Many diets to this day claim salt, a common dining condiment, to negatively affect body composition and health. But what are the truths to this?
For bodybuilders and fitness professionals during the later stages of diet, before getting on stage it is used as a tool for manipulating water. During this time, it is advised to add salt with every meal eaten. Then towards the final stages of the diet, you can reduce your water intake to reveal a ‘dry’ look to the body.
In addition salt is not only useful for effecting water in the body, it is also beneficial for muscle contractions due to the lack of carbohydrates but also helps facilitate ‘the pump’. It is also believed that higher levels of salt will improve strength performance whilst exercising. For these reasons it is common to see health enthusiasts visit fast food franchises due to the ample amounts of salt frequently found in the foods (however, contradicts the concept of being a health enthusiast). It is not just fast food chains though that offer high volumes of salt in their foods. Korean and Chinese cuisine is known to contain very high amounts of salt, so if you are trying to increase your ‘pump’, perhaps give these foods a shot.
Other opposing fitness professionals worry about the levels of salt in the body and believe it will make them hold subcutaneous water in the muscles and not give them the look they desire. However once the body becomes accustomed to the increased volume of dietary salt, it will in turn produce more Aldosterone, a steroidal hormone used to regulate sodium levels in the blood. This is part of the body’s process of homeostasis and keeping the body operating at the ideal state.
There are other benefits to salt, it also helps provide electrolytes for the body (chemical formula NaCl : Na is sodium and Cl chloride). With increased exercise and sweating, whether exercising or having an elevated body temperature, salts and minerals will be lost through sweat. These will need to be replenished by the body in order to optimally perform later throughout the day.
Increased loss of NaCl in the blood is manipulated by two other variables; the volume of water and caffeine consumption. By consuming large quantities of water for general health, thirst or for cosmetic reasons (due to the belief of improved skin complexion) the body will be forced to urinate more frequently. This effect is heightened with caffeine consumption. Not only will caffeine raise the body core temperature by an increased heart rhythm but also will in turn (as shown in recent scientific studies) cause the loss of NaCl from the human body. Caffeine, frequently used as a weight loss tool and a common pre-workout ingredient (due to the stimulant effects) is a very popular beverage around the world. Indeed from personal research in South Korea the volume of cafe’s is constantly increasing. In one year the number of cafes in one street alone doubled, with restaurants and other shop spaces being taken over to make way to new franchisee and individually-owned cafes. With this beverage being so popular and in most people frequently consumed, the levels of salt and water in the body will decrease causing excess stress upon the internal organs such as the kidneys and adrenal glands.
It is for these reasons and others that leading doctors will argue that adding salt is unnecessary. It will lead to increased cardiovascular strain due to the elevated blood pressure. High blood pressure stresses your kidneys, heart and brain. But doctors do understand that it is required for physiological reasons such as the muscle contractions and nerve conduction, so making the choice of adding salt is still ‘on the table’…..
Overall your main objective should be to find the correct level of salt to suit your body and your lifestyle, whether it be active or sedentary, but salt is still needed nonetheless. So next time please ask to pass the salt.