Salt (sodium chloride) is definitely a necessary component of athletic fueling and for general health; however, many athletes continue to mistakenly believe that copious amounts are required. That's not only wrong, it's dangerous! Two new and significant studies out of Germany and Vanderbilt University substantiate that excess salt has several detrimental effects on both athletic performance and health.
The first part of the study reveals that salt causes hunger, not thirst. Researchers found that doubling daily salt intake caused study participants to drink less water, not more. Excessive salt is shown to break down muscle - yes, muscle - and fat. Your body produces more water when this occurs, causing you to drink less fluid.
Because extra salt breaks down muscle and fat, the body craves these lost calories, which will make you hungry, causing you to eat more, potentially too much. That extra and unwanted weight you gain puts you at greater risk for serious health problems, such as stroke and heart attack. Additionally, this breakdown of muscle not only prolongs recovery, but also puts you at risk for injury. Obviously, none of these very real scenarios are what anyone, especially athletes, wants.
The study also reports that extra salt raises blood levels of cortisol. This can raise blood sugar; increase hunger; weaken bones; create plaque in arteries; and may be a contributor to other health problems, such as diabetes and obesity.
How much salt is too much? The American Heart Association (AHA) recommends not exceeding 2,300 milligrams a day; however, each and every day Americans consume amounts that far exceed the AHA's recommendations. This is why it's crucial that you be more aware of your salt intake each day, and not just in your food. Salt is the primary ingredient in most electrolyte drinks on the market, oftentimes in amounts that are excessively high, and that's cause for concern. You need to replenish electrolytes in a balanced, healthy way, without the overabundance of salt. Hammer Nutrition's sports drink, HEED - as well as our Endurolytes products - offer a complete, balanced array of electrolytic minerals, not just salt. It's the beneficial and healthy way to fulfill your body's electrolyte requirements.