NaCl + YOU: Salt & the Athlete’s Body

Over the past few weeks, I have been craving salt.   I’m careful about the amount of sodium I take in from packaged foods, but I’ve never been too concerned with table salt, one way or the other.  (In fact, only 10% of sodium found in packaged food occurs naturally; it’s okay to use real salt!)  Recently, however, it’s been going on everything from my salad bar meals at Whole Foods to a scoop of peanut butter on my oatmeal.  Sunday night, I caught myself doing the unthinkable:  salting the butter on my bread! My dad and I have poked endless fun at my mother for requesting salt for her butter when we are out to eat.  Well, looks like they’ll have to bring some for me, too.   I brought this up to my dad, who immediately thought it was because I’ve been running almost every day, and for longer distances that I’ve been used to in the past.

I’ve been investigating salt intake and the athlete’s body, and found a very helpful response to a runner’s concern about sodium on the Runner’s World website.

The National Academy of Sciences, the government organization responsible for setting nutrient-intake guidelines, recently lowered the daily recommended intake of sodium from 2,400 milligrams (mg) to 1,500 mg-or about 2/3 of a teaspoon of salt per day. The reason: Diets high in sodium have been linked to high blood pressure.

But the Academy’s new recommendation was designed with sedentary folks in mind and may not be sufficient to replace the sodium losses of many runners. During an hour of running, most of us lose about 1,200 mg of sodium. Combine this with the rest of your daily sodium losses (through sweat and urine) and the new recommendation could fall short. Low sodium levels can cause dizziness, low blood pressure, and an abnormal heartbeat.

How much salt is safe for runners? Up to 3,000 mg of sodium per day should adequately replace the sodium lost through an active lifestyle. Keep in mind that most of us easily take in this amount simply by eating processed foods (salt is almost always added during processing), drinking sports drinks, and salting foods while cooking. So there’s no need to go out of your way to add salt to your diet. And if you have high blood pressure or other health concerns, your doctor may still advise you to limit your salt intake even if you are a runner.

I’ve often found myself feeling faint after long runs, even after I’ve more than adequately re-hydrated with water.  Could a little salt be the solution? In their July 2009 issue, Runner’s World has a list of various pre- and post-run beverage options.  They list vegetable juice as an option for runners who crave salt after runs… remember when I was on my carrot juice kick and deemed it my recovery drink of choice?  I guess my body enjoyed its benefits as much as my taste buds!

I did not have a hydration or sodium problem yesterday, as I was more or less sedentary for the entire day.  At 10 in the morning, I walked to the mailbox, and at 10 at night, I took out the trash and went across the street to the diner.  With half a heart, I did 8-minute abs, but even my tummy seemed a little zoznked.  Oh, to be unemployed!

When I woke up, I quickly came to the sad realization that all of my homemade almond milk had gone bad.  I’m out of almonds at the moment, so it’ll be a while before I make a fresh batch.  I rooted around my stash(es) of goodies. (Yes, I admit it: I hoard food in the closet.  I’ve already taken over more than an entire shelf in the pantry and the refrigerator is filled with my things, so rather than be that obnoxious roommate, the closet it is!)  Out came a sample of Kashi Honey Sunshine cereal, which I’ve had back there for several months.

Kashi Honey Sunshine

I ended up pulling together a pretty random breakfast… Greek yogurt, (salted) peanut butter, Honey Sunshine, a peach, and cinnamon.

Yogurt Cereal Fruit mess

I wasn’t a huge fan of this cereal. It was very sweet, and reminded me a lot of Cap’n Crunch.  Not that there’s anything wrong with sugary cereal, but I prefer to eat those as snacks or dessert and enjoy something a little heartier in the morning.

In between housework, chores, and applying for jobs, I grabbed some chunks of energy to keep me awake.

Chunks of Energy

Lunch was an “everything but the kitchen sink” type of salad so I could use up some ingredients that are on the cusp of going bad.

Kitchen Sink Salad #1

I topped the last of the sprout salad with an egg over medium (microwaved for 30 seconds), corn, edamame, feta, hummus, and beets.

Kitchen Sink Salad #2

I think I must have overdone it on beets; I’ve eaten them so often since summer started that the last few times I’ve had them they’ve made me gag.  Mr. Beet, we need to spend some time apart.  It’s you.

My Edible Arrangement provided a festive lunch dessert; we’ve eaten everything except some chocolate-covered strawberries, which will probably make an appearance at breakfast soon.

Edible Arrangements

I spent the rest of the afternoon trying to stay awake finishing my book, during which I snacked on an apple with cinnamon.

Apple w/ Cinnamon

I got dinner almost entirely ready, but at the last minute Josh and I decided to go to the diner.  I knew Tuesday was going to be a late-ish night, so at least dinner would be all prepped and I’d be able to eat as soon as I got home.  Josh and I both ordered the Seared Ahi Tuna Wrap w/ Whole Wheat Chips, wasabi aioli on the side. The chips were deep-fried and a little greasy, so I only ate a couple.

Ahi Tuna Wrap

The sandwich came with a mixed-green salad, which I enjoyed…  I haven’t been very good about eating dark green veggies lately.

Side Salad

When we got home, I tore into the last cupcake.

Billy's Bakery Pumpkin Cupcake #1

Do you even have to guess the flavor? My oh my, do I love pumpkin.

Billy's Bakery Pumpkin Cupcake #2

Well kiddos, Ari is almost home and I have to get Green Lantern all queued up for his arrival.  Yep, we’re big dorks 🙂  Before I say goodnight, I have an important question for you: what do you think about the F.T.C.’s ruling that blog writers must disclose their connection with companies whose products they review? I’m still mulling that one over, but it was a hot topic in the office at my internship today.

Bonne nuit!


11 responses to “NaCl + YOU: Salt & the Athlete’s Body

  1. Great post, I have a huge salt tooth. I wonder if that has anything do to with my running. I will have to try it out. Thanks, that post was helpful!
    I love salads like that I make them a few times a week.

  2. You’re my personal CNN…first I learn of the Bon Appetite closing from you and now the FTC ruling. Yeah, I live in the dark ages where there are no tv’s. Kidding. But I dont pay attention to much news lately, for better or worse. I think it’s a fine line. Who cares if I got free dates from Oh Nuts. Does the whole world need to know Averie’s dates were free this time, but next week, she bought them herself from Trader Joes? I mean who really cares. If I linked Oh Nuts, they were probably a gift and most savvy readers/bloggers can deduce that without huge formal disclosure. Anyway way too much for a comment but thanks for filling me in 🙂

    And Salt.girl I cannot use salt. I swell up and retain water like a fiend and I already have arthritis and any swelling makes me soooo uncomf so I avoid salt like the plague.

    Capn Crunch cereal? That’s kinda healthy? Send it to me!

    And glad you cared in my post today that I ate veggies, that was cute 🙂

  3. They put that into RULING? Wow. I had no idea it was so serious. I’m still mulling, too, but I’ll be interested in what your opinion is when you make up your mind.

  4. Very interesting about salt and running. I’ve been upping my mileage a LOT lately and haven’t noticed any sodium cravings. I am, however, craving a lot of nut butter. I don’t think I’m consuming enough calories for my activity level because I take many dips in the peanut butter jar and haven’t gained any weight in the past few weeks. I guess it’s an easy way to get dense calories in! Interesting how increasing exercise affects the body differently.

  5. Thanks for the salt info! I used to get severe stomach aches while running so my doctor told me to starting eating more salt before/after runs and it actually really helped!

    Your seared tuna wrap looks amazing as does that pumpkin cupcake:)
    Are you coming to the blogger meet-up dinner this Friday night?? I hope to finally meet you!

  6. Wow… I’m a total salt fiend too, and I’d probably faint dead away if I were a runner!

    That ruling seems kind of silly… I mean, either way, isn’t the end result the same? Your opinion of a product is your opinion of a product, regardless of whether or not you paid for it.

    ❤ ❤

  7. The chem nerd in me got a little excited at your title. Is that weird?! Viva la NaCl!

    That cupcake looks delicious! Is it cream cheese frosting? If so, drooooooool.

    Maybe it’s the liberal in me but WHY does there need to be rules on blogging? Not to say I won’t follow them (for the most part) but I just find all of these guidelines a bit silly.

  8. great post, my dear!

    what a silly rule by the FTC, they are just trying to parent everything that happens in blog word, but I really dont know how well that will work!

    your eats look delish! esp that salad with the egg and eddamme, I LOVE egg whites in my salad, i usually hardboil them, but thats a great idea what you did!

  9. Great post! I loved all the salt information. And that tuna wrap. Mmm.

    I think the FTC ruling is good because there is already so much “politics” in any commercial industry… I want to know of the opinion I’m getting from someone is legitimate or if they like it because their pockets are feeling a little heavier. Within the food blogging world, it’s not nearly as big of a deal. Most people I’ve read are honest about products, but I’ve seen a few blogs sponsored by tech products that I know they’d never use otherwise and I feel that it could be pretty misleading to readers.

  10. Pingback: A Six Cup Kind of Day « Lilveggiepatch

  11. Hunh. Never knew this. Now I have justification for eating so much cottage cheese:)

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