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Aldosterone & Water Retention



Aug 11, 2010
by Eric Serrano, M.D.

In my office I deal with many bodybuilders that want the secret of being shredded, ripped, lean, or without water at contest time. As you know this ripped and shredded look is the result of good dieting, right amounts of exercise and the control of the hormone aldosterone. In this article I am going to concentrate on the manipulation of aldosterone and water without the aid of drugs.

As you know, many bodybuilders use the shortcut of diuretics and therefore aren't as concerned with water retention at contest time. However, I like to work with natural athletes, so water retention is a major concern.

There are many myths that have been generated about getting rid of subcutaneous water. I want to discuss a few them and give you the right approach. When we are finished all you will need is a little planning and some practice.

Myth #1: Vitamin B6
I am sick of people asking me about the diuretic effects of B6. It has no effects at all. ZERO, ZILCH, NONE. In other words, it doesn't work.

Myth #2: Don't take any salt 4-5 days before a show.
Yeah, do this and you have a great chance of looking like the Pillsbury Dough Boy the day of the contest. The reason is your aldosterone levels will be sky high.

Myth #3: Take a lot of potassium before the contest.
Does this work? NO! You are only using this technique because you are abusing diuretics and diuretics get rid of intravascular potassium.

Real Manipulation of Water, Salt and the Hormone Aldosterone
Aldosterone is a hormone secreted by the adrenal glands in our bodies. It is regulated mainly by Angiotensin II (another hormone) and potassium/salt (sodium) ratio in our bodies. Aldosterone has a half life of 15 minutes, that means that the body eliminates half of the concentration in 15 minutes. Also, it takes the body between 3 and 4 days to adjust to dietary changes in potassium and salt.

The main function of aldosterone is to maintain the intravascular volume. It does this by conserving sodium and eliminating potassium and hydrogen, exerting this action in the kidney, gut, salivary glands and brain.

Control of Aldosterone
Please bear with me as I explain the physiology of aldosterone. I know it is complicated and maybe boring to some but after reading this you will not have to worry about water retention.

Besides the renin/angiotensin (hormones) system, potassium (not salt) is the main regulator of aldosterone. Potassium directly enhances aldosterone secretion from the adrenal glands. Sudden potassium loading or increases in dietary potassium augment aldosterone secretion where as when potassium decreases, plasma aldosterone decreases.

This is not the only electrolyte that controls aldosterone because extra calcium also influences aldosterone, but not as directly as potassium. If fluids decrease & sodium decreases & potassium increases, then aldosterone increases & water retention increases. If fluids increase & sodium increases & potassium decreases, then aldosterone decreases & water retention decreases.

What does this mean for a bodybuilder?

No potassium loading.

Do not withhold water more than 48 hours.

Keep drinking water to satisfy your thirst until the day of the show, then sip small amounts of water all day.

Don't salt load because it can backfire. How? When you start taking extra salt, yes you will bring aldosterone down, but the question is for how many hours, days, minutes are you going to drop aldosterone? I don't know, you don't know. If you are going to salt load, make sure you practice and do it 3 to 4 times before contest time so you know:

How much water to drink.

How much salt to take.

How long to salt load.

How long to withhold water.

Keep eating normal amounts of salt until two days prior to the show. This is only a recommendation because some people will do better with one day and others with 2 days. You will need to figure out which one is best for you.

No fructose the last 5 to 7 days.

Talk to people with experience like Mike Francois & Chris Aceto.

Thanks for checking out Mike's web page. I hope you found the article informative and interesting!

Note: Before embarking on any nutrition, supplementation, and/or training program, consult with your physician or other licensed health-care professional.
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