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The four major pillars of health and longevity are diet, exercise, sleep, and stress. In order to truly elevate the quality and lengthen the quantity of your life all must be addressed and pieced together to solve the puzzle of true wellness.
This holds true for all, but especially athletes. Often times due to the substantial time put in at the gym, pounding the pavement or on the bike, individuals take a more liberal approach with the fuel they put in their bodies. This often leads to the paradoxical presentation of the overweight marathoner or even triathlete. Simply put, as much as some may try or conveniently convince themselves otherwise, you simply CANNOT out exercise a bad diet.
In one way or another, the saying “garbage in, garbage out,” holds true. You may even be able to get by aesthetically or performance wise for awhile, but trust that the internal systemic destruction caused by “garbage in,” will eventually catch up with you on one, two, or all fronts.
When speaking of athletes, it seems logical that you would do all that is possible to optimize performance. The topic of sports nutrition is a loaded one with many different chapters, but today we will again present a physiologically sound explanation for another intelligent dietary modification.
We’ve spoken before on the importance of the pH (acid v base or alkalinity) maintained internally:
For numerous reasons well beyond the realm of fitness, we would be wise to strive to maintain a slightly higher or basic (base = alkaline) pH. This has been cited as a method to controlling inflammation (the underlying factor behind virtually every disease), to preventing cancer.
When you engage in strenuous physical activity, a metabolic consequence of that activity is a drop in pH or a shift towards acidity. Although a small window of wiggle room exists, the body will do all it can to maintain an optimal, slightly basic pH. As the acid level within our body rises (dropping the pH) due to physical activity, the body will combat this increase in acidity by breaking down muscle. This is the same muscle you are working so hard to attain, build and utilize for peak performance.
A way to offset this is by divorcing the outdated and antiquated way of carbohydrate bombardment by way of grains, starches, cheeses, and salt laden processed foods, as these foods yield acidity within the body. Instead, the bulk of your diet and carbs should come from the alkaline producing fruits and vegetables.
According to Loren Cordain, PHD and creator of the Paleo Diet: “All foods, upon digestion, report to the kidney as either acid or alkali (base). The typical American diet is net acid producing because of its high reliance upon acid yielding grains, cheeses, and salty processed foods at the expense of the base producing fruits and veggies. The athlete’s body is even more prone to blood acidosis due to the by-products of exercise. One way the body neutralizes a net acid producing diet is by breaking down muscle tissue. Because the Paleo Diet for Athletes is rich in fruits and veggies, it reverses the metabolic acidosis produced from the typical grain and starch laden diet that many athletes consume, thereby preventing muscle loss.”
So there you have it; another physiologically sound explanation on why you should step up your produce game in place of breads, pastas and foods in a box or wrapper. Obviously this is not a standalone solution, but serves as an intelligent addition to your “eating to live” and “striving to thrive” repertoire.
Eat SMART. Live better. ENJOY LIFE.