The Soccer Player's Need for Sodium

There is a general movement among many soccer players and other athletes to avoid salt. However, this is not always necessary; in fact, if you are a heavy sweater, or you crave salty foods, you may benefit from indulging in them.

Below is an explanation of the possible sodium needs for active youth athletes.

Take a tip from Rachel Buehler, quoted below, captain of FC Gold Pride of Women's Professional Soccer.

Do You Need Extra Salt to Replace What You Lose in Sweat?

As a recreational player who exercises for about an hour, you are unlikely to be losing gallons of sweat, nor significant amounts of sodium. Your standard diet undoubtedly offers more than enough sodium.

Even if you are in a tournament and sweating heavily for two or three hours, you are unlikely to become sodium depleted. You might lose about 1,800 to 5,600 milligrams of sodium, but the average 150-pound person's body contains about 97,000 milligrams of sodium. Hence, a small 2 to 6 percent loss is relatively insignificant.

However, if you are a salty sweater, and find yourself craving salt, you should indeed respond appropriately by eating salty foods such as salted pretzels, soups, crackers and/or salt sprinkled on baked potatoes or other foods. There is no harm in enjoying salty foods post-exercise. If you tend to avoid the saltshaker, as well as processed (high-sodium) foods, you might feel better with a bit more salt added to your diet.

Instead of replacing sodium after the game, choose some salty foods, like chicken noodle soup or a ham and cheese sandwich, /before /the soccer session. These will help your body retain fluid and reduce the risk of dehydration. If you repeatedly experience muscle cramps, experiment with boosting your sodium intake on a daily basis, especially if you are doing hard workouts and extended training in the summer heat.

"I sweat a ton and lose a lot of salt when I play. I usually crave salty food after games. The salt tastes good and helps me feel better," said Rachel Buehler, a defender for FC Gold Pride.


Read more tips like these in "Food Guide for Soccer--Tips & Recipes From the Pros" by Gloria Averbuch and Nancy Clark, RD. The book addresses nutrition questions and concerns of soccer athletes of all ages, and offers almost 50 recipes from players in Women's Professional Soccer. Find the book at NancyClarkRD.com or at Amazon.com.

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