Saturday, February 12, 2011

Sodium Concerns

[re-posted from my abs blog]

As I'm in wrapping up the first week of my stretch-drive diet, I have numerical data to analyze. This week, I've been eating about 1900 calories per day. My macronutrients look like this: protein — 28%, carbohydrates — 62%, fat — 10%.

I'm also tracking my sodium intake. Distance runners (or any endurance athletes that sweat) need a good amount of sodium. As a sidelined runner doing very little cardio work (i.e. not sweating much), I don't need as much. Through research, I know that bodybuilders drastically cut their sodium intake as they approach a contest, since this eliminates water retention which will blur muscle definition. With that in mind, I've been keeping my sodium intake low. Just how low I've been keeping it is becoming an eye opener.

I'm averaging about 550mg of sodium per day. I didn't think that was terribly miniscule until I researched what a "low sodium" diet entails. Some low-sodium diets to control high blood pressure suggest keeping sodium intake "as low as 1500-2000mg per day." Wow. I'm WAY below that. Average Americans consume a TON of sodium daily (not literally...but it's a lot!) The US RDA for sodium is under 2,400mg.

Why did I become interested in this number? Honestly, I've been blacking out and nearly fainting about every other time I stand up from a seated position. I believe my body might be in a hyponatremic state. The instances are becoming more frequent, so I'm suspicious that my low sodium intake may be causing it.

I've got two weeks until my final photos. Next week, I'll attempt to raise my sodium levels to around 1000mg per day to see if the dizzy spells & blackouts subside. In the few days leading up to my photos, I'll reduce the sodium back down. I think I may have jumped the gun!


  1. 1,900 calories per day seems about right without big training. You are becoming a lean, mean, fighting machine Colin. It's probably on the low side, but plays into your whole, "My name is Colin and I've got washboard abs".

  2. Training in hot and humid Houston and losing tons of sodium and potassium through my sweat I literally get a craving for salty foods especially in the Summer months. This is the body's way of signalling the need to replenish lost supplies of these vital electrolytes. I suspect you've blown past that imperative and your blackouts could indeed be caused by a significant deficiency. To restore your Na & K have some Chicken Soup, salted pretzels, a banana and some tomato juice - and your electrolyte deficiency should be gone - and along with it I hope your symptoms! If not, see your doc. Good luck!!

  3. As a person that averages a resting blood pressure somewhere around 90/50, I know that a low sodium diet causes big problems with orthostatic hypotension/blacking out/ dizziness. Do you know what your blood pressure ususally is? If it's low, sodium as well as other electrolytes will be critical to maintain adequate blood volume to reduce dizziness. Check it out.