Getting an edge over the competition, improving performance and maximizing the body's physical endurance has become some what of a "holy grail" in the world of professional sports and elite athletes.
In fact, specialized studies and research has been carried out in order to not only gain a better understanding of the science around how the body's systems work together in terms of physical exertion but also answer the question of how athletes can perform better and for longer.
Aside from the psychology and mindset, nutrition, hydration and the body's tightly regulated system of pH balance also play crucial roles in boosting peak performance, endurance and sporting excellence.
As a result, a massive industry has grown around products that claim to be "silver bullets" in terms of the benefits they offer to those who exercise of practice sports. Although most sports drinks can provide spikes of energy and infusions of nutrition, unfortunately due to their unnatural ingredients, often they can do more harm than good, especially when consumed regularly.
So to help you get a better understanding of the science behind peak performance and endurance we've put this guide together about how you can become an "alkaline athlete" and what this means not only for results but also for your body and overall health...
Acid, Nutrition & The Metabolic Process
Acid is not foreign to our bodies. Our cells produce acids as a waste product of metabolism, which is the process by which food is turned into energy. Fortunately, our bodies are designed to naturally get rid of excess acid through the respiratory and urinary systems.
Over the years, the typical modern Western diet has become highly acid forming. High in fats (fatty acids), proteins (amino acids), and processed carbs (made of chains of CO2, an acidic gas), and low in natural alkalizing agents such as green, leafy fruits and vegetables. The kicker is that we actually use the nutrients that we get in these green leafy fruits and veggies to bind and excrete metabolic and dietary acids.
Many people are becoming oversensitive to acids, as reflected by common gut ailments like heart burn (acid reflux) and other chronic health problems related to the digestive system.
The more work that our cells do, the more acidic waste they produce and must eliminate to function properly. This is most notable when we exercise, as anaerobic respiration is a highly acid-forming process.
Why Alkalinity Is Significant For Athletes & Sports Performance
Before we discuss the reason for alkalinity's importance, we need to consider what happens during exercise, which could make you breathless and degrade performance.
As you exercise, your muscles work more, the body needs more oxygen and exhales more carbon dioxide. Because of the greater need, the breathing increases from around once every 4 seconds (10-12 litres of air per minute) when you're at rest, to about one every second or two (95-110 litres of air per minute) during really vigorous exercise. The circulation also accelerates to bring oxygen to the muscles so that they can keep contracting.
As you inhale oxygen while exercising, your cells use this to create energy in the form of ATP (adenosine triphosphate).
The greater the intensity of exercise the sooner the muscles become acidic leading to fatigue. As we have seen, a very important chemical for energy production is ATP. The build up of acid hinders ATP production, hence is disruptive of energy production processes.
Vigorous exercise increases the acidity of both muscles and blood. Alkali helps counteract this and permits the body to perform harder exercise and for longer before it is overcome by exhaustion.
VO2 Max & Peak Performance - How It Works
Athletic performance is largely determined by what is called VO2 max. VO2 max is a measure of the maximum amount of oxygen that our bodies can metabolize at maximal exertion. Oxygen is a limiting factor in metabolism, so any improvement in respiratory capacity will allow the body to do more work. VO2 max is often described as aerobic fitness.
The usual way that VO2 max is measured is using a mask and heart rate monitor while performing some vigorous exercise on a treadmill or stationary bike with the aid of a technician. Exercise is progressively increased in intensity until oxygen consumption reaches a constant level called the plateau, despite intensity increases.
At this time, the body shifts from aerobic metabolism (as described above) to anaerobic metabolism. If you wonder what this means, anaerobic metabolism is the name given to biological processes within the body that produce energy but don't use oxygen. During this type of metabolism, carbohydrates are used for chemical energy.
For athletes, this occurs when a quick, short-term burst of energy is needed, as in a final sprint.
Learn More: How To Boost Your Energy Naturally
During the 1980s, researchers began looking into something called alkaline loading to achieve improved physical performance.
How Alkaline Loading Boosts Peak Performance
What is alkaline loading? Before we answer this, it is necessary to define a term used by experts. The term is buffer.
A buffer is an aqueous solution that keeps the pH of a solution constant, in the human body this would be as near to 7.4 as possible. A good comparison sees a buffer as a peacemaker between acid and alkali, which are opposites.
Now we come to something of great importance to athletes: alkaline loading.
Alkaline loading has alkali being given as a buffer to reduce this acidity. The effect is to counteract acidity within muscle cells, rather than the bloodstream.
In studies, athletes increased their power in the final sprints of races.
What buffers did the researchers give? Two natural alkaline minerals...
Sodium Bicarbonate Loading
For the experiments of the researchers mentioned earlier, baking soda, composed of sodium bicarbonate (bicarbonate is also the leading buffer in the blood), was the buffer of choice.
The result of doing this was quite dramatic. There was a 2% speed increase in elite level 800M runners through ingestion of baking soda. At the elite level, a 2% increase is the difference between first place and last.
Unfortunately, there was a problem. The problem was that bicarbonate is a respiratory buffer, and we just breathe it out if we have a surplus, so the amount of baking soda that needed to be consumed by an athlete to be an effective dose was prohibitive. Large amounts of bicarbonate had negative side effects like gastrointestinal distress etc. Nonetheless, the concept remained viable.
What did the researchers do once they'd found this limitation of bicarbonate?
They turned to the second leading mineral buffer in the blood- Phosphate.
Phosphate is a compound that is very important in the structure of bones, teeth, cell walls, and also vital to communication within cells, metabolic function, etc.
The researchers demonstrated that the consumption of much lower amounts of phosphate over time leading up to exercise had no side effects and demonstrated even better performance-boosting results than bicarbonate.
Research demonstrated that phosphate loading improves peak power output, decreases the rate of perceived exertion, and - most interestingly - significantly improves VO2 max.
The Problem With Conventional Energy & Sports Drinks
Since coming on the market in the 1960s, most traditional sports drinks have had one thing in common - high sugar and acidic preservatives!
In addition, because the current ORS guidelines, created in the 1960's, REQUIRE glucose to work properly, it no longer fits our modern diets.
Phenoh PERFORM For Peak Performance & Endurance
In addition to natural superfoods, electrolytes, vitamins, and minerals, Phenoh products are all sugar-free and contain both bicarbonate and phosphate as key ingredients to offset acidic load, increase oxygen delivery, and rapidly hydrate the body.
In addition to our tribe of loyal customers who swear by our sports hydration alkaline drink mix call PERFORM, our Endurance SuperBooster, a study of Phenoh against a popular, big brand energy and sports drink suggested that drinking Phenoh promotes a 6.4% increase in VO2 Max when compared to consumption of the other product.
Utilizing the power of Perfect pH, Phenoh PERFORM for Endurance works WITH the body, not against it.