Weight loss is a big topic for many people and usually requires long-term lifestyle changes to maintain the ideal body weight. Because it is such a desired topic there is a big market for supplements, medications, diet plans and advice promoting fast and easy weight loss. Drinking baking soda is one of those marketing strategies. It promises to help people lose weight by fighting acidity in the body and by raising the pH of the body to a more alkaline state.
What exactly is baking soda and what is it used for?
Baking soda, or Sodium Bicarbonate, is mostly known as a leavening agent in baked goods. It is a salt which often appears as a fine white powder and which, if you taste it, has a salty and slightly bitter (indicator for a alkaline agent) flavor.1
Its alkaline property is the reason why it is sometimes ingested to improve heartburn symptoms, for chronic kidney disease and even during chemotherapy in cancer patients. Some people use it to whiten their teeth, as a mouth wash, a deodorant or to relieve itchy skin and sunburns. And it does not stop there, as Baking Soda is also commonly used for household chores like whitening your laundry, as a kitchen cleaner, to eliminate odor and to remove stains. You can see that Baking Soda is a real diverse product!
While there are studies supporting its positive effect on some of the above conditions, there is no data that proves that Baking Soda helps in weight loss.
Why is the pH important and how is it regulated?
PH is a measure of how acidic or alkaline a liquid substance is ranging from 0-14, with 7 being neutral, above 7 being alkaline, and below 7 being acidic. The pH within the human body is one of the most important elements of our equilibrium. Even slight deviations from its normal range in the human body (pH 7,35 – 7,45) can lead to disfunctions. When there are more acids in the body the pH gets lower and you call it acidosis, while an alkalosis is defined by a higher pH to guard against imbalances the human body has different buffer mechanisms. 2
While little amounts of Baking Soda may help with symptoms like nausea or even an acid stomach, higher amounts or regular intake can be harmful and in severe cases even life threatening.3
Losing weight can be difficult and frustrating. Nevertheless, it is important to stay healthy and mindful of potentially dangerous trends. The best way to lose weight is by a balanced diet and regular exercise. The safest and healthiest place to start would be to work with a Registered Dietitian to find the best fit for you and your goals.
1. PubChem. Sodium bicarbonate. Accessed October 16, 2020. https://pubchem.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/compound/516892
2. Gropper SS, Smith JL, Carr TP. Advanced Nutrition and Human Metabolism. 7th edition. Cengage Learning
3. Al-Abri SA, Kearney T. Baking soda misuse as a home remedy: case experience of the California Poison Control System. J Clin Pharm Ther. 2014;39(1):73-77. doi:10.1111/jcpt.12113
Written by: Veronika Monteiro Kisslinger, Dietetic Intern, Hunter College
Reviewed by: Nazirber Maduro, RDN, CDN, CDCES