The Science

MORE SALT, NOT LESS.

Although not as controversial as discussing politics at a family gathering, hydration and electrolytes are hot button topics.

While we are generally admonished to reduce our sodium intake, particularly for cardiovascular health, this practice has proven to be largely ineffective in mitigating health issues such as hypertension (high blood pressure).


The position taken by the FDA, CDC, and American Heart Association recommends that Americans consume less than 2,300 milligrams of sodium per day, with an “ideal” limit of 1,500 mg per day for adults. However, broad-ranging, population-level research suggests that sodium intakes at the levels routinely suggested by the medical establishment may be far more dangerous than levels much higher than current recommendations.

Credit: O’Donnell, M. Urinary Sodium and Potassium Excretion and Risk of Cardiovascular Events. The Journal of the American Medical Association; 2011.

A 2011 study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association looking at sodium intake and cardiovascular events, such as stroke and heart attack, paints an interesting (and different) picture. The likelihood of health problems was quite high in individuals consuming less than 2g of sodium per day, the lowest rate of events was at about 5g per day of sodium intake. This is more than double what is recommended by the AHA, FDA, and CDC. What is particularly interesting is the study’s authors noted that one must get as high as 8g of sodium per day to see the same degree of problems as below 2g per day of intake!

Another study published in Preventive Medicine found that not only was sodium restriction ineffective in hypertensive patients, those who consumed lower than 2.5g per day of sodium had consistently HIGHER blood pressure than those who consumed larger amounts. It’s important to note that this study was done in a population that one could reasonably assume a reduction in sodium intake might actually be helpful - but it was not.

These studies involved a population of folks with known cardiovascular disease. What if we are thinking about healthy or physically active populations, where the electrolyte requirement is even higher?

WE DON’T NEED MORE SUGAR

For nearly 60 years a battle has raged about whether carbs (in particular sugar) or fat is the singular cause of the increasing rates of obesity, heart disease and what is generally called “Western degenerative diseases.”

At LMNT, we like to cut through the BS, so here is our take: The COMBINATION of refined carbs, sugars and processed fats that form the modern, hyperpalatable junk food diet is the problem. These foods bypass the normal neuroregulation of appetite, are likely addicting (in combination) and are indeed a hell of a problem.

There are some well-known health and fitness personalities that pooh-pooh the notion that sugar is a problem, citing studies in which folks are fed raw sugar for short periods of time, note that these people do not over consume the raw sugar and conclude that “sugar in moderation is fine.” The problem is people do not generally eat much sugar in isolation. It is added to baked goods, sodas, and even “sports drinks” that have too little in the way of electrolytes AND far too much sugar.

The average American consumes about 66 pounds of sugar a year. We think that’s too much for anyone and saw no need to any sugar to our products.

ESPECIALLY IF YOU LIVE AN ACTIVE, LOW-CARB, OR KETOGENIC LIFESTYLE

Each day it becomes more clear that recommendations for low sodium intakes are dubious even for folks who are not healthy, but this sodium-electrolyte phobia has spilled over into the world of athletics and has had profound negative effects.

From this article published in the Journal of Sports Science, we can get a sense of just how much sodium and electrolytes active populations need:

“Vigorous exercise and warm/hot weather induce sweat production, which contains both water and electrolytes. Daily water (4-10 L) and sodium (3500-7000 mg) losses in active athletes during hot weather exposure can induce water and electrolyte deficits…”

It’s worth noting those numbers are in fact not staggering, they are actually within the bounds of what appears reasonable for even a Cardiovascular Disease Patient (CVD) patient to consume, but they are at levels that most athletes (particularly those who follow a paleo, low-carb or ketogenic diet) may consider to be “too high.”

Most people embarking on a low-carb diet experience something generally referred to as the “keto flu”, which can cause fatigue, crankiness, decreased physical performance, cramping, and brain fog. It is not pleasant.

While it’s a complex equation, electrolyte deficiency in folks adhering to a low-carb diet is in a large part driven by two key factors.

First, when you make the switch to a low-carb diet, you are probably eliminating processed foods from your diet, which contain high amounts of sodium. Second, low-carb diets are diuretic in nature, meaning the kidneys excrete electrolytes at a higher rate. This is normal and not something to be worried about, but it is important to replace these electrolytes.

All is not lost though: by properly supplementing your electrolytes, the keto flu can be dramatically reduced, if not avoided altogether

Backed by experts

“Robb Wolf is a top-tier thought leader in the understanding of the powerfully healthful ketogenic diet. His life’s work shows deep dedication to enhancing wellbeing and makes the implications of the most well-respected nutritional science available to everyone.” David Perlmutter, M.D.
Neurologist, #1 NYT Bestselling Author
“Robb Wolf is a man who walks his talk. There is nobody more equipped to guide you through the keto diet - he is my number one resource for all keto, electrolyte, and nutrition complexities.” Kirk R. Parsley M.D.
Retired Navy Seal
“Robb’s work with electrolytes and the ketogenic diet has been a game changer for me personally. With so much conflicting information out there, it is vital to have someone like Robb Wolf on your team. If you are following a ketogenic diet getting your electrolytes balance is a must for health and performance.” John Welbourn
10 Year NFL Veteran, Founder of The Power Athlete
“Robb Wolf is a top-tier thought leader in the understanding of the powerfully healthful ketogenic diet. His life’s work shows deep dedication to enhancing wellbeing and makes the implications of the most well-respected nutritional science available to everyone.” David Perlmutter, M.D.
Neurologist, #1 NYT Bestselling Author
“Robb Wolf is a man who walks his talk. There is nobody more equipped to guide you through the keto diet - he is my number one resource for all keto, electrolyte, and nutrition complexities.” Kirk R. Parsley M.D.
Retired Navy Seal
“Robb’s work with electrolytes and the ketogenic diet has been a game changer for me personally. With so much conflicting information out there, it is vital to have someone like Robb Wolf on your team. If you are following a ketogenic diet getting your electrolytes balance is a must for health and performance.” John Welbourn
10 Year NFL Veteran, Founder of The Power Athlete