Does An Alkaline Diet Improve Sprint Performance?

Does An Alkaline Diet Improve Sprint Performance?

Introduction

Title: Enhanced 400-m sprint performance in moderately trained participants by a 4-day alkalizing diet: a counterbalanced, randomized controlled trial

Author: Limmer e t al

Journal: Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition

Objective: To investigate the influence of an alkalizing versus acidizing diet on 400-m sprint performance, maximum capillary blood lactate concentrations, blood gas parameters, and urinary pH in moderately trained young participants

Background

There is a growing body of evidence that the modern, western diet is acidic. This is the result of acid forming foods such as high-protein, high-fat, high-cholesterol animal products and a lack of base forming intake of fruits and vegetables. Previous research has linked acidic food intake to obesity, diabetes, hypertension, cardiovascular disease and osteoporosis. Alkaline diets have been shown to improve acid base balance in humans.

Three major factors affect acid-base balance: protein and mineral content of the food we eat, gastrointestinal  absorption rate and urinary acid excretion. The potential renal acid load (PRAL) equation can be used to estimate the effect of dietary intake on acid-base balance.

Early research suggests that metabolic acidosis may reduce exercise capacity, especially high-intensity exercise. Ingestion of blood buffering foods can enhance exercise performance. The effects of specific alkaline diets on anaerobic performance has not been well studied. Some folks have recommended a low-PRAL (alkaline) diet in sprinting athletes among others.

The authors of this study wanted to see if an alkaline diet would influence performance in high-intensity anaerobic performance.

Methods

11 athletes: 8 men, 3 women, average age 26

Randomized cross-over trial with three arms

  • Unmodified diet
  • 4 days of alkalizing diet (BASE)
  • 4 days of acidizing diet (ACID)

Trials of 400-m runs at intervals of 1 week.

They also measured blood gas, blood lactate and urinary pH.

Results

There was a statistically significant lower 400-m performance time for the BASE trial (65.8 ± 7.2 s) compared with the ACID trial (67.3 ± 7.1 s; p = 0.026).

Additionally the BASE diet had a higher average blood lactate (BASE: 16.3 ± 2.7; ACID: 14.4 ± 2.1 mmol/L; p = 0.32) and urinary pH (urinary pH (BASE: 7.0 ± 0.7; ACID: 5.5 ± 0.7; p = 0.001).

Conclusions

4-day alkaline diet improved 400-m sprint performance and physiologic markers in young, amateur athletes.

This is a small, early study which will need to be replicated at a larger scale to draw definitive conclusions, however it is very provocative.

I would recommend you start educating yourself on acidifying and alkalizing foods and maybe your performance will improve too!

References

Limmer M, Eibl AD, Platen P. Enhanced 400-m sprint performance in moderately trained participants by a 4-day alkalizing diet: a counterbalanced, randomized controlled trial. J Int Soc Sports Nutr. 2018 May 31;15(1):25. Doi: 10.1186/s12970-018-0231-1. PubMed PMID: 29855319; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC5984464.

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