T Nation

J.B.,Kelly, Cy, Bill, and Others: Sodium

I would like to get clear in my mind this issue of sodium in the diet. Natural bodybuilders will routinely salt their food, the reason being that the kidneys become efficient at excreting sodium (which takes water with it). By doing this, when they sodium restrict near contest time, the kidneys are “primed” to relase even more water. Two questions:

  1. How valid is the theory? (It sounds okay).

    2)Sodium is certainly a neccesary element for nutrient transport, but do you see a need for adding it to our food for everyday use OR is that which is naturally in our food and supplements enough?

I used to worry about this issue a lot. I’ve tried it both ways-First I would try to restrict and avoid sodium as much as possible and then I went the opposite direction and tried salting everything. I’ve tried the pre-contest sodium load and then subsequent elimination and I honestly can’t say I noticed any difference one way or the other. At this point, I really don’t worry much about sodium at all. If you are eating good clean and unprocessed foods, your diet is naturally low in sodium. I do not hesitate to salt my food on occasion when I feel the need for it, but I don’t do it all the time.

Space: This is along the lines of what I’ve been thinking; take the natural salt in foods and supplements; put a little on here and there (but don’t over do it)…sounds reasonable…

I think the sodium loading/depletion theory makes sense and I know others who’ve claimed great success with it although I’ve never personally tried it. As for sodium in the diet I think it really depends on the individual and their potassium/sodium ratios and requirements. I personally just feel lousy on high sodium diets even when drinking plenty of water but I tend to feel a lot better when I cut back on sodium and increase potassium. There is a book called “Biobalance” that goes into some detail on this topic. I know the old myth of athletes taking salt tablets during activity is supposed to have died but I still know of some people who work in very hot environments who swear that without sodium tabs they will quickly pass out during a shift. I would theorize if you’re someone whose blood pressure is sensitive to sodium changes (not everyone’s is) than the sodium from natural foods alone would probably be more than adequate.