Salt, An athletes best friend???

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If you are a healthy male or female athlete, salt is essential. In the old days of bodybuilding, athletes were told to limit their salt intake to 750mg-1000mg and increase potassium to prevent cramping… this is the OPPOSITE of what you should do. Just for reference on how dangerous this can be, Potassium Chloride is what they use to stop a persons heart during a lethal injection.

Take away:

– Don’t be afraid to eat salt!
– Depending on activity level, a normal athlete should consume between 6-10 GRAMS of
sodium per day along with at least 0.6oz of water per lb of body-weight
– Stick with regular iodized table salt as your main form of sodium in your diet

All things being equal, the more sodium you take in with your food, the more your body tries to get rid of it (and excess water) through sweat and urine. Your body has a certain sodium balance (homeostasis) that it always trys to maintain. Also, SODIUM not potassium is the key to preventing cramping during athletic events.

Lets take the case of a 1980s-90s bodybuilder. Restricting sodium (salt) in his or her diet for long periods of time causes the opposite effect… it raises the hormone aldosterone which in turn makes the human body very salt sensitive, so then after competition when most people eat a big salty meal they will get bloated because their body will retain the salt and fluids. Most people assume this is why eating salt makes you retain fluids, which is not the case. Eating normal to high levels of salt all the time, especially if you sweat a lot during training or any type of physical exertion, causes aldosterone to stay low and you will essentially never retain salt or fluid.

High levels of estrogen in males and females, especially around the female cycle, will also cause more sodium sensitivity as well. Following a low sodium diet as an athlete not only inhibits muscular contraction but also will cause you to be weaker, it will inhibit hypertrophy (gainz), and it will affect mental alertness in the gym.

Salt vs. Sodium?

Undoubtedly, some of you have noticed that FDA food labels list grams (or milligrams) of sodium, and at times in this article, I have referred to grams of salt. What is the difference? Salt is made up of sodium and chloride. The FDA labels lists only the sodium content. This is because there are usually other sodium containing salts (eg. sodium citrate) in these products. To avoid confusion, the easiest way to ensure that you have enough sodium intake is to get used to reading the FDA labels. For example to get 1 gram (1000mg) of sodium into your body, you would need to drink more than half a gallon (2.18 liters) of Gatorade — certainly impractical every hour! To get 1 gram of sodium from table salt, you would need to ingest 2.5 grams (1 gram from sodium, 1.5 grams from chloride). A teaspoon of salt weighs approximately 6.6 grams.

Sea Salt?

Sea Salt has become a popular alternative during the “low sodium” craze of the 20th century. The problem with Sea Salt is your body wont absorb it the same way it does regular iodized table salt. Iodine is a critical micronutrient in the human diet—that is, something our bodies can’t synthesize that we have to rely on food to obtain —and it’s been added to salt (in the form of potassium iodide) since 1924. Originally, iodization was adopted to reduce the incidence of thyroid issues and goiters in developed countries due to lack of iodine in the soil.

(ref: http://www.todayifoundout.com/index.php/2012/06/why-iodine-is-added-to-salt/ )

In closing:

– Don’t be afraid to eat salt!

– Depending on activity level, a normal athlete should consume between 6-10 GRAMS of
sodium per day along with at least 0.6oz of water per lb of body-weight

– Stick with regular iodized table salt as your main form of sodium in your diet

AlaskaFit ProductionsSalt, An athletes best friend???

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