‘Cutting’ & ‘Defining’ : The Role Of Salt In The Build Up To Competition

You’ve probably noticed the effect that consuming too much salt can have on your body…it makes you thirsty right? Well, salt manipulation (although only one factor) is a tried and tested method of ‘cutting’ prior to a bodybuilding competition or photo shoot. You will not become toned and defined through salt manipulation alone, and prolonged periods of elevated salt intake can have acute and chronic (short and long term) effects on your body, but the theory is that by increasing salt intake for approx one week, you set the body up for greater fluid losses when it comes to ‘cutting’.

The mechanism behind salt adjustment (increase) is based on salts ability to increase water retention within the body. Ever had a pizza smothered in salty cheese, a donar kebab, or some salty fish and chips only to find yourself desperate for a nice cold beverage straight after? This happens because of a process known as osmosis whereby salt draws fluid into the cell, triggering your body to want more water to compensate. This causes an excess of water which is usually deposited under the skin. When this happens your body reduces the fluid retaining hormone aldosterone (a key hormone in the regulation of blood pressure via the retention of water) because it already has plenty of water to go around, consequently we urinate more to get rid of the excess.

Once you enter a carb loading phase of cutting you should reduce the salt intake, this elevates urine output whilst tricking the hormone aldosterone into staying low, and reducing the amount of fluid we retain….increasing definition. It is integral that you drink approx 50% more water than you usually would when increasing salt levels, in the long term this will also aid the ‘cutting’ process.

Carb manipulation, water consumption, protein intake and training methods also come into play, and more information on this will be posted this week!

NOTE: Do not manipulate salt intake if you have an underlying medical condition, seek the advice of a health practitioner prior to actively adjusting your salt intake.

This information is not prescriptive and anything you do is at your own discretion.

About the Author

Job Role Qualified Dietitian and Sports Nutritionist Qualifications BSc (Hons) Sports Science | BSc (Hons) Dietetics Tom has always participated in sport both recreationally and competitively which led to an unquenchable thirst for information on anything health, nutrition and fitness. After leaving school Tom went on to play for a football academy during which time he studied Sport and Exercise Science. From here he went on to study a BSc (Hons) Sport Science at UEA followed by his second BSc (Hons) degree, this time at the University of Hertfordshire studying Dietetics. Tom has worked in the fitness, educational and clinical nutrition industry starting out at David Lloyd Health and Leisure Clubs. He then went on to work as a Dietitian (RD) in the NHS, during which time he conducted clinics for healthy eating, weight loss and weight gain, as well as specialised consultations on Diabetes, IBS and Coeliac disease to name a few. He has vast amounts of experience at devising diet plans and supplement regimens, as well as working in the community with schools and competitive athletes. As Head Nutritionist and Supplement expert at Discount Supplements Tom is here to provide current and evidence based health and nutrition information to help you reach your health and fitness goals!
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