For most of us, salt is in the same category as sugar – it tastes good, but too much of it can have a negative impact on our health. For several years, it has been claimed that we should keep the salt content in our diet low. However, this is not entirely true and our bodies rely on potassium and sodium for numerous important functions. Many sports enthusiasts are constantly looking for the best tips and tricks to speed up muscle building. Yet the solution could be quite simple. Have you ever thought of taking salt before your workout? More and more athletes swear that a higher salt consumption has a positive effect on our training performance. Is this true or just the next myth surrounding sports and nutrition? Should athletes eat more salt and how much salt before training is acceptable? We’ll reveal the answers right below!
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What are the benefits of salt before exercise?
Salt, also still called sodium chloride, consists of about 60% chloride and 40% sodium and is an indispensable part of our diet. The mineral plays an important role in digestion as well as water balance and bone structure. If you’re a fan of “Strongman,” you may have seen Brian Shaw consume many times the recommended daily allowance of salt. Fitness trainer Jason Ferrugie also swears by pickled cucumbers as a pre-workout power snack. Below, we’d like to explain why salt may likely be the missing ingredient in your nutrition plan.
What are electrolytes important for?
Salt is an electrolyte and belongs to the same group as magnesium, calcium, potassium and phosphate. Electrolytes are very important especially for the regulation of metabolism and water balance. Since these cannot be produced by ourselves, we have to take them in through our diet. Endurance athletes in particular should make sure to replenish their electrolyte stores. Our body consists of 60% water and when we sweat during exercise, we lose not only water but also many important minerals. This increases the risk of dehydration and in the worst case scenario, hyponatremia can occur.
Hyponatremia is an elevated level of sodium in the blood and common symptoms include nausea, headache, loss of energy, muscle weakness and cramps. To prevent electrolyte deficiency and continue to achieve the best possible results, many athletes take some salt before training.
Salt before training accelerates muscle building
If you want to accelerate muscle building, you should focus on a protein-rich diet – we all know that by now. However, sodium also plays a very important role in this and salt before training can actually have a positive effect on muscle building. In order to get into our bloodstream and to our muscles, amino acids need sodium. So if you increase your salt consumption to an appropriate level, you will have more energy and blood flow will also be stimulated. This, in turn, improves our exercise performance and we work out much more efficiently. The result? A more toned and defined body!
Sodium increases blood volume
During intense workouts or sports like HIIT and Crossfit exercises, our blood volume drops in just 3 minutes. To get the most out of your workout, fitness experts recommend taking pre-workout supplements and salt before your workout. This will help distribute blood volume and make better use of available oxygen. Blood plasma and red blood cells help transport glucose, hormones and amino acids throughout the body. Increased blood volume is one reason for increased performance and allows for improved muscle blood flow.
How much salt before exercise is healthy?
It is not possible to make a blanket statement about how much salt should be taken before training. The daily dose recommended by the German Nutrition Society for adults is 6 grams, which is equivalent to 1 teaspoon. However, everyone is different and depending on age, size and intensity of training, some need more salt than others. Depending on how intensely you exercise, you lose between 1 and 2 liters of sweat during exercise. Although sodium requirements are higher in athletes, some caution is still advised. Too much salt consumption can have a negative effect on health and thus, unfortunately, the opposite is achieved. To reap the benefits of salt before exercise, add about 1/2 tsp of salt to your breakfast or protein shake.