Obesity is an ongoing pandemic the world over and the main causes are excessive calorie intake and sedentary lifestyle. But salt has received a lot of flak with regards to increase in weight gain. This has led people into pinning all the blame on salt for building up of extra fat in their body and going dangerously low on this essential mineral, but we would say please “don’t blame salt for what sugar did.” Unchecked sugar consumption is the leading cause of obesity the world over, and not salt. In fact, sugar helped you gain weight at all the wrong places, salt had very little role! Here’s what you need to hear – salt not only adds flavour to our food, it is essential to maintain the electrolyte balance in the body and therefore necessary to run all important functions smoothly. The normal range of sodium in blood is 135 to 145 mEq/L and when sodium falls below that level – it can lead to dizziness, vomiting, shock, and even coma. However, having said that, salt should be taken in moderation because too much salt can increase the risk of hypertension, kidney stones, dehydration, and heart disease. Also, with too much salt, the body tends to retain more water, resulting in bloating and water retention, and the numbers on the weighing scale go up. When the salt intake is cut back, the body releases water and that’s how the numbers drop – that’s just drop in water weight and no real fat burning. We would elaborate on whether cutting down salt would you drop any significant weight or not. Read on:
Why Salt is Important?
Salt (chemical formula NaCl/sodium chloride) is essential to run a majority of functions in the body, including nerve and muscle function. It regulates the electrolytes that allow the brain to carry out electrical signals, conduct nerve impulses, and maintain mineral balance. Also, iodized salt, is a good source of trace mineral iodine, which is needed by the thyroid gland to produce thyroid hormones that regulate metabolism and other functions. But there’s only moderate amount of salt required to run all of these functions, and any excess would cause adverse reactions. The recommended intake of salt is 2300 mg or 1 tbsp per day, or 6 gm according to US Dietary guidelines, but we are eating way more than that – most of it through processed food.
Is There a Link Between Salt and Weight Loss?
As we have mentioned previously, too much of everything is bad, and that holds true for salt too. When you cut down salt, extra fluid held in the cells to balance out the sodium get released, and that’s how a few kgs drop down on the weighing scale. Also, you get relief from bloating by reducing salt.
One more important thing worth mentioning is that we often confuse thirst and hunger signals; and since salty food makes us thirsty – most of the times we take it as hunger signals and reach out for more food – opting for a packet of chips rather than a glass of water to quell those signals. Here’s an interesting study done on a group of astronauts – they reported an increase in appetite while on a high-salt diet and drank less water and ate more food. When the salt intake was decreased, their appetite was normal. Like sugar, salt makes food flavourful, and can lead to overeating.
But when it comes to real fat burning, eliminating “processed food,” which is a major source of sodium will be a huge game changer. Soy sauce, tomato sauce, processed meat, packaged soups, instant noodles, pizza, junk food, fast food, salad dressings, chicken stocks, papads, chips, salted olives, salted biscuits, and of course pickles (salt is used as a preservative here) has too much of sodium content to cause health problems including obesity when consumed on a regular basis (since they have high calorie count too).
The biggest advantage of decreasing sodium intake by cutting down on processed food is that you can get rid of added sugar, refined carbs, empty calories, preservatives as well in the process and make space for nutritious whole foods, which eventually would lead to significant weight loss.
Summing up, though eating less salt will not actually accelerate fat burning, it will help you get rid of water weight, bloating, and water retention and curb appetite and overeating. Too much salt in the diet can lead to high blood pressure, kidney disease, increases risk of stroke and kidney diseases. It does not really matter a great deal whether you are replacing table salt with Himalayan pink salt, rock salt, sea salt or black salt, always stay within the recommended dietary intake.
If weight loss is on your mind, maintain calorie deficit, eat high-volume and low-energy foods with high nutritional value, and eat enough to reach your ideal weight. All details about how to eat right to lose weight are on the Rati Beauty diet. Download the Rati Beauty app for more details.
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