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Thread: Too much salt?

  1. #1
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    May 2009
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    Too much salt?

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    I was riding the Swedish Days ride yesterday, somewhere in the corn fields of IL yesterday (I'm from Chicago, everywhere else is somewhere in the suburbs to me). It was hot as hell, there was a headwind (for about 100 miles of the 124 mile ride), and my main concern was cramping and depleting my electrolytes. Starting the night before, I drank some Nuun before bed. Woke up and had a glass of water with Nuun in it before the ride, and chomped on Clif Shot Bloks (the margarita flavor with salt) and drank Nuun during the ride. A guy I linked up with asked me if I could see any white streaks on his kit. I couldn't. He replied "good". He told me I had salt all over my jersey, and thought I was consuming too much salt.

    I sweat like it's my job and I thought salt was essential to avoid cramping. It was 92 degrees, and I was riding 124 miles. It seems essential, right?

    So, does salt on your kit mean too much salt intake? If I didn't have the salt rings and crusted to my hair, is that better? This guy seemed to think so. Said "you'll get there", as if it's just part of my training, like hill repeats.

    Thoughts?
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  2. #2
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    Well, I generally have the opposite problem. When my sweat isn't salty, I use that as a first warning that I need to be taking more in. But I was repeatedly bumping up against hyponatremia until I started taking in more salt, and paying more attention to early warning signs.

    I really don't know whether the amount of salt in sweat is completely linked to dietary intake. I've read the opposite, that some people are salty sweaters and others not, and I've often read that part of heat acclimation is conserving salt, so that you'll sweat out more salt earlier in the season (like, now) than you will when you're completely acclimated.

    My uneducated opinion is that after 124 miles, if you don't have salt on your kit you're not taking enough in. People lose 500-1000 mg salt per liter of sweat ... in those conditions I'd be sweating out two liters an hour roughly ... and remember that those white crystals are all the minerals and salts you sweat out, not just sodium chloride ... so over a ride like that you're probably looking at two to four tablespoons of minerals in your sweat, most of which is going to wind up in your clothes as your sweat evaporates to cool you.

    IANAD ... nor a sports nutritionist ... just someone who's learned over the years that I have to make an effort to take in salt if I don't want to wind up in trouble.



    ETA - you sound like you've had trouble with cramping in the past. My experience is that cramping is not related to sodium or hydration, and most research backs that up. My experience is that if I wake up at night with leg cramps it's low magnesium, if I get cramps during a run or ride it might be either magnesium or overuse. Do you have any other symptoms that you attribute to low salt?
    Last edited by OakLeaf; 06-24-2013 at 06:57 AM.
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  3. #3
    Join Date
    Apr 2013
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    I think you should add up how much actual salt etc you are consuming. Come up with an actual number. I doubt that salty looking clothing means anything. I take the position that I start off with way less salt than people who eat packaged food anyway, so I add more salt, not less. I measure how much I add to my drinks as I DIY my own brew. I would be using 500mg sodium per bottle in a hot long ride. Plus K and mg. I would blow off anyone who has an opinion on your health based on your kit hygiene as a BSer.
    Last edited by Skippyak; 06-24-2013 at 12:39 PM.

  4. #4
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    I really can't fathom someone, a stranger, actually telling you "you'll get there" what a freaking elitist. Self anointed expert. Sounds like he has his head up his arse and that's about what his advice is worth!
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  5. #5
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    May 2008
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    Well, I am not an expert. So take this with a grain of........


    I think the composition of your sweat does changes as you acclimate to the heat, so the guy could be right that you will sweat out less salt as you continue riding through the summer. And I can see how it would be possible for your sweat to be saltier than usual because you were ingesting a lot of sodium before and during the ride.

    My copy of Nancy Clark's Sports Nutrition Guidebook is in storage right now, but I did read her chapter on sodium and hyponatremia several times, and I don't recall anything about it being a problem if salt from sweat is visible on you. What I do recall is that it's important to ingest sodium during long endurance events in hot weather to avoid hyponatremia, and that having a salty meal the night before can also be helpful.

    How did you feel during and after the ride?

    Edit: the graphic in this thread might be helpful. Apparently your sweat does become less salty as you become used to the heat.

    http://forums.teamestrogen.com/showt...beats+the+heat
    Last edited by ny biker; 06-24-2013 at 08:37 PM.

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  6. #6
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    From what I've read it's just the opposite..... here's an bit from what a sports nutritionist had to say....

    some people are salty sweaters, and you are probably one of them. If any of the following signs describe you, join the salty sweat club. (I am a member too!)

    Sweat that stings your eyes
    Sweat that burns in an open cut
    Sweat that tastes salty
    Gritty-feeling skin after a run
    Streaks of white on your face, skin, clothes, or hat after a run (this is called "cake sweat")
    This tends to happen in those who drink more water and eat a fairly low-salt diet.
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  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by OakLeaf View Post
    My experience is that if I wake up at night with leg cramps it's low magnesium
    Really! I'm so happy to finally learn what might be causing the night leg cramps. I will definitely try Mg next time I have leg cramps. I'll also look at what foods provide it. I'm not keen on taking pills and I much prefer getting it from my food if I can.
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  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by Melalvai View Post
    Really! I'm so happy to finally learn what might be causing the night leg cramps. I will definitely try Mg next time I have leg cramps. I'll also look at what foods provide it. I'm not keen on taking pills and I much prefer getting it from my food if I can.
    My doc suggested magnesium supplements for leg cramps. She says they sometimes help.

    Of course I have not yet got around to buying them to test them out -- I get the cramps for 3-4 nights straight, and then not for months, so it doesn't seem like a priority supplement.

  9. #9
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    I'm a pretty salty sweater as well. I haven't experienced any adverse effects from this. Last night I rode an 'easy' 45 miles and felt great. At the end of the ride I literally had chunks of salt dried in my hair. For the guy who said, "You'll get there." I'm pretty fit, been putting in over 500 miles last few months and I'm still a salt lick at the end of my rides, so if I'm not there yet, I guess I never will be. I think some people are just salty sweaters. I will say though, any of my rides over 60 miles I come home and crave salty foods. In general, I prefer salty over sweet so I dunno if this has anything to do with my saltiness.



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  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by Muirenn View Post
    I've been a little stressed since, worrying about next time. Obviously, I have to hydrate, fuel, etc better than last time, so my usual should suffice, but I'm wondering if I need a little more, like maybe salt tabs beforehand as it's hot and the ride starts at 11.

    Not sure what to do.
    Pre-cooling gets a lot of ink. Normally I avoid AC like the plague, but sitting in a cold environment for an hour or so immediately before your ride can help. So can drinking crushed ice immediately before you go out. Are you already freezing your water bottles overnight? The more you can cool yourself internally, the less you have to rely on evaporative cooling and the less you will need to sweat.
    Speed comes from what you put behind you. - Judi Ketteler

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by Muirenn View Post
    I think you can use the Mg to prevent the cramps, not sure if it works after-the-fact.
    Sorry, that's what I meant, I said it confusingly. I'll get leg cramps for several nights, typically coinciding with an increase in training (intentional or otherwise). It might last a couple weeks. I haven't been having them lately, so I'll wait until I'm having them and then try Mg and see if they go away-- of course they go away on their own anyway so it's not much of a test, but if I feel they went away faster than they would have otherwise, that's something.
    2009 Trek 7.2FX WSD, brooks Champion Flyer S, commuter bike

  12. #12
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    Aug 2012
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    Arkansas
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    I constantly look like a salt lick after a ride. I eat a balanced low-sodium diet on a regular basis. The only think I have learned from working towards longer rides is when it is hot I drink plain water, use my Gu gels about every 30-45 minutes, and recently added pickle juice at about mile 30 or so. I know sounds gross, but a fellow that used to work at my LBS suggested I try it since normally eat a low sodium diet. Since then I learned several people not only eat a pickle spear or two at the later rest stops they swear to keep up the Gu and plain water but they will drink a glass of pickle juice or two as the miles add up. Luckily I love pickles and their juice. I asked my doctor about do that on hotter days and she says there is a good combination of things in the juice and that is wasn't a bad idea.

    I don't think how you look after a ride matters, it is how you are feeling while you ride. I know for me the pickle juice at mile 30 of my 60 mile training ride did help me later in the ride. I would usually start to cramp up and feel funny. With the pickles and juice added I didn't. As someone else said you can take it with a grain of ........

 

 

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