Sodium manipulation is one of the most used techniques to
help ensure you are looking super human ripped come day 84 of your 12 week
transformation. In fact, my Spartan client Craig Rowlands has started his
sodium loading phase this week and he will begin the second phase tomorrow. With
that, it feels a very relevant topic to talk about today.
What is sodium?
Sodium is an essential micronutrient which the body requires
to help develop hydrochloric acid within the stomach. In a nutshell this helps
protect the stomach from any bad bacteria which you consume. For the average
Joe it is thought that you would require in the region of just 2,400mg a day
with this coming from lean meat sources. Unfortunately, most people’s sodium
intake is in the high thousands on a daily basis which can have a negative
effect on your cardiac health in the short and long term.
Sodium and getting ripped
The ‘’getting’’ bit in the above title should actually read ‘’looking’’
ripped because it is amazing how sodium can affect the way you look. Before I go
on, this is relevant to people with low body fat so don’t think sodium is the
issue if you are not ripped. Sodium can cause water retention because it sits
underneath the skin and your body utilises this as a way to hold on to water.
Now you understand the effect sodium can have on you, let’s
look at the application and theory behind it.
If it causes water retention why the hell would you want to
load up? OK, bear with me here. After the first 3-4 days of sodium loading your
body will adjust and as a result it will not continue to hold on to more and
more water. By now, you are holding no
extra water yet your body is now comfortable with high sodium levels. What do
you think will happen when you drop your sodium levels dramatically after 5-7
days of sodium loading? You got it in one!
Side note – aim for
3,000-3,500mg of sodium a day in the loading phase as a rough guideline and
keep your water intake at the same level as it was leading up this phase. You should
be drinking at least 3 litres of water a day, more like 4-6 in an ideal world.
After the initial sodium loading phase you want to drop your
sodium intake! This means adding no salt to your meals and avoiding salty foods
such as cottage cheese, ham, anchovies and so on. As a guideline drop your
sodium levels to around 500-600mg a day for the first two days, then 300-400g
and then below 250mg a day until your photos are done.
This will enable your body to shift the water which is under
your skin at a much quicker rate because it is now accustomed to higher sodium levels!
Putting it all together
Generally speaking you want to begin your sodium
manipulation 14 days from the end date. Therefore start your sodium loading
phase for the first 5-7 days and then begin depleting thereafter as instructed
Hopefully this has given you a good enough insight into the
art of sodium manipulation to see you shredded come photo day!!