Sodium, or salt, has gotten a bad rap as of late. Suppose you’ve ever seen the food pyramid. In that case, you know that sodium is toward the bottom of the list in terms of recommended daily amounts. That’s because experts have found that too much sodium can cause your body to retain water and raise your blood pressure – both big no when it comes to weight loss. Here, we explore how does sodium affect weight loss and what foods to eat with high sodium content so you can still enjoy your meals while keeping your goals intact.
Sodium Intake and Weight Loss
Sodium is a mineral present in nearly all foods, but too much can lead to health problems. As for any diet change, talk to your doctor before you make major changes to your sodium intake. That said, if you’re eating right and exercising regularly but still not seeing weight-loss results. So, you should take a look at your sodium intake levels.
The Institute of Medicine recommends consuming no more than 2,300 milligrams of sodium per day (this is approximately one teaspoon), so try cutting back by half that amount and watching how you feel over a few weeks.
The Dangers of Sodium in Processed Foods
Processed foods are notorious for their high sodium content, 10x more than whole foods. Unfortunately, processed foods are what people turn to in an effort to lose weight. But when it comes to healthy eating for weight loss, many experts advocate for increased consumption of whole, unprocessed foods over high-sodium ones.
That’s because, in addition to bringing on fluid retention and bloating due to your body’s reaction to salt (thereby hindering weight loss), excess sodium also acts as a preservative. So you could be undoing your hard work by reaching for processed snacks instead of whole fruits and veggies.
The Dangers of Sodium Added During Cooking
Sodium is one of those ingredients that’s easy to forget about when it comes to your diet. Many people assume salt is unhealthy because of its association with high blood pressure. Still, salt itself isn’t harmful, and plenty of healthy foods contain significant amounts of it. The real problem with sodium is overconsumption—too much salt can cause bloating and water retention in some people, which could slow down weight loss efforts. To prevent excessive sodium intake, focus on reducing overall processed food consumption.
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Why Cutting Sodium Can Lead to Weight Gain
Our bodies use salt to regulate blood pressure and send nerve impulses. If you start consuming more salt than your body needs, it holds onto water to help flush out that excess salt—and that means you can quickly hold onto extra pounds. On a low-sodium diet, you’ll likely lose more weight, as well as reduce your risk of heart disease and stroke. Lowering your sodium intake too much can be just as bad for your health; make sure to do so carefully in consultation with a doctor or nutritionist.
Tips for Increasing Natural Sodium Intake
- You can increase your intake of natural sodium by choosing foods that are naturally high in salts, such as celery, seaweed, and olives.
- Adding a bit of sea salt to meals is another good way to increase your intake of natural sodium. Sea salt has several health benefits, including that it contains trace minerals, like selenium and magnesium.
- If you choose to add sea salt to your meals, be sure to do so gradually. Otherwise, you may face unpleasant side effects from too much extra salt in your diet.
- Additionally, be careful with how much table salt you use when cooking or at restaurants: According to guidelines from the U.S.
Important Facts About Sodium Balance
Sodium is critical to muscle function, nerve health, and fluid balance. Low-sodium diets are associated with a slower metabolism, which means you burn fewer calories. Sodium is also important for brain development and lowering blood pressure levels. The recommended daily sodium intake for adults is 2,300 milligrams (or lower). Excess sodium is linked with high blood pressure levels and heart attack and stroke risks. High blood pressure can lead to blocked arteries, limiting oxygen flow to your organs.
Shortcuts For Weight Loss:
Everyone is always looking for shortcuts when it comes to weight loss. It’s true: Shortcuts are appealing. But most of them don’t work in sustainable ways and often backfire on us in two major ways, by encouraging unhealthy eating habits or due to unintended side effects.
You’re either setting yourself up for failure with unrealistic restrictions or harming your body by depriving it of the nutrients you need. Weight-loss shortcuts that make no sense at all can actually mess with your body and your metabolism in real ways.
How Does Sodium Affect Weight Loss?
Sodium, or salt, has long been at odds with weight loss. Because sodium is often used as a preservative in food and found in larger quantities in junk food than in healthy foods, many of us try to limit our intake.
The researchers believe that other factors may be involved aside from just cutting back on salt, so you shouldn’t increase your daily intake without first consulting your doctor. After all, too much salt isn’t good for you either!
The Bottom Line:
According to recent studies, there’s no benefit of high-sodium foods for weight loss. Eating less salt (in general) was linked with reducing waist circumference, which is an important marker of body fat and overall health. However, it is important to note that not all sodium is created equal; processed foods often contain more sodium than you may think. The American Heart Association recommends consuming no more than 1,500 mg per day or 2,300 mg if you have hypertension.