Bodybuilding has become the biggest commotion around sodium. Some delight with its beneficial effects, others avoid it like a plague. 

Namely, some people load sodium before the competition, others blame him for his failures. Some remove him from the diet a week before the competition, others limit the supply of sodium only for a day or two. 

There is a good or bad way to introduce sodium into the bodybuilder’s diet. Here are 10 tips that will put this matter in order once and for all. 


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You can believe it or not, but sodium is an element necessary for life. The demand for sodium is higher than for common micronutrients, such as chromium, zinc, iron or selenium. Sodium plays a major role in the nervous system, which in turn stimulates the growth, contraction and recruitment (ie the gradual incorporation of new motor units in the muscle) of the muscles. 


When sodium enters the cell, it stimulates the absorption of glucose. It is consumed as a fuel or used to synthesise muscle glycogen. Sodium is essential for transporting glucose into the muscle cell! 


Sodium stimulates the transport system of amino acids from the gastrointestinal tract to intestinal epithelial cells, from where they enter the body fluids. In addition, sodium is needed to transport amino acids to muscle cells for their growth and regeneration. 


Thermogenesis means the production of heat by the body. Bodybuilders on a diet try to accelerate fat burning by increasing the ability to produce heat. To maintain thermogenesis, adequate sodium intake should be maintained – at least 3g per day. 


Although no daily sodium requirement has been established, most caterers recommend a daily intake of 1 to 3 g to cover losses associated with normal sweating. This applies to people with a moderate lifestyle. Thus, bodybuilders will need more sodium than the average John Smith to cover what they lose during intense training. 


Let’s start with 3 grams of sodium as the basic daily dose for a bodybuilder. Now add 1 gram of sodium for every kilogram of body weight loss associated with the normal loss of sleep and training water. If, after a workout, you go, for example, 100kg to 99kg, this means that you should increase the sodium intake to 4g per day. 


This is where bodybuilders get lost. Sudden increase in sodium concentration results in the release of aldosterone, a hormone that causes water retention in the body. The result is a more smooth appearance, which can make you want to avoid sodium at all costs. But this is the whole trick. If the supply of sodium is high for more than five days, then the reverse scenario occurs: aldosterone excretion is stopped and the body loses sodium and water, leading to a hard, strong appearance. 


Out of season, the goal should be muscle growth, and this requires an increased number of calories from carbohydrates and proteins. The sodium supply should not be limited as it takes part in the metabolism of proteins and carbohydrates, and it excretes with the water we lose during training and sleep. The daily sodium intake should then be at least 3g. 


Too many bodybuilders reduce the supply of sodium during the sharpening phase of the diet before the competition. I will give you an example of the beneficial effect of sidu in the days before the show. Many bodybuilders like to have a day off the schedule of their diet. Interestingly, bodybuilders reach for salty things like pizza, fries or hamburgers. 

A day or two after this “free day, believe it or not, they look tougher and slimmer. Why? 

The secret of “a free day is not just about increasing glycogen reserves by eating more carbohydrates; the main role is played by the increase in sodium, thanks to which more carbohydrates enter the muscles. You can see this situation in action on Monday after Saturday’s competition. The bodybuilder eats a powerful, salty meal after the competition and it turns out that he looks better on Monday than on Saturday, on the day of the show. What’s the conclusion? Do not eliminate sodium from the diet just before the competition. 


You can read also: Salt, harmful or not?

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