T Nation

Sodium/Salt and Water Retention

As far as getting cut up and getting rid of any water retention under the skin, I realize you need to cut down on your sodium/salt intake. However, when I am dieting for cuts I have in the past drank several cans of diet Pepsi a day to keep me going. Diet Pepsi has 35mg of sodium per can, which according to the nutrition label is only 1% of the recommended daily value by the feds. If 35mg is only 1%, than that does not seem like much, so does the 35mg of sodium in my diet pepsi substantially affect my ability to get rid of any water retention under the skin?

First, an excerpt from Muscle Media, September 2000: “…The body reacts very quickly to sodium restriction. When dietary intake is severely restricted, a hormone called aldosterone (which is responsible for sodium excretion regulation) increases, and the amount of sodium which is excreted from the system immediately decreases as your body attempts to remain in a homeostatic (stable) environment. This feedback response takes place in a matter of 12 to 24 hours. Therefore, if you ‘dry out’ and ‘tighten up’ for your photo shoot, it might be a good idea to moderate your levels to approximately 1,000 mg a day, for 5 to 7 days, before your photo shoot, but only severely restricting sodium intake (consuming 500 mg or less) the last 24 hours before your photos are taken.”

(I assume you know about watching/increasing your potassium and drinking plenty of water at the same time. Yeah, it’s a paradox: to shed water, you drink more of it.)

As far as “1%” of the RDA goes for 35 mg of sodium, I personally feel that’s a result of the food lobby’s impact on the RDA. In other words, I’m skeptical that we NEED three and a half grams of sodium per day for optimal health. I followed the advice in the paragraph above, and I shed a good amount of water. I was also on an EAS product called NWB (Natural Water Balance). I think it helped, but strictly speaking, I’ve only shed water once, so I have no comparable point of reference. Anyway, I was drinking a lot of Diet 7-Up – which has 45 mg of sodium - and it was fine. I think the real issue is total sodium intake. I’d ignore the RDA percentages and follow the ranges suggested above.

But a warning here – the math isn’t friendly. Since you’re cutting, you’re probably low carbing, which means protein powders. 40 grams of protein from Biotest’s vanilla low carb product (Advanced Protein) has 250 mg of NA. Say, two of those a day, plus three Diet Pepsi’s, and you’re already over 600 mg of NA – and you still haven’t had any solid food, which is most often moderate to high in sodium. Small wonder that people reach for the stronger diuretics in situations like this.

Have you tried Diet Rite? I gave it a shot because it has sucralose instead of aspartame, and to me it tastes way better. Of course, like anything…it’s a different taste and may take some getting used to. But the other advantage is that is has zero sodium.