T Nation

What is high sodium?

Since sodium is measured in mg on nutritional labels I can’t wrap my brain around what would be a diet too high in sodium. For example the chicken breasts I eat have 320 mg but then a can of soda (i don’t drink soda) has 40-60.

I’m not aware of any research on the detrimental effects (besides water retention) of high sodium intake in healthy individuals.
Watching sodium intake can be an effective way to lower resting blood pressure if you already have high blood pressure. And that will only work for 1 out of every 4 people since only 25% of the population is salt sensitive.

What kind of chicken breasts are you eating, are they a prepared meal? According to my nutritional book, 6 oz breast roasted has, 126 mg of sodium. My figures could be wrong, but if you are concerned with sodium, stay away from prepared foods, they are almost always high in sodium, amoung other things.

Once again, high sodium intake is NOT bad. High sodium does NOT cause water retention. It is the CHANGE from low sodium to high sodium that causes water retention. Absolute amounts have no effect. It’s the relative change.

Once you have adapted to the increased sodium you’re body becomes more efficient at excreting it so as to maintain a very delicate electrolyte balance.

Higher intakes of sodium increase blood volume which has a profound effect on your workouts.

Take home message – dont cut your sodium.

With the bag of ice glazed chicken breasts that I buy, a 200 gram piece has 590 mg of sodium. So even if they look “unprepared,” they’ve already been treated. I do wonder, though, how much of that sodium is in the water solution that glazes the meat. Obviously, that melts away.

It’s just frozen chicken breasts but I think they have some sort of broth base or something like that…I was just worried about retaining water because I have to weigh in for something tomorrow.

Thank you for clarifying.

I remember reading a post by Bill Roberts on this on one of the weight training newsgroups a few years back. Everyone in his class had been assigned to choose a position on a biochemstry topic that was considered controversial. He chose that a high sodium diet was NOT harmful. After reviewing the literature, to his astonishment, that was not a controversial position after all. It turns out that the high sodium hype is a result of some faulty study done decades ago. The rest of the literature doesn’t bear this problem out. There has been study of populations from the rain forest (very low sodium diets) to Japanese fishermen (very high sodium diets), and high sodium diets are just not the demon seed that the people would have you believe.

Also lets keep in mind, there is, or was, a government agency devoted to spreading the gospel of low sodium. So the myth rolls on. The only people who have a problem with high sodium, are people who already have a problem, like high blood pressure. Other than that, its not a big concern.

Two grams per day is a reasonable mimimum
intake – in other words, less than this is
probably a bad idea for someone who trains – and more like 4 grams per day is probably better. So 400 mg (0.4 grams) for example per serving of a food is not an excessive amount.

Erik is right. High sodium is relative to the individual. Someone’s “maintenance” level of sodium intake may be high compared to another individual, but may also be low compared to someone else.