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Do Runners Need Salt?

Everyone needs a certain amount of salt in their diet in order to function properly, but how much is too much and how much is not enough?

Something that many runners ask themselves is whether they are getting enough salt, and this might not always be the case for everyone. 

In this article, we are going to be looking at whether runners need extra salt, and if so, how much they need depending on how much they are running.

It is really important to be hydrated and healthy and ensure that your body is getting everything it needs when you are running, and we are going to help you to do just that. 

Do Runners Need Salt?

Your body relies on sodium to help to regulate the amount of fluid that is in your blood and cells, but this doesn’t become a problem for most people.

Generally, people will consume the right amount of salt through their diet and the food that they are eating. However, when it comes to runners, a higher salt intake may be needed.

When you are running, you are going to lose electrolytes, including salt, when you are sweating. If your sodium levels were to become too low, then you might start to retain excess fluid, which is not something that you want. 

Your salt levels can become concerning if you are going to be running long distances, and it can cause things like muscle cramps. Replacing sodium and other electrolytes when you are running for more than 90 minutes is going to be really important.

How Much Salt Does a Runner Need?

The amount of salt that a runner will need will depend on certain factors. Many foods that people eat on a daily basis will contain high levels of sodium, which is why most people typically get more than enough salt in their diet. 

However, runners are going to need slightly more than the normal amount, which is why they may need an additional supplement to help them along the way.

Whether or not you need to consume more sodium before you go out on a run will depend on how much salt you are getting from your diet and how much sodium you lose through sweating.

How to Tell if I Need More Salt

If you want to find out if you need more salt, you can take a salt test to find out how much sodium you need to consume to replace what you have lost.

More often than not, the appearance of your skin can help you with this. If you can see white lines of salt residue on your skin, then you need to get your hands on a sports drink or a salty snack after your run.

Things That Can Affect the Amount of Salt That You Need

There are some additional factors to consider when you are looking at topping up your salt levels, as there are some things that can influence the amount of salt that you need.

Your own needs will depend on how much you sweat and the sodium concentration in your sweat. This can be affected by:

  • Weather - High temperatures can make you sweat more
  • Activity level - Working harder makes you sweat more.
  • Physiology - Some people will simply sweat more than others or have saltier sweat
  • Genetics - Research shows that the sodium content in sweat can vary significantly from person to person. 

Should I take Salt Tablets During a Marathon?

For the majority of people, consuming an additional 200g of sodium after a run will be more than enough to replenish your salt levels.

However, for distance and endurance runners, or those taking part in a marathon, you are likely going to need to get your hands on some salt mid-run. You can take salt tablets during your marathon run, but this might not always be necessary.

Salt tablets will work for runners, but you might not always need them. As a general rule, if your run has lasted for less than an hour, then you probably do not need salt tablets. A sports drink that contains electrolytes should suffice.

For those that are running a marathon, you are likely to have lower sodium levels, meaning that salt tablets can come in handy for you. However, you should be mindful of the amount that you are taking, as too much salt is just as bad as not enough.

It is important to replace the sodium that your body is missing out on, but you should not take too much or more than you need.

One of the best ways to increase your sodium intake is by having a snack that is high in salt content. This can help to improve your performance when running by ensuring that your body is getting everything that it needs.


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