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#sodium #efficiency

In earlier blogs we’ve mentioned what sodium is and the way it could be useful throughout train. On this article, Dr Alan McCubbin will check out the scientific research which have explored consuming sodium throughout train, and whether or not it improves efficiency.

A table with all performance studies showing that there is little evidence that sodium can improve performance

What number of research on sodium consumption and efficiency are there?

As a part of my PhD on sodium for endurance athletes, I performed a scientific assessment, a complete sweep of the educational literature to seek out any and all research which have investigated sodium alternative throughout train and subsequent endurance efficiency. While I used to be conscious that not a lot had been completed on this house, even I used to be stunned to seek out solely 5 research ever revealed on the subject.

What did they discover?

Of those 5 research, none of them had been performed in scorching situations (temperatures various from 2.6-22.5°C). None of them personalised the athlete’s sodium alternative both, as a substitute giving the identical quantity to every participant, normally estimated as the typical anticipated loss. It’s seemingly then that some contributors obtained too little sodium to switch their losses, while others changed greater than what they misplaced throughout train. While some research allowed the contributors to drink as a lot or as little fluid as they appreciated (changing sodium did make them drink extra within the research that measured this), one examine offered a prescribed quantity that was so nice {that a} important proportion of the contributors developed delicate hyponatraemia by the tip. This similar examine additionally had contributors exercising outdoor on two separate days, with temperatures so totally different (as little as 2°C on in the future and 20°C on the opposite) that efficiency was extra more likely to be influenced by the climate than the sodium.

Of all of the research (4 outside, one within the lab), just one confirmed any profit from sodium supplementation, and it concerned 26 male rivals in an precise Ironman 70.3 triathlon taking salt or placebo capsules. Nevertheless, different elements on the day like rivals and transitions could have influenced this consequence, and the reported profit within the sodium supplemented group (26 minutes, or an 8% enchancment) is nicely past what could be anticipated from any dietary intervention, corresponding to optimised hydration or carbohydrate intakes.

Of all of the research (4 outside, one within the lab), just one confirmed any profit from sodium supplementation and there are questions marks in regards to the reliability of that examine.

What different proof exists?

The opposite sort of examine that may level to a possible efficiency profit from changing sodium throughout train is these completed at a set train depth within the lab, the place perceived effort is measured all through. A diminished notion of effort when exercising on the similar depth or tempo would counsel that the athlete might work tougher, and due to this fact enhance total efficiency. Research of sodium consumption throughout train with mounted depth fashions nonetheless, additionally fail to point out variations that would suggest a possible efficiency profit.

One other examine, not included within the systematic assessment above, measured operating time-to-exhaustion on a treadmill, after 2 hours of interval operating. On this examine contributors drank drinks with totally different concentrations of sodium, and the quantity consumed was calculated to additionally create variations in fluid losses and alternative. When the efficiency trial was performed, variations in hydration (water consumed to offset losses) had a major affect on efficiency instances, however the sodium focus of the drinks made no distinction in any respect.

Regardless of the usually claimed advantages of sodium for train efficiency, there may be surprisingly little analysis on this space.


Regardless of the usually claimed advantages of sodium for train efficiency, there may be surprisingly little analysis on this space, none of it has been completed in scorching climate, and none meets the usually promoted personalised sodium alternative methods for athletes. From the restricted proof nonetheless, it doesn’t seem that sodium alternative throughout train is more likely to positively affect on train efficiency, until it straight contributes to the athletes consuming extra and due to this fact sustaining extra optimum hydration all through train.


  1. McCubbin AJ & Costa RJS. Impression of Sodium Ingestion Throughout Train On Endurance Efficiency: a Systematic Overview. Int J Sports activities Sci. 2018; 8(3):97-107.

  2. Sanders B et al. Sodium alternative and fluid shifts throughout extended train in people. Eur J Appl Physiol. 2001; 84(5):419-425.

  3. Baker LB et al. Quantitative evaluation of serum sodium focus after extended operating within the warmth. J Appl Physiol. 2008; 105(1):91-99.

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