Should Athletes Follow the Acid Alkaline Diet?

Acidic and Alkaline Foods

Foods are rated according to the same pH scale as that used to indicate the pH level of blood and other body fluids. Foods that have a higher pH are more alkaline, while those with a lower pH are more acidic.

Fruits, vegetables, tofu, beans and some nuts and seeds are alkaline-promoting foods. Dairy, eggs, meat, most grains, processed foods, and many convenience, packaged foods tend to be more acidic.

"Eating a diet that is primarily plant-based is always recommended for overall total health and wellness," Koszyk says. "We do need protein; we just don't want to overdo it so our kidneys are taxed."

More: Protein: How Much You Need and Other Facts

Koszyk recommends this simple formula to ensure you're eating a balanced diet: the plate should be half full of vegetables and fruit, a quarter full with a grain or starch, and the remaining quarter full of protein.

Studies have shown that some alkaline foods offer additional benefits, Koszyk says. Ginger, an alkaline spice, is also an anti-inflammatory. Multiple studies using ginger have shown it to be effective in reducing muscle pain and soreness after workouts. Capsicum, the spice found in chilies and hot peppers, also has anti-inflammatory properties, and is alkaline in nature.

More: 4 Reasons Why Athletes Should Eat Ginger

These strategies can help athletes improve the alkaline-acid balance in their diets:

*Replace dairy products with soy or almond milk

*Eliminate soda, alcohol and coffee beverages

*Avoid processed convenience food

*Use whole-wheat products instead of those with white flour

*Limit consumption of animal-based proteins

More: 8 Vegan-Friendly Nutrients for Athletes

These are some of the best alkaline-forming foods:

-Water-dense fruits and vegetables such as melon, cucumbers and celery
-Vegetable juices
-Greens such as parsley, watercress and alfalfa sprouts
-Herbs and spices, including ginger, cayenne and garlic
-Cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli, cauliflower and cabbage

More: 5 Tips to Help You Eat More Plants When Dining Out

While athletes need adequate protein for muscle development, maintenance and repair, Koszyk says, there are many benefits to eating a more plant-based, alkaline diet.

"I do not advocate the alkaline diet," Koszyk says. "However, I do advocate finding balance in one's food choices and not overdoing any food group or type of food. Life is always better when people eat [colorful] fruits and veggies."

More:Ask the Dietician: Is the Alkaline Diet Right for You?

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