Creatine. BCAAs. Pre-workout. Test-boosters.
These are just some of the supplements in the fitness arena that aim to give you that edge during your workouts that will help you perform better in the gym to increase your GAINS.
A lot of those supplements have credence to giving you an extra “boost” to how you perform in the gym. However, there is one physical supplement, if you can call it that, which will give you a bigger performance boost than all of those combined.
What is it?
Yes. You heard me right. I said SALT.
But isn’t salt bad for you?
Yeah maybe if you have hypertension, bad kidneys, or consume 10 teaspoons of salt at once. Then yeah. In that case, it might kill you…literally.
BUT, using SALT as a performance enhancing supplement will give you boosts to your performance in the gym that you may have yet to realize.
Because our body needs and demands it to perform at its best.
Salt’s Impact on Physical Performance
As I’m sure many of you know when you sweat you lose more than just water. You lose electrolytes, namely SODIUM (a.k.a. SALT). When this happens with vigorous training, like lifting, HIIT, or endurance training, your body loses lots of salt. Lose enough, and you start to feel weak, fatigued, and perhaps get dizzy and begin cramping up. Not good. What can fix that problem? Making sure you supplement with an appropriate amount of SALT before and during your workout.
Taking a simple sport salt tablet, which will often include POTASSIUM and MAGNESIUM in addition to SALT, will make sure you have proper amounts of ELECTROLYTES for your body to PERFORM at its best. Also, sprinkling a dash (no-pun intended for the DASH diet) of some natural sea salt in your water during your workout will make sure that your performance elevates and lasts.
Other benefits include:
- Increases blood volume for better oxygen use and enhanced pumps
- Allows muscles to hold more water for increased strength potential
- Influences nutrient absorption and digestion
- Helps maintain cell membrane integrity for better muscle contraction and cardiac function
If you need more proof, listen to the prestigious and powerful Stan Efferding below.
Did you watch the whole video? What did you think? Are you convinced?
Maybe and maybe not. If not I get it. So, lets dig deeper.
Why Salt Gets a Bad Name
Almost every nutritional authority, from the World Health Organization to Harvard Medicine, says SALT is much more bad than good. Basically, you should limit SALT as much as possible because it’s just about in everything you eat and leads to cardiovascular disease (CVD) and hypertension (high blood pressure), among other health maladies. On the surface this seems clear-cut, and ever since the experiments of Lewis Dahl in the early 1970’s it was made a fore-gone conclusion that SALT IS BAD…or IS IT?
Not so fast. Digging deeper, Scientific American points out that Dahl’s rats, which were the subjects of his salt experiments, were given an equivalent of 500 grams of sodium a day. Really? The average American consumes no more than 8 grams of salt per day. How can you compare those numbers and say salt is what is causing our health problems? That’s like consuming 50 liters of water in a day and saying it’s bad for you. Ridiculous in my book.
Furthermore, other studies, like the 1988 INTERSALT study claimed it supported Dahl’s results. BUT, upon further inspection, we discover that outliers were used in their methods of data examination and that resulted in confirming Dahl’s results.
Salt is being demonized for something it, in the BIG PICTURE of things, is probably not really doing that much harm to, or, at the very least, is inconclusive on whether it has a significant and positive impact on contributing to CVD, obesity, Type II diabetes, and so forth.
Going deeper, if we look at salty foods, where do we find them?
In PROCESSED FOODS.
What are processed foods?
They are any form or derivative of McDonald’s hamburgers, Krispy Kreme donuts, Doritos chips, Ritz crackers, Hershey chocolate, and any prepared meal, including Lean Cuisine. These foods are designed to taste good, and are centered around simple carbs and sugar, often paired with high fat (including trans fats) with salt added to complete the flavor.
Here’s another fact though. Even though these foods may have salt, why has our salt intake for the past 50 years in America stayed relatively the same?
Better yet, why don’t we look at the Japanese who are notorious for their salty foods. The graph below sums up their daily consumption over the past 40 years or so. Relatively consistent, yet they are often praised for how good their cardiovascular health is. Based on these pieces of evidence, it appears normal salt consumption, between 3 to 7 grams a day — which is higher than the RDA of 1.5 to 2.5 grams — does not play a significant factor in determining whether you develop obesity, Type II diabetes, and CVD, or at least inconclusive.
Furthermore, obesity, Typee II diabetes, and hypertension, all have gone up during that time. If salt was a significant contributor to those diseases you would think that salt intake would increase too? In fact, Italian researchers in the late 2000’s looked at people with heart failure and determined their insufficient salt intake was a contributor to their premature death, as states in the the New York Times.
What has gone up instead? Our consumption of processed foods filled with simple carbs, sugars, and poor sources of fat. Then why is salt getting such a bad name if this is the case?
I don’t have an exact answer for you, but if you read more into salt from Dr. DiNicolantonio, author of The Salt Fix, it’ll tell you more into maybe why that is. You’ll also come to understand in his book how slightly increasing your salt can have various benefits, including reducing your chance of developing insulin resistance, obesity, and enhance your sleep, energy, and fitness performance.
Huh…isn’t that interesting.
What to do about SALT?
Eat more salt! That’s what you should.
Now, before you come running at me with fire and pitch forks, let me caveat that by saying adding more salt is based upon your current intake. If you are getting less than 2 to 3 grams of sodium a day that is probably not in your best interest if you want to make more gains in the gym, on top of just giving your body the amounts it needs to live optimally.
Chris Kresser, an M.S. who specializes in ancestral health, Paleo nutrition, and functional and integrative medicine, suggests as long as you are within 3 to 7 grams of sodium a day (1.5 to 3 teaspoons) you should be good. The more active you are the more salt you will need on that spectrum, and the less active you are the less you need. Simple.
Experiment with different levels of salt intake, especially around your workout, and notice how well you perform, whether better, worse, or the same.
That said, it is important to consume the best salt available.
Going for the cheapest salt may not be your best option. For instance, typical table salt like Morton’s often include extra stuff like anti-caking agents, which may include “cyanide” or another version that is apparently used for road salt called “E554 sodium aluminosilicate.” That being true, it may be in your best interest to look for natural sea salt like pink Himalayan sea salt. This salt is a lot more purer in form without, or minimal, contamination, as well as having an abundance of trace minerals, like boron, zinc, magnesium, sulfur, and iron.
(To learn more about the contaminants of salt click HERE).
This adequate salt intake will give you everything your body needs and the chance to make better gains in the gym. What we are all looking for.
From personal experience, especially while on the KETOGENIC DIET, I can tell you first hand that this is 100% true. Anecdotal? Perhaps, but given the facts and the evidence, it seems in correlation with what is out there that salt is a performance enhancing supplement and needed more than we are told it is.
But, let me know what you think. Do you agree with the evidence presented? Or, do you think I’m a shill for “Big Food” because I am saying you should probably eat more salt? I hope not, but I value your opinion, so comment below.
As always, thanks for stopping by and reading.
Until next time, be strong and be you.