6 Signs You Might be a Salty Sweater When Exercising
- You Get Salty Marks On Your Clothing Or Skin
- Sweat Tastes Salty Or Stings Your Eyes
- Feel Faint Or Suffer Head Rushes
- Suffer From Muscle Cramps During/after Long Periods Of Sweating
- Feel Terrible After Exercising When Its Hot
- Crave Salty Foods During And After Exercise
- What Can You Do If You Are A Salty Sweater?
To properly hydrate yourself, you need to consider two important factors: your sweat rate, which is typically measured in ml per hour, and the concentration of salt in your sweat. By understanding these two factors, you can determine your net fluid and sodium losses over a certain period of time, which is crucial for developing a personalized hydration plan.
Your sweat rate can vary greatly depending on various factors such as temperature, intensity of exercise, and other individual factors. On the other hand, your sweat concentration, which refers to the amount of electrolytes, particularly sodium, in your sweat, is more stable and largely determined by genetics.
At Precision Hydration, we have tested athletes who lose less than 200mg of sodium per liter of sweat and others who lose over 2,300mg per liter. Our data shows that the average athlete loses around 950mg/l, which is consistent with other large-scale studies. While getting your sweat tested is the most accurate way to determine your sodium losses, it is also possible to estimate it and use this information to optimize your hydration strategy.
Our free Online Sweat Test asks athletes how much salt they believe they lose in their sweat because recent research has shown a strong correlation between an athlete’s perceived sodium loss and their actual sweat sodium concentration. If you’re wondering whether you’re a “salty sweater,” here are some signs to look out for.
You Get Salty Marks On Your Clothing Or Skin
If you tend to get white, salty stains on your skin or clothing after training sessions or races, you might have saltier than average sweat.
Remember that the drier the air, the faster your sweat will evaporate, which often results in more visible salt marks than in more humid conditions. (I see a lot more salt residue on my kit when I go running in Arizona than in Florida, for example). Also bear in mind that salt residue will be more visible on darker kit, so factor that into your observations. Oh, and ignore salt residue found on your kit after a triathlon where the swim was in the sea, for obvious reasons!
If you have a very high sweat rate, it has to be said that the white marks might be a result of the sheer volume of sweat rather than because you necessarily have very salty sweat. But even if that’s the case, the presence of the salt residue suggests that your net losses might be on the high side and that you might benefit from a higher sodium intake.
Sweat Tastes Salty Or Stings Your Eyes
If your sweat has a high concentration of salt, it can cause discomfort by stinging your eyes or creating a burning sensation when it comes into contact with cuts or grazes on your skin. To avoid this, wearing a cap or visor with a built-in sweatband can be helpful during summer runs. Another way to determine if you have saltier sweat is by licking your arm after sweating a lot. If it tastes significantly salty, it could be an indication of high salt concentration in your sweat.
Interestingly, if you notice your dog taking a keen interest in licking your legs after a long run or bike ride, it may be due to the salty taste of your sweat, rather than just their affection towards you.
Feel Faint Or Suffer Head Rushes
If you experience a feeling of lightheadedness or dizziness when standing up after prolonged physical activity, it could be a sign of high sodium and fluid losses. When you sweat excessively, you lose fluids and electrolytes like sodium, which can cause a drop in blood volume and pressure. This can make it difficult for your heart to pump enough blood to your brain, resulting in a brief period of oxygen deprivation and a feeling of faintness. Medically, this is called orthostatic hypotension or low blood pressure. During my time in full-time training, I experienced this symptom regularly, particularly during hot summer months. Losing a significant amount of sweat and salt can make athletes more susceptible to this condition.
Suffer From Muscle Cramps During/after Long Periods Of Sweating
Numerous reports suggest that excessive sodium losses through sweat can lead to muscle cramps both during and after physical activity. If you are prone to experiencing cramps during or after prolonged endurance events, it could be an indication that you are losing significant amounts of salt, or that you are not adequately replenishing your body’s sodium stores.
Feel Terrible After Exercising When Its Hot
When you exercise in hot conditions, your body tries to maintain a stable core temperature by sweating. However, this sweating can result in the loss of both fluid and electrolytes, including sodium. If you lose more sodium than you replace, you may experience a decline in performance or feelings of fatigue and exhaustion during or after exercise.
If you notice that you underperform or feel unusually tired after exercising in the heat, this could be an indication that you’re losing a significant amount of sodium. It’s important to replace the fluids and electrolytes you lose through sweat during exercise, especially in hot and humid conditions. Consuming beverages that contain electrolytes or taking electrolyte supplements before, during, and after exercise can help prevent excessive sodium loss and maintain optimal performance.
Crave Salty Foods During And After Exercise
The urge to consume salt is an inherent physiological trait in humans that is deeply ingrained in our biology. Just like the need for sleep when tired or the thirst for water when dehydrated, craving salt is a basic human drive that ensures our bodies maintain a balanced state, or homeostasis. This craving has its roots in our evolutionary past when salt was not as readily available as it is today. Therefore, when our sodium levels are low, we have a natural impulse to replenish them.
A study conducted on people offered different soups after sweating on an exercise bike demonstrated this fact very neatly. Participants unconsciously showed a preference for saltier soup after sweating, indicating that our bodies are adept at correcting salt deficiencies through dietary intake. If you lose a significant amount of sodium through your sweat during exercise, you are likely to develop a strong liking for salty foods to make up for your losses. So, if you find yourself reaching for the salt shaker more often after working out, it could be a sign that your body is trying to compensate for a sodium deficit.
What Can You Do If You Are A Salty Sweater?
If you relate to at least five of the experiences described in this article, then it’s highly likely that you’re losing a significant amount of salt in your sweat (or just a lot of sweat in general!). To combat this, it may be wise to implement a more aggressive sodium replacement strategy. Increase your sodium intake before, during, and after periods of prolonged sweating. This can be accomplished by adding salt to your food or choosing saltier options, as well as consuming electrolyte supplements or sports drinks. It’s important to note that many popular supplements do not provide sufficient sodium to replace what a salty sweater loses, so opt for electrolyte drinks that contain at least 1,000mg of sodium per liter (32oz).
To get personalized hydration advice, take our free Online Sweat Test. It will provide recommendations on the appropriate level of sodium supplementation for your needs. Use this information to conduct your own trial-and-error testing during training and adjust as needed.