Alkaline Eating for Men
ALKALINE EATING FOR MEN
Many women follow an alkaline lifestyle because they see noticeable improvement in their general health and wellbeing.
But what about men? Are they hooked?
We’ve asked Ross Bridgeford, founder of Life Energized, the world’s largest alkaline diet website, health coach and author of two books, Alkaline Diet Recipe Book and The Water Diet, to tell us how to get men into the game.
By the way, Ross is also known as “The Alkaline Diet Guy!"
- What is the most common feedback that you get from men when you start talking to them about the alkaline diet?
Almost everyone is excited about the alkaline diet when I explain it. It’s intuitive and it makes complete sense to people.
BUT it doesn’t stop a few folks, especially guys, from having a few worries.
From guys, it’s usually three things:
1) They are worried they won’t get enough protein.
2) They are worried they will have to give up something, usually meat.
3) They are worried they will lose muscle.
All three are untrue. And they generally have a misconception about what ‘living alkaline’ is all about.
Firstly, you absolutely do get plenty of protein. Even on a 100% alkaline menu, you’d get around 60 to 80g of protein per day, if this is what you wanted to achieve.
It also brings up the question of course: “How much protein do I need?”
Most dieticians and nutritionists agree that it’s somewhere between 30 to 50g for most people, and in gym-going, weight training, cross-fitting circles, it’s generally 1g of protein per kg of body weight if you want to gain muscle.
So if you really want to gain muscle, you can still do this with a fully alkaline diet.
And if you’re just a normal person, getting that 30 to 50g is a piece of cake(!) with the alkaline approach.
For instance, in my cornerstone Alkaline Green Smoothie there is 22g of protein - all from alkaline-forming, green ingredients.
The short story is that without even thinking about it, the vast majority of people will get more than enough protein on an alkaline diet.
With regards to giving stuff up, this is where the protein thing can get even easier too, as the way I teach people to get alkaline I really stress that you don’t have to give up anything!
You can still have a little meat; you can still have treats; you can still go out for dinner with friends or to the pub. It’s all about that age-old thing called moderation…
Being perfect, or trying to be perfect is the fastest route to giving up and getting frustrated, for most people.
Start slow, build up, take it easy one day at a time, and most importantly focus on getting the good stuff in first before you worry about cutting out the bad.
And with that being said, losing muscle is literally never an issue. The amount of nutrients, good fats, protein, blood building foods you get when you eat 80/20 (or 70/30) alkaline means that muscle loss is simply not a concern.
- Do men generally associate "healthy eating" with a diet, a way of eating that is temporary?
I think everyone does, not just men.
Most people think of healthy eating as a temporary thing and ironically, that’s the thing that makes it hardest for those people. They go hard at it thinking it’s for a set number of days or until they reach a (usually ambiguous) goal. It just doesn’t work like that.
It’s been proven over and over and over again that statistically people doing that will end up further behind with their goal (which is almost always weight loss) than when they started.
This type of short term planning also leads to people trying to be perfect from day one, without having taken the time to form any new habits or beliefs (habits and beliefs, in my opinion, are largely the difference between success and failure with switching to a healthier life). And after two days of cravings they usually crack, and then it all falls apart.
When you see it as a long-term change it can be scary at first because it feels, like, FOREVER! But when you realise it’s all about making little changes, a bit at a time, and leveraging the simplest, easiest changes that will have the biggest impact first, you start to see there is still room to have a life, have a lovely relationship with food and drinks and still be YOU at your core.
I think most people think they are going to be seen as a different person if they become “healthy” and that’s scary.
When you realise you can still be YOU but a version of you which makes a healthier choice 7 times out of 10, it’s a lot less daunting and a lot more enjoyable.
- How do you change that mindset and get across the idea that it's a sustainable lifestyle?
All of the above contributes to this:
-Not trying to be perfect from day one but seeing it as a longer-term game.
-Understanding you NEVER have to give up EVERYTHING and you can still have treats, cheat meals or even cheat days, you can go on holiday and eat and drink whatever you want and get back on it when you get home, etc.
-And mostly that when you focus on getting the good stuff in first, before you worry about cutting out the bad, ALL of the pressure, stress and anxiety around it disappear.
People tend to take a big deep breath when I explain those three things.
- What are the health benefits for men in particular?
For men the most common feedback I get is that the mental fog has lifted. This is huge for a lot of men - who probably don’t realise it is such a problem for them before they started - but they really notice it once it’s gone.
They also more-so tend to notice that their sleep is more restful and deeper and they feel more refreshed when they get up in the morning.
A lot of men also have great results with their digestive system… or that could be that they are just more open in sharing their bowel movements with me than women are!
For those who are active, of course, fat loss is a big one, but the biggest is definitely gym performance and recovery.
A lot of sportspeople have adopted the alkaline approach, from swimmers and runners to rugby players, weight lifters and even UFC fighters, and the stamina/recovery is always cited as a great benefit.
- The alkaline diet is scientifically proven. What is the supporting evidence in terms of it being helpful to men in particular?
A lot of the scientific literature is around osteoporosis and bone strength which generally tends to focus on female cohorts, but there is also a lot of research proving its benefits for sports performance and recovery as well as the digestive issues that men seem to get in touch with me about, such as reflux and IBS.
- Men are interested in sport, building strength, endurance and muscle. Can you tell us a bit more about how the alkaline plays its part in achieving these goals?
Exercise is by nature an acid-creating activity and part of the recovery process is the body dealing with this production and storage of acids in the body, so of course the alkaline approach really helps with this.
Because for a lot of people their body’s natural ability to burn fat has been smashed by their acidic (particularly gluten containing) diet, when you alkalise your diet, you free this capacity again and get proper functioning of the pancreas back, which allows the body to access its fat stores for energy more readily. This has a huge impact on endurance and stamina.
In terms of building muscle, there is plenty of protein in the diet, plus perhaps more importantly, blood building and cleansing green foods, healthy fats and oils and proper hydration. And of course, as it is a diet rich in antioxidants it helps the synthesis of new cell growth.
Eating an abundance of nutrient dense food is always going to be good for the body, and especially if you’re exercising a lot. The two go hand in hand so well.
- Men like having protein, lots of protein. Many are big fans of red meat in particular. How does that fit into the alkaline lifestyle?
Like I said, I don’t have a problem with people continuing to have meat. I chose not to personally, but it’s not a problem if people want to as part of their balanced diet.
My belief is that meat eaters should focus heavily on quality over quantity. For the same budget, they should shop for the best quality organic, grass-fed, pasture raised, free-range (you get the picture) that they can.
The outcome here is that they will be eating a smaller portion, but it will be MUCH more nutrient dense, come from a sustainable source and have a lot more flavour for them.
Protein is always best when it comes from a variety of sources, so if they are still eating high-quality, organic meats, they should also include a wide variety of alkaline-forming proteins too: nuts, seeds, greens, legumes and so on.
Plus, you can always add a protein powder to the mix - just not an artificially flavoured, whey and chemical-based one. Opt for a sprouted, alkaline, dairy-free protein powder instead.
Go for a sprouted brown rice protein, it will still have 25 to 30g of protein per serving, tastes absolutely fine and if mixed with a non-dairy milk, will get you up to a 30 to 35g per serve hit of protein.
- What about supplements? Which ones should they take and should they have more if they follow the alkaline diet?
Aside from the optional protein powder (for gym goers), I like to keep it really simple when it comes to supplements.
It’s easy to go crazy with supplements, but the clue is in the title: supplements. They’re there to supplement, not replace.
As a standard, I recommend people always go for:
-Oils: both an omega-3-rich oil (minimum 2-3 tablespoons per day), plus coconut oil (minimum a teaspoon per day).
-Greens: a powdered green drink is a brilliant addition. Either a straight wheatgrass (which is more cost effective) or a grass blend (which is better but more expensive) is advised, at least once a day.
-Salts/Minerals: Alkaline salts are the perfect buffer against over-acidity. Supplements that include sodium, magnesium, calcium and potassium (preferably in their bicarbonate form) are brilliant. If you can’t find a good alkaline salts supplement, then a wide-range multi-mineral is a good start, plus a pinch of sodium bicarbonate once a day in water.
A wide range multivitamin is also useful just to have as that safety net.
Plus, when starting out, most people would benefit from a curcumin (turmeric) supplement for inflammation.
Ideally, aim to get the phytosome form of curcumin, which is much more absorbable by the body. Then, depending on specific goals, there could be other suggestions, but these are the core basics everyone can benefit from.
- What's your view on alcohol? Beer in particular. Everything in moderation? It's about dipping into your 20-30% acid-forming food and being balanced?
Everything in moderation.
There is absolutely nothing wrong with the odd night out.
The trick is to only have it when it is “worth it.” Having a beer at home, at 7 on a Tuesday? Not worth it.
Having a beer when relaxing with friends after a hard week - much more worth it.
The magic really is the fact that the more in-balance you get, the more you will simply “want” to make the right decision more often than not.
And you’ll also feel confident to let yourself have a night off, because you know you’ll get back on with it the next day with a green smoothie.
You start to WANT to be healthy because it’s making you feel and look so great. So you become more self-moderating.
People often tend to try to look at it like: “If I have a juice after does that cancel out that beer?”
It doesn’t really work like that. Just relax, enjoy the beer, and then get back on track.
Interview by Chantal Ouimet