Updated December 2014
What if I told you that you could get to your health goal four, if not five times faster than you thought possible?
The reality is you can, without question, but before I go into how, let me explain why…
99% of people who start the alkaline diet make ONE critical mistake…
This mistake instantly puts them on the back foot. It creates stress, anxiety and feelings of being deprived from day one.
It puts them in a war with their body, instead of feeling connected to their body.
And ultimately it makes it almost impossible to stick to the alkaline diet, and stacks the odds in favour of giving up…and then feeling bad about it.
What’s that one mistake?
They try to be perfect from day one…
Have you ever done this?
You get so excited by a new thing – in this case an approach to health – that you grab the basics and just run at it full pelt.
The irony is, the alkaline diet can be REALLY easy.
But most people just download their food chart, and then start trying to live by what foods they can and can’t eat.
The alkaline diet – the way I teach it, and the way I make it work for 99.9% of people – is about learning how to make it REAL in YOUR life.
It’s about moderation, focusing on the good, living the core, most important things and letting the little details take care of themselves.
In this guide, I want to give you the basics by answering the most common questions I get asked by beginners and seasoned pro’s alike.
I think it will give you a really rounded place to start from.
And once you’ve read this I will give you my #1 resource for starting from scratch (or re-starting) by following the core, 20% of actions that will give you 80% of the benefit, with very minimal hard work!
These questions are:
- You Can’t Change Your pH, Right? (skip to question)
- Everyone KNOWS lemons are acidic. Why do you recommend them? (skip to question)
- Can I eat fruit? (skip to question)
- Why are the lists of alkaline/acid foods different? (skip to question)
- Which supplements do you recommend? (skip to question)
- Where do I get protein from? (skip to question)
- Will I lose weight (OR can I gain weight?) (skip to question)
- How do I test my pH – why are my readings erratic? (skip to question)
- What Are the Most Alkaline Foods & the Most Acidic? (skip to question)
- How Long Does it Take to Get Alkaline? (skip to question)
There are also a couple of extra bonus questions at the end, including a REAL biggie, but we’ll get to that in a bit…
So let’s get started, here are:
The Top Ten Alkaline Diet Questions…Answered
1. You Can’t Change Your pH, Right?
This is a concern for a lot of people who are interested in getting alkaline, it makes perfect sense to them, but then a skeptic tells them…”You can’t change your ph!”…right?
Wrong. And in this guide I’ll show you exactly why.
So many times I’m emailed by concerned people saying their friend sent them to a website, or their doctor tells them:
“You can’t alter the pH of the body, the body has strict regulating mechanisms to keep it’s pH the same – so there is no point eating alkaline to try and make the body alkaline”.
The short answer to this is:
THAT’S EXACTLY THE POINT
The aim of the alkaline diet is NOT to try and raise the pH of the blood. Yes, that’s right. The aim of the alkaline diet is NOT to try and raise the pH of the blood.
The whole purpose of the alkaline diet is to prevent the body from having to do the regulating!
This is the biggest misconception that so-called experts have, who are so quick to criticise the alkaline diet. When the truth is, they simply haven’t done their research and are making themselves look like idiots.
The summary is this:
The body will ALWAYS retain your blood pH in a very tight range close to pH 7.365. Your aim is NOT to change this, it is to support the body’s efforts to keep it there. The standard, modern, Western diet is incredibly acidic, and living such an acidic diet puts constant pressure on the body to try and neutralise these acids to retain the pH at the slightly alkaline 7.365. The real damage is done to the body not in simply consuming these foods, but the real damage is the fallout of the body having to work dramatically hard to neutralise the acids and retain the pH at 7.365.
2. Everyone KNOWS lemons are acidic. Why do you recommend them?
This is a quite common question, so I’m getting quite good at answering it in a nice and simple way!
It is basically about what effect the food has on the body once consumed rather than it’s acidity or alkalinity in its natural state. Lemons, while containing citric acid have a very high content of the strongly alkaline minerals potassium, magnesium and sodium. These minerals have a very alkalising effect on the body.
The reason this doesn’t work with oranges is because the sugar content of the orange is so high that cancels out the alkalising minerals and leads it to have a very acidifying effect on the body. That is the same for almost all fruits (unfortunately).
Which brings us onto…
3. Can I eat fruit?
Unfortunately, the answer to this one is, generally, no. I would limit your fruit intake to one piece of in-season fruit per day, and try to steer clear of pineapples, bananas and other super-high sweetness fruits.
Fruits should be treated as a treat, or ‘emergency food’. Better than a chocolate bar, yes, but the sugar content of fruit makes it actually quite acidifying.
You really need to avoid all sugar, whether it is fructose, sucrose, glucose (anything ending in -ose). They all have the same effect on the body – sugar is sugar is sugar, no matter where you get it from and fruit is absolutely packed with it.
While I understand that fruit also contains fibre, vitamins, phytonutrients etc. the sheer amount of sugar that fruit contains means that this not a worthwhile trade off.
The Problem with Sugar (and a quick crash course on why an acidic lifestyle is so bad)
In the same way that our body will do whatever it has to in order to maintain a temperature of 37 degrees, it will go to similar lengths to maintain a pH level of 7.365 for our internal cells, particularly the blood.
The modern Western diet of meats, dairy, fizzy drinks, chips, chocolate, candy, alcohol, coffee, pizza, pasta, bread etc has a massively acidic effect on the body. Such an acidic lifestyle puts incredible stress and strain on the body as it has to constantly fire-fight to keep this pH level of 7.365.
This not only takes up a MASSIVE amount of our energy (remember how you feel after Christmas dinner or a huge takeaway meal?) but it also uses up the alkaline minerals (buffers) in our body including calcium, potassium, magnesium and sodium. This in turn leads to so many health issues it is unreal.
These acid-forming foods and drinks also lead to the creation of yeasts, bacteria and mold in our blood. In addition, the acids that are created and consumed in our modern lifestyle also ferment the blood and create harmful by-products, toxins and alcohols, which then further destroy our internal environment.
With more acid, more toxins are created, the pH is lowered, the bacteria and yeast grows, becomes mold, and a vicious cycle begins.
And what’s more – these harmful bacteria, yeast and mold actually feed off the nutrients you consume! But that is not all! The waste products they leave behind also act as their food, meaning that rapid multiplication takes place!
So when we consume sugar it sends our body into turmoil. Consuming sugar is like throwing petrol onto a fire. It rapidly fuels this cycle, compounding the problem and placing an insane amount of stress on the body.
I’ve written about this before and a number of questions and concerns often arise, but the question that comes up most frequently is this:
But sugar from fruit is different isn’t it? Fructose is ok, right?
Nope. Sugar is sugar is sugar. It doesn’t matter where it comes from, it still wreaks havoc with the acid/alkaline balance of the body. Whether it is from fructose, sucrose, an apple, honey or a piece of chocolate cake, the sugar still has the same devastating effect. How quickly or slowly the body metabolises different sugars may have an effect on your energy levels (in terms of how quickly the peaks and troughs will follow one another) but makes no difference to the fact that the sugar ferments and fuels these harmful microforms in exactly the same way.
And as for fruit juice?
Fresh or not, fruit juice is simply highly concentrated fruit! But without the fibre! It is the same problem multiplied by twenty.
DO NOT DRINK FRUIT JUICE!
Just one of the problems of fruit juice, but something worth focusing on for a second, is that when the body receives fructose without fibre, the brain does not recognise the calories consumed and you still remain hungry.
Plus the blood sugar spike from the pure fructose (without the fibre) leads to a whole vicious cycle of inflammation which ultimately leads to rapid visceral fat formation.
But that’s a whole other topic for another day (but check this article on inflammation in the meantime).
Is any fruit OK?
Yes! There are a handful of low-sugar fruits that are great for you!
Tomato, avocado, lemon, lime and grapefruit are all alkalising and full of goodness.
And before anyone asks about how lemons and limes can be alkalising – the answer is simple: it is the effect the food has on the body, not whether it is acid or alkaline in it’s natural state (same as above for lemons).
4. Why are the lists of alkaline/acid foods different?
I know it is quite confusing to see such differences in the charts.
This amount of conflicting information is the main reason I started this site and I believe my Alkaline Food Chart (download here) is the most accurate, realistic and easy to use.
The reason that other charts show such disparity is because they base their classifications on the readings for the Potential Renal Acid Load research (PRAL).
This is not an accurate source for this purpose.
The reason for this is, to test for PRAL they basically burn the food at an extreme temperature and then take a read of the ‘ash’ that is left behind and what it’s pH is.
While this does give a read of its alkalinity from the mineral content of the food, this is only half the picture.
By burning it at such a high temperature they also burn away all of the most acid-causing content of the food, namely sugar.
That is why on some charts high sugar fruits are listed as alkaline. Bananas for instance are high in the alkaline mineral potassium, BUT they are also 25% sugar which makes them extremely acidifying when we consume them.
Robert Young has also tested the blood (through live blood analysis) of over 40,000 people and has seen first hand the effect different foods have on the body. So his classification of acid/alkaline foods is really the most accurate and the most relevant to the effect foods have on our pH levels.
5. Which supplements do you recommend?
This really is down to your own personal nutritional requirement, and I would always recommend speaking to a qualified nutritionist before making any dietary changes – but in my personal opinion and from the feedback from my customers I recommend the following supplements as a solid cornerstone to any nutritional regime:
Ross’s Supplement Suggestions
- Green Drink: highly alkalising, highly nutrient dense and unbelievably good for you, green drinks are a must have for me. I can almost guarantee that if you start having four green drinks per day then you will almost instantly start seeing the benefits. A rich source of chloropyhll, vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and other nutrients – the greens infuse your body with highly alkaline ingredient to cleanse, neutralise acids and give your body a huge energy boost.
- Turmeric: Turmeric could possibly be THE most powerful, and most researched nutritional supplement known today. I have absolutely fallen in love with it, and have it daily. In fact, I think everyone should strongly consider adding turmeric not only to their daily diet, but also their daily supplement regimen.
For me, it now stands alongside omega 3 as my most important nutrient.
It has been proven to fight inflammation, fatigue, immune system disorders, heart conditions, cardiovascular health, fights cancer, prevents cognitive conditions such as Alzheimer’s, is a huge antioxidant and more.
You can simply take it in a capsule format and I recommend seeking out the phytosome form, which is shown to be more bioavailable to the body.(see here for 10 Science-Backed Reasons You Should Eat More Turmeric)
- Omega Oils & Coconut Oil: For optimal health, energy and wellness I strongly urge you to give some focus to the omega 3, 6, 9 and coconut oil that you consume. Here is a rundown of the basic facts of each to get you started!
- Omega 3: The important omega 3′s are ALA, EPA and DHA. The human body cannot make omega 3 on its own so it is essential that we supplement our diets. Omega 3 is also the fat that we are most deficient in. Experts suggest that we need between 20-40ml of omega 3 per day to function optimally. To get this through diet alone is difficult, even if we eat oily fish and nuts every single day. Especially as a lot of the foods (fish & meat included) are farmed in a way that makes them less nutritious than in days gone by.
- Medium Chain Tryglycerides (MCT) from Coconut Oil: MCT are hard to come by, and almost all other oils we consume are long chain. We specify coconut oil because it is almost always organic, is incredibly resistant to heat, light and air (unlike all other oils) so it can be cooked with and still healthy, and because it tastes great!
As mentioned these Essential Fatty Acids (EFAs) are called essential because the body absolutely requires them to function, yet it cannot manufacture them itself. It relies upon us to consume these fats, namely omega 3 and omega 6. These fats are so important that even if we eliminated the bad fats from our diets completely, we would still, eventually, die if we did not ingest any of these EFAs. We simply cannot live without these fats!
Do you, or have you ever suffered from any of the following:
* Dry skin, acne or skin disorders such as eczema, psoriasis or rosecea
* Weight gain
* Low energy levels
* Brittle hair and hair loss
* Poor nail growth
* Deterioration of liver and kidneys
* Inability to sleep
* Low immune system
* Digestion problems, inflammation, bloating
* Low libido
* Tingling in arms and legs
These are just a few of the symptoms of omega 3 and 6 deficiency. And these symptoms show up fast!
- Alkaline Salts: Alkaline salts are simply so amazing. Based around the four most alkaline mineral salts of calcium, sodium, potassium and magnesium, these salts are highly alkalising and are vital to life itself. To best way to tell you about these salts is to give you Robert Young’s description, so here goes:
1) Our bodies contain almost 450gms of salt and each day we need to replenish the salt used by our bodies
to maintain our normal health, vigor and alkaline design.
2) Salt plays a big part in helping the body to digest food and turn them into living tissues, as well as helping to transmit nerve impulses that contract the muscles. In order for the cells of the body to function normally, a salt/water balance must be maintained. Salt is also necessary for making the sodium bicarbonate the body needs to alkalize the food we eat to maintaining the alkalinity of the blood and lymph fluids.
3) When you are tired and/or fatigued and need energy that is the need for salt.
4) All sugar cravings are the need for salt.
5) Salt is the ion of life in which all energy is transported. Without salt there is no life.
6. Where do I get protein from?
That is a very valid question – but I think it is in the wrong context…but I’ll get onto that. The first question you need to ask yourself is ‘How Much Protein Do I Need?’. Difficult question. Dr Young states that the average person needs no more than 20g per day, but this obviously changes if you work out or lead a very active life. I personally aim for around 50g, but certainly nowhere near the heights of some trainers who propose you should have at least 1-2g’s per kg of body weight.
I suggest you find your own level that you are happy with, within this range (of 20-100g) and then consider where you will get your protein from. When most people ask this about the alkaline diet it is more out of fear that they are not going to get enough – but the more pertinent question is – what is your source of protein i.e. make sure it is a good source!
On an alkaline diet, without any further supplementation I consume at least 30g of protein a day, which is more than enough for the body to function, grow and develop. This level often tops 60g with the introduction of tofu, soy milk etc.
I also supplement with an organic sprouted brown rice protein at the moment because I’m hitting the gym pretty hard, but this isn’t essential.
Food Sources of Protein on the Alkaline Diet – but to answer your original question, when you’re living alkaline you get more than enough protein from:
– green leafy vegetables
These provide plenty.
[+] Matt Frazier (a.k.a NoMeatAthlete)’s guide to vegetarian sources of protein for athletes
[+] Kris Carr’s CrazySexyGuide to Vegan Protein
7. Will I lose weight (OR can I gain weight?)
The body is alkaline by design and one of the most common symptoms of being over-acid is weight gain.
When you’re over acid your body both hang onto fat to protect your major organs, and is also unable to process the excess fat from the acids you consume. When you start to alkalise you quickly shred through this fat. Bulges and cellulite disappear pretty darn quick.
There is some complex science behind this, but if you consider that on a daily basis you are going to be consuming loads of fresh, raw salads, vegetables, nuts, seeds, healthy fats etc. and be totally hydrated, while at the same time consuming zero sugar, trans-fats, chocolate, crisps, sweets, alcohol etc. it is pretty clear to see that you’re not going to have to worry about weight for too much longer.
The same goes for being under-weight.
Being under-weight is an acid problem too. Your clogged, over acidic digestive system is preventing your body from being able to absorb the nutrients you do consume, and so you’re left skinny and weak. Once you start to alkalise you will find yourself filling out in all the right places and gaining muscle mass.
[+] My complete (video) guide to weight-GAIN on the alkaline diet
8. How do I test my pH – why are my readings erratic?
Testing your pH is a great way of tracking your progress. But it has to be done right.
Here is how:
It is good practice to either test 1 hour before or 2 hours after eating. If testing your saliva, it is a good idea to try to fill your mouth with saliva and then swallow. This helps remove any acidic bacteria that might be lurking. Do not try to wash your mouth out with anything else as this will simply record the alkalinity of the water/liquid you have just used.
For testing urine, let some urine flow before testing as this will give more of an average reading.
It is also a good idea to test 2-3 times in a day in order to get an average, as first thing in the morning the body has retained fluids over a long period of time and it will engage in different processes to remove acid wastes from the body throughout the day (depending on activity and diet).
Why the Differences and Fluctuations?
The reason that there is such a difference between your urine and saliva readings is that a) your mouth is more likely to contain acidic bacteria throughout the day (if you brush your teeth it will show a very high alkaline reading due to the toothpaste so there is not much of a way around this) and b) because your urine is more of a reflection of the processes the body is undertaking to remove acid from the body.
Both of these are therefore subject to fluctuations. I would recommend taking the average of several readings to gain a bigger picture of your progress rather than concentrating on each reading in isolation.
A reading of anywhere between 6.75-7.0+ is excellent for saliva as the saliva tends to be slightly more acidic. For the urine, a slightly higher pH level of 7.5 upwards is great, but remember that due to the kidneys processing of toxins throughout the day, the urine can give a more erratic reading.
To put all of this into perspective, someone who eats a typical Western diet would be more likely to have a saliva pH average of about 5.5-6.0. This may not seem too much lower, however it is important to remember that the pH scale is logarithmic – meaning each step is ten times the previous i.e. 4.5 is 10 times more acidic than 5.5 which is 100 times more acidic than 6.5 and so on.
Testing the pH of your saliva or urine is only going to give you a general trend.
Unfortunately, there is no way of determining the EXACT pH of the blood without undergoing a live blood analysis. However, they can give a good indication – so test, test, test and take the average and then follow this trend over time noticing the difference any changes in your diet can make.
9: What are the most Alkaline Foods and the most Acidic?
I have recently blogged and researched extensively about this, and the full guide is below.
In short, the 7 most alkaline foods are:
But with honorable mentions going to ALL leafy greens, especially watercress! Coriander gets a nod too for it’s detoxing/chelating effect!
Here is the full guide: The Seven Most Alkaline Foods (includes recipes for each too).
And the seven most acidic?
2. Ice Cream
4. Trans Fats
And honourable mentions to grains, gluten and tap water too!
10: How Long Does it Take to Get Alkaline?
This really is a ‘how long is a piece of string’ type question. If you’re coming from quite an acid-forming background you may feel a little worse before you feel better. It also depends on HOW you alkalise as well as how dedicated you are. Some people think they’re going great but are making one or two little mistakes that are costing them. More on this below.
If you’ve been on a high protein diet I would expect that it has been quite acid-forming for a few years. Many people are in this position.
You have two options when first starting out:
Option One: you can go on an ‘Alkaline Cleanse’ which is essentially an alkaline detox where you consume only raw alkaline soups, alkaline juices and smoothies and get plenty of goo quality water (I have a free guide to doing an alkaline cleanse here) for anything between 3-10 days. I did a diary of a 3 day cleanse here which you can read to get an insight into what it’s like.
Option Two: you can transition more gently onto the alkaline approach by hitting the main stuff first (lots of greens, hydration, oils, alkaline minerals, exercise) and then work on perfecting it over time.
My concern is that going 100% full time, long-term from the word go as you have often ends in people finding it too much of a change and they give up after a few days or weeks (or hours!).
If you’re going to go with option one definitely read my Alkaline Cleanse Guide and try to stick to it for at least 3 days before going onto option two. If you’re going to go with option two then I’d definitely download my Beginners Guide to the Alkaline Diet which you can access from my homepage.
So how long does it take to see results…?
Well, if you go with option 1 – the alkaline cleanse you will see a CHANGE very quickly, and if you’ve come from an acidic diet you’ll probably feel pretty crappy for a few days, but after you break through that you’ll feel sensational.
If you go with option 2 and follow my suggestions then you’ll definitely start to see a turnaround pretty quickly. I guess it depends on what you consider to be ‘success’. You should start to feel clearer in your head and have more energy pretty quickly – within 48 hours, and will start to drop body fat and get that more restful sleep within a week.
Bonus 1: Can I become too alkaline?
Because I’m nice, and I couldn’t work out which question to drop to make this list a top 10 (top 11 didn’t have the same ring) I’m giving you this bonus answer. It is one we get asked quite often and it does have a simple-ish answer, so here goes.
Basically, yes, you can become over-alkaline, of course. This is very, very difficult to achieve! Your body is constantly creating acids in it’s daily workings, which is why we need to focus on eating 80/20 alkaline foods to help to neutralise these acids. We obviously make things worse by eating and drinking acvid too.
But if we did manage to eat SO alkaline that your cells and body fluids went above 7.365 then your body would simply buffer this to regulate you back down to the correct pH. The effect on your body would be similar to that if you were too acid. And given that 99% of us are too acid 99% of the time (yet we are still walking and functioning as humans!) then I don’t think it would have too much of an effect on us. You’d probably feel pretty similar to how you do right now.
Plus it would be pretty short lived as, like I mentioned, the body does create acids all of the time, so you’d soon be neutralised!
Any More Questions?
I really hope this has helped and has given you a good framework and answered some of the questions you might have had. If you do have any other questions – feel free to leave a comment below!
Have a great weekend
Do You Want To Get Alkaline for Huge Energy?
Grab your free, instant access to my Alkaline & Acid Food Charts & Eating Guide,
10 Delicious Alkaline Recipes & my instant Alkaline Starter Pack Training. Plus my latest free guides delivered direct to your inbox each week.
Your information is 100% secure. By registering here, you will recieve weekly articles, videos and other tips to help you get alkaline. You can unsubscribe at any time.