MoreYoga: Your Plank to Upward Dog Form

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Hey all you Super Star Yogis!

Today I thought I’d let you know how to protect your lower back, shoulders, wrists and hips when yo are transitioning from High Plank (Phalakasana) to upward dog Urdha Mukh Svanasana) or the form on the way down, specifically.

So, firstly I’d like to point out that most of you are going down hips first and buckling your chest down with it, losing the integrity and the strength in your arms and core.  not super awesome for your shoulders either.


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This was really hard for me to demonstrate… proves the point.
Hips down first collapses your lower back and you don’t build much arm strength.

So! CHEST FIRST! … let’s see… RIGHT

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Strong arms, core intact, back strong and protected and you can slip into your upward dog by rolling over the toes easily as it moves your forward.
Spread you fingers and press into your fingertips to protect your wrists.
Press into the tops of your feet to lift your knees and connect your core.
Lift your hips so you don’t slump into your back.

(While you are going down your arms need to be touching the sides of your body – shoulders away from ears – squeeze elbows together)

If you are tired and/ or building strength.. Go for a modification! any time in your practice or throughout.

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Knees, chest, chin… as we say!
1. Knees down.
2. Collarbones move forward on an inhale.
3. Chest goes down-hips go last like above pic.
4. Slide onto belly

When you get up: chest up-straight arms and then move your hips back.
With your knees down you can put weight on the arms with less force.

Great!  I hope you enjoy your next flow!
Keep well and look after your body!

Written by Claire Alexander


What does ‘metabolic conditioning training’ actually mean ?

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This special combination of cardio and strength training is the most time efficient way to burn body fat and build endurance.

By sequencing short, aggressive exercise at uber-intensity and repeating multiple times we accumulate fatigue and stress the target muscle groups . This leads to a impressive metabolic disturbance to the trainers body.
Remember that your metabolism is the control room in regards to how your body reacts, converts and uses energy or calories.

Our metabolic rate is how our body burns through calories several factors play a role such as age, sex and health .
In relation to our weight loss goals having a metabolic rate that is wired to better use calories will lead to less fat storage.
If we work so hard we can literally disturb our metabolism enough that it takes a long time to return to our baseline.
The effect can last up to 72 hours long which can account for 100’s of additional calories burned .


Fat loss/Muscle gain
The most attractive thing about MetCon is the fact that the high levels of intensity help you burn more calories during and after your workout. The exercises, which usually include whole body, compound movements, help you lose fat and gain muscle more quickly and more efficiently than cardio or strength training alone.

More strength, power and endurance
Because you’re targeting all of your energy pathways in one workout, you’re conditioning the body on every level.

High level of fitness
If you can work at that high level of intensity, you can probably kick butt in just about every other activity in your daily life

People enjoy MetCon workouts because they have so much variety. You’re not slogging on a treadmill for 45 minutes to nowhere. You’re doing a variety of exercises that will keep both your mind and body engaged

Short and sweet
You have to work very hard, of course, but the payoff is you only have to do it for 10 or 30 minutes.


Perform each exercise for 30 seconds at a high intensity, followed by a 30-second break. Repeat the entire sequence five times (30-on/30-off) for a total of five minutes before moving on to the next exercise. Remember, the goal is to work as hard as possible at a pace you can sustain for all five sets!
Sample MetCon Training Routine
Weighted heavy bag squats
Kettlebell swings
Burpee box jumps
Box push ups
Bent over dumbbell rows

So, if you can get all that from MetCon, why aren’t we all doing it? For one, it’s a complex way of exercising and we often need expert instruction, guidance and motivation to do it safely and effectively. However if done properly Met Con training can take your results to a whole other level and transform your body.


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Why Practice Yoga?

• Increase of flexibility, strength, muscle tone and tissue, balance and stability.
• Improved Mind and Body Connection
• Improved Blood flow and Circulation

These are a few of the many benefits that come with practicing yoga.

Mostly, we begin our practice with closing our eyes to focus on our breathing without the many distractions around us.  Once we have that connection the breath moves through the body at a smoother pace sending energy to areas that need loosening up = subtleness and fluid movement plus circulation and a happier mind!

When we use our breath we are more open to concentrating and keeping ourselves in the present whilst noticing what works with you within the posture… and what doesn’t.

There is a posture for everything in yoga! From twisting postures to detox and strengthen our muscles and tissues to standing postures that sculpt and tone bodies giving us proud postures!
When we include balancing in our practice we prepare our bodies for stability in life. for example: when we miss our step or bump into something our bodies automatically engage in a sensible position to stabilize =stable protection!

Yoga starts with YOU and your body thanks you for it.


7 Tips for Hypertrophy or Muscle Growth

Volume is crucial
Set your workouts around 3 sets of 12 reps each, in this way you will create enough metabolic response and GH production, essential for muscle development.

Training frequency is important
Try to have at least 4 workouts a week, training different body parts each session. Ex: Day 1-legs and abs, Day 2-back and shoulders, Day 3-chest and arms, Day 4-legs and abs.

Intensity is important too
Make sure you workout hard enough! Chose the right weight, in a way that the last 1-2 reps feel challenging, reach failure.

Rest time
In order to create enough metabolic response, do not rest more then 45-60 secs between sets.

Make sure you execute all your exercises with enough TUT or time under tension. Tempo is the speed of muscle fibres contraction. This is simply to say to perform all the exercises with controlled manner during the eccentric phase (lowering phase of the squat). It is advisable to keep a 4010 tempo for a proper, effective time under tension.

Carbohydrates are not evil and they are actually helpful if your goal is lean tissue growth. If  you want to look jacked, try to have them around your workout, definitely always post workout to replenish your glycogen stores. In this way you avoid to store extra body fat.

Two of the most important supplements I advise are definitely BCAA (Branched Chained Amino Acids), to be taken intra or post workout, to aid muscle growth and whey protein, to be taken straight after your workout.

 The road to get jacked is there for you, enjoy the journey!

Michele Santeramo

Let’s Macro: How to maximise results through flexible dieting

As we are third month into the new year and a lot of new year’s resolutions, you know the: ‘I will exercise at least 5 times a week’ or the ‘I’m giving up sugar!’ Or perhaps simply ‘I won’t touch another biscuit!’ have quietly disappeared into the land of ‘I’ll try next year’, let’s take a look at flexible dieting or IIFYM (“If It Fits Your Macros”) type of dieting or better lifestyle as we don’t like the word ‘diet’ very much..hence the strange title.

Let’s start with the basics and look into macros or macronutrients. We have three main food groups: protein (required to build and repair), carbohydrates (to fuel energy) and fats (to keep you satiated) that make up the food we eat (yes there are micronutrients, too but let’s concentrate on the ‘macros’ for now.)

Flexible dieting (or IIFYM) doesn’t restrict you to only eat certain food or God forbid cut out a food group all together! Instead you are given a ‘budget’ – certain amount of each food group that you can play with. Yes it does require you to track your food and be accurate with portions BUT you can be losing weight and still eat a biscuit here and there! And these days they make it very easy to track your food, have you heard of MyFitnessPal? This app that has a HUGE database of food and nicely breaks it down into all your macros (and micros – bonus!)

Let’s see an example. A woman wants to lose weight. In order to do that, she needs to eat 1500 kcal a day consisting of 140 grams of protein (each gram of protein is 4kcal therefore = 540kcal), 100 grams of carbohydrate  (same as protein ×4kcal = 400kcal) and the rest 1500 – (540 + 400) = 560kcal /9 (1 gram of fat is 9kcal) = roughly 62g of fat (don’t panic, all of this can be set and calculated by your trainer) Now this is her budget for a day and she needs to ‘hit it’ to reach her goal. Log in the food she eats and have a little treat be it piece of chocolate or bit of cream in coffee.

If It fits your macros, go for it! Yes, it requires bit of your precious time to get used to but how much time have you already wasted by trying all of the new ‘fad’ diets out there? This is a way of eating you can stick to and that, my friends, is THE key to successfully reaching your fitness goals!

Plus not being restricted and having the flexibility to chose what you eat massively helps with cravings and or binges that we all (or most of us) know all too well trying any type of crash or overly restricted diet.

Let’s macro!

Katarina Hruskova

Keeping those New Year’s Resolutions

Another year has ended and a lot of us are looking back at successful or failed attempts of more activity, healthier lifestyles or changes in physique. And while the trend of New Year’s resolutions has become somewhat more imminent with the introduction of modern social media, it has yet to slow down or falter as a typical topic once the year draws to an end. So here are a few thoughts on how to do better this time, how to change thinking patterns or what we found to be the most important key points.

A New Year’s Resolution as such is worthless

Don’t get me wrong. The mere thought of wanting to change something about your appearance, fitness levels, body fat percentages, etc. is the first step. The part that sets you up for failure is choosing the first of a New Year as the starting point without giving it much more thought. Achieving any of the goals above requires a certain amount of planning, education on the subject, willpower and general structure. The typical New Year’s resolution is a neat thought but without some expertise, it remains just that. So in order not to join the masses that rush into a commercial gym for 6 weeks or so just to never be seen again for the remaining 46 weeks of the year, make an attack plan, actually set your mind to it and read up on the topic. (Our body transformation guide is actually a good place to start!)

States of balance

Getting from point A to point B in terms of fitness goals is the hardest part of the journey. And depending on how serious you are with achieving the changes you and/or your trainer have set for you, this may go as far as abstaining from alcohol, sweets and all the lovely stuff that were there in abundance just before the New Year starts. And while going from 100 to 0 in terms of the former is hard to start with, the self-imposed outlook of NEVER having them again in order to look a certain way doesn’t exactly help. The psychological pressure of that idea is sometimes enough to make people abandon their fitness goals after just a couple of weeks.

In truth, the body is always in a state of balance and the actual shift in balance is not necessarily that huge. After the initial journey to a new weight, a new look or a fitter feeling, which does require the most sacrifice, it’s much more about retaining a healthy balance of good and bad. Yes, you can still go out on a drink binge, you can have a bucket of ice cream on a lazy Sunday afternoon but it has to be balanced out by 5 healthy lunches during the week and/or a decent amount of quality exercise in the range of 3 to 5 hours a week.

How much do you want it?

The first step is the hardest. But you have made that one already. Something needs to change. Consecutive steps get easier one by one but excuses will always creep up along the way. With the abundance of information on the World Wide Web and training facilities like ours with a varied list of products on their books, there are proven pathways to make some actual change.

So now the copious amount of Christmas dinners and work parties have drawn to an end, let’s make a plan and tackle the New Year head on.

Fitness Swaps for the Festive Season

‘Tis the season to be consuming – fa la la la la la la la la la!

It is a route that is easy to follow if you do not have a reason not to. The fact is, during the festive season it is really easy to pack the fitness plans in and replace them with long lunches, after work drinks, office parties and meeting up with family for a consumption fest.  It is the season to eat, drink and be merry – but will the waistline thank you for it later? The question is, with the way that food and drink is marketed to us where does this all stop? Why say no to certain food types? What can we do to enjoy ourselves but keep our health and fitness goals in check?

It is much easier to gain weight than to lose it – so trying these fitness swaps will help you balance your excess during the festive season.

Swap an alcoholic drink with water
It is really easy to drink too much alcohol during the festive season, which can be very damaging to the body both in terms of weight gain and general damage to the mind and body. Drinking a water every second or third drink will allow you to stay hydrated, keep your stomach full and reduce your hangover the next day.

Swap chocolate and sweets for fruit and nuts
With confectionery everywhere during the festive season opt for varieties of fruit and nuts and swap crisps for popcorn.

Move more
You’re likely to be out of your house, staying at friend’s and family’s houses. Burn come extra calories by going for a walk and exploring the area, getting some fresh air and picking up supplies from the shops. It is often easier to sit in front of the TV and vegetate. Perhaps try to fit in a gym session.

Feast to feel good rather than over consume
How many times do you over eat that second portion and pay for it comatose on the sofa?  Eat to feel content, drink a pint of water during your meal and eat slowly. If you come with the attitude of over consumption then that is exactly what will happen.  This mentality starts early in the season; in the office when people bring in cakes and chocolates, at office parties where food is being catered to you and then when you get together with your family. People without health and fitness plans are the ones who will be desperate to start a fitness regime in the new year.

Avoid finger foods and nibbles
With so much food on offer during the main course it doesn’t make sense to waste your appetite on junk food nibbles. Bear this in mind when planning your day. Eat a good high protein and vegetable breakfast and set yourself up to make better choices for the rest of the day.  Studies show that people who eat protein sources for breakfast make better and lower sugar choices for the rest of the day.

Eat well before the big day
Plan what the big days are going to be and don’t let yourself slip for the whole season. Tis not the season to ruin all your yearly gains so why behave like that? If you have a plan and strategise then your waistline will thank you for it.

After all of these ideas you still want to consume as much as you want?
As a learning experience track your food using MyFitnessPal and see your overconsumption. It is eye opening seeing how easy it is to over consume and the type of calories you’re getting. On big days such as Christmas Day or Easter Sunday you can easily consume in excess of 7000 – 8000 calories. WOW!!!!

Ultimately, the festive season is there to relax and have fun. But it is important that you’re not sabotaging your health and fitness goals at the same time. Showing certain amounts of self discipline will be accompanied with delayed gratification – a nice present to give to oneself.

Have a great festive season – and we’ll see you on the other side!

Do you know your shit?

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For most of us inspecting our poo is best left to the faecally obsessed celebrity “Dr” Gillingham McKieth. However, your poo may give you a few clues about how healthy your diet and gut health is.

4 things to look out for:

  1. It is important to eat a good balance of soluble and insoluble fibre, this is best consumed through good quality organic fruit and vegetables (make sure these are not over cooked). Your poo should be floaty if you are consuming the right amount of good quality fibre.
  2. Are you eating too much meat. Consumption of too much poor quality meat can easily be identified through bad smelling poo. Now obviously, all poo smells pretty bad, but a healthy stool should be “earthy” not off putting in smell.
  3. Are you eating enough good quality fats? Good quality fats from oil fish, nuts, seeds, oils and some veg are important for good gut health. Too many hydrogenated fats will lead to bad smelling stools and also a lack of firm shape.
  4. Are you drinking enough water? It is important to keep yourself hydrated as if you don’t and your body will try to reabsorb water from your poo, which I’m sure is something none of us want to consider.

On average people should pass about a foot of poo over a day. This should be light brown, floaty, earthy and not unpleasant in smell, well formed and easy to pass.

Finally, you should be aware that your poo does not just reflect your dietary habits but may also be an indication of, the function of your stomach and colon, the state of your mental health, your gut health with regards to good bacteria, fungal infection or parasites, your body’s response to exercise, and possible dietary intolerances.


Mythbusting: The Truth about Cheat Days

We’ve all heard of cheat days or cheat meals right? Nowadays they seem to be a staple part of almost every diet – some people choose to have one cheat day a week where they binge out on all their favourite foods for a whole day whereas others choose to spread it out and have a few periodic cheat meals. Most people look at this as a way to keep spirits high whilst dieting as chicken breast and broccoli day in day out can break even the most dedicated of us… we’re only human after all.

Well, first of all and most importantly let me clear this up right now – it is never okay to have a full day of bad eating habits especially not as frequently as once a week. Why? For arguments sake let’s say your daily calorie allowance is 2000 and you’ve been on a calorie controlled diet with a 500 calorie deficit per day – that’s 3000 calories deficit in 6 days, enough to lose just under half a kilogram of fat. Not bad. Now you get to day 7 and the cheat day comes into play. So you wake up in the morning and decide to go all out with a McDonald’s breakfast (you earnt it after all!) – double sausage and egg McMuffin, hash brown and a  latte to wash it down – 843 calories. At lunch you meet a friend at Starbucks and grab a chicken and bacon panini with a chocolate chunk cookie for dessert and a delicious frappucino – 1264 calories. Then that evening it’s movie night and of course no movie night would be complete without Dominoes and a bottle of wine! You split a large stuffed crust meat lovers pizza three ways with garlic & herb dip and a side of garlic bread, and of course a tub of Ben & Jerry’s cookie dough ice cream – 2537 calories plus the wine at roughly 600 calories. This gives you a grand total of 5244 which is 3244 calories over your daily limit… more than the deficit you worked so hard all week to achieve!! Because of this one ‘cheat day’ you’ve now got a surplus of calories large enough to more than wipe out the week’s efforts.

The above is obviously an extreme example but calories on so called cheat days can tally up very, very quickly and seriously hinder if not completely halt any progress you’ve made.

Now this leads me on to my next point and again this is very important – cheat days are not to be confused with strategic re-feeds. If you’ve ever done a google search on cheat days you’re guaranteed to have come across lots of claims they are necessary in order to boost the body’s metabolism, these claims usually talk about the hormone Leptin. These claims are false and come from a misunderstanding of an advanced dieting strategy called re-feeding. Re-feeding is almost never to be used in the first several months of dieting. Whilst it is very effective and necessary when used at the right time it only comes into play when you have a very small amount of body fat left to lose.

So what is re-feeding?
Re-feeding is a deliberate period (usually one day) of higher calorie overfeeding during a caloric deficit – sounds like a cheat day but there are several big differences. Re-feeds are strategic and calculated. A re-feed is not a day where you can eat whatever you want. In a diet the amount of calories and macronutrients to be consumed on a re-feed day are different than those on a regular day (more on this in a moment) however they are still to be carefully planned and accounted for.

Why, when and how to use re-feeding  
Why: When on a calorie restricted diet for an extended period of time the body makes adaptations to prevent further fat loss (survival instinct), your metabolic rate goes down and your appetite goes up – this is where the bit about Leptin comes in. Leptin is responsible for controlling satiety and metabolism. Restricting calories causes levels of Leptin in the body to drop – this drop is what causes the above adaptations and grinds your weight loss to a halt. The idea behind the re-feed is to hack the body into normalising Leptin levels so weight loss can continue.

Re-feeding has benefits for your training too. Continuous dieting causes your muscle glycogen stores become depleted and on top of this your body goes into a catabolic state making your workouts more difficult and slowing progress in muscle building. The additional calories and carbohydrate consumed on a re-feed replenish this glyogen and temporarily push your body back into an anabolic state giving you more energy in the gym and allowing your muscles to grow a little faster for the duration of the re-feed.

The hormone changes that occur during prolonged dieting also have a negative impact psychologically. You begin to lose motivation, find yourself unable to concentrate and often feel moody or irritable. Balancing your hormones with a re-feed acts as a ‘pick me up’ to make you feel more human again and give your mood a much needed boost.

When: Re-feeds are only necessary in the final stages of dieting when body fat is already fairly low. This is because while the body has plenty of stored fat, as long as you are not restricting calories too much and pushing it into starvation mode and you are controlling your macronutrients, and your hormone levels are not going to change significantly enough in the ways described above to justify a re-feed. Think about when you first start a diet and the fat drops off just like that, spirits are high, your workouts are full of energy and you feel that you could keep it up for ever! Then you hit a wall.

Whilst you are still sticking to your strict diet and pushing yourself to keep up with your training plan the weight loss grinds to a halt and you’re having trouble motivating yourself to walk up the stairs never mind a killer session in the gym… it’s at THIS point it is necessary to start incorporating re-feeds into your diet. And I assure you when you get there you will know about it! It’s not just sluggishness and waning motivation – your body literally feels like you’ve been hit by a bus. Taking a bath is exhausting and pretty much ALL you can think about is binge eating a kilogram of chocolate (DON’T!).

If in any doubt whatsoever whether you are ready to start incorporating re-feeds into your diet you most likely aren’t there yet. As for how often you should have re-feeds once you start incorporating them, this really is on a personal basis and will need to be worked out through experience. Have your first one, record how long the positive benefits last and when you’re once again depleted have another. You will eventually figure out a pattern that works for you and if done carefully and correctly you can use this as a powerful tool to maintain your weight loss and prevent poor performance in the gym as well as keeping you motivated throughout.
How: So here’s how to set up a re-feed:
1. Only consume calories up to or slightly over your calculated maintenance (BMR multiplied by your activity factor – you should already know this if on a calorie restricted diet)
2. Carbohydrates have the most impact on Leptin so adjust your macronutrient split to around 1.5 – 2.5 times your regular carbohydrate intake. This will mean you will need to take away from your protein and fat intake to accommodate this increase. So for example if your regular diet has a macronutrient split of 20% Carbohydrate, 45% Protein, 35% Fat increase carbohydrate to between 30-50% and take from the others accordingly.

The increased calories and carbohydrate will give you a much welcomed chance to eat some of your favourite foods which will do wonders to keep you motivated psychologically whilst the control over the amount consumed and the macronutrients will prevent you from going over-board and undoing all your hard work as discussed above. Also having this control on a re-feed will mean you are far less likely to slip back into bad eating habits in the days following the re-feed which is a massive danger of the ‘cheat day’.

And if you’re thinking “but I need cheat days or cheat meals to get me through the diet – I just can’t be that strict all the time”, the golden rule to remember is that to be successful on any diet you need to follow the 90/10 rule – which means as long as you eat clean 90% of the time you don’t have to beat yourself up for having a little treat every now and then. This equates to one or two times a week when you can say yes to something outside of your diet. This does not mean you can have a large pizza for dinner but it does mean you can treat yourself to a small chocolate bar, a croissant, glass of wine etc… once or twice a week without feeling guilty as long as it is just that – a little treat.

By Katy Veldre

Finding the Acid / Alkaline Balance

Do you lack energy? Do you feel fatigued ? Do you have trouble shifting unwanted weight ?
Maybe its time to get balanced! We explain ACID/ALKALINE – something everyone should know!

Health is truly a balance among all the systems of the body. The cells of our body are so interconnected that when you improve the balance of any one system, it improves the balance and vitality of the rest of the organ systems. For example, improving cardiovascular health improves digestive function. Improving the function of the nervous system will improve the lymphatic system, and possibly most important, when you improve the acid/alkaline balance of the body, you simultaneously improve every other system in the body at the same time.

Finding balance begins in our bloodstream, as does repairing injuries, reducing inflammation, burning fat, building strong bones (reversing osteoporosis), and the increase of energy and vitality.
In order to function properly, the blood and other body fluids must maintain a very narrow acid/alkaline balance, which is measured by the pH factor (potential hydrogen). pH ranges from 0-14 (very acidic to very alkaline).  A pH below 7.0 is acid and above 7 is alkaline. Keep in mind when and if you test your pH that there is a tenfold difference between each number. For example, a pH of 5.0 is 10 times more acidic than a pH of 6.0.

Blood pH does not shift easily. The pH of our blood is between 7.25-7.45, and if the blood’s pH falls below or above that range, the body cannot function properly. A tremendous amount of energy is expended to maintain pH levels, all the while pulling from the body’s alkaline mineral reserves, causing deficiencies and health disorders.

When we maintain proper pH levels, injuries heal faster and health challenges improve more quickly because the body is oxygenated and therefore can detoxify and heal itself. If cells are energized in this way, we develop a strong immunity to diseases and a significantly lower propensity for cancer.
The best way to maintain optimal pH levels and optimal vitality is through what we eat and drink and how we react to stress. For the diet, if you follow an 80/20 rule, 80% alkaline forming foods and 20% acid, you should experience all the benefits that a body balance has to offer.

Have a look at the following lists to see which foods do what and where you might be able to increase your alkaline-forming foods. Keep in mind that the foods must be organic because ALL pesticides are very acidic.

FRUITS: apples, apricots, avocados, bananas, berries, cantaloupes, cherries, currants, dates, figs, grapes, grapefruits, guavas, lemons, limes, mangoes, melons, nectarines, oranges, papayas, passion fruits, peaches, pears, persimmons, pineapples, raisins, strawberries, tangerines
VEGGIES: bamboo shoots, green beans, lima beans, string beans, sprouts, beets, broccoli, cabbage, carrots, celery, cauliflower, chard, chicory, chives, collard greens, cucumber, dandelion greens, dill, dulse, eggplant, endive, escarole, kale, garlic, leeks, legumes, lettuce, okra, onions, parsley, parsnips, sweet potato/yam, bell peppers, white potatoes, pumpkin, radish, rutabaga, turnips, watercress
NUTS: almonds, chestnuts, coconuts
MISC: ginger, honey, kelp, alfalfa, clover, mint, sage, green tea, quinoa, flaxseed, pumpkin seeds, all seaweed/sea veggies
MINERALS: calcium, magnesium, potassium, manganese

GRAINS: all white flour products, buckwheat, wheat, corn, barley, oats, rye
DAIRY: butter, eggs, cheese, cottage cheese, cream, ice cream, custards, milk
FRUITS: jams/anything preserved, cranberries, pomegranates, olives
VEGGIES: artichokes, asparagus, garbanzo beans,
NUTS: peanuts, pistachios, walnuts, macadamia
MISC: alcohol, brine, coffee, cocoa/chocolate, candy, many dressings (because of the vinegar), drugs, jams/jellies, mayo, some spices, soda, lack of sleep, stress, worry

Quick Guide to Acid and Alkaline Foods