T Nation

Potassium Loading: Seems Scary!

Hey, guys…how much do any of you know about the final week potassium loading a lot of the Natural guys do?

I’ve LONG since been comfortable with the water and sodium manipulation…but I guess I know just enough Cardio Electrophysiology to make what they do with loading potassium JUST A LITTLE SCARY…

What do you guys think? Unwarrented “fear”? OR “you better know what the hell you’re doing”?

Mufasa, I don’t think it’s an unwarranted feat at all. To be honest with you, I’m not sure of the actual practice of potassium manipulation that’s done and whether or not it actually affects serum potassium levels. If it does to any extent, then I wouldn’t touch it with a ten foot pole. Extremes of serum potassium can kill you in a heartbeat (no pun intended :slight_smile: ). I’d rather hold a little water than be dead.

That’s where I’m at, Doc…

Skip does it for all his contest (as well as a lot of the Naturals)…at one point in his prep, he consumes like 99MG OF K HOURLY for a designated period!

Ummmm…anyone else familiar with the practice?

VERY good question, Mufasa.

First of all, the problem with just your average person today is that they do not consume enough potassium. I believe the ratio of potassium to sodium should be 2:1. But the average diet is quite the opposite.

All that I do the week before a contest is take potassium supplements. And I do watch my sodium intake. So, the only manipulation I do is via diet. And I don't drink distilled water. Just regular bottled water.

I guess I do have the same fear as you and DocT.

99mg per hour or ~2400mg/day isn’t that much. Most people consume around that much potassium in their normal food, potassium isn’t stored by the body that much, and if someone’s taking diuretics they might need that sort of supplementation to avoid problems. 3500mg/day is often quoted as a healthy daily dose of potassium. Now if guys are taking potassium injections, that could be another matter entirely.

That said, I should add ‘you better know what the hell you’re doing,’ because someone sees a pro take 99mg an hour, then they’ll think, ‘well, if 99mg works, double that should work better.’ Soon enough you could get someone bumping themselves off…

Potassium loading is completely unnecessary. In a normal metabolic situation electrolyte balance is delicately maintained by urinary output. The kidneys regulate the concentration of sodium, potassium, and calcium by matching almost exactly the amounts ingested to the amounts excreted. The final amounts of sodium and potassium excreted in the urine are regulated by the needs of the body. Why is potassium loading unncessary? It’s impossible to load potassium inside a cell - cell equilibrium is always deliquately maintained in exact ratios. If a specific amount of potassium enters the cell, that identical amount must also leave. Aldosterone secretion is also not only triggered by decreasing sodium intake (also unnecessary), which stops all sodium from being excreted in the urine, and since water follows sodium (opposite charges) the result is water retention, but it’s also triggered by excessive potassium in the blood. High aldosterone causes excessive potassium excretion (in addition to sodium retention) with the result being muscular weakness, cramping, and usually a very flat, watery physique. Both potassium loading AND decreasing sodium are mistakes.

Thunder; THANKS! (By the way…I think Aldosterone is VERY overlooked when we consider the bloating, water retention, and edema many will see during a re-feed after a prolonged period of a restrictive diet).

Anyway…my question…I don’t understand what these guys THINK they are doing by K+ loading…what seems to be their rational? (Whatever it is…is seems to be on VERY shakey ground…)

Potassium depletion CAN become an issue with people taking diuretics. Even people who take diuretics to combat high blood pressure often are given oral potassium to maintain the body’s electrolyte balance. Considering that Andreas Muzner’s death has been associated with diuretic abuse, I would imagine that boosting potassium intake is intended for that purpose. Of course, it’s still careless if someone isn’t under professional care. To assume that “I take A, so I need B to counter its side-effects” might have some basis in truth, if you’re not monitoring oneself very carefully in a manner based on medical science, rather than assumption and partial knowledge, you could screw up in either direction, suffering the ill-effects of diuretic induced potassium depletion on one end and the risk of potassium overdose on the other.

Mufasa, you’re right. Aldosterone is extremely overlooked. A little basic understanding of what the hormone does and much of what many pre-contest bodybuilders do makes little sense. I always chuckle when I hear about this or that person dieting on a low sodium diet. I mean, what for? Does sodium inhibit fat loss or something? Or dropping the sodium out 4 weeks out – makes no sense. And these are the same people that wonder why they show up either flat and/or watery and never get that really, really dry, shredded – yet very full – look. They’re either full and watery, or dry and flat. As far as the rational behind potassium loading; it’s that increasing intracellular potassium increases intracellular water. However, like I said before you cant load potassium into the cell because of the delicate balance between it and sodium. A much better approach would be to maintain high sodium levels throughout the diet (necessary for high intracellular potassium levels, which makes dieting much easier and makes your workouts much better from all the increased blood volume and nutrient transfer, and let your body maintain and regulate the balance long before you approach the final 1 or 2 days before a contest.

THIS info (with thanks to Mufasa for bringing up the question and for Thunder for clearing up the confusion), will be extremely helpful when I prepare for my contest in April.

Great stuff, indeed.

Agreed. Great topic Mufasa. And if you need help with any of this Patricia, feel free to ask.

I heard somewhere that Dr. Kevorkian used potassium injections to kill his “patients”
so be vey carefull.