Saturday, February 28, 2009

A Diet Change You Should Make Right Now

If there were just one thing that could make a positive difference in your ability to perform as a runner... would you do it? What if it were perfectly legal, easy to attain, and essentially a wash in what you normally spend on food... would you believe it?

Making this one change in your diet can help you buffer lactic acid during workouts, increase your overall energy levels over time, reduce fat storage, strengthen your bones, reduce catabolism of muscle during and after workouts, increase your immune system and improve your recovery.

Sound too good to be true? Think you have to go out and buy expensive supplements to get there? Read on!

I was first introduced to this concept in my reading of The Paleo Diet for Athletes, where it describes the importance of reducing the acidity of body fluids (pp. 56-57). While you are exercising, your body pH drifts from a normal state of about 7.3-7.4 (slightly alkaline) to below 7.0 (slightly acidic). The book goes on to explain "the body attempts to reduce the acidity by releasing minerals into the blood and other body fluids that have a net alkaline-enhancing effect... Calcium from the bones and nitrogen from the muscles meet this need."

I've since learned that the primary cause of an acidic condition in your body is from what you put in your mouth. In other words, what you eat and what you drink. And it isn't how acidic it is when you actually consume it. It has everything to do with what is left over when you digest it. Simply by eating more alkaline foods and avoiding acidic ones, you can reap the benefits I mentioned above.

Since this is a blog and not a book, I'm going to keep it short (although I'd love to write a book on the topic). Below are some links for further reading on the topic:

How body pH can affect your energy levels
The importance of your body's pH balance
pH diet for energy levels in the body
Alkalinity: The secret to a healthy ... life
Alkaline food chart
More food charts
Watch your body pH

Postscript: If you are prone to kidney or gallstones, or otherwise need to avoid calcium and the like, you would want to avoid an alkaline diet. Experimenting with this would only be for those who are not prone to such conditions.


MarathonMatters said...

Sounds interesting. Based on the link I followed, I should definitely eat more spinach. Any other dishes/foods you'd suggest?

runner-grrl said...


Thanks for the visit and the comment!

I frequently eat bananas, blueberries, raisins and potatoes as my typical alkaline foods. I almost always have those available. I also take Ca, K and Mag supplements (though this is not the primary reason for those; it's a nice side benefit). --Alex