How many times have you heard people telling you that you should eat less salt? High salt intake has been linked to many diseases such as high blood pressure, kidney problems, stroke and even heart disease But on the other hand, if your doctor has never had reason to warn you of such problems, if you don’t have a history of the diseases mentioned above and are a fit and healthy person who frequents a gym and works out, then adding extra salt (sodium) to your diet may benefit you and this is why you shouldn’t avoid salt. Although there is no need to go to extremes, adding a little extra salt more than what you are used to will help you acquire these benefits.
1. Blood Volume is increased with sodium
Added to your pre-workout meal or supplement, it helps your body increase blood volume with an extra boost. This initiates a stronger workout performance. As you know blood consists of red blood cells and blood plasma which help in the transportation of amino acids, glucose, hormones and nutrients within your body. An increase in blood volume from added sodium will speed up the delivery process.
Studies at Otago University, New Zealand found that athletes who drank a high sodium beverage before performance were able to perform better than those on low sodium beverages. The athletes also displayed improved fluid retention and reduced psychological strain on their bodies. Core body temperature was also reduced.
2. Sodium improves the delivery of nutrients
For maximum exercise performance, your body needs fatty acids, amino acids, water and electrolytes. Sodium initiates faster delivery of these nutrients helping them pass through muscle cell walls. Sodium acts as an assistance transporter aiding the nutrient delivery process throughout the body.
3. Sodium helps you drink more water and makes you thirsty
Salt induces thirst that makes you drink more fluid. This helps in remaining hydrated and provides you with several exercise benefits. Moreover, your kidneys can maintain improved electrolyte levels for proper function. Hydration increases blood volume while exercising. Such are the reasons why you shouldn’t avoid salt because proper hydration decreases the possibility of experiencing loss of power and strength, poor endurance, fatigue, headaches, dizziness and muscle cramps which are usually caused by dehydration.
Also read – How You Can Actually Gain Muscle from Chocolate
4. How Much Salt (Sodium) should you take?
For those on hardcore training programs and those counting nutrients then according to the American dietary guidelines, a healthy diet should contain 2300 mg of sodium per day. However, it isn’t easy to calculate this amount. All you need to do is to ensure your diet includes the sodium from salty foods such as canned beans, vegetables, soup, popcorn, whole-grain crackers etc.
The best possible way to ensure you’re getting enough sodium is by observing the color of your urine. If your urine is colorless then you’re most probably drinking too much water and need to add more sodium in the diet. If it’s dark like apple cider vinegar, it means you’re dehydrated and you need to increase water intake. The ideal color of the urine should be pale straw such as a lemonade shade of yellow. This means you’re getting enough sodium and drinking adequate water.
Clear urine is an indication of hyponatremia which means low levels of sodium in your body. This could be due to medical conditions or an insufficient fluid intake with sodium and electrolytes such as potassium. The condition can cause headaches fatigue, muscle cramps. In extreme cases, it causes seizures and coma. Now you know why you shouldn’t avoid salt in your diet.