Should I avoid salt completely?
Salt is an essential nutrient and should NOT be omitted from your diet. The minimum recommended daily allowance of salt, aka sodium, is 4 grams per day. The American Heart Association recommends 1500 mg of salt, which is less than ¾ tsp. Yes, it is recommended that people eat salt every single day for good health.
Many people are under the incorrect assumption that salt is bad. Your doctor may even have told you that you cannot have salt, which is untrue and unhelpful. The reason doctors tell patients this lie is that they want to stress how important it is to limit salt. The real issue is that people eat too many processed foods, and/or dine out, and those meals have way too much salt added.
We’re not all the same, so some people need more salt than others. Cyclists and marathon runners take salt tabs or capsules to minimize cramps, fatigue, and dehydration. Hyponatremia can result in death; this occurs when individuals, like marathon runners, drink a lot of water, but not enough salt. You’ve probably seen lots of ads pushing certain drinks (Gatorade) to replace electrolytes after exercise. Salt is an electrolyte. Salt and water work together as an equilibrium.
On a hot day, when I go to the gym, if I don’t grab that pinch of Celtic Sea salt on my way out the door, towards the end of my workout, I have trouble concentrating, I feel woozy, and I can’t stay hydrated even after drinking lots of water. Luckily my gym has salt at the front desk so I ask for it when needed, and add it to my water. Just by adding those granules of salt, I always feel better within a few minutes. Whenever I get home from the gym, I eat a brined olive to get extra salt to replace the salt I lost from sweating, even though I don’t perspire much compared to other people.
Even though I drink a fruit smoothie with 18 grams of protein powder with a banana (the banana contains natural potassium and magnesium which are electrolyets) before I go to the gym or do cardio, the reason I have to eat salt prior to exercise on a hot day, is because my protein powder has contains only 55 mg of sodium. I add the salty olive post-workout in addition to eating a post-workout meal with a little salt, because my overall diet is low in salt. I make most of my meals from scratch, and I dine out only on occasion.
Don’t ban salt from your diet completely, but do cut back on packaged and processed foods, and restaurant meals. The real demon is sugar.
Photo: Me at World Gym