Sodium, Potassium, Dizzyness...

I'm a scientist deep down, and I thought I might share what happened recently.

I had been feeling run down with the limiting calories, limiting sodium, exercising. I ended up taking a break from all that to move my kid across the country to go to college. On that trip, I felt like a million bucks. The strength I gained from working out since April showed - lifting, cardio-endurance. And because we were traveling, I was eating the fast food of travelers, fattest greasiest burgers the road had to offer, and sickeningly rich pizza from the dietary sin city - Chicago.

But here's the thing - I felt great! No worrying about calculating calories and sodium intake. Yet, no dizziness, no run-down feeling, no tightness in my chest - none of the negative stuff I had been feeling the week prior. I was still hitting the hotel gym at night, but mainly hitting the cardio and neglecting strength training. AND I FELT AWESOME. (and I still managed to lose a pound).

We came back home, and my mind felt guilty about the Mickey D's and pizza, so I went back to eggbeaters and oatmeal breakfasts, 6 ounces of turkey breast on cabbage and wheat bun for lunch, lo-sodium soups and broccoli for dinner. And before ya know it, I feel like crap again.

My first thought was "I need to get another heart stent cleaning" (I've got 5 stents). My second thought was "Does this house have carbon monoxide poisoning?" Finally, I thought "What changes have you gone through recently, and how does that effect how you feel?"

OK. I went low sodium a few weeks ago, and started losing weight again. Could lo-so be the problem? Tightness of chest, kind of weak feelings all over. Sounds like too much sodium, not too little. But in my google search, I also found low potassium. Now, I know from myfitnesspal, I'm not getting nearly enough potassium, because the sources of potassium are not really good for my diabetes (or so I thought).

So, I did a check of my pantry, found some higher-potassium foods like some fresh fruit, white beans. Also, because I had really low sodium for a few days, I went ahead and maxed out my daily sodium as well. To top it all off, I drank a crapload of water - 2-3 glasses.

Almost instantly - no pain in the chest, energy levels through the roof, alert, life is good again. Then my "time off" made sense: potassium in the fast food (especially the french fries), salt, plenty of water.

Anyway, just thought I'd share, maybe it will help someone who fees like I've felt recently. Gotta go finish my workout.
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Replies

  • Maccbow
    Maccbow Posts: 53 Member
    Thanks for your kindness of sharing. Love learning everything I can about weightloss, and helpful issues. Thanks!
  • DamePiglet
    DamePiglet Posts: 3,730 Member
    Awesome post!!! Thank you for sharing it!!! I will definitely keep this in mind!
  • sympha01
    sympha01 Posts: 942 Member
    Hmmm, something for me to ask my doctor about, I'm due for a visit soon.
  • ereck44
    ereck44 Posts: 1,171 Member
    Yeah, I always track my potassium. I don't think that I have ever gotten the 3.5 grams that I am supposed to eat every day. Especially important for someone with a history of heart disease.
  • wild_wild_life
    wild_wild_life Posts: 1,352 Member
    Interesting, I feel the same way unless I make an effort to get enough sodium. Thought it had to do with blood pressure but I have heard that eating sodium does very little to raise blood pressure significantly so maybe not.

    I don't think potassium is very accurate in the database so it's really hard to know what you're getting (unless you do that old school "label reading" thing).
  • QuietBloom
    QuietBloom Posts: 5,414 Member
    I was glad to find this thread, because I suddenly realized that I have not been getting nearly the potassium that MFP suggests. And I have been feeling dizzy, weak, run-down as well. I looked at some potassium supplements that I have on hand and 1 contains only 3% the RDA!!! I'm not sure how I'm going to manage to increase it to the recommended, but I guess all I can do is try find foods high in potassium and focus on eating those. And take a butt load of the supplements. :ohwell:
  • FredDoyle
    FredDoyle Posts: 2,273 Member
    Potassium isn't required on labels so you usually get more than you think. I track it and add it to the foods I enter.
    Some good sources are meat, fish, most veg, coconut water, dates, raisins, tomatoes, potatoes, squashes, nuts, almond milk, cows milk, mushrooms, cocoa, molasses...lots more.
  • Fuzzipeg
    Fuzzipeg Posts: 2,267 Member
    Bananas, Oranges, possibly all citrus, dark green leaves. Pure cocoa too, is good, as are dairy, milk cheese and cream.
  • QuietBloom
    QuietBloom Posts: 5,414 Member
    I didn't realize it wasn't required to be listed. I read that baked potatoes with the skin are ~1000 mgs and tomato juice and steamed spinach are also excellent sources. On list to buy at Costco today! I'm also going to focus more on logging my sodium as that is generally also very low for me, historically. I already have very low blood pressure, so thankfully I don't have to worry about that aspect of it.
  • wild_wild_life
    wild_wild_life Posts: 1,352 Member
    I admit I'm a bit unclear on this point because I feel like you hear both "lots of foods are high in potassium" and "most people don't get enough potassium". I'm wary of supplementing it because too much is also a bad thing. I've never actually tried tracking it but I think I will look into it.
  • FredDoyle
    FredDoyle Posts: 2,273 Member
    I admit I'm a bit unclear on this point because I feel like you hear both "lots of foods are high in potassium" and "most people don't get enough potassium". I'm wary of supplementing it because too much is also a bad thing. I've never actually tried tracking it but I think I will look into it.
    I've never needed to supplement it. I just add mushrooms to everything, eat potatoes and tomatoes and make smoothies with almond milk. With the meat, fish and veg I eat, I can usually get at least 3000-4000 mg/day.
  • jayrudq
    jayrudq Posts: 503 Member
    Always have potassium supplements on hand. Really helpful

    My DH is a baseball player and he pitches. On weekends he can play as many as four games. Over the years he has tried lots of different things to help with stamina, but particularly muscle cramps and mineral depletion...his answer: POTATOES. They work better than anything else he has tried - and he used to eat 6-8 bananas plus gatorade. Now just a big bowl before his games as well potassium supplements along with co-enzyme Q10 during.
  • VoodooAborisha
    VoodooAborisha Posts: 147 Member
    Thanks for the info!
  • floop1207
    floop1207 Posts: 194 Member
    great info, thanks :smile:

    i have diabetes insipidus so i struggle at times with low sodium and potassium levels in my blood and it really can make you feel bleurgh.
  • QuietBloom
    QuietBloom Posts: 5,414 Member
    FYI, potassium supplements (at least the ones I have) only supply 3% of the RDA. :ohwell:
  • Tdacks
    Tdacks Posts: 136 Member
    I also started looking into potassium (K) and sodium (Na) when I was feeling unwell. What I found from reading around was that the key is to have approximately equal amounts of K and Na each day, not so much specific values (except for extremes of too much and too little). I also noticed that most of the user entered foods don't include the K, and that nutrition labels aren't required to list it either.

    Now when I add foods, I look for the ones without the * or I double check with nutritiondata.com. If I'm eating a packaged or multi-ingredient food that isn't listed in nutritiondata, then I will pick the primary ingredient and look up its nutrition, and update the listing with an appropriate proportion of K for the food.

    Also, it is easier to get K with "salt substitute" or "lite salt" if you prefer, than from pill form vitamins. The K simply replaces the Na in NaCl (common table salt) to make KCl (not-so-common table salt). The taste is very similar, but some people find it a tad bitter. I don't use it for cooking soup, for example, because it puts the flavor off. I only dash it across my meal right before eating.
  • wild_wild_life
    wild_wild_life Posts: 1,352 Member
    FYI, potassium supplements (at least the ones I have) only supply 3% of the RDA. :ohwell:

    What does it say the RDA is? Googling it, I am finding 4700, 3500 and that there is no RDA. MFP seems to default to 3500.
  • wild_wild_life
    wild_wild_life Posts: 1,352 Member
    I also started looking into potassium (K) and sodium (Na) when I was feeling unwell. What I found from reading around was that the key is to have approximately equal amounts of K and Na each day, not so much specific values (except for extremes of too much and too little).

    Interesting, thanks for your post. I know the Na/K ratio is tightly regulated in the body but I hadn't heard that intake needed to be balanced. In terms of mg, more K than Na seems to be recommended.
  • neandermagnon
    neandermagnon Posts: 7,443 Member
    it's a myth that sodium is bad. There's an optimal range for how much sodium you need... avoiding all sodium is bad for you. Eating way too much sodium is bad for you. There's also an ideal ratio for how much sodium and potassium you need and getting them in the wrong ratio isn't so good (sorry I can't remember the details, this was from uni lectures 15 years ago)

    If you sweat a lot, you need more sodium and potassium, if you're doing very long endurance cardio (e.g. running marathons) you should consume something like gatorade rather than plain water (at least some of the time) to replace these.

    There's a lot of emphasis from government health programmes etc on limiting sodium, because most people don't exercise and eat a lot of junk and consume way too much sodium, which is dangerous (i.e. it causes high blood pressure and that increases the risk of heart attacks and stroke). But there's IMO not enough emphasis on the fact that the body actually needs a certain amount of sodium, and that healthy eating is about having a healthy balance of all the nutrients the body needs, it's not about avoiding certain "bad" foods. The same applies for fat and carbs, and any other demonised nutrients.
  • neandermagnon
    neandermagnon Posts: 7,443 Member
    FYI, potassium supplements (at least the ones I have) only supply 3% of the RDA. :ohwell:

    What does it say the RDA is? Googling it, I am finding 4700, 3500 and that there is no RDA. MFP seems to default to 3500.

    those numbers sound reasonable and similar to what I looked up before, there's a range more than a specific number, I think it's 2000-6000mg sodium, but I'm not 100% on that.

    Edited to change g to mg.... you know because being out by 3 decimal places is nothing too serious *facepalm*