Is “acidification” a myth and how does this affect performance ?

Agree that it is difficult to remove the body from the state of acid-base balance. There are many mechanisms in the body that balance each change – the kidneys, lungs, blood buffers, and a number of other buffers like carnosine work inside the muscles.
While we cannot observe changes in blood pH at rest, there is a difference during exercise between an alkalizing and an acidifying diet. So why not think like this: “Can I somehow help my body work better and get tired less?” “.

Acid-base balance

Acid-base homeostasis and pH regulation are important for both physiology and metabolism and maintenance of optimal cell function. The physiological pH of the blood is 7.35-7.45, while the intracellular pH is usually around 7.15-7.25.
Diet has practically no effect on blood pH – it can only change it by 0.01–0.02. However, much more changes are observed in urine pH, alkalizing character diet can significantly alter urine pH, even by 2-3.
On a diet high in eggs and meat (overall protein), urine pH can be 5-5.5, while on a vegan diet, urine pH is 7-8.

What happens to the pH during exercise?

Well, depending on the intensity of the exercise, the body is instantly out of balance, this is very quickly neutralized by the buffering mechanisms. Changes in blood pH are minor. However, much larger pH changes occur within the muscle, which can drop from 7.25 to even 6.8-6.9. To better understand this example, I have attached below a picture of what happens to the intramuscular pH during intense work. Za: Street D. J Physiol. 2001 Dec 15; 537 (Pt 3): 993-998.

While the pre-workout test doesn’t show if we are acidic or not, much changes with intensity during exercise.
The following is a study from Canada where five young and healthy men were given alternating NH4Cl (to lower the pH), CaCO3 (control group), or NaHCO3 (alkalizing to raise the pH). The group then performed exercises of varying intensities – and as you can see, this affected the magnitude of the pH changes during exercise, moreover, studies show that this clearly reflected in the test results.

Although there is no change in blood pH at rest, blood pH changes significantly during exercise, which is important for physically active people! The popular “acidification” can be seen in the process.

And here I come back to the interesting problem of nutrition – PRAL

In English, PRAL stands for Potential Kidney Acid Load, which is a simple translation of Potential Renal Acid Load, calculated according to the equation:
PRAL = 0.49 x protein (g) + 0.037 x phosphorus (mg) – 0.021 x potassium – 0.026 x magnesium (mg) – 0.013 x calcium (mg).

Why so?

Well, food ingredients leave acidic ash, which is protein, chlorine, phosphorus and sulfur, and among the alkalizing ingredients are sodium, calcium, magnesium and potassium.

How to read the result?

  • values ​​above 0 – potential acidifying effect,
  • Values ​​below 0 are potential deoxidizing effects. Typical Western high protein diets and endogenous protein metabolism produce phosphoric and sulfuric acids, usually at around 50-70 meq / day of PRAL. To maintain acid-base homeostasis, these acids must be excreted through the kidneys.
    Vegetarian diets high in fruits and vegetables are acid-free and can lead to higher pH values. The high amount of vegetables and fruits in a vegetarian diet means that its PRAL index is close to 0 mEq / day, and the vegan diet is already slightly alkaline.

What does sports research say? PRAL + sports

Among the still small amount of research on the relationship between PRAL and exercise, there are interesting publications showing that such a relationship is observed.
Based on research by Caciano et al. (Journal of Sports Science and Medicine 2015 14, 364-371), it is worth noting that in the group following the low PRAL therapeutic diet for 4-7 days, there was a significant effect on the improvement of the anaerobic test results, people on such a diet improved their achievements by 21%.
The study results summarize that exercise / sport is highly dependent on anaerobic metabolism, when performance is often associated with the development of acidosis, the results can be significantly improved.
Put it into practice: improvement can be seen in efforts that take 1-5 minutes, such as swimming 100-200 meters or running 400-800 meters.
This is consistent with research findings on bicarbonates, which are popular ergogenic supplements that are not used very often due to the significant risk of gastrointestinal upset. And here I’m going to mention another study showing that in the 400m group, the Low PRAL diet also brought statistically significant changes in performance, improving running time by 2.3%.

Interestingly, changing the type of diet is also accompanied by a change in urine pH, which may indicate whether your diet is alkaline or acidic.

Will the consequences of such a diet be noticeable for a football player? So far there is no scientific research that could confirm this, after the aforementioned studies and physiology, perhaps such a connection exists. Participants on an alkalizing diet are able to “acidify” their bodies longer than on an acid-forming diet.

What does the movie “The Game Changers” have to do with it?

I confess right away, I didn’t have time to watch the full movie “The Game Changer” But this phenomenon has remained, remains and raises doubts among many.
Filmed from the perspective of an injured athlete who wants to learn how to recover from injury as soon as possible and how to stay healthy, discusses ideological, historical (anthropological) issues, the burden on the planet associated with meat production, as well as health issues related to consumption meat and animal products …
I think I can list all the benefits of the THC diet … maybe because I didn’t watch the whole movie, I turned it off when I heard that “it’s not soy that lowers testosterone levels by acting on estrogen receptors … but milk lowers levels testosterone. oh … ”, after this proposal I could no longer watch the film.

The biggest problem in understanding the film is that the film talks about a “plant-based diet” – that is, besides being vegan and vegetarian, there are also people in this group who eat small amounts of meat. So, in my opinion, it is about maintaining the proportion and balance between the components of the diet, so that it has an alkalizing nature, and then it can actually translate into physical activity, both aerobic and anaerobic. Changes to the rules of the game

Insulinooporność i PRAL?

Recent epidemiological evidence suggests that a high PRAL can affect insulin sensitivity and glucose metabolism. Eating high-protein diets causes excessive production of metabolic acids, which is associated with the development of chronic metabolic disorders.
Moderate metabolic acidosis has been shown to affect the peripheral action of insulin, and some epidemiological evidence suggests that markers of acid load are associated with insulin resistance and impaired glycemic control, which can lead to type II diabetes.


  • You will never be “sour” during rest, the body’s buffering mechanisms are too perfect, and the type of diet has little effect on the pH level in the blood at rest.
  • If you have had a urinalysis and your pH is 5-6, your diet can be quite acidic – you may feel more tired after a day at work.
  • The nature of your diet can significantly affect your ability to exercise. You can use sodium bicarbonate to alkalize, but it carries a significant risk of stomach upset.
  • Eat vegetables and fruits and limit the amount of protein to the required level – do not eat more than you should.
  • Eat as much protein as you need. If you eat a lot of protein, increase the amount of buffering – calcium, magnesium, potassium.
  • The Game Changers diet phenomenon is attributed to high amounts of vegetables and fruits, reduced protein and, in my opinion, an alkalizing diet.
  • Compliance with PRAL rules can be a very interesting decision for an athlete.

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