Sodium, the big evil of nutrition that will cause you to hold on to 20lbs of water and make you look fat right? Well, not so quick. Over the years sodium has taken a huge hit in popularity and it seems like everyone is doing their best to stay away from it. You will see advertised in large print "low sodium" on some products that companies choose to brag about. So how did this all start? It started when processed food started. It became a well known fact that sodium would help to preserve food and help to make it taste better. When packaged food came around, sodium intake went way up from where it had been. So is it all so bad?
If you are a healthy adult, sodium should not be a concern for you. If you have issues related to blood pressure and water retention already present, then yes you should follow the advice and restrictions that your medical professional has surely talked to you about. Now back to the healthy individual who has questions about sodium.
You can and should make sure that you are getting ENOUGH sodium on a daily basis. For me, I shoot for 4000-5000 mg of sodium a day. This is way above what the recommended intake is however, I find I feel the best and perform the best when I have my sodium at this level. Don't forget sodium is an electrolyte and is necessary for proper hydration. Sodium is such a necessary electrolyte that triathletes and marathon runners will often do spaghetti the night before a race for, yes the carbs but, sodium in the sauce. Also, these endurance athletes will often bring salt tablets with them to help them stay hydrated throughout the race.
Any physique competitors out there? Keep this in mind, it takes a minimum of a 2:1 sodium to potassium ratio for muscles to contract properly. What is even more interesting, a 4:1 sodium to potassium ratio seems to be ideal. So if you are downing yams and sweet potatoes all day long and keeping your sodium low, you are probably feeling like garbage and your muscles are not feeling and looking the way they could if you balanced this out. Aim for a potassium intake of about 2000 mg per day and get your sodium to 4000 mg and see how you feel!