The story is the same: A planned week off of running turns into two (or three) weeks. And then I get into watching television shows, like the important Bachelorette. This all opens the door to some crummy eating.
More junk food, fewer salads. More coffee, fewer smoothies. More beer, more beer.
Last time I broke that funk with a challenge: Run every single day for a month. This time the challenge is nutrition-related, and a little bit weird. Consume only fluids for seven days.
Why Would Anyone Want to Do This?
Because I like experimenting, and giving things a fair shake. Because I’m obsessed with the idea of maximizing my energy, so that I can run better, sleep less and live more. And because everywhere I turn for answers about how to have more energy, people are pointing me towards an alkaline diet (more on this below).
And an alkaline diet, it seems, starts with a cleanse. Not a Super Colon Blow-type cleanse, but a way of giving your body a break from difficult digestion, to free it up to flush acids, yeasts, and toxins out of the bloodstream.
The Details of the Cleanse
The specifics of the cleanse are pretty simple: Drink at least four liters of fluid per day, mostly water with lemon or lime, plus six to twelve glasses of freshly-juiced green vegetables. Raw, liquid soups made from pureed green vegetables plus a few tablespoons of oil are allowed too, as are occasional carrot and beet juice. Depending on how much running I do over the next week, I may allow fruit juices in moderation as well.
The cleanse isn’t required to last for seven days; that’s an average. If I decide I want to stop after three or four, I’ll stop. And if I start losing a lot of weight—my biggest concern—I’ll curtail the cleanse at that point.
This isn’t supposed to kill me or be some religious test of mental strength. It’s supposed to be a jump-start toward a cleaner diet and increased energy. If there’s any sign that it’s doing the opposite, I’ll jump ship faster than that bad guy in Titanic who goes ahead of the women and children (i.e., fast).
Isn’t This Alkaline Diet Thing Just Pseudo-Science?
Maybe. But I like to try things before I decide whether or not they work for me.
The alkaline diet is certainly “alternative,” and I don’t know that there’s a lot of evidence to support it (yet?). I do know that several people whom I trust and who have incredible energy levels—Brendan Brazier, Stu Mittleman (the guy who ran 1000 miles in 11 days), and Tony Robbins (not an athlete, but one of the most energetic and passionate guys you’ll ever see)—all endorse paying attention to the acid/alkaline balance.
On the downside, Wikipedia tells me that the guy whose book I’ve been reading, Robert Young, has been under scrutiny by the National Council Against Health Fraud. And as a commenter pointed out, his website sure feels kinda creepy.
But the way I see it, there’s not much risk in giving it a whirl. If you look at a chart of the acid and alkaline foods, you’ll see that the alkaline foods and neutral foods are pretty much what we know to be good anyway—vegetables (the greener the better), certain seeds, nuts and grains, and some fruits. And the bad stuff is what most vegetarians and vegans agree is unhealthy—meats, dairy, sugars. (There does seem to be some variation across different charts, another red flag.)
As I do more research about the alkaline diet, I’ll write a post summarizing what I see as the major tenets, and that research along with my results will help me judge its validity. In the meantime, I’ll just be over here drinking a whole lot of water and vegetable juice, as the cleanse starts tomorrow.
I’m interested to hear what you, the NMA readers of the world, think of the alkaline diet—I know it’s a polarizing topic. What do you think, is there something to it? Or is it just an ingenious ploy to get me to waste my money on greens powders and pH strips to test my urine?