You’ve probably never heard of putting salt in your preworkout drink but you’re missing out on pumps. I think there are some “old wive’s tale” myths in bodybuilding, that people believe but don’t really question. I’m sure you’ve heard of the “if you don’t drink a protein shake after a workout, you won’t get as many gains!” myth. This is more of a general fitness myth but I love the myth of “the only way to lose weight is to cut out all carbs”. Myths like that perpetuate around, and gymgoers follow these rules with blind faith.
When I recently heard that putting salt in your preworkout is the king of all pumps, I was hesitant as usual. The one thing that I have noticed is that I did get a massive pump after eating a huge meal at Taco Bell (check out my other article on The Best Bodybuilding Fast Food).
2000mg of sodium later and I have veins on my arms that the UPS delivery man can use as a roadmap.
Why You Should Add Salt To Your Preworkout
Salt (sodium in particular) also affects the rate of creatine uptake in your muscles. Creatine utilizes the energy of sodium wanting to enter the muscle cell and transports creatine inward. What this can mean for you is that it will allow your body to better absorb and transport creatine throughout your blood system.
Why Creatine Rocks
In case you don’t know about the positive effects of creatine, creatine can increase power output, cognitive function and also helps increase the fullness look of muscles. Creatine brings water into the muscle cells, not subcutaneous (beneath the skin), resulting in a fuller, more dense look.
Creatine will also increase your glycogen stores. Glycogen is a substance that your body uses as energy. It’s a storage substance that is used when your body isn’t getting glucose (food sugar) from food for energy. Think of glycogen as a whole bunch of rechargeable batteries, all around your body.
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As you eat carbohydrates, nutrients will be used for energy instantly (glucose for example) and other nutrients will be stored for energy.
By supplementing creatine, you’re increasing the amount of “batteries” in your body. This can ultimately mean taking your workouts from 30 minutes to even double that. [Read: The Best Tasting Protein Powders]
Being Efficient with Creatine
Now when you take a certain supplement, it may not be entirely bioavailable to your system. Think about supplementing vitamin D for example. Vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin, meaning it is best absorbed when taken with a meal or with food containing dietary fat. Now, you can take your yummy tasting vitamin D pill with just water in the morning, but that’s not optimal.
Now applying the same concept to creatine, you can increase the uptake of creatine into your blood system by supplementing sodium, or salt.
Sodium helps regulate blood pressure (which is why when most people have high blood pressure, doctors advise a low sodium diet), electrolyte balance. Sodium is mainly excreted (removed from the body) by urine or by sweating. Guess what you do at the gym? BOTH.
Sodium will bring in more water into your body, and keep it there. You’ve probably heard that when you’re tired you should drink a glass of water because you’re most likely dehydrated.
Now by adding more salt to your diet, your body will hold more water, especially in the muscle cells.
See where I’m going now?
So now you know that water will perk you up when you’re tired, and sodium will make you hold more water. Now you’re going to have a much larger fuel reserve for your muscles to use when you’re pushing through a hard workout.
The other benefit of adding salt to your preworkout drink is replacing the electrolytes that you lose when sweating. Eating a full meal an hour or two before the gym is a fantastic way of supplying energy during your workout.
You could add more table salt to your meal beforehand, but adding it to your preworkout drink will result in a much quicker absorption of the mineral. If you use pre-workout, you can add it to your scoop too!
Another benefit of using salt in your drink is that it will help with muscle cramps. Muscle cramps most commonly occur when you’re dehydrated, especially when you’re working up a sweat and your muscles are overheating
How much salt should I add to my preworkout?
Now this is a hard question to answer. Since this question is not studied fully, unfortunately, you’ll have to go by feel. Personally, I add 1/2 teaspoon of sea salt to my preworkout drink just as I’m heading out the door to the gym. I’ve found it brings out muscle fullness, and the vascularity is unmatched. You can even use pink himalayan salt.
For reference, 1 teaspoon of sea salt is approximately 2300mg of sodium. 2000mg a day is the upper limit for adults!
Normal salt is either table salt (with iodine) or sea salt.
For starters, try add ⅛ teaspoon of salt to your preworkout. Adjust as necessary and for health’s sake, monitor your blood pressure. If you’re susceptible to high blood pressure as it is, be careful because this could throw off your body’s electrolytes balance.
Even bodybuilder Wesley Vissers adds a pinch of pink Himalayan salt to his preworkout, along with EAAs.
If salt just really isn’t your thing or you can’t get over the taste, consider drinking a vegetable cocktail like V8 Juice. A glass of 200ml contains approximately 500mg of sodium, as well as other vegetable minerals.
When should should I take my preworkout?
Optimally, you want to time it around when you go to the gym. For proper digestion, I would suggest taking it half an hour before heading to the gym. This will allow enough time for your body to absorb it, without having a stomach full of water.
Another thing that I live by is that I never buy off the shelf preworkout products, they’re crap and stupidly expensive. Instead, I make my own preworkout that is much cheaper and filled with less crap. So if you’re wondering which preworkout will give you the best pump, look no further.
Read the article on the best tasting protein powders. Maximize your gains with protein and protein powder that won’t make you barf.