Article at a Glance:
- Taking unrefined salt before a workout can improve your performance in several ways.
- A pre-workout dose of salt increases your energy levels by allowing your body easier access to energy reserves.
- Research shows that taking salt before a workout will increase blood volume, improve blood flow, and allow you to work out longer.
- A dose of salt before your workout replaces what your body will lose in sweat and reduces the risk of hyponatremia (low sodium)
Our Community Team at Redmond gets a lot of questions about how salt can alter and impact physical performance. And rightfully so! There’s a lot to learn about salt and exercise, and the truth is often overshadowed by a false narrative about salt and health “guidelines.”
So today, we’re breaking down some of the key reasons salt can benefit not only your overall health but specifically your workout and exercise performance. We’re consulting one of our favorite evidence-based nutritionists and cardiovascular scientists, Dr. James DiNicolantonio.
Dr. DiNicolantonio’s research for his book The Salt Fix: Why the Experts Got It All Wrong--and How Eating More Might Save Your Life offers an extensive and holistic look at weight gain, hydration, aging, and more. Here are five reasons salt is beneficial before a workout, according to his research:
Improved Workout Performance
Increasing salt is an optimum way to improve energy levels and boost overall performance in your workouts. When you stop restricting salt, your insulin levels can drop, allowing your body to access it’s energy reserves – or fat. DiNicolantonio also notes that when you increase your salt intake to supply the body with energy, your salt-retaining hormones go down, improving the sensitivity of your fat cells to insulin.
When boosting salt intake to an appropriate level, our energy levels go up, our endurance boosts, and cardiovascular blood flow achieves new heights. All of these things lead to stronger, more efficient, and less exhausting workouts. Optimum muscle performance is one of the best benefits, allowing you to reach your goals in less time than you would have otherwise.
Blood volume drops in just three minutes when exercising vigorously. If you can increase blood volume prior to exercise by consuming more salt, it can help boost cardiovascular blood flow. Without pre-workout salt consumption, your standard blood volume is primarily supplying your working muscles during exercise and doesn't have the blood volume it could also use to send to the heart.
Better blood flow equals better cooling! Improved blood circulation and water retention means your body cools off faster and more effectively – leading to longer endurance and just generally feeling better during your workout!
Reduced Risk of Hyponatremia
Did you know that the average person exercising loses over a quart of sweat per hour? Double that for intense or long-duration workouts or for those who run. A condition called hyponatremia can occur when the sodium in your blood is abnormally low. The more you workout, the more sodium you lose and the more that sodium needs to be replaced in order to prevent hyponatremia.
Hyponatremia is fairly common in adults who exercise regularly and can become quite severe if not monitored. The warning signs include nausea, fatigue, headaches, and confusion. The good news is that it has an easy fix! You guessed it – consuming salt before your workouts. This can also reduce your risk for arrhythmias and cramps.
Dr. DiNicolantonio’s Recommendations for Salt Consumption Prior to Workouts
More information and detailed recommendations can be found on page 136 of Dr. DiNicolantonio’s book, The Salt Fix.
In Moderate Climates (below 80 degrees)
- ½ teaspoon of salt prior to exercise
In Hot Climates (80-89 degrees)
- ½ - 1 teaspoon of salt prior to exercise
In Very Hot Climates (90 degrees or above)
- 1-2 teaspoons of salt prior to exercise
What Are The Optimal Ways To Take Salt Before I Workout?
There are a few methods that we and Dr. DiNicolantonio recommend for salt consumption before working out. If you prefer to use what you already have on hand, grab your Redmond Real Salt and measure your dosage to consume dry – then rinse your mouth with water or pickle juice. If going this route, it’s important to use Real Salt or another natural, unrefined salt that contains iodine.
Re-Lyte is the perfect blend of micronutrients, electrolytes, and sodium that support you all day and come in handy stick packs. Stick packs are our favorite pick for exercises like hiking and skiing!
Re-Lyte Pre-Workout delivers a lot of the same benefits but with the added bonus of a caffeine boost and other exercise-enhancing nutrients that will help boost performance. Reach for this if you're training for a marathon, doing HIIT exercises, or weightlifting.
The Salt Fix - Dr. James DiNicolantonio