Replacing Salt in the Heat


Since the #Paleo Diet says not to add salt to your food, how do you manage to prevent hyponatremia when you are racing in the heat of Kona?

GREAT question!

Hyponatremia is an abnormally low level of sodium in the blood; associated with dehydration.   In potentially extreme ambient conditions, like racing in hot temperatures for long periods of time, the risk of this dangerous condition is quite real.  If one were to race all day and drink lots of water without replacing electrolytes, the chances of going into this state get higher and higher.

So, what is a Paleo Athlete to do?

Well, a brief review of The Paleo Diet for Athletes will allow you to rest assured that the diet of an endurance athlete in training are one exception to the rule of 'no salt added to the diet'.   We NEED to replace our salt, both in our meals leading up to a big training day or race in the heat, as well as DURING the event itself.

I personally have had success using Thermolyte  tablets (now called Meta Salt); they have a great electrolyte panel and are easy to take.  

How much salt one needs depends on their sweat rate, amongst other factors, so please don't read this and think that since I take a salt tab every 30 minutes in Kona, that you should do the same.

You can start by weighing yourself before and after a workout.  The amount of 'weight' you lost during the workout needs to be replaced, as does the salt you've lost.  

I take one tablet every 30 minutes while racing in Kona, and 2 PowerBar Gels per hour (each of which has 200g sodium), while my husband takes one tablet every hour with 3 gels- as he has a higher sweat rate, just to give you an example of how different two fit athletes can be!

If you're unsure of how much salt you need, you can always have your sweat rate determined professionally with testing in an exercise physiology lab.