Improve your blood pH for a better body composition and faster recovery training. Having a more alkaline pH is critical because without the correct pH blood level the body’s enzymes can’t function and cortisol will be elevated. In the short term this will slow protein synthesis and produce poor training results. In the long run, it will lead to blunted testosterone and growth hormone levels and can put you at risk for cancer and diabetes.
This tip will cover the following things that you can do to improve your blood pH for a leaner physique and better recovery:
• Include a cool down after every workout.
• Clear cortisol after training and manage your stress and insulin levels.
• Counter the acid produced by a high-protein diet by eating lots of fruits and vegetables.
• Drink water with a higher pH.
To remind you, pH stands for the “potential of hydrogen” and it refers to the acid and alkaline level in the blood. It is measured on a scale of 0 to 14 (a score of 7 is neutral, less than 7 is acidic, more than 7 is alkaline). A long-term pH below 7.35 is considered low grade acidosis, whereas for optimal health and physiological function, you want a pH above 7.4.
A recent study in the European Journal of Applied Physiology highlights the importance of recovery from intense training for a healthy pH. Researchers used trained men and compared the effect of three recovery protocols on blood pH levels. Participants performed four bouts of high-intensity cycling sprints for 90 seconds. Researchers found that the group that had a 9-minute recovery at a lower intensity (27 percent of maximal oxygen uptake) maximized lactate removal and they recovered pH levels to nearly baseline of 7.41. Plus, this group’s average pH increased by the end of the exercise trial in contrast to the other two groups that had pH decrease by the end of the trial.
A short-recovery group that performed 4.5 minutes of active rest at 38 percent of max had the highest lactate concentrations and lowest post-training pH levels (the worst recovery at 7.20 pH). A medium- recovery group actively rested for six minutes at 33 percent of max and had final pH of 7.25. Both of these groups will presumably recover pH in the following 24 hours, but lower levels post-workout will get in the way of maximal protein synthesis and hormone production. If persistent high-intensity training were performed without bringing the blood pH back up, overtraining and a state acidosis could occur—bad news!
This doesn’t mean that you need a long slow recovery every time you do sprints or in between lifts, but it reminds us to take measures to improve blood pH by a variety of mechanisms. Simply performing a progressively less intense cool down can help bring pH up after training. Cool downs should last at least 9 minutes and possibly longer.
Helping the body clear cortisol post-workout will also improve pH. Consider using a nutrient called phosphatidyl-serine that has been found to lower cortisol and decrease feelings of anxiety in doses of 600 mg daily. You should also take action to avoid persistently high cortisol that can be caused by stress and insulin resistance. This is because an acidic pH has been found to elevate cortisol production, the implications of which are large since higher cortisol signaling has been found to cause cancer cell growth.
In addition, studies show that simply eating a high-protein meal will elevate cortisol. This is because animal protein produces a more acidic pH in the body. The “typical Western” diet is very acid-causing, and other foods that bring the pH down are red and processed meats, salty foods, sugar, dairy, and grains. Fruits and vegetables are very alkaline, so the simple solution for improving your pH is to replace all grains with green vegetables. In addition, eat other veggies and fruits in reasonable amounts, eliminate all processed meats (and other processed foods), avoid dairy (especially cheese), and opt for organic meats and other high-quality protein to make up the majority of your high-protein diet .
Adding lemon or lime to your water can also tip your pH up, whereas drinking a mineral water elevate blood pH and speed recovery. One recent study found that in a group of participants who drank mineral water with a pH of 10 for a week significantly increased their blood pH and stayed more hydrated during a dehydrating exercise bout.
Del Coso, J., Hamouti, N., Aguado-Jimenez, R., Mora-Rodriguez, R. Restoration of Blood pH Between Repeated Bouts of High-Intensity Exercise: Effects of Various Active-Recovery Protocols. European Journal of Applied Physiology. 2010. 108, 523-532.
Heil, C, Seifert, J. influence of Bottled Water on Rehydration Following a Dehydrating bout of Cycling Exercise. Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition. 2009.
Heil, Daniel. Acid-Base Balance and Hydration Status Following Consumption of Mineral-based Alkaline Bottled Water. Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition. 2010. 7(29).