Guest Post by Yuri Elkaim, BPHE, RHN, and author of The All-Day Energy Diet
I am a firm believer that intense exercise is a must for improved fitness and good health. However, it must be balance with adequate recovery.
As a former pro soccer player, I can speak from firsthand experience that it’s how you eat and what you do BETWEEN your workouts that matters most, especially if you want to avoid running your body into the ground.
Your body can only handle so much stress before it falls apart.
If you love working out, then that’s awesome. What I’m about to share with you here is going to help you get more out of your workouts, speed recovery, and give you lasting energy so that you can make each day amazing.
The first to understand is that…
How you heal anything is how you heal everything.
And although we’re not speaking directly about healing here, the premise is valid for training, recovery, and overall health.
Let me explain…
The secret to fatigue-proofing your body and speeding recovery from your workouts boils down to optimizing what’s going on inside your body…
…specifically in terms of inflammation and pH balance.
You see, your body is battling a daily war without you even knowing it!
This war is a daily assault on your body from intense workouts, stress, poor sleep, and inflammatory and acid-forming foods such as too many animal products, processed junk, and refined sugars.
Think about this for a second…
When you workout, you essentially tear your muscles. That’s why they get soar. And that’s the initial stimulus that helps them grow.
This is INFLAMMATION at work.
Acutely, it’s ok for repairing muscles or sealing wounds. But when you combine inflammation from exercise with that coming from your diet, you’re brewing a recipe for stiffness, soreness, fatigue, sub-par workout performance, and poor results.
Similarly, during your workouts you might be producing a lot of acid – in the form of lactic acid. When you compound that with the acid being deposited in your body from many of the foods I just mentioned it’s no wonder so many people feel worse than they should.
This combination of inflammation and acidity is deadly. It affects your workouts and makes you feel like crap.
So what’s the solution?
Anti-inflammation and alkalinity.
pH Balance 101
A major determinant of our internal health is the acid-alkaline balance within many of our body’s fluids, namely our blood.
Our blood is alkaline by design and acid by function – meaning that it produces acid as a function of metabolism and exercise. Maintaining proper alkalinity is thus essential for life, health, and vitality.
Under ideal alkaline conditions, the red blood cells (RBCs) within our blood are able to deliver energy-producing oxygen to our cells. However, an imbalance of alkalinity creates a condition whereby our RBCs begin to clump together, making it more difficult for them to reach their ultimate destination and drop off that much needed oxygen to our cells.
If your blood is sluggish, you will be too.
Leading biochemists and medical physiologists have recognized pH (or the acid-alkaline balance) as the most important aspect of a healthy (and energized) body. They have long known that the maintenance of an alkaline pH in the tissues and cells is critical to our health.
For instance, Dr. Linus Pauling, 2-time Nobel Prize recipient, was the first to show that cancer cells cannot grow in alkaline environments…but only where there is acid.
Unfortunately, for most people, current lifestyle habits have created highly acidic bodies. The standard western diet is characterized by an overindulgence of all types of foods and drinks that disrupt our blood’s ideal pH balance. As a result, we feel less than ideal as we go through our days.
These same foods create a lot of inflammation. And chronic inflammation (along with acidosis) is at the root of almost all lifestyle-related diseases (think diabetes, heart disease, and cancer).
Alkalinity, Recovery, and Energy
For recovery to be expedited, alkalizing foods, namely plant-based foods, need to be consumed on a regular basis. Doing so helps your body flush out excess acid that is produced from your workouts.
Adequate protein should also be consumed to help repair broken down muscle tissue…
…but the paradox is that most protein sources are highly acid forming, yet the highly alkaline forming foods are generally low in protein.
This can be overcome if your protein sources are chosen carefully. Raw, unprocessed, natural, hemp protein, for example, measures at about 50% protein, yet is greatly less acid forming than common denatured ones such as soy and whey.
Chlorella and spirulina are also great protein-rich pH boosters, containing about 60% protein, while being highly alkalizing.
As a general rule, the most alkalizing foods are raw, unprocessed, whole and rich in chlorophyll. Raw, sprouted legumes such as lentils, beans and seeds are also a superior source of alkalizing protein.
In general, a diet high in leafy green vegetables, which are excellent sources of chlorophyll and other phytonutrients, will help ensure your body remains alkaline even when you’re pushing yourself in the gym or experiencing more stress.
By eating a higher alkaline diet you’ll find you recover faster from your workouts and you’ll have far more energy because your blood is healthy and able to properly transport energy-giving oxygen throughout your body.
Here are a few simple steps you can take immediately:
1. Eat and drink more greens
Green vegetables are the greatest source of alkaline minerals like calcium, magnesium, and potassium and thus deposit a large alkaline load in the body. They are pure energy and also give your body tremendous amounts of vital nutrients. The easiest way to benefit from their powers is to enjoy a fresh-pressed green juice or homemade smoothie at least once per day.
2. Limit your caffeine consumption
I know this might be tough but caffeine is a huge contributor of acid and unnecessary stimulation in your body. Other than the quick “artificial jolt” that it produces, chronic reliance on this stimulant taxes your adrenal glands (which help you cope with stress) and wreak havoc on your blood sugar levels – both of which affect how you feel throughout the day.
3. Use more plant-based proteins in your post-workout smoothies
3 tablespoons of hemp seeds will give you about 15 grams of protein in addition to good amounts of omega-3 fatty acids. Other great plant-based protein sources include brown rice protein, spirulina, chlorella, and almond butter.
This is not to say that you have to give up eating animal protein but plant foods should certainly make up at least 75% of your diet for optimal recovery, all-day energy, and amazing health.
Yuri Elkaim is a holistic nutritionist, fitness expert, and author of The All-Day Energy Diet. He most famous for helping people enjoy all-day energy and amazing health in a very short period of time without radical diets or gimmicks. He’s on a mission to transform the lives of more than 10 million people by 2018. For more visit http://www.alldayenergydiet.com