The Connection of Sodium and Weight Gain
You’ve probably heard the cliché “too much of a good thing can be a bad thing.” Too much of tasty sodium-loaded food, can lead to excess weight gain and even chronic disease.
Did you know that too much salt intake can have a significant impact on your success in losing weight? Sodium and your bodyweight share a much stronger connection than you may think.
Sodium and Weight Loss
Excess salt intake leads to water retention which ultimately leads to weight gain because sodium naturally binds to water to balance out our fluids and electrolytes. You might even notice you’re more bloated and swollen, or notice a few extra pounds on the scale after a sodium-heavy meal.
The swelling, which might be present in your hands, lower extremities, and belly are called edema. Edema, defined as a condition characterized by an excess of watery fluid collecting in the cavities or tissues of the body, can have a detrimental impact on your cardiovascular system, especially your heart. Excess sodium intake can also lead to imbalanced fluid levels, chronic fluid overload, and an increase in blood pressure.
When starting a weight loss plan like Vfinity, you might notice a drastic decrease in weight at first. This initial weight loss from decreasing your daily calorie intake is mostly water and glycogen (the body’s source of short-term energy). As your glycogen stores deplete, weight loss can slow down or plateau as we lose fat stores more slowly, which is one reason why our Vfinity program focuses on teaching people how to make permanent lifestyle changes. Generally, statistics show that healthy weight loss is approximately 1 to 2 lbs. per week. Even if you are losing fat, you may not notice it on your scale depending on the amount of sodium in your diet.
How much sodium is too much?
Most people should aim for no more than 2,300 mg/day. People who struggle with high blood pressure or edema should aim at consuming around 1,500 mg or less per day. That can be a substantial reduction and be challenging for many people. To ease the transition to a lower sodium eating style, consider the following tips:
- Select low or no-sodium options. Many foods are available in low- or no-salt versions. You can select food items like unsalted peanuts and low-sodium soups. Many restaurants also offer lower-sodium options.
- Use more spices and seasonings. Lemon juice, fresh or dried herbs, and sodium-free seasonings like Mrs. Dash are excellent alternatives to salt without sacrificing the flavor of your food!
- Limit fast food. Most restaurants use excess salt to season their meals, which is especially true of fast-food establishments. Make eating out the minority of your meals with the majority of them being cooked at home. This will give you greater control of what’s in your food.
- Look for hidden salt sources. Sodium is frequently used as a food preservative. Some foods act as an unexpected source of sodium. Pickled foods, jerky, and items like smoked salmon contain a lot of hidden sodium. Take these “hidden sources” into consideration when planning your daily meals and eat these foods in moderation, not every day.
- Read nutrition labels. Reading the Nutrition Facts Label can be an essential strategy for lowering your sodium intake. All food labels list total sodium in milligrams (mg) and percent daily value (%DV) based on a 2,000 calorie daily diet. If this is more than your daily calorie intake, focus on the total milligrams of sodium instead.
“Quick Sodium Calculation Guide”**
Salt/Sodium-Free = less than 5 mg of sodium per serving
Very Low Sodium = less than 35 mg of sodium per serving
Low sodium = less than 140 mg of sodium per serving
Reduced sodium = the product has at least 25% less salt than the regular product.
Light in sodium = the product has at least 50% less salt than the regular product.
No salt added = No salt is added during processing, but it may not be salt-free
Sodium gives our food lots of flavor but consumed in excess; it can cause unwanted water retention, bloating, and weight GAIN! To curb your sodium intake, start gradually with the tips we just provided above. Start eliminating sodium from your daily diet by trying one recommendation, to begin with, and then slowly adding our other suggestions. Trust us: your body, heart, and weight will thank you in the long run!
**Food Facts from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. https://orders.gpo.gov/download/HHPdfs/Sodium%20in%20Your%20Diet.pdf