I bet you didn’t think sodium, a mineral you’re often advised to reduce, would be highly recommended and useful for athletes and gym-goers.
It turns out, salt is actually quite beneficial for athletic populations for many reasons, mainly due to the maintenance of fluid balance, but also as a potential performance enhancer.
This article explores the use of salt in sports supplements, the benefits of sodium intake for athletes, and why you should consider adding salt to your pre-workout!
What is Sodium?
You’re likely more aware of sodium as table salt—the white mineral you sprinkle on your meals to enhance the flavor. Though, there is a lot more to sodium than meets the eye!
Salt is an electrolyte, often grouped with potassium, magnesium, calcium, and phosphate. These electrolytes create electrically charged ions when dissolved in the body’s fluids, with sodium and potassium playing the biggest role in maintaining fluid balance inside and outside of our cells.
Electrolytes play many other roles in the body too, such as maintaining the pH of our blood. In simple terms, electrolytes help make sure our cells are well hydrated and healthy.
The most important thing to note about electrolytes is that we lose them when we sweat. How much sweat we lose varies from person to person, but some people can lose up to a couple of litres of sweat during an hour workout.
This means that substantial amounts of electrolytes are also lost, particularly sodium. Therefore, many athletes focus on replenishing sodium during and after a long workout.
This brings us onto the benefits of sodium for athletes specifically!
What are the Benefits of Sodium for Athletes?
One of the roles of electrolytes in the body is to maintain fluid balance and help activate the muscle tissue and neurons through electrical charges, which is essential for athletes. Though, there appears to be more benefits to sodium for athletes than just this alone.
When we become dehydrated, our blood thickens, which means it carries less oxygen and has a knock-on effect on our kidney’s filtering system. This can cause issues for anyone, but particularly athletes.
So, an athlete increasing their salt intake around a workout or training session may experience improvements in cardiovascular fitness, stamina, endurance, and better recovery mostly as a result of increase blood volume.
Not only is sodium thought to improve hydration and help prevent dehydration, but it may also play a role in optimizing the effects of creatine.
Creatine is a natural substance that helps increase and improve power output, cognitive function, strength, and recovery from training. It’s one of the most popular and well-researched sports supplements, being particularly popular among bodybuilders.
Salt is thought to improve the rate of creatine uptake in your muscles. This happens due to creatine utilizing the energy of sodium wanting to enter the muscle cells, thus helping transport creatine inward. This allows your body to better absorb and transport creatine throughout your blood system.
To summarize the potential positive effects of sodium for athletes:
- Sodium will help you hold on to more water, giving you a larger fuel reserve for your muscles
- Sodium will help replace the electrolytes you lose through sweating
- Sodium may increase the absorption and transportation of creatine
- Sodium may help with muscle cramps by maintaining hydration and helping to prevent dehydration
- Sodium may help regulate blood pressure
Should You Add Salt to Your Pre-Workout?
While there is an increased need for sodium among athletes due to sweat loss and a typically lower intake of salty foods (such as processed foods), there is still a caution that needs to be taken when increasing your intake of sodium.
Too much of anything can potentially cause negative health effects, so this article doesn’t support the use of overdosing on sodium supplements, particularly if you don’t sweat much during a workout. Taking too much sodium can have the opposite effect on hydration and may wreak havoc on your body.
Having said that, there are clearly some great benefits to increasing salt intake for athletes before a workout. Simply incorporating salty foods into your pre-workout meal or adding ½ teaspoon of salt to your pre-workout shake could provide all the benefits you need.
If you are thinking of supplementing with sodium, for example if you are an ultramarathon runner and are considering a sodium intake strategy for an upcoming race, it’s important to consult a qualified sports nutritionist or doctor to discuss your approach.
The easiest way to incorporate salt into your pre-workout is to find a supplement that already includes a safe and effective dose of salt within the product. Pre Lab Pro is the perfect example!
Pre Lab Pro contains Himalayan Pink Salt to help you maintain hydration through your most intense workouts. Himalayan Pink salt provides your system with trace minerals and electrolytes that you need to perform to your potential.
As previously mentioned, salt can increase the absorption of substances such as creatine. The same can be said for other amino acids such as L-tyrosine, which is also contained in Pre Lab Pro.
Salt Vs Himalayan Pink Salt: What’s The Difference?
Himalayan pink salt contains trace amounts of iron oxide, which is what gives the substance its pink color. It also contains small amounts of other minerals such as calcium, iron, potassium, and magnesium, which make it slightly lower in sodium than regular salt.
Pre Lab Pro uses Himalayan pink salt to supply these essential electrolytes that athletes need to perform and recover optimally, using the cleanest, most natural and ethically sourced Himalayan pink salt available.
While doctors are often strongly advising us to reduce our sodium intake, which rightly so for the majority of the population, there does appear to be some performance and recovery advantages to increased sodium intake among athletic populations.
Incorporating a small amount of salt into a pre-workout meal or supplement is thought to improve hydration levels, help prevent dehydration, increase the absorption of substances such as amino acids, and help replace lost electrolytes through sweating.
While these benefits are fairly concrete, there are dangers associated with increasing sodium intake in high amounts, so caution must be taken when making such changes to your diet and supplement regime.
We advise taking the guesswork out of increasing sodium intake by opting for a pre-workout supplement such as Pre Lab Pro, which contains a safe and effective dose of Himalayan pink salt to help boost your training performance.