More Salt or Less Water?

About two years ago, I waged a war on salt. Since then, I’ve waged a separate war on sugar (you can look up my Sugar Detox posts for more on that journey) that even though it’s still going on, I have conceded defeat on a few battles. But I am realizing I might have to rethink the war on salt.
I sweat a lot when I exercise. When I run sometimes, my shirt is soaked and my pants are damp. My first 10 mile run was at the Bronx 10 mile run in Sept 2012 and I was so embarrassed by this picture because it looked like I had peed my pants.

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I hadn’t! It was just sweat. One of my big lessons coming out of that race was to never race in light colored cotton tights again ๐Ÿ™‚
Sweating is a good thing. It’s necessary. It’s a natural body function and we actually NEED to sweat to excrete some of the waste from our bodies. After all, the skin is the largest organ so it makes sense to use the largest organ most efficiently.
Yesterday, I talked about drinking lots of water – that recently, it seems that the celebrity trainers are recommending that we drink a gallon of water a day.
Sure, everybody is different and we all need different things. I drink a lot of water already. Couple glasses In the morning, I drink all throughout the day, a glass of water at night before bed and I usually have a glass on my nightstand to drink if I wake up at night. I get at least 8 glasses. Sometimes more. Maybe one of these days, I will monitor to see how much. But while the risk of not hydrating is real and should be avoided, there is also a danger in going too far on the opposite side.
Hypoanatremia is that other side. It’s the condition when you’ve consumed too much water that it dilutes the sodium levels in your body. It can happen when someone drinks too much water too fast, or if after exercise, they replace the water but not the salts that they have lost through natural perspiration. Click here to read this article on Active.com about the danger of drinking too much water.
I wanted to highlight this section of the article which discusses drinking extra salty sports drinks to combat the low sodium levels associated with sweating a lot.

The major salt-related risk to the health of runners is hyponatremia, a potentially fatal condition that has received a lot of attention lately. Also known as water intoxication, hyponatremia results when the sodium concentration of the blood falls too low due to prolonged sweating combined with excessive fluid consumption. Symptoms include dizziness, muscle cramping, confusion, and stomach bloating. Severe cases can lead to seizure, coma and even death.
Because hyponatremia is characterized by low salt concentration in the blood, some experts advocate consuming extra salt during exercise as a way to prevent it. However, the primary cause of hyponatremia is not consuming too little salt, but is rather drinking too much fluid. Therefore the best way to avoid hyponatremia is not to consume more salt, but to drink less fluid instead.

This is just one of the many articles that have been written about hydration and over hydration.
The new issue of Runners World magazine (which came in the mail on Tuesday) has an article about what elite runners drink for marathons and ultra marathons.

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The post is not online yet but do a quick search and they lots of other articles like this one about what marathoners should eat and drink during training and during the race.
The common rule of thumb is that if you’re running for anything longer than an hour, you need to not just hydrate but replace electrolytes.
I know when I mentioned fueling before, other running blogger said they could run for longer periods without eating or drinking or using race gels. But again everyBODY is different! You have to know your body.
Have you ever heard that you should drink water regularly because when you feel thirsty, you’re already dehydrated? I don’t really believe that. I think that we have to get in touch with our bodies so that we recognize our symptoms and make the necessary changes. Maybe you drink 8 glasses of water and you feel thirsty all the time so maybe you should drink 9 or 10 but the important thing is to listen to your body.
If you’re dehydrated, your body will let you know. Cramps in the leg, dark urine, etc. recognize those signs and take steps to get hydrated. But if your urine is colorless, like water, or if you start to get dizzy and your stomach sounds like a water balloon being sloshed around when you move, maybe you’re drinking too much. Take it back down a notch.
I don’t use a lot of salt. When I waged my war on salt, I cut down on the salty snacks and seasoned my food with natural herbs and spices, instead of salt. And because of all the fruits and vegetables that I eat, I probably get way more hydration that way too. So maybe my war on salt is over. Maybe I do drink a little too much water for my reduced salt intake. Or maybe I need to consume more salt for my higher exercise levels. I’m going to be monitoring that. Because I want to do what’s best for me.
All in a bid to Eat Right, Live Right and RUNWRIGHT!
What’s your water story? Do you drink too much, too little or just the right amount? Do you know how many glasses you drink everyday?

10 Comments Add yours

  1. Interesting post, and I do think you need to experiment with salt a little and see how you feel.
    I cut salt from my diet years ago, I wouldn’t add salt to anything and avoid foods/snacks with a lot of added salt. That worked great for a long time, until I started running and suddenly I started craving salt, which was so weird to me, because I was 100% used to not eating it and never craved it. I guess my body was definitely asking for it, I can’t think of any other logical explanation.
    Now I add salt to one of my meals (usually salads, it really helps taste wise too), and replace salt/electrolytes after running. I still avoid snacks with a lot of salt though, it’s very easy to go overboard with sodium intake.

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    1. runwright says:

      Thanks for sharing your experience and validating my thoughts. It really helps to hear from others. What kind of electrolytes is your fave?

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      1. I take NUUN, some of the flavors are pretty good, and I like the convenience of it being in tablet form.

        Liked by 1 person

    2. runwright says:

      Thanks for sharing. What level NUUN do you use? They are not all the same, right?

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      1. I use mostly the Active Hydration after workouts.
        I also have a couple of the All Day Hydration and Natural Hydration in my purse/desk for during the day, but hardly ever take them.

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      2. runwright says:

        Thanks. I’m going to give it a try.

        Like

  2. I’m with you on the light colored bottoms thing! I only run in black capris or shorts cause like you I sweat A LOT when I run.
    I could probably drink a bit more water than I do now. Adding nuun to it on long runs (15km+) is a must for me – it makes a huge difference with how I feel!

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    1. runwright says:

      Thanks for the referral. I’ve tasted NUUN before at an expo. Does it contain a lot of caffeine? I’m not a caffeine drinker

      Like

  3. Jennifer says:

    Just wanted to comment that I too am a big fan of Nuun – it has a very light flavor and low sugar. I believe there are some caffeinated flavors, but the ones I’ve used are caffeine-free. Also so convenient since they come in tablets that you can add to any water bottle. Actually a nice reminder that I need to get some in time for summer. ๐Ÿ™‚

    Like

    1. runwright says:

      Caffeine free? Brilliant. Thanks for sharing that. The tablets are a great idea. So much easier than to carry around bottles of sport drink.

      Like

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