Today we’ll be talking about a very controversial topic that no one really stresses the importance of and that is SALT.
Every single one of us has been told once or twice that salt should be avoided at all costs almost like it’s the devil. We’ve heard how it raises our blood pressure, causes heart disease and obesity and how we should try to minimize our salt intake as much as possible. In fact, most of us make it a point of always buying foods with as little sodium as possible all the time.
Now, what we’re going to talk about is very important and if you want to read more about it in detail, check out Dr. James DiNicolantonio’s book called “The Salt Fix”.
Salty Folk – This Is Who We Are!
Believe it or not, salt is an essential nutrient that our bodies depend on to live and its proper balance is an equilibrium that our bodies strive to return us to, again and again. But over the past century with the obesity epidemic becoming a real threat, especially in America, our culture has defied this biological drive telling us to eat less and less salt, and has even labeled salt as an “addiction”.
You’ve probably heard the general “health” guidelines by now. We’re supposed to eat low-saturated-fat diets, say no to cigarettes, go for a jog, learn to relax…and dramatically cut down on our daily salt intake! But the reality is that most of us don’t need to eat low-salt diets and in fact, more salt would probably be better for our health!
But where did this notion of “salt is bad” come from then? Well, salt has been taking the fall for another white crystal that when consumed in excess does lead to high blood pressure, cardiovascular disease and obesity and it’s SUGAR!
So the question now becomes, based on your current diet, should you be cutting down or adding MORE salt? Let’s find out.
Why Salt Is NOT Bad For Your Health
For more than forty years, our doctors, the government, and the nation’s leading health associations have told us that consuming salt increases blood pressure and thus causes chronic high blood pressure.
But here’s the truth: there was never any sound scientific evidence to support that idea. In fact, the majority of population is not sensitive to the blood pressure-raising effects of salt. In fact, even for those that are, reducing salt intake to around 2,300 milligrams per day, may only lower their blood pressure by a mere 0.8 - 0.2 mmHg (millimeters of mercury), and if you take a look at how blood pressure is measured, this is totally insignificant.
The truth is we cry salt, we sweat salt and our cells in our bodies are bathed in salty fluids. So, without salt we would not be able to survive. Simply put, if you eliminated salt from your diet you would die and if you’re experiencing chronic issues with your body that you just can’t quite figure out when it comes to energy and recovery, not enough salt intake is probably why. So perhaps we should stop worrying about getting too much salt and start worrying about not getting enough!
Who Is The Actual Culprit?
But if salt is not the reason behind the rise in obesity, what is? Well, there’s no denying that we’re in the midst of a nationwide obesity epidemic that threatens our collective health, well-being and longevity. You want some scary numbers? How about 69% of adults in the United States are now overweight or obese. How did we come to this? Here are the specifics.
It would seem that salt restriction is the actual problem and here is why!
- Restricting our salt intake inevitably leads to insulin resistance and higher insulin levels.
- Then, our skeletal muscle and fat cells become more insulin resistant to prevent the higher insulin levels from causing our blood glucose level to drop too low, which could be potentially fatal.
- This then leads to higher glucose and fatty acid levels circulating in the body, which damages blood vessels and causes MORE FAT to be stored.
So, as you can see, eating too little salt, rather than too much, triggers this entire unnecessary downward health spiral.
Good news is, we can reverse this spiral at any moment by simply getting more salt!
However, as important as it is to get enough salt in our diet, it’s even more important to avoid sugar. We all know that calories from sugar are especially detrimental when it comes to our ability to manage our weight and overall health. More sugar calories leads to more insulin resistance and more fat storage than any other type of calories, even when the total calorie intake remains the same.
So in a nutshell, a high-sugar diet is what’s killing your fat loss and muscle gain goals as well as your performance, not a high-salt diet!
Salt & Exercise
Information is always appreciated but let’s about why you’re really reading this blog. What can you do to reinforce your health and enhance your performance when it comes to your sport or when it comes to training for your sport?
Regardless of your fitness goals, the answer is simple: Consume more salt before and during exercise. Believe it or not, adding 2,300 milligrams of sodium (or 1 teaspoon of salt) per liter of water has been found to reduce total fluid loss during exercise. Also, dosing yourself with salt prior and during exercise will help your body cool off faster and improve blood circulation, water retention and improve your overall performance. Why? Because your body will be more hydrated which we know instantly increases your strength and because improved blood flow and increased detoxification of muscle tissue will lead to faster recovery, better pumps and more gains!
Plus, an increased salt consumption will also help you prevent injuries during your workouts, better your recovery periods and even reduce muscle and joint pains.
And if you’re having sugar cravings, salt can help with that as well. Besides, as you just learned indulging in sugar cravings is the problem and is most likely why you can’t seem to shake off that extra weight, become lean and skyrocket your performance. However, even if becoming shredded is not your goal, succumbing to sugar cravings can still lead to more serious diseases such as diabetes and heart disease.
Before we wrap up this article, it’s important to know which salt you should go for when it comes to supplementation. The answer is tricky because you have to take into account the iodine needs of athletes. That’s why the smarter choice regarding salt type is Redmont’s Real Salt. It contains a lot of iodine which we, as athletes, require more of.
To give you an idea why, a typical athlete loses over 50 mcg (micrograms) of iodine per hour of exercise and we’re supposed to get 150mcg of iodine per day and if you look at this chart, 1 teaspoon of Redmond’s is right around 178mcg.
What You Can Expect From Supplementing A Teaspoon Of Salt Before Your Workouts
- Greater pumps, fuller and stronger muscles
- Avoid dehydration
- Increased performance
- Decreased chance of injury
- Slower heart rate
Now that last one is interesting. While you may want to keep your heart rate up while doing cardio, it definitely limits your performance when you’re out in the field or court or when you’re performing movements like supersets, drop sets or any kind of intense type of training where you’re really trying to the maximum performance out of your muscles and spark some new results.
If, after reading this, you think there is something missing from your diet, chances are it’s the one thing you have been told to avoid…salt! Don’t just take what you’ve been told for granted…do your own research and experiment on what works best for yourself.
And again, if you want to take a more thorough look into salt’s impact on health and fitness, go over to www.thesaltfix.com and start reading!