Potassium and bodybuilding a delicate balance every bodybuilder should be aware of especially during a cutting cycle.
While body builders pay particular attention to their protein intake, they should be just as concerned with potassium. This mineral is an electrolyte in your body and plays a significant role in maintaining the proper fluid balance in the cells, maintaining a normal blood pressure, and conducting nerve impulses.
For potassium to carry out its functions in the body, it has to work closely with minerals such as sodium. For example, the kidney, as we know, is the organ responsible for maintaining the required level of fluid in the body. It achieves this by filtering the blood to suck any excess liquid, which it sends to the bladder to be removed as urine. If the ideal balance is maintained, then your blood pressure will stay normal, as excess fluid leads to increased blood pressure.
Naturally, you will consume sodium in meals and drinks, which will wreck this delicate balance and reduce the kidneys’ ability to filter excess water. It is up to potassium to restore this balance.
General Benefits of Potassium in The Body
It is a thin balance between too little potassium in the body (hypokalemia), and too much of it (hyperkalemia). General benefits include:
- Health bones-It plays a role in preventing osteoporosis.
- Maintains the ideal blood pressure.
- Keeps heart disease at bay.
- Lower chances of getting a stroke.
- Potassium and Bodybuilding
The cell function of potassium regulates the transfer of nutrients into cells, which facilitates muscle energy. The mineral is also crucial for healing injuries, as well as contributing to the general well-being of an individual. There is no sufficient scientific proof yet, but the ‘potassium load’ is believed to boost a bodybuilder’s energy levels.
This is especially evident in its ability to restore glycogen post workout. Granted, 4,700mg of potassium per day (taking into consideration that a medium-sized banana is 420mg) requires a good plan and knowledge of your food, something that bodybuilders know well enough. Therefore, it is more likely that a pro builder will consume less than their daily requirement, as opposed to them overdosing.
In a last minute dash to drop water weight to fit the weight goal in a contest, a bodybuilder could resort to diuretics, which actually reduce the amount of fluids in the kidney, and in turn increase the level of sodium in the body. This immediately disrupts the electrolyte balance, which could lead to heart failure, as was the case of bodybuilder, Mohammed Benaziza. Low levels of potassium will lead to rhabdomyolysis, or muscle destruction, which will result in high levels of the mineral being released into the blood. This, again, will be destructive to the body.
Sources of Potassium
The best way to get your daily intake of potassium is through fresh vegetables and fruits. The daily recommendation is 4,700 mg, which you can five portions of fruits and vegetables per day, all of which you can get from readily available fresh produce. A portion is equivalent to a closed fist.
Potatoes (sweet and ordinary), bananas, oranges, strawberries, tomatoes, avocados, dairy products low in fat, spinach, beans, and peas, dried dates, and apricots are excellent sources of this vital mineral.
Bodybuilders, who are looking to shed fat and gain muscle, will mostly focus on a low carb diet to meet their caloric intake for the day, and concentrate more on their proteins to maximum benefits. Most of these low carb meals focus too much on muscle building that the intake of vegetable and fruits is entirely compromised. The level of sodium rises and the essential balance between these two minerals is wrecked, the consequences of which are fatigue, and muscle weakness.
This situation can be remedied by including the required portions if potassium into your diet. Lots of fresh fruits, juices, and vegetables will reverse these side effects.
Is There Such A Thing As Too Much Potassium?
As with every good thing, too much of this vital mineral can cause the body harm. Taking more than the daily recommendations (4,700mg) could lead to a build-up of potassium in the kidneys, effectively reducing its ability to carry out its functions.
Hyperkalemia (high potassium) is characterized by:
- A weak or irregular pulse
- Inability to breath
- Abdominal cramping
- Muscle weakness
- A complete collapse of the heartbeat.
Dangerously high levels of potassium could lead to death, by causing the heart to stop beating all at once. The immediate reaction would be to get rid of the excess amounts, by administering insulin and glucose through an IV to reduce the high levels in the blood by directing the excess potassium into cells. Calcium will also help lessen the effect on the heart muscles. In emergencies, a dialysis will be done to remove the excess potassium from the intestines. Water pills and diuretics are used too.
Every study shows that this extremely vital mineral requires you to strike a delicate balance between consuming enough of it and going overboard. Being keen on your diet, and incorporating fruits and vegetables could save your life and improve your performance.