It comes as a surprise to many people that excessive sodium intake may be causing them to gain weight. The good news is that excess sodium doesn’t mean excess body fat, but it does mean you will retain water. Retaining water will result in extra pounds on the scale, a tighter button on those britches, and a “puffy” feeling all over.
Salt is an essential mineral in the body. It helps balance blood sugar, aids in cell functions, helps the intestines to absorb nutrients, and regulates fluid/electrolyte balance. Too much sodium, however, results in problems- including weight gain.
Water and salt are supposed to work together. Water should absorb excess sodium and flushes it out of the body. But when you shove too much salt down your pie hole, the intended symbiotic relationship between sodium and water is sabotaged. Too much sodium in the diet can lead to water weight gain (+/- 4-pounds), high blood pressure, and kidney and digestive problems.
We all have different sensitivities to salt, but the American Heart Association recommends no more than 2,300 mg of sodium per day. People who are very sensitive to salt should consume far less than this. The worst salt offenders are: bread, cold cuts, pizza, and canned soups, says new research from the Center for Disease Control. Avoiding processed, packaged foods, and fast food is a great way to cut a significant amount of sodium from your diet. Pay attention to food labels, too! If you eat mostly whole, natural foods, such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean protein, you should not have a problem with consuming too much salt. Regular daily cardiovascular exercise and drinking plenty of water also help to flush excess salt out of the system and remove toxins.
According to Jenna Bergen, Fitness Editor for Prevention Magazine, when Prevention Magazine does studies to test workouts prior to publication, they and recruit subjects to adhere to the workout regime and a 1,600 calorie diet. The biggest determinant of weight loss success, regardless of the workout being tested, has been sodium intake.
It is true that an analysis of 167 studies found that people who reduced sodium saw their total cholesterol increase. Don’t let that incomplete information inspire you to reach for the nearest salt shaker. The reason for the rise was an increase in HDL cholesterol, which is “good” cholesterol. None of the studies found any rise in LDL cholesterol (lousy cholesterol) because of reduced sodium in the diet. All of the studies found reduction in blood pressure, which translates to better heart health.
As much as you may enjoy a salty treat now and again (or every meal), you are sabotaging your battle against the bulge by indulging. If you start to taper down your salt intake, you’ll find that with time, you crave salt less. Try seasoning your food with lemon juice, spices, and fresh herbs. Even though salt has zero calories, it has colossal impact on your health and weight. To open the latchkey to a thinner, healthier, less bloated YOU, close the habit of overindulging on salt.