Sodium water retention

Does sodium make your face bloated/puffy? I thought sodium water retention is intramuscular?

I have always been told that sodium water retention is subcutaneous or below the skin. And yes it will make you look softer. That is why all of the pro bbs go through such great lengths with diuretics and such. It is to thin the distance between skin and muscle which is where fat and sodium water retention reside…

Someone correct me if I am wrong.


This is a long excerpt lifted from but I felt it best explains the effects of sodium and water on our look…

Sodium Intake
Starting from Sunday up to and including Wednesday increase your sodium intake either by eating rich sodium foods (like egg whites, tuna for the protein sources) and adding salt to your meals. Stop doing this and drastically abolish as much as possible sodium from your diet starting on Thursday by switching your rich-sodium food to low-sodium foods (for example: switch tuna and egg whites with chicken breast, turkey breast or other source of high biological value protein that are low in sodium. Of course, your carbohydrates sources should also be very low in sodium).
When the sodium intake gets abolished 2 days prior to the show, the system will keep on excreting it as well as the water. Remember Homeostasis? In this case, when the sodium has been overloaded in the previous days, the system is focused on re-establishing homeostasis, that is to resume back to normal levels of sodium and it does this by continuing to excrete sodium and consequently water at a very fast rate. You did a drastic overload of it and the body drastically replies. This condition is maintained until the system detects through its feedback mechanism that sodium normal levels have been resumed back.
When sodium is not consumed anymore, the system usually takes about 2 to 2 1/2 days to recognize the diminished sodium intake and therefore within this amount of time the excess of sodium and water excretion won’t lead to any negative feedback mechanism.
That’s why timing the lowering of sodium is crucial.
Water Intake
Starting from Friday through and including Wednesday drink as much as 8 litres of water per day without caring about its mineral content.
Lower the water intake to 6 litres on Thursday.
Lower the water intake to 4 litres on Friday.
Stop drinking at least 8-10 hours prior to your show.
The abolishment of water intake, limited to 8-10 hours prior to the show, will permit the body to keep on excreting water because of the analogue mechanism that occurs for the sodium.
In competitive bodybuilding some athletes do use Diuretics in the attempt to get rid of that extra cellular body water in order to get that impressive defined look.
Diuretics can really create that desired effect but their use is very risky unless you are supervised by a physician.
Some diuretics act on eliminating potassium and sodium as well as chloride and consequently water. These kinds of diuretics have a dramatic impact on your total body water, so dramatic that one of the several troubles you can face (from an aesthetic point of view) is the loss of your hard earned muscles. Yes, once you manipulate your potassium levels and excrete it due to the use of a “Loop diuretic” you run the risk of losing your intra cellular body water, the water that makes your muscles full. From a health point of view, the loss of high levels of potassium can lead to heart complications.
Other Diuretics known as “Potassium Sparing Diuretics” like Spironolactone, inhibit the loss of intra cellular potassium ions so that the risk of appearing with flattened muscles is avoided.
This class of Diuretics acts only by inhibiting the Aldosterone secretion so that any sodium re-uptake by the distal tubule of the kidney is halted and therefore also water re-absorption, permitting you to excrete only extra-cellular water.
Unfortunately it’s not as simple as it seems.

  1. The chance to appear on stage with flat muscles or with empty muscles should not be a concern with a “Potassium Sparing Diuretics” but it’s still possible. I saw many athletes that looked flat with the use of such a diuretic!
  2. The fact that Aldosterone inhibition allows the water to be excreted by the inhibition of sodium re-absorption causes a drop in plasma osmolarity and/or blood volume. As mentioned above the drop of blood volume is one of the stimulus for ADH secretion therefore inducing water re-absorption by the collecting duct of the kidney. HOMEOSTASIS!
    I also heard about athletes that use ACE inhibitors and also AII receptor blockers. This is why ADH is stimulated also from the release of Angiotensin II (AII). Unfortunately ADH secretion doesn’t depend only on Angiotensin II, but as I wrote before Neurohypophysis regulates ADH secretion both by the stimulus of Plasma Osmolarity felt by osmoreceptors and Blood volume felt by stretch receptors.
    In a nutshell the use of Diuretics and even of a potassium sparing diuretic is short circuited. I’m not stating that they don’t work, but only that their use is either too complex or too risky, and above all, in 2 days you can literally destroy all the hard physical work you did to get into the show.

So for someone just trying to look god nekkid and probably wont ever compete, just avoid high sodium foods on a whole right?

Neato, so you are basically saying sodium retains water in the fat cells instead of the muscle cells?

Does anyone know for sure?

I would like to challenge anyone that cares about their sodium intake to keep track of it just like you do carb grams. It might suprise you. While I was monitoring mine I was regularly in the 2500-3500mg range. When you figure that one serving of Cottage cheese has 370mg, 1 peice of Branola bread has 190mg(so 380 per sandwich) and (God forbid you eat one) a subway sandwich without condiments has over 1000mg!

Anyway… Just one more thing to be aware of.But I wouldn’t stress too much unless you start to show symptoms of High Blood Pressure like I did. Then you may want to watch it.


Um, what “symptoms” were you showing when you had high blood pressure?

I would just like to know where sodium retain water - in muscles or fat?

This once again reinforces the misconceptions surrounding sodium.

Do a search for sodium on the forum or maybe it’ll come up under my name.

Bottom line is that sodium is GOOD for you and cutting it will make you look flat and soft. Keeping it up high can make you look nice, full, and vascular as hell.

If anyone cares, I’ll explain in greater detail if you can’t find the posts.

Thunder: I was just waiting for you to pounce on this one. I wanted to say something, but I didn’t want to (excuse me for the pun) steal your Thunder.

As hard-training, physique athletes, you’re only hurting your training and physique goals by limiting your sodium intake. This holds true especially on a low-carb diet, when water loss is already exaggerated.

I would like to add my agreement with Neato’s posts…I track sodium and have for some time both as a percentage and in milligrams…
One must bear in mind that the homeostatic regulatory tendency of the body is what allows for sodium loading and depletion to be an effective way to get very hard.
Too much sodium will def. make you appear soft and puffy at times…through sodium loading and attention to detail, you can get yourself so hard (with low body fat of course) that you can press your fingertips across the iliac area, from the bellybutton outward, and it will honestly be like a solid board with no softness whatsoever. (you’ll be real low on bf%, but extracelluar water depletion is the final factor)

ok screw it…im not even gonna bother worrying about it…I’m just gonna keep eating clean, srew it.

Please see my reply on the “Canned chicken, too much sodium?” thread for a detailed, referrenced reply on sodium + water retention, high blood pressure, and a number of other issues. This should help shed some light on the misinformation.


Amen, Thunder, Timbo, and Joel! I’ve increased my sodium intake of late during my cutting cycle, and it has immediately offered appreciable results:

  1. Improved thyroid output (speculated due to the fact that my body temperature is not nearly as low-I’m not cold all the time).
  2. Better pumps. I always have trouble getting any sort of pump when on lower carbs, but the increase in blood volume that resulted from the sodium has made a big difference.
  3. Blood pressure in the healthy range. Mine was very low (~90/54)recently while cutting severely; the sodium addition has bumped it back up into a range with which I’m comfortable.
  4. Better taste. I like pickles, salsa, and I’m relearning to like salt.

Thanks, Thunder!