Is Sodium Bad For Muscle Growth

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What is the recommended daily sodium intake for bodybuilders?

What is the recommended daily sodium intake for bodybuilders?

One of the main roadblocks to a good bodybuilding workout is losing too much sodium without replenishing it. Despite the fact that I've spent the majority of my nutrition career encouraging people to stop shaking their salt for better heart health, I needed to learn how the recommendations and research for bodybuilders differ.

So, how much sodium should you consume per day to build muscle? It all depends on how much sweat you produce. Sweating excretes both water and sodium. Your salt sensitivity, risk of high blood pressure, gender, how hard you workout, and the temperature and climate you're in all influence how much you need to replenish.

You should aim to get between 500 mg and, 2300 mg of sodium per day to replace 230 to 920mg of sodium per pound of sweat lost during your workout.

From fast food to potato chips, most Americans get well beyond the required amount of sodium per day. However, sodium may be evaporating from your sweat glands as we speak, especially if you're a bodybuilder or an athlete. So let's rethink the sodium recommendations and sort through the smattering of studies that show how much is required to support bodybuilding.

What Is Sodium and What Does It Do?

What is the recommended sodium intake for bodybuilders?

Sodium is a mineral that can be found in a variety of foods, according to Harvard University. Sodium chloride, also known as table salt, is the most common source. Table salt is made up of approximately 40% sodium and 60% chloride.

Sodium can be used as a flavor enhancer, a binding and stabilizing agent, and a preservative in foods. It's added to food for a variety of reasons, one of which is to prevent dangerous bacteria from growing. In the presence of a lot of salt, most bad bugs can't survive.

Sodium is found in the fluid that surrounds our cells in the body. It is required for the transmission of nerve impulses (messages), muscle movement (contracting and relaxing), and the balance of water and minerals in our bodies.

Why Is Too Much Sodium Harmful?

Let's season our minds with why too much sodium is bad for our health before we savor the flavor of how much sodium we should have for bodybuilding. Many reputable health organizations, including the American Heart Association, the Centers for Disease Control, and the American Dietetic Association, advise Americans to cut down on their sodium intake.

Excess salt in the diet has been linked to dangerous health conditions like high blood pressure, heart disease, and stroke. It can also lead to weakened bone strength because too much sodium can cause calcium to be drawn from the bone.

High Blood Pressure (HBP) is a condition in which

High sodium consumption has been linked to high blood pressure. This is a common condition in which the force of blood against the walls of your arteries is high enough to damage them. It can go unnoticed for years, but it raises your risk of serious problems like heart attack and stroke.

One in every three people has high blood pressure. The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that hypertension is responsible for 51 percent of stroke deaths and 45 percent of heart disease deaths, according to Medical News Today.

Salt's effect on blood pressure and heart health has been studied extensively over the last century. A moderate reduction in dietary salt is generally an effective way to lower blood pressure, according to studies. However, a recent debate among health professionals has centered on the reduction of dietary salt (read about salt sensitivity below).

Sensitivity to Salt

Not everyone is sensitive to sodium, according to science. This means that not everyone's blood pressure will rise when they eat salty foods. A low-salt diet may not be suitable for everyone, and it may even raise blood pressure in some individuals.

Participants who consumed less than 2,500 mg of sodium per day had higher blood pressure than those who consumed more sodium, according to a recent study. Low-sodium and very high-sodium diets both increase the risk of heart disease, according to research.

Minerals that help to keep blood pressure in check

Potassium is another important piece of the blood pressure puzzle. To balance sodium, it is recommended that you increase your potassium intake. Potassium is an electrolyte that helps nerves send messages to our muscles so they can move and contract. It influences the fluid balance in our bodies and aids in the beating of our hearts.

According to the CDC, consuming too much sodium and not enough potassium can cause high blood pressure. As a result, they encourage us to consume more fruits, vegetables, seafood, and dairy products. Adults should consume at least 4.7 grams of potassium per day, according to the Institute of Medicine, in order to maintain blood pressure balance.

Magnesium and calcium work in a similar way. Lower blood pressure is linked to higher levels. Avocados, nuts, legumes, tofu, and whole grains are high in magnesium. Dairy, green leafy vegetables, nuts, and fish are all high in calcium.


Another reason that foods high in sodium are bad for us is that they are often highly processed. Processed foods in excess can cause inflammation, weight gain, diabetes, and other health problems. Salted foods can be addictive as well.

Salted foods have been shown in studies to stimulate opiate and dopamine receptors in the brain. These are the chemicals that keep us wanting to return for more. This means you'll have uncontrollable cravings for salty foods.

This can influence and increase our calorie intake, putting us at risk of becoming overweight or obese. This is the polar opposite of what we want from a bodybuilding diet.

Why Is Sodium Beneficial For Bodybuilding And Exercise?

Have you ever had a particularly strenuous workout and the next day discovered salty sweat stains on your workout clothes? This is one sign that your body is losing sodium as a result of your exercise.

Hydration, which includes both water and electrolytes such as sodium, is one of the most important indicators of our health and ability to perform sports. According to scientific evidence, water balance affects not only endurance performance but also power and strength.

Most of us sweat when we exercise at a high intensity, for a long time, and/or in the heat. Perspiring is a natural way for our bodies to keep our internal temperatures in check. It keeps us cool and keeps us from overheating. However, excessive sweating puts us at risk of sodium depletion.

Hyponatremia is a condition in which the amount of sodium in your blood is abnormally low.

Hyponatremia is a condition in which your blood sodium levels are abnormally low. It can wreak havoc on your performance and cause muscle fatigue. Hyponatremia is dangerous because it causes irregular contractions in your muscles and heart. This can result in death in extreme cases.

Your body loses both water and electrolytes when you sweat. Electrolytes are materials with the ability to conduct electricity. Sodium, potassium, chloride, calcium, and phosphate are among them.

How to Rehydrate Your Body

Each person's fluid and electrolyte loss is different. Because everyone sweats at a different rate, we all need different amounts of water and electrolytes to rehydrate.

However, according to research, the beverage should contain moderately high levels of sodium (at least 55 mmol) and possibly some potassium to achieve the most effective hydration following exercise, particularly in the heat. Furthermore, a small amount of carbohydrate (2% of total calories) may improve sodium and water absorption. Sports drinks like Gatorade and Powerade can help with intense exercise because of this.

If you don't drink enough water during your workout, your performance and recovery will suffer. Restoring fluid balance after exercise is an important part of the bodybuilding process, especially when sweat loss is high due to the weather.

Recommendations for Sodium in General

According to Harvard Health, we require about 500mg of sodium per day to maintain our vital body functions. However, the average American consumes around 3400 mg per day!

The American Heart Association and the American Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommend no more than 2,300 milligrams per day for most adults, with an ideal limit of no more than 1,500 milligrams per day for those with high blood pressure or heart problems.

Gender-Specific Sodium Recommendations

Women sweat at a lower rate than men, owing to their smaller bodies, lower metabolic rates, and less wasted sweat. As a result, female bodybuilders may not require as much additional sodium as male bodybuilders.

Recommendations for sodium intake based on fitness level

  • An isotonic drink (0.5-0.7 g/L sodium) should be consumed for physical activity lasting less than three hours, according to the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM).
  • A more concentrated drink (0.5-0.7 g/L sodium) is recommended for physical activity lasting longer than three hours.

Heat-Related Sodium Recommendations

According to Precision Nutrition, if you're exercising intensely for more than two hours, especially in the heat, you shouldn't just drink water to stay hydrated. This is because our sweat rate is much higher in the heat. Humid weather raises our body temperature, putting us at a greater risk of dehydration.

Reduce your intake of salty foods.

If you have a family history of heart disease, eat a lot of salty foods, suspect you're salt-sensitive, or have other high blood pressure risk factors, see your primary care physician. They can help you figure out if you need to lower your sodium intake.

Substitute Sea Salt for Table Salt

If you need to reduce your salt intake, skipping the table salt is a simple way to do so. Before you sprinkling it on, give it a taste. There are also many herbal salt substitutes available that add flavor without adding sodium. Garlic powder, for example, has a savory flavor and can be used in place of salt in most recipes.

The American Heart Association created approximations of sodium levels for table salt measurements to give you an idea of how much you're sprinkling on:

  • 575 mg sodium in 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1150 mg sodium = 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1,725 mg sodium = 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2,300 mg sodium per teaspoon of salt

Limit your intake of packaged foods.

Packaged and processed foods are the main source of salt in the American diet. Chips, TV dinners, and canned goods are examples of this. Cheese, olives, cured meats, deli meats, salted nuts, and soup bouillons are some other foods high in sodium.

When Eating Out, Be Wary

Fast food restaurants use a lot of sodium in their products to make them last longer and to make us want to come back for more. Restaurants will also use a lot of salt or salty sauces to improve the taste of their food.

If you enjoy eating out, there are a few simple things you can do to lower your sodium intake. Request that your dish be prepared without salt and that the sauce be served on the side. Instead of using a salt shaker, use a pepper grinder and season with fresh lemon juice.


EatRight suggests lowering sodium intake by doing the following:

  • Limiting the consumption of cured meats, sausages, and meat jerkies.
  • Purchasing low- or no-sodium canned foods or rinsing them before consumption.
  • Remove the salt shaker from the table and replace it with a non-sodium seasoning.
  • Unsalted nuts can be replaced with processed crackers or chips.

Increasing Sodium Consumption

Weighing yourself before and after exercise is a good rule of thumb for determining your hydration status and potential sodium needs. This will give you an idea of how much sweat you produce during a workout.

Replace every pound of fluid lost with 16 to 24 ounces of hydrating beverage and about 230 to 920 mg of sodium per pound of sweat, according to the American College of Sports Medicine. Diarrhea and vomiting can also cause sodium loss. So, if you're sick, make sure you're getting plenty of sodium.

Replacement Liquids for Sodium

Sports drinks are intended to replenish sodium and electrolytes lost through sweating. Many of these store-bought sports drinks, on the other hand, are highly processed and contain artificial colorings, flavors, and ingredients.

Coconut waters in their natural form are an excellent "nature made" drink that is high in sodium and other electrolytes. Look for ones that don't have any added preservatives.

You can also make your own isotonic beverage if you prefer to go the natural route. As an example, here's a recipe from All Recipes:

  • 8 quarts of cold water
  • 3 tablespoons honey
  • 12 tsp Himalayan pink salt, fine
  • a third of a teaspoon of calcium magnesium powder (optional)
  • cayenne pepper, 1 tsp
  • 34 cup orange juice, freshly squeezed
  • 2 lemons, freshly squeezed
  • 2 limes, freshly squeezed


  • In a large pot, pour 1 cup of water.
  • Honey, salt, calcium magnesium powder, and cayenne pepper are all good additions.
  • Whisk the ingredients together in a small pot over low heat until they are completely dissolved.
  • Allow to cool to room temperature after removing from the heat.
  • Combine the juices with the room temperature mixture in the pot.
  • Whisk in the remaining 7 cups of water until well combined.

Foods that Replace Sodium

Eating salty foods and snacks can also help bodybuilders replace sodium. Focusing on foods like salted tortilla chips, salted whole-grain crackers, olives, salted nuts, and olive juice are some healthier ways to increase sodium in extreme fitness or heat conditions.

Last word

The amount of sodium you need per day for bodybuilding is determined by how much you sweat and your current health. If you have high blood pressure or heart disease, you should try to limit your sodium consumption. This can be accomplished by avoiding salt shakers, limiting salty snacks, focusing on potassium-rich foods, and making smart restaurant choices.

If you sweat a lot while bodybuilding due to intense training and/or because you live in a hot or humid climate, you may want to supplement your diet with more sodium. Particularly if you've been exhausted during or after your workouts. This can be accomplished by drinking an isotonic beverage or indulging in salty foods.

If you suspect you're suffering from severe dehydration or sodium depletion, call 911 immediately. Contact your doctor to have your blood pressure checked and to learn more about the best ways to manage your heart health.

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