The alkaline diet is a way of eating that focuses on foods which shift your internal pH toward the alkaline end of the spectrum. This theory is not new, but its popularity has dramatically increased over the past decade, and interest continues to grow.
Many are confused because the words "alkaline" and "alkalizing" are two different things. This is to say that a food that tastes very acidic, such as lemon juice or apple cider vinegar, can actually have a strongly alkalizing effect once it has been digested and assimilated. By the same token, a food that tastes sweet rather than acidic, such as cane sugar, is often strongly acidifying once it has been absorbed.
The Alkaline Diet vs. Popular Low-Carb Diets
If you have thought about trying the alkaline diet, you may be wondering how it contrasts with other common diets, particularly low-carb diets including the Atkins diet and the South Beach diet.
Initially, the alkaline diet seems to be the polar opposite of the low-carb diet, but the truth is more complex. As you are constantly reminded, the low-carb diet restricts your intake of carbs, including bread, pasta, potatoes, sugar, beans – even fruits and vegetables. On the other hand, you are allowed to eat as much as you want when it comes to pork rinds, cheese, and other foods that are rich in protein and fat.
In contrast, the alkaline diet restricts consumption of meat and dairy products, nearly all foods that make the body more acidic. Another difference is that while low-carb diets limit fruits and vegetables, these foods are strongly encouraged on the alkaline diet. This is because fresh produce has the most nutrients and the fewest calories of any food, making it a must-have for anyone who wants to boost energy and lose weight.
Surprisingly, however, the alkaline and low-carb diets do have something in common. Both diets encourage people to eat less sugar and processed grains, but for different reasons. Fans of the low-carb diet point out that these abundant carbs are a major reason that people have become so much fatter over the past few decades. In the words of diet guru Barry Sears, the central aisles of any grocery store are basically one big chunk of carbs divided up into different bags and boxes. (There's a lot of fat in those packages, too.)
Interestingly, these processed carbs also tend to be acidifying. This is because the most common grains, namely corn, rice, and wheat, contain acidifying compounds.
When you get down to it, the main difference between these two diets is that the low-carb diet takes a sledgehammer to carbs, while the alkaline diet uses a scalpel. True, some carbs are very harmful, particularly when you eat too much of them. But something is wrong when anti-carb hysteria reaches such a pitch that people remove even apples, carrots, and celery from their diets. These nutritious foods are highly beneficial, and they're definitely not why so many people are fat. On the contrary, they are the key to losing weight, because they fill you up without adding many calories to your daily intake.