Nutrition

Why Too Much Sodium Can Ruin Your Fitness Plans

Written by Charlotte Campbell


Are You Consuming Too Much Sodium?


A high sodium diet can cause a lot of issues for your health and fitness plans. The National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute recommends no more than a teaspoon of salt per day. That may sound like a very low amount, but sticking to it could really be doing your body a favour.


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#1 Weight Gain

 

Too much sodium interferes with the body’s ability to flush out water. At the correct levels, sodium is vital for maintaining healthy water levels in the blood and organs. But too much of it means the kidneys struggle to process it all. This can cause oedema, or bloating, or give you a layer of “water weight” that stops you getting the results you are working towards.

 

If you have generally low body fat but are struggling to shift the final layer covering your muscles, this could well be due to water weight.


#2 Blood Pressure

 

If excess sodium has led to too much retained water, this can increase your blood pressure to potentially dangerous levels. If unregulated, this can pose a serious risk of heart attack and stroke. This is especially problematic as there are often no symptoms of high blood pressure until you have it checked by a doctor.


#3 Osteoporosis

 

A high intake of salt can weaken your bones. This is due to sodium drawing calcium out from them, thinning the bones. This means if you consume too much salt of a regular basis, you are at a greater risk of developing osteoporosis.


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#4 Constant Thirst

 

Stopping for a water break every 2 minutes can really hamper your workout momentum. However, too much salt means your body needs extra water to flush out the excess sodium. Your body will often make this very clear to you, making you feel like you are thirsty all the time.


How do I reduce my sodium intake?

 

Firstly, ditch the table salt. It may improve the taste of your food, but sprinkling salt over your food is a sure fire way to overshoot your recommended allowance. Try experimenting with different herbs and spices to enhance your cooking.

 

Secondly, ditch convenience food. Salt is used as a flavour enhancer and as a preservative, so it is found in tons of pre-made foods. Making your own sauces, condiments and meals is ideal for controlling your sodium levels. This is also good practice anyway, as it helps you control your calories and reduces your intake of processed foods, which your digestive system will thank you for.


Salty foods


 

Check all your packaging. Sodium can creep into all kinds of foods, so check everything you are putting in your basket. You might be able to guess the main culprits like crisps or soy sauce. But certain brands of bread, butter, frozen meat and tinned vegetables can also send your salt levels skyrocketing.

 

Fresh vegetables and other foods that boast plenty of soluble fibre should also feature heavily in your diet to help reduce excess salt in your body.


 

Our articles should be used for informational and educational purposes only and are not intended to be taken as medical advice. If you’re concerned, consult a health professional before taking dietary supplements or introducing any major changes to your diet.

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Faye Reid

Faye Reid

Writer and expert

Faye Reid has a Bachelor of Science in Sport and Exercise Physiology and a Master of Science in Exercise Physiology and Sports Nutrition. Faye has worked with numerous high-profile oranisations, such as Men's Health, Sky Sports, Huddersfield Giants, Warrington Wolves, British Dressage and GB Rowing, providing her expert sports science support. Find out more about Faye's experience here: https://www.linkedin.com/in/faye-reid-8b619b122/. She puts her passion into practice as goal attack for her netball team, and in competitive event riding.


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