One of the most common pieces of diet advice is to “limit your salt intake,” leading many dieters out there to believe that salt makes you fat. Since so many of you have been writing in asking, does salt make you fat, we’ve decided to explore the facts behind this myth.
Although sodium is an essential part of a healthy diet, this does not mean that loading up on salt is good for weight loss. Keep reading to find out if salt makes you fat and what you can to do eat less salt.
Salt vs. Sodium – Is There A Difference?
Yes, while salt and sodium are in the same family, there is a small difference. Sodium on its own is an element, while sodium chloride is more commonly known as table salt. When we measure the sodium in a particular food, we are measuring the amount of salt in our food.
How Much Salt Do I Need?
If you’ve ever wondered does salt makes you fat, you’ve probably also wondered how much salt is a healthy amount for your diet. The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) recommend that most of us eat no more than 1 teaspoon (2,300 mg) of salt, while “at risk” populations should eat less, 2/3 teaspoons (1,500 mg) of salt each day.
At risk populations that should consume a lower than recommended sodium content include individuals over 51 years old, African-Americans and those who suffer from chronic kidney disease, high blood pressure and diabetes. Whether or not you fall into the at risk category, chances are you need to eat less salt.
Sources of Sodium
The most obvious source of sodium in our diets is table salt, which we use to season food during and after the cooking process. Many people have asked, if it has zero calories, why does salt make you fat.
The truth is that salt, on its own does not make you fat. However much of our salt intake comes in the form of processed, prepackaged food that has additional salt added for freshness as well as flavor. Some examples include; pasta, cheese, bacon, deli meat and canned goods.
Click to find out if these foods also make you fat:
Your best bet is to consume salt from natural resources like vegetables, meat, shellfish and dairy. Naturally occurring salt tends to be at more acceptable levels for weight loss.
So…Does Salt Make You Fat?
The main reason so many people believe that salt makes you fat is that it makes you retain water, which has an annoying tendency to show up as weight gain when you step onto the scale. A high salt diet, which judging by the guidelines above we are all on, will cause more (temporary) water retention.
It is important to note that this type of weight gain is only temporary, and an adequate amount of water will return your normal electrolyte levels. This has the effect of keeping you balanced, hydrated and flushing out excess water.
Reduce Salt Intake
If you’re concerned that your salt content is stalling weight gain, consider some of these tips to reduce your salt intake to an acceptable lever;
- Add fresh or dried herbs to season food such as basil, rosemary, thyme, lemongrass, parsley, cilantro or oregano.
- Use citrus juice and zest for additional flavor.
- Spices like cayenne pepper are low in sodium (1mg per teaspoon) and pack quite a flavorful punch. Includes garlic, paprika, nutmeg and curry powder just to name a few.
- Homemade broth/stock can reduce sodium intake by more than 400 mg, or 20%.
If you add salt during and after cooking a meal, your salt intake could be getting too high to be safe. After reading our Eat Stop Eat review you may want to try intermittent fasting to get you back to a healthy level of salt.