Salt for Athletes: Are You Eating Enough Sodium?

Salt: How much sodium should i eat per day? - Toronto Personal Training

Sodium (salt) plays a significant role in balancing fluids in the body and is an important constituent of nerves. In addition, it is needed for optimal muscle contractions.

The general outlook on this mineral is often a negative one due to the possible elevation in blood pressure in sedentary persons.

Although the average sedentary individual requires little sodium intake, for an active individual or an athlete it’s a different story.


Recommended Daily Allowance 

The RDA states that the average person should consume less than 2300 mg of salt per day. It is estimated that on average, people consume anywhere between 8 to 12 grams of table salt daily.

Table salt contains 40% of sodium chloride, so that would be between 3200 to 4800 mg of sodium.

Prolonged daily intake of excess sodium can lead to what is viewed as age related high blood pressure in sedentary individuals. This can be avoided by reducing sodium intake, while increasing potassium intake.

While reducing overall sodium intake may be sound advice for the inactive person, athletes or active individuals have a special need for replenishing lost sodium stores.


Sodium loss in sweat

The amount of sodium in sweat ranges between 600 mg to 1200 mg sodium per litre of sweat.

If you lose one litre of sweat per hour for four hours of activities (cardio, walking, resistance training, sports, etc.) your sodium losses become significant (2400 mg to 4800 mg).

Therefore, an athlete’s sodium intake must be higher in order to replenish the body’s sodium stores for optimal health and performance.

Fluid replacement with solely water can lead to incomplete re-hydration. Furthermore, possible complications such as hyponatremia, decreased performance, heat cramps, or other heat-related illness can arise. There is significant individual variation in sodium loss during activity. In some the losses can be replaced by normal dietary intake, whereas in others the losses can be dramatic and increased dietary intake is essential. (1)


What’s the best or healthiest way to increase sodium intake?

My favorite way is through sea salt or Himalayan pink salt which provide some additional minerals as well. 

Note* – Sodium becomes even more important when you are on a fat loss phase. Eating in a caloric deficit with limited carbohydrates will reduce strength and performance in the gym. Adding extra salt to your diet will help maintain workout intensity, muscle contractions and pumps in the gym.


Final Words

Similarly to carbohydrates, sodium must be put to good use through intense training and sweat.

Sodium intake must be higher in active individuals to maintain good health and increase performance.

If you are on a consistent rigorous training program with the goal to increase your strength, muscle mass or fat loss, pay attention to your sodium intake. An athlete consuming 10 to 15 grams of salt per day is quite normal. 

For proper hydration, increase your water intake with your sodium.





Primal Breed is committed to providing you effective personal training in Toronto, helping you lose unwanted weight permanently and build lean muscle for life.

Pre and Post Workout Nutrition: What’s the Best Meal?

pre and post workout nutrition - What's the best post-workout meal?

Whether you want to lose body fat, build muscle mass or both, nutrition plays a key role in achieving your goals. Breaking it down further, pre and post workout nutrition play are of utmost importance for muscle building as well as fat loss.

This is because your pre-workout meal fuels your performance in the gym and post-workout meal kick-starts recovery immediately after.

Although there is no such thing as “best”, in this article I highlight my highest recommendations when it comes to pre and post workout nutrition.


Note* There are some studies conducted recently showing evidence for little difference in timing nutritients, as long as you eat your total calories daily. However, these studies are done on untrained subjects or subjects with minimal training experience. If you have been training consistently for 6months+, timing your nutrition will have more significance on your progress and results. The longer and further down the line you are in terms of training experience, the more importance these variables will hold for you.


Pre and Post Workout Nutrition

Let’s start from the beginning.

Your workout will be affected by the things you do up to 72 hours prior.

It becomes more so evident up to 24 hours before the training session.

Factors such as sleep and hydration are going to be strong denominators to your workout intensity.

The recommendation for sleep is anywhere between 7 to 9 hours of quality deep sleep to achieve optimal performance.

The recommendation for water intake is around 400 to 500 ml every waking hour, daily for maximal hydration. Adding a pinch of salt for some minerals wouldn’t hurt.

Chugging 2L of water right before training isn’t shown to hydrate you very well.

Drink water consistently throughout the day for best results.


Pre-Workout Meal

Assuming the goal is maximum performance in the gym, there are two “best” pre-workout meals one can have based on their body composition

It comes down to insulin response and avoiding the crash it may possibly cause.

If you are 15%+ body-fat you would do much better with a higher protein, medium fat, low-carb with vegetables pre-workout meal.

If you are 12% and under, you may positively benefit from having some carbohydrates with a higher protein and lower fat meal before training.


15%+ body-fat group

In this case, due to the sub-optimal body composition, insulin should be kept stable, avoiding sudden spikes caused by high-carb meals.

Since insulin sensitivity is lower, eating a higher carb meal before training may result in a crash mid-workout and a feeling of sluggishness.

This will negatively affect your performance.

By eating mostly protein and fats, insulin stays relatively low providing stable energy.

In addition, having some fats pre-workout (MCT’s – medium chain triglycerides) may possibly help your body utilized more fat as fuel.

This pre-workout will provide drive, mental focus, clarity and a strong performance in the gym, while possibly promoting more fat loss as well.

Example: 1 – 1.5 scoops of protein, 1-1.5 tbsp coconut oil, spinach, handful of raspberries+strawberries

Example: 150-200 grams white fish/chicken breast/ground turkey cooked in coconut oil, stir fry with assorted vegetables + handful of almonds


12% and under body-fat group

In this case, if you tend to stay on the leaner side you’ll make better use of some carbohydrates pre-workout without causing a crash mid-training.

Due to a better insulin response, allowing some carbohydrates pre-workout may positively benefit your performance in the gym.

Be careful not to go overboard however, since you’re still prone to over-stimulating your insulin causing sluggishness and relaxation

A good measurement would be about 30-40 grams of carbs for a big body part (legs, back) and around 20-25 grams for a smaller body part (arms, shoulders).

Avoid fast-digesting carbohydrates and go for the slow carbs.

Slow-digesting carbs like sweet potato, rice pasta, lentils, whole grain oats, etc. can provide just enough insulin activity to combat any muscle breakdown while inducing cell swelling and hyperemia.

Cell swelling and hyperemia are believed to be highly correlated with muscle hypertrophy, optimizing them is vital to your growth.

Example: 1-1.5 scoops of protein, 1/2 cup of oats, spinach, handful of strawberries + ½ tbsp of coconut oil

Example: 150-200 grams white fish/chicken breast/ground turkey cooked in coconut oil, 150-200 grams sweet potato 

Pre-workout meal should be consumed 60-90 minutes prior to training. Give yourself enough time to digest the food before you begin working out.


Post-Workout Meal

Now that you’ve finished training and broken down your muscle fibers, it’s time to begin the recovery process.

The best recommendation for your post-workout meal is to keep it medium protein, high-carb and minimal fat.

Note: Fat slows down digestion and delays the carbs and other nutrients being shuttled into the muscle cells.

At this point, inducing a insulin spike is beneficial to shuttle nutrients into the muscle cells and initiate recovery.

The more muscle mass you have on your body, the more carbohydrates you’ll need for optimal recovery.

Protein intake should be anywhere between 35 to 50 grams.

Carbohydrates should be anywhere between 50 to 90 grams based on your muscle mass and how lean you are.

If you’re a muscular, lean individual use the higher end, if you’re a smaller person go with the lower end.

Example: 1.5 – 2.5 scoops of protein, 1 banana, 60-90 grams carbs from maltodextrin or dextrose

Example: 150-250 grams chicken breast/white fish/extra lean turkey, 150-250 grams white rice w/ 1 tbsp of apple cider vinegar + 1 apple

If you are a true beginner – less than 6 months training – timing your post-workout meal won’t create much difference. Even if you have it 4 hours later, it’s fine, as long as you consume your total calories daily.

However, I advise all my clients to eat their post-workout meal within 60-90 minutes post-training regardless of training level. It certainly won’t hurt your gains and it also teaches discipline. 


Final Words

If you care about optimizing performance and recovery, pre and post workout nutrition becomes key in achieving it.

It sets the tone for your workout and initiates the recovery process to ensure all your training pays dividends.



Primal Breed is committed to providing you effective personal training in Toronto, helping you lose unwanted weight permanently and build lean muscle for life.

How to Properly have a Cheat Day

eating pizza - how to properly have a cheat day - toronto personal training

Nowadays, everyone seems to be having a cheat meal or a cheat day.

If you browse Instagram, you’ll see a massive wave of deliciously looking foods posted with “cheat day” as the hashtag.

But is it really a cheat meal or are you just enjoying yourself just because?

In this article I break down the reason for implementing a cheat day in one’s diet plan and how it can positively affect results when timed correctly.


Carbohydrate Refeed Days aka Cheat Days

When you are following a fat loss diet, there will be a point of stagnation where your body and metabolism has adapted to the new stimulus.

In order to overcome the plateau, some variables must be altered.

Firstly, you may increase cardio or the intensity of training to burn more calories and continue losing fat.

Now, a little further down the path will come a point where muscle glycogen stores are depleted from lack of carbohydrate intake, lower calories as well as the intense glycogen-demanding workouts.

When this happens, a fat loss stagnation occurs. At this point, it is more than likely that your leptin levels significantly decreased, while ghrelin (hunger hormone) levels elevated.

The result is a slower metabolic rate and an increase in cravings for the ‘wrong’ foods.

In other words, you’re starting to hit the starvation point where your body is so depleted that it’s starting to fight back.



Leptin plays a significant role in regulating hunger, feelings of satiety and energy expenditure.

While leptin has various functions in the body, its primary purpose is to control or regulate fat-cell size.

Once leptin is secreted from fat cells, it lets the brain know that the body has received sufficient food. — and that it’s time to put the spoon down.

Fat cells release leptin, therefore a lower body-fat percentage negatively affects leptin—meaning lower levels of leptin.

Note: Leptin levels are often elevated in individuals with higher body-fat percentages which potentially results in leptin resistance. Resistance to leptin means the brain essentially becomes desensitized to this appetite-suppressing hormone, significantly lessening its effects on hunger and satiety.


bread - how to properly have a cheat day - toronto personal training

Carbohydrates and Leptin

Carbohydrates are the primary macronutrient which has the ability to boost leptin levels and reduce ghrelin (hunger hormone).

When doing a cheat day, carbohydrates should make up the bulk of your total calories.

Refeed days are to be implement purposely when in a depleted state and dieting down (negative energy balance).

  • For optimal leptin increases, refeeds must be done with high glycemic (fast digesting) carbohydrates. Example: white rice, pasta, jam, potato, white bread, sugary cereal.
  • Increase total calories by 20 to 40%, judging by how depleted you are.
  • During a refeed, protein intake remains unchanged, while fat intake is minimized. (fats = 10 to 20% of total calories). The remaining of the calories will come from carbohydrates (high GI).
  • Ideally, spread your meals apart for a more steady leptin and a longer on-set release. Also, to avoid the huge “coma-like” insulin spike if crammed into one meal.
  • Carbohydrates are a primary source of energy. Thus, if eaten in excess without being burned as fuel, the excess calories will be stored as fat. Be aware not to go overboard and avoid unnecessary fat gain.
  • The longer you have been in a caloric deficit and less body fat percentage, the more refeeds you’ll require.



In summary, high-glycemic carbohydrates ( glucose ) will increase leptin levels which will resume fat-burning and help you continue progress.

The lower your body fat levels are the more often you should have a refeed or a cheat day and vice versa.

Randomly eating pizza and ice cream, but calling it a cheat day will just add layers of unwanted body fat.



Primal Breed is committed to providing you effective personal training in Toronto, helping you lose unwanted weight permanently and build lean muscle for life.