The Skinny on Salt

By:  Marian Galang, Optimum Bikini Coach

Sodium has gotten a bad reputation over the years – thanks to fad diets and the media.

As a Bikini Coach and competitor I find that it is always extremely important to do research on your own before trying anything new and keep in mind that everybody reacts different to certain diets, workout programs and even sport supplements.

I currently salt my foods (especially my preworkout meal) but when I first started competing, I stayed far away from it (I was told by my bikini coach back then to refrain from salting my foods). To this day, I remember stepping off stage after a 1st place win, having a cheat meal with friends and family, then waking up the next day with swollen ankles plus a 10-lb weight gain. Not good: physically AND mentally.

So what happened? Simple. I cut off salt from my diet for months so when I re-introduced it (via a massive cheat meal), my body didn’t know how to handle it which led to retaining water BIG TIME!

It is true that salt does make your body hold on to water… that’s IF you: 1) have cardiac problems, 2) have renal issues, or 3) not drinking enough water.

For most individuals, they are able to flush salt right away given that they have adequate fluid intake so this should not pose a problem. Keep in mind that we also lose salt when we sweat (so train hard!).

One of the body’s main functions is to preserve balance or what we call homeostasis. Certain electrolytes such as sodium and potassium play a key role in volume, muscular contraction and so much more.  Compensation is another wonder that our body does. When it senses that sodium intake is low, it raises our aldosterone. What do we know about the hormone aldosterone?

The aldosterone hormone is produced by the adrenal gland. Aldosterone acts mainly to aid in the conservation of sodium, secretion of potassium, water retention and to stabilize blood pressure.

This is one of the many reasons why competitors who cut off salt look “soft” even with a low bodyfat. Their body holds on to water. Then some individuals make the problem even worse by taking a diuretic or cutting water out too early thus raising the aldosterone hormone even more NO! NO! NO!

Remember: the key will always be to make your body work with and not against you. Salt is not the enemy but at the same token, I am not telling you all to go overboard with it but use it in moderation and always keep in mind that some people’s body are sensitive to salt and some others are not. In addition, always research what salt to use (table salt is not deemed the best).

In summary: salt your foods, hydrate, train hard, know what salt to use and reap the benefits of good ole’ sodium!



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