Sodium and Water: Breaking The Stigma
A lot of bodybuilders who are trying to get lean would stay away from salt and water, especially during their cutting phase. They would say “I’m trying to get leaner so, I’m getting rid of sodium and lowering my water intake”. In fact, I’ve met some who wouldn’t drink water 1 day before their contest. This article aims to debunk that myth and break the stigma when it comes to the role of sodium and water during cutting.
The first thing to do before your leaning phase is to increase your water intake. Preferably, 1.5 to 2.0 gallons per day along with increased sodium intake. Basically, add salt in all your meals so that the body will get used to the high sodium. Initially, your body will retain water but, eventually the body’s homeostasis will balance it out and aldosterone will be suppressed.
Homeostasis is the characteristic of the system that regulates its internal environment and tends to maintain a stable, and constant property.
Aldosterone, on the other hand, is a steroid hormone produced by the zona glomerulosa of the adrenal cortex in the adrenal gland. It is necessary for sodium conservation in the kidney, salivary glands, sweat glands and colon.
The adrenal glands produce more Aldosterone when the body is trying to conserve fluid and salts. This means that if the Aldosterone levels are high, more fluids is being retained in the body. When Aldosterone levels are low, it means that the body retains less water.
One common strategy that many fitness experts and bodybuilders use to reduce the amount of water they retain is to decrease their salt intake and cut back on the amount of water they drink. Lowering salt intake is good, but it only helps so much. But, because the body is always striving to maintain a state of homeostasis, drinking less water instead causes the body’s metabolic systems to conserve water.
This actually causes Aldosterone levels to spike, so drinking less water doesn’t have the effect that you want and actually causes the body to retain more water.
When you’re trying to get lean, what you’d want to decrease isn’t sodium and water. It’s carbs. Some would load carbs for 3 days, cut-down on sodium and would still look flat on the day of the contest. This is because it isn’t carbs that makes your muscle pumped and full, it’s sodium and water! (sodium depleting reduces the activity of a protein, SLGT-1, responsible for glucose absorption, limiting your ability to absorb glucose and achieve your desired fullness)
1)Stay relaxed before the contest/event. You wouldn’t want to trigger your stress hormones.
2)Keep water and sodium intake the same. If you are used to drinking 2 gallons of water per day, continue drinking that amount up until an hour or two before the show.