SaltStick and Weightlifting:
Hydration is one of the biggest issues bodybuilders must manage when competing. Muscle size is dependent partly on water content, so a hydrated muscle is a big muscle. However, competitors also want to avoid retaining any extra water, which will prevent their skin from appearing “tight” onstage. Too much water and the bodybuilder will look bloated and soft; too little water and the bodybuilder could cramp and struggle to induce a pump in his muscles.
Unhealthy hydration imbalances in the bodybuilding world are the result of an athlete consuming diuretics, which induce urination. Death may be the most serious consequence to these imbalances, but other side effects of bodybuilding’s dehydration methods include a drop in blood pressure, thickening of the blood (due to lack of fluids), fainting, renal failure and cramping due to electrolyte imbalances.
Bodybuilders are often told to cut sodium in the days before a competition to avoid water retention. However the ratio of electrolytes is more important than the absolute amount consumed. A diet high in potassium obtained from fruits and vegetables will help reduce bloating due to water retention, and extreme reductions of sodium are not necessary.
The body needs sodium for a variety of physiological processes, but also potassium, calcium and magnesium. A majority of U.S adults do not consume the recommended daily amount of magnesium, which is likely why bodybuilders are often advised to take magnesium supplements leading up to competition. Low magnesium levels, in particular, have been correlated with increased cramping, which is a bodybuilder’s enemy onstage.
Learn more about the relationship between SaltStick and hydration by reading the following blog posts: