A tsp of salt a day as part of a well-balanced diet won’t make you gain weight. But, it’s better to limit salt intake to 1/2 tsp a day for weight loss and good health. Much higher dosages can cause belly fat, as too much salt retains water and stimulates appetite, leading to overeating. Less salt can also make you fat!
Small doses of salt are beneficial
Small daily doses of salt are necessary for good health. It plays a key role in electrolyte balance, muscle contraction, blood pressure, nerve transmission, and many more. Salt is made up of sodium chloride. Sodium and chloride are important electrolytes. We have to replenish them daily.
What’s the recommended daily intake of salt?
The American Heart Association recommends consuming no more than 2,300 mg of sodium a day. Lower doses are even better, though.
People with high blood pressure shouldn’t consume more than 1,500 mg of sodium a day.
But, even lower dosages of 1,000 mg a day for most adults can improve blood pressure and heart health.
Higher doses of sodium significantly increase the risk of mortality! Unfortunately, we consume more sodium than the recommended daily intake. According to a 2019 study, people consume about 3,200 mg of sodium a day! So, we need to lower the consumption of sodium to be healthy and lose weight.
So, you should limit table salt to the minimum. Just 1/2 tsp of salt has about 1,150 mg sodium. 1 tsp has 2,300 mg. which is the maximum safe daily dose of sodium!
Salt makes us fat, as it may increase energy intake
Although salt has no calories, high doses may make us gain weight. High salt diets have been linked to obesity.
First, salt increase thirst. People don’t always drink water when they’re thirsty, though. We love drinking beverages high in calories, such as beer or soda soft drinks. It’s pretty easy to consume high amounts of calories from beverages. These extra calories can make us fat.
Moreover, salt may lead to overeating. It makes food taste better. So, we consume more calories than we actually need. Too much salt makes us prefer unhealthy, fattening food, such as fast food.
Too much salt with fat makes you gain weight
Certainly, we need sodium to survive. Actually, our bodies seek salt. Especially, after excessive sodium loss. When we have low levels of sodium, the brain sends signals that make us crave salty foods.
But, salty food may be addictive. Salt stimulates the same receptors in the brain as certain drugs. Furthermore, salted food can increase appetite and cravings, causing overeating, and eventually weight gain!
According to a 2016 study, salt increased total calorie intake up to 11%. When people consumed foods high in fat, along with excess salt, they consumed up to 60% more calories! So, the combination of high amounts of salt with high-fat meals can definitely make you fat.
Too much salt causes belly fat
Moreover, salt is bad for weight loss, as sodium affects the cells of the fat tissue. High sodium intake can make fat cells bigger, increasing body fat percentage.
However, we need some sodium. Total sodium restriction can also make you gain weight. Actually, sodium restriction has been associated with increased fat tissue. Therefore, we should consume about 1,000-1,500 mg of sodium a day. Less or more can cause belly fat! So, half a tsp of salt a day is ideal for most healthy people.
Salt makes us feel bloated. It retains too much water!
Also, too much salt makes us look fat, as it retains too much water. Hence, we feel bloated. Excess sodium can increase body weight up to 3 pounds within a day! It’s a short-term effect, though. The body will flush out excess water in a day or two.
Furthermore, if you feel bloated, you could neutralize the effect of excess sodium, consuming foods with potassium. Potassium can help you lose extra weight from water retention. Additionally, you could eat diuretic foods in order to get rid of excess water. Coffee and tea have a mild diuretic effect as well.
Half a tsp of salt per day supports weight loss
On the other hand, low salt intake has beneficial effects on weight loss.
First, salt can improve flavor of natural plant-based foods. We could combine salt with other spices and herbs in recipes in order to eat healthier. Eating more vegetables is good for weight loss and health.
Additionally, salt may be beneficial for weight loss, as it seems to improve insulin sensitivity. Acute salt restriction may lead to insulin resistance, a common cause of type 2 diabetes or obesity! Insulin resistance can cause belly fat, as it may increase oxidative stress and inflammation. It may even interfere with the proper function of mitochondria, which are involved in energy expenditure.[7,8]
Tips to reduce salt intake & lose weight
Most sodium intake comes from packaged, processed foods. Even “healthy” foods, such as rice cakes, may be high in salt, causing weight gain. You should reduce these types of foods to the minimum. Prefer fresh fruits and vegetables.
Moreover, you could add salt to your food right before serving. Don’t add salt during cooking. Its flavor is lost. So, we tend to add more salt.
Additionally, you can experiment with spices and herbs in order to add flavor to food, instead of salt. Moreover, spices and herbs are packed with phytochemicals that protect the body from oxidative stress and promote weight loss.