baking soda can help you with that. A study from the Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition found that supplementation with baking soda before HIIT training can enhance athletic performance, improve power output, delay onset of fatigue, and improve blood circulation after the exercise (4). 

By improving athletic performance during HIIT, baking soda can indirectly support weight loss. Basically, soda bicarbonate allows you to get more out of your workout. 

This is particularly important if bear in mind that HIIT workout supports weight loss in several ways, such as:

  • HIIT burns a lot of calories in a short amount of time – it can burn 25-30% more calories than other forms of workout (5)
  • Metabolic rate is higher hours after exercise – this means that you keep burning calories even when resting (6)
  • HIIT helps lose fat – people who do HIIT tend to burn fat more easily, even in the stubborn abdominal area, and decrease waist circumference (7). HIIT is among the best way to burn fat if you’re overweight or obese

What makes baking soda so beneficial for HIIT performance? During high-intensity exercise, the muscle cells start producing lactic acid. Because of lactic acid you “feel the burn” during exercise. However, lactic acid decreases the pH inside the cells and makes them tired. Since baking soda has high pH it can help delay fatigue and thereby improve athletic performance. 

Suppressed appetite

Overeating is the worst enemy of a healthy weight and the biggest obstacle on the road to slim down. For many people food is comfort and they tend to overeat in order to deal with stress and other negative stimuli. Losing weight becomes tricky due to the feeling of constant hunger. This leads to cravings, late-night snacks, and the continuous inability to lose weight despite your strong desire to do so. 

The key is to enrich the diet with ingredients that suppress your appetite and help you eat less without feeling the need to eat an unhealthy snack later. This is yet another aspect where baking soda can help. 

When we’re talking about the indirect effects of baking soda on weight loss they are largely due to the liquid with which you combine it. 

For example, combining soda bicarbonate and apple cider vinegar can help you feel less hungry. Studies confirm that apple cider vinegar can lower body weight, BMI, visceral fat area, and waist circumference. It can also prevent metabolic syndrome and reduce obesity (8). Consumption of apple cider vinegar promotes a feeling of fullness (9). When feeling full you’re less likely to eat too often or crave unhealthy food.

Improved hydration

Baking soda is usually diluted in water alone or with lemon juice and apple cider vinegar. In combination with these liquids, baking soda can promote larger daily fluid intake. Although we are supposed to stay hydrated throughout the day and drink plenty of water, most people don’t do that. 

Hydration is vital for our health and wellbeing, including weight management and weight loss of course. Science confirms it! Studies reveal that staying hydrated reduces energy intake and prevents obesity (10). More precisely, if you drink enough water and other healthy beverages a day (no sugar-laden drinks!) you can suppress your appetite, eat less, and manage your weight more effectively.  What’s more, evidence supporting this is clear and consistent (11, 12, 13).

How to use baking soda for weight loss

Let’s say you want to give baking soda a try and see whether it can help you lose weight. You’re probably wondering how to use it then. People use various methods to include baking soda into their lifestyle. 

Probably the most common method is to combine ½ teaspoon of baking soda with one to two cups of water. Drink this liquid on an empty stomach whenever you find it convenient during the day. 

The second method is also easy. You need to mix one tablespoon of baking soda with two tablespoons of apple cider vinegar or lemon juice. Once this mixture stops releasing gas you may proceed to dilute it with water and drink on an empty stomach. 

The third method doesn’t involve drinking baking soda, actually. You can dilute three to four cups of baking soda in a bathtub full of water, then go ahead and soak in it. 

You’re probably wondering, though, why can’t you just take baking soda on its own. That’s not a good idea because diluting prevents burning your throat or damaging tooth enamel. 

Is baking soda safe?

Generally speaking, everything we consume may have some side effects. Baking soda is not an exception. Don’t let “the more the better” guide you here. Consuming excessive amounts of baking soda won’t lead to dramatic weight loss, but it can induce adverse reactions. 

Keep in mind that soda bicarbonate is an active ingredient in some medications such as antacids. That means that baking soda may interact with some medications. If you plan to use baking soda regularly and also take medications every day, make sure to consult your doctor first. 

People with high blood pressure or kidney disease need to avoid baking soda because it can elevate sodium levels in the blood. In other words, baking soda could aggravate your condition. 

Adverse reactions associated with taking too much baking soda include (14):

  • Fatigue
  • Headache
  • Swelling of the lower limbs
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Frequent urination
  • Excess gas
  • Stomach pain

Should you use baking soda for weight loss?

When a certain weight loss trend comes along we immediately want to check it out and lose weight. That happens because we want to lose weight without putting too much effort and we want results to happen quickly. 

While baking soda may support weight loss, its impact is not direct. Also, in combination with lemon juice, water, and apple cider vinegar it could work but the benefits have more to do with those specific liquids. 

Baking soda can help you improve athletic performance and allow you to get the most out of your workout. This is the strongest advantage of baking soda on weight loss because evidence actually supports it. 

The decision on whether to use baking soda depends on you. Keep in mind that drinking baking soda won’t give you dramatic weight loss results and it may not be good for you in case you have some health problems or taking certain medications. 

Weight loss requires a well-balanced diet and regular workout so that you create a calorie deficit (15) and lose weight without jeopardizing your health. 

Conclusion

In this post, we addressed the trend of using baking soda for weight loss. The theory is that drinking baking soda can help you slim down. Evidence doesn’t really support this claim, but it could be good for athletic performance. In order to lose weight, you need to set realistic and achievable goals. Divide a bigger goal (e.g. target body weight) into smaller, easy-to-achieve, milestones. That way, you will stay motivated to exercise and adopt a healthier diet. Weight loss isn’t a struggle, it’s all about making healthier lifestyle choices. However, it’s not something that happens overnight nor does it have some magical solution. Believe in yourself and strive to challenge your body in and out of the gym.

References

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