Most popular diets today advise eating healthy, increasing exercise, cutting calories and reducing salt. Yes, you read the last one correctly. Salt becomes a detriment to a healthy diet when you eat more than what your body needs. Here’s what you need to know on how salt affects weight loss to help you improve your efforts in dropping those extra pounds.
Salt vs. Sodium
Table salt (sodium chloride) is what we add in our meals and when cooking to enhance the taste of the food. It’s also added to preserve processed foods. Sodium is found naturally in most foods which account for about 40% of table salt. When salt is added to food, sodium content increases by around 40% of the amount of salt added.
Salt in The Diet – Why Less Is Better
We need sodium to function properly – just not too much or too little of it. We won’t survive without sodium, but too much of it causes weight gain.
Other Harmful Effects of Salt
- Increased blood volume (which can lead to heart disease, high blood pressure and stroke)
- Kidney problems
- Liver disease
- Gastric cancer
- Certain types of asthma
Salt and Weight Loss
Salt won’t stop weight loss, but it can halt it. Excessive salt intake leads to water retention. So rather than working with your metabolism to burn calories and fat efficiently, it will work against it. Even if you’re working hard to lose weight, salt will prevent water from doing its job efficiently, causing the numbers on the scale to increase.
Conversely, when you reduce your salt intake, you’ll drop a few pounds as your body emits the water it was preserving. BUT, you’ll regain the weight you’ve lost once you restart eating salty foods.
So pay attention to your salt intake!
But I Don’t Add That Much Salt to My Cooking Or Meals....
That may be true but what we don’t realize is that salt in the diet comes from the processed foods that we eat and not the table salt we add in our cooking or meals.
Where Most Sodium Comes From
- 75% from processed foods
- 15% use in cooking and at the table
- 10% (or less) from dairy products, meat and vegetables
Tips for Reducing Salt Intake
Avoid Eating Processed and Pre-packaged Foods
If you want to lose weight fast, steer clear of these foods:
There are versions of these products that have low or reduced salt. Stick to them. It might take some getting used to but you’ll realize that eating fresh and natural feels better in both body and mind.
Go Easy with The Condiments
Ketchup, mustard, salad dressing and soy sauce have high sodium content. Salt can be addictive so ease off of it slowly. Use herbs and spices to add flavour to your food instead.
Read Food Labels
Start paying attention to the labels carefully and look up the sodium content. This is very helpful in watching your salt consumption and weight loss quest. Go for products that says “unsalted”, “no salt added”, “low-sodium”, “reduced sodium”or “sodium-free”.
When Eating Out
- Use pepper to season your food.
- Choose low-sodium meals from the menu.
- Request for your food to be prepared without salt or MSG.
How Much Is Enough?
The Scientific Advisory Committee of Nutrition (SACN) recommends the RNI (Recommended Nutritional Intake) for sodium in the UK at 1,600 mg (upper limit) or 4 g salt per day for adults.
Salt can either be a blessing or a curse for your weight loss. Reducing salt intake, eating well-balanced, nutritious meals, drinking plenty of water and exercising regularly are your tickets to losing weight and in keeping those pounds from coming back for good!
Shoot us an e-mail if you have questions.
Rooting for you,
~ The HSO Team ~