Sodium is an essential mineral that our bodies need to function correctly. However, too much salt can lead to health problems, including weight gain.
But is the weight gain caused by sodium temporary? And how much sodium per day is healthy to lose weight?
In this blog post, you will learn what the daily recommended sodium intake is. Plus, I will share with you my best tips on how to cook without salt and still have your meals taste delicious!
How Much Sodium Per Day Is Healthy To Lose Weight?
The answer varies depending on factors such as your age, sex, and activity level.
In general, the US Department of Health and Human Services recommends that adults limit their daily sodium consumption to less than 2,300 mg — the equivalence of one teaspoon of salt.
However, the CDC estimates that the average American adult eats 3,400 mg every day!
The truth is that even if you think that you don’t consume a lot of salt, chances are that you might be. Almost everything we buy in a package has salt on it.
Beverages like Gatorade have sodium on them. Also, condiments like ketchup and soy sauce are packed with sodium. And one by one, throughout the day, it begins to add up.
Why Salt Is Not Good For Weight Loss?
In a study done in 2015, researchers reported that “eating an extra gram of salt each day increased the risk of obesity in children by 28% and in adults by 26%”.
Another study linked high-salt diets with an 11% rise in the number of calories adults consume.
These studies suggested several reasons for the connection between salt and weight:
- Salt can change the way our bodies burn fat.
- People eat more since salt makes the food taste good.
- People eat more unhealthy processed food.
Can Sodium Make You Gain Weight?
Yes, but it is most likely water weight, and therefore temporary. This is because consuming too much sodium will retain water in your body.
However, sodium can cause you to gain weight indirectly. For the reasons stated in the heading above, when you cut down on how much salt you eat, it can help make your weight-loss journey a lot easier.
Ultimately though, weight loss comes down to you being in a calorie deficit consistently. Sodium itself does not cause weight gain as it will not turn into fat in your body.
How Long Does Sodium Weight Gain Last
It is tough to know how long sodium weight gain can last. The length of time will vary for each person and depend on how much water weight that individual is already carrying around.
Some ways to get rid of the excess sodium in your body are:
1. Drink more water
2. Add more potassium to your diet
And I should not have to say this, but another obvious way is to stop consuming too much salt!
This is a list of common high-sodium foods you may want to stay clear of:
- boxed or packaged meals
- fast food
- processed and canned foods
- baking mixes
- pickled foods
If you plan to go on a low-sodium diet, be careful not to restrict yourself too much. Remember that sodium is vital to health, and the effects of deficiency can be just as harmful as overconsumption.
Tips For Consuming Less Salt
The easiest way to reduce how much salt you’re eating is by preparing your food at home instead of buying it pre-made.
Have you ever paused to check the label on prepackaged food? Most are shockingly high in sodium!
Here are the things you can do to get a good start if you want to make a conscious effort to cut down on sodium:
- Eat more raw fruits and vegetables.
- Don’t salt food before you taste it.
- Don’t use salt during cooking, and only add salt to your food after cooking.
- Remove the salt shaker from your table.
- Always check food labels and stick to those with 5% DV of sodium (or less).
- Choose no-sodium or low-sodium versions when buying prepackaged, canned, or frozen food.
- Choose no-sodium or low-sodium, fat-free broths, bouillons, or soups.
- Buy unsalted nuts and seeds.
- Use spices and herbs to enhance the flavor of your food.
How To Cook Without Salt
I seldom cook with salt. Even when I buy seasoning, I always buy the no-salt one.
I know what you are thinking, “food won’t taste good if I don’t add salt!”
If you think like that, you haven’t tried adding a lot of herbs and spices to your food when you are cooking.
Trust me, this works! It will give your food so much flavor that no one will even know that it doesn’t have any salt.
And even if the food still tastes a little bland to you, that is because your palette has not adjusted.
The more food without any salt that you eat, the less you will notice the difference in taste.
In fact, there will come a time when you will eat something and think it is salty, and everyone eating with you doesn’t!
Check out my blog post on “how to make healthy food taste good” for more on this subject.
No-Salt Seasoning Recipe
I get that it can be hard to find no-salt seasoning. But no need to fret! There is nothing better than just making your own.
Here is one of my favorite recipes:
- 5 teaspoons onion powder
- 1 tablespoon garlic powder
- 1 tablespoon paprika
- 1 tablespoon ground mustard
- 1 teaspoon dried thyme
- 1/2 teaspoon pepper
- 1/2 teaspoon celery seed
Combine all ingredients in a small jar with a shaker top. Use seasoning for cooking vegetables, soup, and stews, or place it on the table to be used individually.
What’s Salt Anyway?
The world’s favorite food additive is actually a mineral, contrary to some people’s belief that it’s a rock.
You might remember from your science class back in grade school that salt is simply a compound of sodium and chloride.
Salt can come from 2 sources: the ocean and salt mines.
Seawater is perhaps the most widely known. It’s a popular idea that when you leave ocean water to evaporate, you’ll get (sea) salt as a result.
Salt mines, on the other hand, are areas with huge salt deposits. These are usually places that spent thousands to millions of years under seawater before becoming dry land. Salt mines use brine to produce salt.
Dried salt from both sources must be ground up into even-sized grains. The grains will also have to undergo processing to purify the salt content, making it saltier.
This is because natural salt straight from its sources (especially sea salt) also contains other minerals in trace amounts.
Bleaching is also common with commercial salt, often with the use of chlorine and sulfuric acid. It is what gives the salt its white color and its clean appearance.
If you are wondering, yes, salt is a highly refined product, just like white sugar.
How much sodium per day is healthy to lose weight depends on several factors, such as your age and activity level.
Keep in mind that weight gained due to sodium might be water retention in your body.
However, salt can indirectly cause weight gain because fast food and processed food are usually very salty.
It’s best if you cook your own food and avoid using too much salt. The good news? You don’t have to give up flavor when cooking without salt: just add herbs and spices for an even tastier meal!