Sodium is an important factor in muscle growth. The role of sodium is one of providing the balance of water within the body and helping in maintaining a regular heart rhythm. 

Another important role it fulfils is to aid in muscle contraction. Therefore, restricting sodium intake can lead to muscle cramps and inhibit training objectives. Another way of looking at it from an internal perspective is sodium has an effect on the extra-cellular fluid (outside of the cells) as a positively charged ion, and therefore regulates nerve and muscle function. Sodium works in conjunction with potassium, which affects the water in the muscle.

Sodium and muscle growth

An important part of this is nutrition. People who are trying to gain lean muscle tissue need to have a marriage between sodium and potassium to make sure that they are getting the appropriate levels in their daily nutritional intake. A high level of energy is allocated to maintaining the balance between the two minerals (micro nutrients).

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Here are some sources of sodium and potassium that can help

You need to consume food items that are nutritionally dense and therefore gain more from the intake such as white beans, spinach, plain yogurt, sweet potato, broccoli, cantaloupe, salmon, low fat milk, cherry tomatoes, kale, blackberries, oranges, collard greens, red grapefruit, romaine lettuce, white bread, bacon, American cheese, chicken pot pie, and beef pot pie.

A dilemma people face when trying to build lean muscle is the notion that sodium will cause their blood pressure to rise, make them fat, and retain extra water. 

38189775 - fresh kale leaves over a wooden background

38189775 – fresh kale leaves over a wooden background

Some of these thoughts are not true!

Sodium will not make you fat! And sodium will not cause hypertension…but it can aggravate it. 

Keep in mind that many functions in the body are sodium dependant and many amino acids are transported by sodium carriers. If you cut your sodium intake, your body will quickly compensate and hold onto more sodium and release potassium and the results are a decrease in the fluid inside the muscle cell. 

And if you increase your sodium your body will hold on to more potassium, which in turn increases intra-muscular fluid and increases the excretion of sodium.

Strength gains

The balance between sodium and potassium can have a favourable impact on anabolism (which is increasing cellular fluid inside the muscle cell, which in turn promotes an increase in protein turnover and an anabolic response in muscle tissue) and in turn leads to strength gains through increased joint leverage. 

Also, another benefit of balancing the levels of sodium and potassium within the body is that it will aid in preventing soft tissue injuries that might come about through heavy training.

There has been so much media hype about the dangers of a high sodium intake…

But keep in mind that it is geared towards the “average person”.  Remember, if you take the route of wanting to build lean muscle, the demand is going to be higher for an adequate amount of both sodium and potassium, so adjust your diet accordingly and reap the benefits!

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