Thursday, July 20, 2006

Eating salt...

Reaching into the mailbag:

Anonymous said...
Maybe you could write an entry about eating salt. I'm curious as to the quantities, the type (iodized?) and how often you eat more while playing.


This comment came about as a result of a comment I made on George Cooke's blog entry about NUTC which take place early this week. Massachusetts was experiencing a fierce heat (and humidity) wave with temperatures in the mid-90's. George was talking about making sure that the kids were hydrated and had enough food. My comment was to make sure that they had salt also.

So, at Nationals 2003 in Sarasota, the weather was very hot and somewhat humid the first couple of days. On the afternoon of the first or second day (can't remember which), we played Johnny Bravo during the last game of the day. Partway through the second half, at one point while playing defense on one of the squirrelly handlers (naturally after a turnover, I wasn't in on D), someone on a grassy knoll shot me in the calf, or at least it felt like that. It totally seized up and I was barely able to be dragged off the field. By the end of the game, at least 2-3 more people had to take injury subs with similar issues.

That year (and every year since then), DoG has brought along our own sports massage guy, Russ Robar, who has been in the business for years, and has even done massage therapy for the Red Sox Manny Ramirez. He has been key in keeping me playing during the season through various minor tweaks and muscle strains as I saunter into my dotage. So, after the Bravo incident, he got me on the table and was feeling my calf and immediately knew I was dehydrated from the texture of my skin. I started chugging water at his behest (I hadn't been drinking much I sheepishly admitted, no pee that day) before he would even work on the calf. At the same time, he also fed me some salt kernels he had from a bottle. As he put it, the amount of water required to get my hydration up to snuff was going to require a significant amount of electrolytes at the same time. You can read about it here or here.

And if you do more research, you'll find that drinking a sports drink does NOT provide sufficient electrolytes, for instance in the excessively technical article here. Basically, you need to supplement with something like salt, or if that is too nasty for you, Tums. At this point, at Nationals I bring a big box of Tums to the fields and pound Tums all day (when I'm drinking enough water). If I don't think to drink water, then I won't think to eat Tums. One follows from the other.

Back to 2003, once I had hydrated and electrolyted sufficiently and most importantly started peeing, Russ started working on my calf. Miraculously enough, I was able to play the next day. I guarantee that if I not had somebody working me, much less with the skill that Russ had, I wouldn't have been able to walk normally for probably a week.

Naturally, something similar happened in 2004, although the tweak wasn't quite as bad, and I'm not sure I missed time. However, in 2005, when the weather was a little cooler, the same thing happened again. This time, however, it was a little windier, which also serves to dry you out. I had stupidly neglected to drink much fluid because it wasn't very hot, and this time during the Furious game, last game of the day, the same damn guy shot me in the calf during the second half. My good man Russ was there, he chastized me and fed me salt, and finally started working on me later that afternoon. And then that night, he worked on the calf for a solid hour, and miraculously I was able to play again the next morning. And I ended up having probably one of my best nationals performances in a long time, thanks to Russ.

I would say the most important thing is that you should be peeing during the day of a tournament. If you aren't, you aren't drinking enough. And if you are drinking enough that you should be peeing, then you should also be supplementing with salt or Tums or the equivalent. I can't speak to the particular kinds of salt to have, although generically I believe sea salt is far better for your health than regular iodized table salt.

29 Comments:

Blogger llimllib said...

Question: You say that gatorade drinks aren't enough. Any idea if eating salty foods (wheat thins or pringles are my favorites) is going to get me enough electrolytes? I seem to play through a tournament pretty well with that.

11:49 AM, July 20, 2006  
Blogger Alex de Frondeville said...

Anything helps. I know that as a team we have a lot of salty snacks like pretzel sticks and sometimes chips on the sideline during the day, and those are definitely going to provide more electrolytes than a sports drink, especially because you aren't having it with fluids... Remember this is general advice, and for particularly strenuous tournaments played in dehydrating weather. And for people that might normally not think of drinking anything during the day, or being sloppy about it. If you haven't had problems before, great, keep up the good work. But I think the advice about people drinking enough to pee during the day is still good. Doesn't have to be clear pee, but nor should it be super dark yellow, if you can avoid it. For me, Tums/salt is easiest. And I usually only break that out at Nationals because of the intensity and duration of the games, and the hot/humid weather.

12:07 PM, July 20, 2006  
Blogger Alex de Frondeville said...

Although I have been doing Tums now for track workouts this season, as my calves have been 'talking' to me a little and I have been trying to hydrate more on track days, so need to offset it with electrolytes. And now that I think of it, I have been doing the same for practices, because we had a lot of June practices and some were pretty hot. I expect the same to hold for August when we start back up and ECC which was pretty hot the last time I was there.

12:08 PM, July 20, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

When drinking all that water to ensure you urinate, aren't you concerned about getting bloated, or cramping up (on your sides) while running? Or do those type of cramps only happen to out of shape chumps like me?

Thanks for the tips, I never would have thought of the Tums.

2:25 PM, July 20, 2006  
Anonymous beatty said...

a handful of dirty (vodka) maritnis the night before goes a long way as well, with lots and lots of olives.

2:31 PM, July 20, 2006  
Blogger Alex de Frondeville said...

I find that I drink slowly and steadily during game, which alleviates any bloating. I just had to pound once I hurt myself, and I got incredibly bloated, but it didn't matter because I wasn't playing anymore. I don't recall every cramping up because of water, but I have felt slightly bloated when playing. Unfortunately, when I'm pounding it is usually because I forgot and I'm trying to catch up. Otherwise it is slow but very steady...

2:33 PM, July 20, 2006  
Anonymous Billy said...

always remember - pee to win.

I usually make some salty-juicy-water on tournament days to keep electrolytes balanced. Do you have any thoughts about drinking pickle juice? I hear that's pretty popular these days.

3:01 PM, July 20, 2006  
Blogger Ryan said...

Pickle juice has worked for me - huge cramps at the first tournament of last season but nothing since then. Plus it tastes better than salt cubes or Tums.

3:30 PM, July 20, 2006  
Blogger Alex de Frondeville said...

Something salty is better than nothing. I just question the electrolyte balance of pickle juice/sport drinks. The more I'm planning to drink, the more Tums I have.

And I have been having the pickles that teammates provide. Not quite up to drinking the juice yet.

3:30 PM, July 20, 2006  
Blogger gapoole said...

What do you think about pounding water the night before a tournament? I organized pasta parties before the two major tournaments of the year, and made all the guys play water pong. We probably drank at least 48 ounces of water each. I noticed a definite decrease in the number of guys cramping up on Saturday, but could that much water leave you desalinated even before you started? When do we hit the supplements?

3:40 PM, July 20, 2006  
Blogger Alex de Frondeville said...

ryan: Good fruit flavored Tums from the plastic bottle is much easier for me to get down and has MUCH more electrolyte than pickle juice.

gapoole: being hydrated the night before a tournament is definitely a worthy goal. Basically, if you are starting to hydrate that much, you should be supplementing at the same time, whether the night before or the day of. The risks are the same if you don't.

3:57 PM, July 20, 2006  
Blogger higy said...

How many Tums do you eat during a day of playing? Does it depend on how much water and if so what ratio?

4:34 PM, July 20, 2006  
Blogger Alex de Frondeville said...

Unfortunately nothing so scientific as that. I'll pound 4 or 5 of the extra strength Tums in the morning, then probably another 5 for the afternoon. I might pop another one or two during the day. My unscientific opinion is that it probably hurts more to have too little than too much electrolytes (and I suspect my system would pass through extra electrolyte rather than dumping it in my bloodstream, but only a guess).

4:46 PM, July 20, 2006  
Blogger Gambler said...

Especially at hot tournaments, my team has a few salt shakers on the sidelines and we all take "salt shots" at various points during the day. I can't remember anyone on the team cramping (even in Sarasota's conditions) since we started. It's just like a tequila shot, only minus the tequila and limes...

5:52 PM, July 20, 2006  
Blogger luke said...

alex gets like 10 comments for eating salt? or your geritol? well, now, tune in over at my blog where i've got streaming video of me eating a pint of paste

yessirree
just straight up, paste in a tub... whole thing, yep.

prevents, uh, irritable bowel

6:25 PM, July 20, 2006  
Blogger Alex de Frondeville said...

luke: And you make 15. When I went over to your site I didn't find that video. But I bet you got some hits just from that comment...

7:04 PM, July 20, 2006  
Anonymous dsb said...

This seemed an interesting topic so I unleashed google and found out some interesting stuff. Here are some interesting factoids I found:
-suggested sodium and fluid ingestion rates vary greatly by person but some some guidelines
a. 300-600mg sodium per hour exercise
b. 16-24 fluid ounces liquid each hour
-if your daily diet has less sodium you will sweat out less salt (this was not universally agreed)
-Acclimating to the heat can have a huge affect on the amount of sweat/sodium/fluid you lose (up to like 50%)
-10-21 sessions are required to acclimate
-you can have too much sodium if you are having insufficient liquids, and will lead to further dehydration.
A good read I found was this: http://www.dailypeloton.com/heatstress.asp
Overall it seemed everyone said it's best you find your best personal replenishment level through experience. Yea, real helpful, I know.
-dsb

7:36 PM, July 20, 2006  
Anonymous dsb said...

that's right, I used interesting 3 times in the first 2 sentences. I'm just happy I spelled it the same way each time.

8:01 PM, July 20, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

before everyone starts knocking back TUMs by the handful...

Calcium salts (Alka-2, Rolaids [Calcium Rich], Titralac, Tums, and others)-Extended heavy use of calcium antacids (20 grams or more daily for a prolonged period) may cause excess calcium in the blood, which can lead to kidney stones and reduced kidney function. People who already have impaired kidneys may develop milk-alkali syndrome (causing symptoms such as nausea, vomiting, mental confusion, and loss of appetite) with as little as 4 grams a day.

article here: http://www.fda.gov/fdac/reprints/tummy.html

10:43 PM, July 20, 2006  
Blogger luke said...

WHAT? no interest in paste eating? hit count suggests that folks are checking it out but come -on.. that's a good post...

ok, here's one for you, Al's listeners... turn into smithtalk for the full content...

tuesday night is 'locals' night at a local brew pub... 2.25 beers... (pints) i'd played frisbee in the AM, gone for a short bike ride, and played local pick up... as things were winding down, i ran into 2 friends (girls, named, oh say anya, and beta,...)... i was describing my housesitting... i said i was keeping it clean, etc... beta says, just as long as you are not getting pubes on the sofa... i went with it.. assuming it was a joke, 'oh yeah, i vaccuumn, but i can't help sitting naked on the couch, i mean... blah blah'... the strange person jumped in, oh yeah that just makes sense, and beta goes, why would you get pubes on the sofa, i go, 'well you brought it up'... conversation continues, and finally, she goes 'SOAP' 'SOAP'...

pause...

'oh, of course'....

well that's easy, i don't use soap when i shower...

did i play that one wrong?

there is a niche in the memoirs for that...

12:18 AM, July 22, 2006  
Blogger Hack said...

since we are chatting about sideline nutrition...does anyone have any information on red bull/energy drinks? i personally have a bad feeling about them, but I can not say I have any literature to back it up. just a gut feeling.

6:55 PM, July 24, 2006  
Blogger Alex de Frondeville said...

I have the same uncomfortable feeling that you do.

Red Bull Energy Drink

Ingredients: carbonated water, sucrose, glucose, sodium citrate, taurine, glucuronolactone, caffeine, inositol, niacin, D-pantothenol, pyridoxine HCL, vitamin B12, artificial flavours, colors.

Other than some hydration, I would expect that the sugar would just give you a nice short-term spike and then leave you worse off. Not much in the way of electrolyte replenishment (nor do they sell it for that, but as an 'energy' drink'). Wonder what the glycemic index is?

7:16 PM, July 24, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Just a personal anecdote, I had my worst experience in the heat after trying Red Bull at a tournament (for the first and only time). Before the finals, I downed a Red Bull and was feeling okay for the first half. I then started seeing spots and having other heat related symptoms (light-headed, etc.). I've played in much hotter conditions before and since this event, without any such problems. I'm betting it was the sugar crash combined with the heat.

3:34 PM, July 25, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

My experience with salt is during a tourney years ago. Did all the right things, the night before, had chicken with soy sauce, no alcohol. The next day banana, muti-vitamin, gatorade water. The day was hot and humid, my calfs cramped after 3/4 of a game. Couldn't get back even after rest. I felt bloated the whole time.
Afterward, I mentioned to a colleague, and he thought it was lack of salt. He had a great sports nutrition book, that has since been stolen from my office. In it, the Dr. said 2grams of salt per day is normal. For a strenuous sport in hot weather, ramp up the salt intake 5-10gms a day the week before. I now ramp a little and eat pretzels during the tourney as well as tums.
Basically, you need enough of all the chemicals to make the muscles function correctly. Potassium, calcium, magnesium, and sodium.
Sodium is the only one with negative ions, it's like a car battery, it pulls the positive ones, without it the water does not go thru your system. The Tums is calcium. With increased water consumption, you have to increase everything or you'll have an imbalance.
I was always blown away that during marathon nothing is said about salt consumption, only water.
Sure enough 2years ago this woman died of hyponatremia, too much water, not enough salt.
Posted by, Russ Robar.

6:36 PM, July 27, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

A few comments (as a pediatrician with kids who play high level ultimate even if I can't)- be careful messing with your electrolytes. Don't do a lot new - build on what has/hasn't worked before. People vary in what they excrete - both by conditioning and constitution. Tums is a calcium salt (sodium is also a positive ion; sodium chloride being our common table salt) so it is not replacing what you are losing. Hyponatremia (too low sodium) is one of the main causes of death in triathelons and marathon (and up) races.
I don't know why calcium carbonate seems to help Alex (see http://faculty.washington.edu/crowther/Misc/RBC/QandA6.shtml)- (I hope he lets us know if he gets kidney stones...I am NOT wishing them on anyone!)

1:42 PM, August 04, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

All I can say about the subject of hydration and electrolytes is that I drink pedialyte during tournys and it works great. No cramping of anything. It has more electrolytes then sports drinks and doesn't have the extra sugar. Has anyone else tried pedialyte with any luck? Everyone looks at me funny when they see me chugging it.

7:55 PM, August 05, 2006  
Blogger cash27 said...

calcium is not as effective (if effective at all)as magnesium. Magnesium is what is given to patients taken to hospitals that have cramps. The Tums might give you a mental edge, but I tend to doubt they are helping you as much as you may think they are.

$

6:07 PM, August 09, 2006  
Blogger Alex de Frondeville said...

Yup. After further reading, I am off of the Tum's diet. I also remember from long ago the recommendation of bananas for the potassium against cramps. But I have been switching to hits of salt in the morning of hot days.

7:09 PM, August 09, 2006  
Blogger Mark said...

Sports Technology and Nutrition - For the 21st Century!

Here's to all you guy's, this info just might help you all...

Sports nutrition has become extremely advanced in the 21st century. Many supplements out there have been designed through natural ways for serious athletes and fitness enthusiasts to gaining strength and help you get the edge in your chosen sport over your opposition.(you can find great deals online)

I believe protein and a great multi-vitamin/anti-oxidant is the most important factor in my sports nutrition program as I am trying to build lean muscle for endurance and speed. A high quality protein supplement is essential to your training program if you are a serious athlete or fitness enthusiasts. Obviously you also need to eat a well balanced diet for these cutting edge supplements to work to their full potential.

The best place to obtain more information on sports nutrition is the internet, here you will find journals and articles from different sport nutritionist. To determine how much protein, carbohydrate and fat your body requires is best determined by calculating how much your ideal body weight is…

Click here for more info - Latest Sports Nutrition Technology!

5:15 AM, December 02, 2006  

Post a Comment

<< Home