T Nation

Sodium/Potassium Intake


#1

Is there a guideline for how much one should consume of each? From my relentless research on countless articles all over the internet, I get the general idea that, in order for one to maintain his water retention low, one should:

A) Lower their sodium intake

B) Up their potassium intake

C) Drink a lot of water

I drink at least a gallon of water a day, so I know I'm good there. My question is...how much is "low sodium", and how much is "high potassium"?

I'm a little over 5'10" @ 173 lbs, if that helps. If you need to know anything else, ask away!

Your help is greatly appreciated. Thanks!


#2

Forget the idea that sodium is your enemy.

Change in sodium intake from what the body has become accustomed to affects water retention but in terms of walking-around condition, the idea that it will be better from fearing sodium is wrong.


#3

http://www.tmuscle.com/free_online_article/sports_body_training_performance_nutrition/sodium_your_secret_weapon

Sodium your secret weapon


#4

^^ was going to link that same article when i read the thread title

just a warning, as bill alluded to, you will put on some water weight initially when you up your sodium intake. it goes away pretty fast.


#5

Normally, most whole foods have around 10x more potassium than sodium so at least for some people it may make sense to get extra sodium mostly from sauces/condiments(as opposed to actually salting their food) and add a potassium supplement. If you have some issue with sodium balance then you can try it for a month and see if it helps any.


#6

No one can tell you how much you need.

It's individual. You'd need an in-person evaluation. You'd actually need a really scientific one. There are a couple of short cuts.

Do you sweat like a hog? I do.

When you sweat, does your sweat sting? Mine does. It's so bad that I have to wear a head band to keep the salty sweat out of my eyes.

When I'd train for long MMA workouts, I'd get exhausted towards the end. This wasn't due to lack of condition. It was hyponatremia. So I started adding salt to my workout shakes. Problem solved.

I need a lot of sodium:
http://www.extension.iastate.edu/nutrition/sport/fluids.html

http://www.chicagotriathlon.com/hydration_tips.htm

I am at the far end of the spectrum; that is, I need a lot more sodium than most people. You may be at the tails or in the belly of the curve. Only you can figure that out.

So you sort of have to figure this out for yourself through diligent research, study, and self-observation.

If you know someone who really knows his shit, that would be helpful, too. This is rare.

It is amazing how LITTLE people know about electrolytes, even though obtaining the optimal balance for an individual is a major performance enhancer. How many people will even ask you, "Does your salt sting?" That is a basic question, yet you never hear "gurus" mention it. (Though some will now pretend as if the ALWAYS knew this stuff after reading one forum post.)

"Salt" me up, and my workouts will rock. Had I not added salts to my beverages and workout drink, I'd still be wondering why I "gassed" towards the end of my workouts.


#7

My thought on whether one's sweat stings is that it's reflective of one's current and habitual sodium intake, as well as total amount of sweating and of water intake, not a permanent personal trait.

In other words, if you consume say 50 grams of sodium per week, you are going to excrete 50 grams of sodium per week. A lot will be in the sweat.

If you consume say a miserable 10 grams of sodium per week, then all that is going to be excreted is 10 grams per week, and the sweat will not be as concentrated, all else being equal.

Of course if your point was that if the sweat doesn't sting then not enough sodium is being taken in, I agree. (I couldn't tell if you meant this as an example of how individual optimal balance might be different, or this meaning.)


#8

Yes. In theory that does indeed sound right. Yet a major sign of hyponatremia is "stingy" sweat.

I know from my own experience that when I consume a lot of salt, my sweat does not sting. It's when I do not consume enough salt that my sweat stings.

You would think that your sweat would NOT sting if you had hyponatremia. After all, when hyponatremic you have too much water relative to salt.

So electrolyte balance is an interesting case where a sensible back-of-the-envelope calculations do not seem to accurately reflect what is occurring.

I personally can't explain why the back-of-the-envelop theory doesn't reconcile with what actually occurs. It's an interesting issue, to be sure.


#9

The only thing I can think in what you are citing is that not all else is remaining equal.

It's not just back-of-the-envelope that, over time, sodium excretion equals sodium intake.

In any case I wasn't referring to disease conditions. Even in the disease condition, though, sodium excretion will equal intake over time. The only things I can think are that either there is very little volume of water lost to sweating, thus the sweat is more concentrated, or the kidneys for some reason re-uptake more sodium than they really should, thus forcing more to be lost to sweat.

Not knowing anything about that disease condition, I can't say which it is or whether it is both.

What I had particularly in mind was the normal individual who goes for a time on quite low sodium and has non-stingy sweat, and then (as expected) gets stingy sweat on better sodium intake.