One of my favorite things about the Ketogenic approach is that it’s all about what works or doesn’t work for you. All of us are genetically different, taking an extreme approach in diet to maximize certain benefits will affect people differently. In Thai there’s a phrase, “if you don’t try, you won’t know,” and that’s basically how I approach all of this. You turn yourself into a test-kitchen, or a lab rat, in order to figure those things out. Of course, what exactly you want to experiment with comes from lots of reading and gathering of information first. One of the interesting things about the Ketogenic diet is that when you are in ketogenesis (producing ketones as fuel), you can shed electrolytes fast. Which means you need to really watch that, especially as a high performance athlete who trains in very high heat and humidity, like myself. Watching means thinking about gram and milligram totals you should probably be having, and making sure you get them. I’ve always been an athlete who used electrolyte drinks, made sure I drank my water, but the Keto diet I began made me aware that the usual was probably not enough. And when I moved from straight Keto to 1+1 Keto, this really came into view (because fasting will also shed electrolytes). Right now I’m taking the focus I’ve had on electrolytes – which had wonderful results tuning into potassium supplementation – and am now focusing on sodium, the other half of the potassium/sodium relationship. I had boosted my potassium intake (you need to research this for yourself, as too much potassium can be dangerous, and for this reason supplementation numbers are very, very hard to find online, but I’m at about 5,000 mg a day <<< do not do this blindly, I’m sharing that this is what I’m doing based on my very high level of exercise in heat), but I had not adjusted my sodium, other than the regular “electrolyte powder” (self-made) I would add to my water during training. But I also have to add that my sodium intake has been all over the place, because I eat salty foods (this is Thailand, everything is salty and I’m more concerned with avoiding sugar, which is also in everything if you don’t specify), like bacon and fish sauce, cheese, salty nuts, etc. And I got some possibly faulty readings (from broken machines, or whatever) of high blood-pressure, which caused me to kind of try to avoid salt for a while. But not in a very earnest way, although certainly enough that if I was already sodium deficient (which I think I was), I made it worse. Then, on fasting days, I’m taking in NO sodium at all except for the little bit that’s in my electrolyte powder. Turns out that the balance between sodium and potassium is essential for making either of them have the the best effects, and while I’ve been seeing benefits from my potassium, my whole world is changing in just a 2 day (thus far) experiment with supplementing with sodium. This is my vlog from this morning:
Today is day 2, I’m dedicated to 3 at the very least. But already the effects are very notable. I talk about them here in this vlog and will talk about it more when I have more experience. Kevin and I will cover this in much more detail the next Muay Thai Bones podcast episode to be sure.
Some Sources on the Sodium Debate
TNation: Sodium Your Secret Weapon – which recommends 2 grams of sodium for every liter of replacement fluid. I go through 4-6 liters every day. This will feel quite out of whack with how sodium is talked about. Two grams is a little less than the total recommended allowance. This approach deviates from standard sodium thinking.
Shaking Up the Salt Myth: Healthy Salt Recommendations – this is the 4th part of a series of articles discussing the problems that developed with the demonization of salt.
Sodium, Nutritional Ketosis and Adrenal Function – for those interested in how sodium relates to the Ketogenic Diet (and the 1+1 Keto Diet), this article talks about getting the right sodium levels so that your adrenal function is not stressed. One of the problems with lowering sodium is that the sodium-conserving hormone adolsterone is produced. This will cause your body to hoard sodium, but also to flush potassium. And will produce more of the stress hormone cortisol, which can have mental or mood altering effects. As a fighter managing my cortisol levels is important because I’m training in fight or flight scenarios all the time. If my sodium is low I’m accidentally producing even more cortisol, and flushing potassium which I really don’t want to do.
The Surprising Benefits of Salt for Strength Athletes – good overview article on some of the arguments and studies on salt’s behalf.
below, Stan Efferding who was suggested as a sodium proponent, suggested by a YouTube comment – he’s kind of amazing. He calls this a “rant,” but he speaks so slowly, clearly and is on point, it’s more like a recitation and it’s awesome.
Stan Efferding above talks about a study which found that salt restriction resulted in much higher mortality rates (graphic below). In his video he goes over the purported benefits of increased sodium, he takes 10 to 12 grams of sodium a day.
You may not even realize how much sodium is being lost in workouts: Even if decide you want to keep sodium low, your sweat rate in heat can really be far beyond what you think: sweat rates for some football players reached 7 grams of sodium per hour, losing in one hour 3x the RDA for sodium, the study
Note: I’m not a nutritionist or a doctor. I’m sharing what I’m experiencing on my journey. Do your own to find what’s good for you. Also, if you are taking a direct hand in potassium and salt supplementation you are working with some of the most elementary building blocks of body chemistry. You want to do your research thoroughly, weigh the sides of the debates when there are debates, measure everything, and be prepared to be wrong. There are also real dangers involved in over (or under) consuming some of these electrolytes. Unfortunately, because of these dangers it can be very hard to find solid recommendation numbers as people do not want to be responsible for possible irresponsible behavior, or differences in persons. As always, the best recommendation is to make changes with a doctor’s advisement. Something that works for me might be dangerous for you. There is also difficulty because part of the sodium story is the rather wholesale argument against salt due to hypertension and cardio vascular disease. Some argue that there are commercial reasons for the demonization of salt (just as there has been for fats), or that science simply has been lead down the wrong path due to early faulty studies. Some of these cited articles are flying in the face of very wide spread medical advice. I’m am not the one to tell you this is wrong. Again, research and decide for yourself, with advisement.
If you enjoy my vlogs you can check out my vlogs from Thailand playlist, I’ve been vlogging my experiences as a fighter for a very long time.
For those that don’t know me yet, I hold the record for the greatest number of professional fights in Thailand as a westerner, now well over 200. I’ve been training and fighting at the highest level in the country for over 7 years. I’m supported in all my endeavors and projects by my patrons, you can become a patron here.