Normally my sweat tastes salty. But in hot weather it often gets bland. I notice that when that happens I don't seem to retain water: I'll drink to the point that my urine is frequent and clear, but I'll still be thirsty. And my perspiration rate will go up noticeably: I'll be dripping with sweat when I'm just a little hot, where in the same conditions with salty sweat my perspiration rate will be more measured.

I have long resorted to basically using the absence of salty sweat as a sign to supplement my salt intake, either by over-salting my food, eating salty snacks, or taking electrolyte pills.

I don't have a low-salt diet, and I don't work or exercise outside to the degree that many people do. I'm in good shape and no blood or urine analysis has ever uncovered anything abnormal.

But I remember some time ago hearing that salt supplements were considered obsolete. And nobody I know with more aggressive exercise routines supplements their salt intake. In fact they all think the idea sounds ridiculous.

So am I misreading the signs of electrolyte imbalance? Or am I responding incorrectly? Could I have an above-average electrolyte "metabolism" or demand?

  • 2
    I'm skeptical that the saltiness of your sweat actually means much at all and I would be hesitant to alter my diet based on it, but there is at least one author out there who shares your thinking. runnersworld.com/ask-the-sports-dietitian/…
    – Carey Gregory
    Jun 21, 2015 at 15:51

1 Answer 1


We were taught in physiology that the way to know if you need salt supplementation is whether the salt tastes good or not. The potassium chloride in salt will taste bitter if you don't need it. I have not seen studies to support this - but it fits a general medical principle we observe in other medical conditions.

This general principle falls into the category of syndromes like pica which is commonly seen in pregnant patients who eat dirt or clay because they have an iron deficiency. Patients crave clay or dirt or other substances because of their deficiency. Patients are often too embarrassed to tell their doctor. In one case, we had a pregnant patient who the clinician noticed she seemed to want to mention something but wasn't. On further questioning, eventually she confessed. She was sneaking out at night to eat a cup of black dirt from her backyard every night. She didn't know why. The doctor said, "oh, you have pica", put her on iron pills and the craving went away.

In general, the body craves what it needs - and what it needs tastes good.

  • Hi! Welcome to Stack Exchange thanks for the post, however your post is lacking in evidence and support. Links and research help to support your post and make it higher quality. To see how to write a post see the Help Center. Thanks and I'll see you around.
    – Pobrecita
    Apr 21, 2016 at 22:28
  • @Pobrecita Added a reference to pica and more on the clinical cases we have observed.
    – Praxiteles
    Apr 21, 2016 at 23:45
  • Good, interesting answer. Generally all your post should have the same quality :)
    – Pobrecita
    Apr 22, 2016 at 5:01

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