It isn’t very often UK residents are treated to a heat wave yet over the last few weeks that it exactly what has happened. So much so that the authorities have actually issued warnings!! Last Saturday morning I saved my favourite workout for the week, basically squats and stiff leg deadlifts, oh and calves. It was sweltering, the dash in my car read into the high 20s, the glass in the gym amplified the heat and my workout resembled a strength workout in an empty sauna. I was the only one daft enough to submerge myself in those conditions, I am glad I did. However, I noticed that my performance was a little blunt – my edge just wasn’t there. I was hydrated, I always am – I never fail to get at least 5 litres of water down a day but it still wasn’t enough. I felt thirsty. When you are trying to concentrate on poundages twice your body weight across your back and all you want is to glug down more water it’s a distraction at best and maybe an indicator at worst. Indeed it was.
An indicator that I needed to add more salt to my food! When I tell people this they look at me like I am mental. Why? Because they associate that dry mouth fever they get after eating salt ridden fries with feeling dehydrated. Therefore if you add salt to your ‘’good’’ meals then it will make you more dehydrated.
No, sodium helps with glucose transportation and it also helps the body hold water in the muscle cell. In this weather as you sweat a lot you will inevitably experience a level of depletion which means you need to take more precautions. Drinking a lot of water on its own won’t suffice, in fact that will dilute electrolyte levels further.
With that said adding some salt to your meals will help ensure your sodium levels are better regulated. Adding more salt to your pre-workout meal is probably a good idea too! Another trick you can use to help sustain a good electrolyte balance is to drink coconut water. In India I learnt about the benefits of this where the humidity was practically unbearable in a gym which had no air conditioning! We would get real coconuts, have the top chopped off and sip the water. The difference in performance was noticeable. And they say you learn as you travel, in that sense I guess I did.
Back to the point, salt isn’t evil. In this weather, adding some to your food (provided you have no health issues which says otherwise) should help keep you firing on all cylinders!