If I had a nickel for every natural weight-loss claim out there, well, I’d have so many nickels I wouldn’t have to write anymore.
Yet another “miracle weight loss” ingredient found in your pantry: bаking soda. Yep, the same powder that makes bread or cookies rise—is the lаtest ingredient to be saddled with weight-loss claims. Some blogs claim it can help you speed up weight loss(though, they often don’t go into details regarding how).
In reality, there’s precisely zero science behind using baking soda for weight loss.
Um, why would people think baking soda works for weight loss anyway?
A quick chemistry class refresher: “Baking soda is a chemical compound called sodium bicarbonate,” explains Rachele Pojednic, Ph.D., an assistant professor of nutrition at Simmons College.
When you consume baking soda—typically by mixing it with water and drinking it. It reacts with your stomach acids to form salt, water, and carbon dioxide, says Pojednic. “The most common (medical) use for sodium bicarbonate has typically been as an antacid,” she says.
Baking soda, with its alkaline profile, can actually help soothe symptoms like indigestion and nausea. Which can be caused by excess acid in your stomach—and, if your stomach feels better, it might also feel lighter.
“Your stomach is supposеd to be at a very low (acidic) pH. Which is what causes the early stages of protein digestion,” says Pojednic. “If you eat a big meal high in protein (or maybe even high fat), your gastric cells would likely secrete extra acid to break that food down.”
The acid itself isn’t going to cause distress, but if there’s too much pressure in your stomach. That acid could squeeze up into your esophagus and cause irritation like indigestion or acid reflux.
“If you take an antacid (like baking soda), it will ‘neutralize’ the acid that gets into the esophagus or the digestive tract and relieve the irritation of the acid,” she explains.
But here’s the thing: That baking soda might cause even more bloating in the short-term (its byproduct, again, is carbon dioxide—so you’ll burp it out eventually).
So uh, while baking soda might help your stomach feel better, it definitely won’t help you lose weight. “There would be no physiologic reason sodium bicarbonate would increase weight loss. Except perhaps to make a person feel more full, decreasing caloric intake,” says Pojednic.