|The Sodium - AnabolicConnection!
One of the most powerful anabolic stimuli
may be sitting right on your dinner table.
Bodybuilders are constantly fed conflicting information regarding nutritional
intake. This information, dished out mainly by the magazines, is primarily
manipulated to sell you supplements. Yes, the magazines do have a vested
interest in supplements. More space is devoted to marketing their
supplements, either through articles or ads (in many cases these are one in the
same), than is devoted to non-promotional productive training and nutritional
information. Sad but true. Unfortunately you have to learn to see through the
monetarily motivated bullshit.
The Sodium Dilemma
As a whole, bodybuilders who think they are serious about their diet, generally
cut out all extra sodium intake. Most are under the false notion that sodium
will make them fat, cause them to retain extra water (as if this were a bad
thing), cause high blood pressure or is just overall an unhealthy mineral. None
of which is true. First off, sodium does not cause hypertension. This is a
disease sodium can aggravate but not manifest. Secondly, sodium will not
make you fat in any way, shape, or form. Thirdly, sodium is an essential
nutrient your body cant live without. Many functions in the body are
"sodium-dependant". They require the presence of sodium. Many amino acids
are transported by sodium carriers.
Just recently the results of a major 10 year study were released vindicating
sodium as the unhealthy mineral. In fact this study revealed that individuals
with higher sodium intake had a lower mortality rate. That's right. Those that
consumed a diet low in sodium actually died at an earlier age than those with
higher sodium intakes. That pretty much throws a serious monkey wrench into
the generally accepted thinking on sodium now doesn't it?
With these fallacies out of the way let's see how we can manipulate our
sodium intake to help increase muscular size and strength.
Sodium and Muscle Growth
Sodium is the primary positively charged ion in extra-cellular fluid. Sodium
regulates blood volume, acid-base balance, muscle and nerve function and
ATP-hydrolyzing activity in skeletal muscle. Potassium is the primary
positively charged ion in intracellular fluid. Potassium regulates intra-muscular
fluid levels, muscle and nerve function and ATP-hydrolyzing activity in skeletal
As you can see, sodium and potassium perform very similar functions with the
major difference being in the intra and extra-cellular fluid regulation. Most
everyone is aware that sodium has an effect on subcutaneous (under the skin)
fluid retention. Potassium has its effect on fluid inside the muscle cell. What
most dont realize is that these two minerals are constantly striving for
equilibrium. When one gets out of line with the other your system will strive to
adjust to the underlying situation.
When you cut your sodium intake, your body will quickly compensate by
holding more sodium in and releasing potassium out thereby decreasing fluid
inside the muscle cell. When you increase your sodium intake your body will
compensate by holding more potassium in (increasing intra-muscular fluid) and
increasing the excretion of sodium.
Sodium, potassium and the balance between the two can have a prominent
impact on muscle size and anabolism (increased cellular fluid inside the muscle
cell promotes an anabolic response in muscle tissue) as well as strength
through increase joint leverage. Also, elevated sodium and potassium levels
will tend to prevent soft tissue injuries so common in heavy training.
Increases muscle size through an increase in muscle cell
Increasing cellular fluid increases protein turnover and
overload stimulated lean tissue accrual.
Increased intra and extra-cellular fluid increases joint
leverage positively impacting strength for greater muscle
Increased intra and extra-cellular fluid decreases muscle
strains and helps protect soft and connective tissue from
Many critical amino acids are "sodium-dependant". This
means they actually have to attach to a sodium molecule
to enter the muscle cell.
You can get enough potassium from a good multi-mineral supplement.
Bananas are also an excellent source and are highly recommended. Each bite
has about 100 milligrams of potassium. Sodium is another story. The typical
athlete that eats a disciplined diet low in fat is probably not benefiting from
proper sodium intake as he should. Forget the myth of avoiding table salt.
Dont be afraid to use salt liberally. This is important. I know, over the years
the media has pounded the avoid salt routine down your throat but you must
understand, not only this is geared towards the average person - if you train
and eat like a bodybuilder, you are not an average person - it's opposite of
what recent science has shown to be healthy.
Remember, the low/no sodium approach will limit the rate at which you can
put on muscle from both a fluid balance standpoint and through hormonal
One of the key effects of steroids, especially the high androgenic ones, is their
ability to promote the retention of sodium. This sodium retention is believed to
be a major contributor to the muscle growth experienced while on steroids.
This is a relatively new area of research. The medical community cant seem
to agree on just how and why steroids work and this appears to be an area
that has been seriously overlooked.
Sodium and potassium are regulated by aldosterone. Aldosterone is produced
in the adrenal cortex. Steroids have a direct influence on the adrenal cortex
which also produces cortisol and other glucocorticoids. See a connection?
We will have much more on the groundbreaking research into The Sodium
-Anabolic Connection in the near future. In the meantime, for a serious
anabolic jolt, simply increase your sodium intake by salting your food a little
more. It doesn't take a ton of salt. Just get in the habit of salting your food at
every meal. Steadily increase the amount you use over a one month period.
You'll be bigger, stronger, and much less susceptible to progress halting
injuries. And guess what? It costs only about 27 cents for a 3 month supply.