Can salt make you fat? How much for weight loss?

salt & weight gain

Salt can make us gain weight, as it may stimulate appetite, increase cravings, cause overeating, and make us feel bloated. Also, it makes us eat foods high in fat and calories. Most people consume more salt than the recommended daily intake. Excess salt may make it difficult to lose weight.

Why is salt important for health?

Small daily dosages 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 is an essential mineral. We have to take it from food. As we lose salt every day, we need to consume it daily, to function properly.

What’s the recommended daily intake of salt?

The American Heart Association recommends 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.[1] 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.[2] 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.

Does salt have calories?

No, salt has no calories. High doses may make us gain weight, though.

Salt makes us consume more calories

High salt diets seem to lead 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. Furthermore, salt makes us prefer foods high in fat and calories, such as fast food.

Salt may be addictive

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.[3]

But, salty food may be addictive. Salt stimulates the same receptors in the brain, as certain drugs.[4] 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![5] So, the combination of high amounts of salt with high-fat meals can definitely make you fat.

High salt diets seem to increase body fat percentage

Moreover, salt is bad for weight loss, as sodium affects the cells of fat tissue.[6] High sodium intake can make fat cells bigger, increasing body fat percentage.

But, we need sodium. Sodium restriction is bad for weight loss, as well. 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 make us fat!

Salt makes us feel bloated

Also, salt makes us look fat, as it retains too much water. We feel bloated when we consume excess salt. 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 fast. Bananas, pistachios, sunflower seeds, flaxseeds, chia seeds, raisins, prunes, lentils, and spinach are only a few foods high in potassium.

Additionally, you could eat diuretic foods, in order, to get rid of excess water. For instance, herbs, such as dandelion, ginger, parsley, and hawthorn have a potent diuretic effect. Moreover, you could drink coffee or tea. These common beverages have a mild diuretic effect. They can help you get rid of excess weight from water retention fast.

Salt may be good for weight loss

On the other hand, salt can be a great tool for weight loss. Salt can make natural food taste better. It enhances natural flavor. Therefore, we could combine it with other spices and herbs in recipes, in order, to eat healthier. Moderate amounts in soups, salads, or dressings could definitely help us eat healthier.

Vegetables and herbs have only a few calories. On the other hand, they’re particularly high in dietary fiber, vitamins, and phytochemicals that help the body burn fat easy.

Salt may improve insulin sensitivity

Additionally, salt may be beneficial for weight loss, as it seems to improve insulin sensitivity.[7,8] Acute salt restriction may lead to insulin resistance, a common cause of type 2 diabetes or obesity!

Insulin resistance can cause weight gain, as it may increase oxidative stress, inflammation, and even interfere with the proper function of mitochondria. Mitochondria are vital for the good function of the body, and especially energy expenditure.

Certainly, we need moderate amounts of sodium for good health and a normal body weight. Both excess sodium and no sodium at all, are bad for weight loss!

Tips to reduce salt intake & lose weight

Most sodium 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, along with beans, seeds, nuts, and whole cereal. Certainly, you should avoid salted nuts.

Moreover, you should limit table salt. 1/2 tsp has about 1,150 mg sodium and 1 tsp has 2,300 mg. Just a tsp of table salt provides the upper daily limit of sodium! You better skip table salt, altogether. But, if you really love the taste of salt, at least, add salt to your food right before serving. Don’t add salt while cooking. You’ll need a much higher dose.

Additionally, you can experiment with spices and herbs, in order, to make food taste better. Salt isn’t the only option… Moreover, spices and herbs are packted with phytochemicals that protect the body from oxidative stress and promote weight loss.