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April 14, 2010
Make it alkaline
One of our high school athletes asked me the other day if eating too much fruit is bad due to excessive sugar. Like CrossFit (see Sparta Point 10/13/09), and Kettlebells (see Sparta Point 12/2/09), fruit is okay for athletes, there are just better choices. Like your method of training, your nutrition depends on how much you are willing to prioritize. But what could possibly be better than nature’s sweet candy? After all, fruit is loaded with nutrients, like antioxidants, to help recover from exercise, as well as fiber to improve a host of digestive functions. Vegetables have these similar properties of nutrients and fiber, but with the added benefit of being an alkaline food. Now you’re going to have to reflect back to your high school chemistry class on that day when you learned about acids and bases and how these certain chemical compounds can change the pH of a solution. Foods can have the same effect on your blood, causing it to be more acidic or basic, also known as alkaline. This idea of blood acidity is important in nutrition due to the array of benefits from having a more alkaline environment in your body. A review by Loren Cordain, a professor in the Department of Health and Exercise Science, Colorado State University, outlined the proven health benefits of a more basic diet; including preventing osteoporosis, kidney stones, high blood pressure, and most importantly to our population, muscle wasting (the loss of muscle). Though both fruits and vegetables improve the alkaline environment in your blood, the review showed a 3-5x greater effect of vegetables compared to fruits, particularly green leafy varieties such as broccoli and spinach. Because of the lower caloric value of vegetables, the effects on your blood can also be more dramatic from an increased vegetable intake rather than fruits. Fruits are not the enemy, especially when you consider soda, which is 100,000 times more acidic than water which has a neutral pH. While fruits are very healthy, perhaps the best time to eat these foods is directly after workouts as the higher sugar content will help replenish glycogen stores and provide a favorable muscle building environment. Try to eat vegetables throughout the rest of the day, ideally focusing on green leafy plants in every meal. Sports agents and parents wonder how Sparta has such a dramatic effect on our athletes’ diets, particularly vegetable intake. It is much more effective to explain that greens will make you squat more, jump higher, and run faster due to their ability to prevent muscle breakdown by providing a more alkaline environment. We are fortunate enough to work only with athletes, a population that must embrace prioritization in every aspect, whether it is nutrition or training. These little choices accumulate in your athletic career, just like that acid in your blood.
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April 14, 2010
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