Salt can add so much flavor to your food. Some of the most delicious meals have salt in them, or are garnished with salt to bring out the natural taste. But can salt be bad for you, especially in excess, and can it make you gain weight?
In this article, we’re going to take a closer look at salt, what effects it has on the body, and whether salt can actually make you gain weight. Read on to find out!
Does Salt Make You Gain Weight
So, does salt make you gain weight? Well, the short answer is yes.
When you think about it, most of the foods that are high in salt are things like fast food, processed foods, snacks, meals from restaurants, chips, and bread.
All of these things also tend to be high in calories, and linked to higher body fat too.
The other thing is that having a lot of salt in your diet can also cause you to retain more water, which can also make you appear heavier when on the scales. However, it’s not just about water weight.
If you have too much salt in your diet, then you can increase your risk of not only having more body fat, but you could develop a heart condition, or be more at risk of stroke and other diseases.
Effects Of Salt On The Body
Salt, or sodium is an essential nutrient that we need in order for our bodies to function. Sodium is needed to help blood pressure regulation, nerve cell function, nutrient transport, and for fluid regulation.
If you’ve ever been really sick and have vomited a lot, then you may have been told you need to get sodium back into your system in order to recover.
This is because you may have lost a lot of fluids, whether that is through vomiting or diarrhea, sweating, or urinating.
You will need sodium and other electrolytes to maintain your fluid balance and become well again.
As sodium is essential for fluid balance, excessive salt can be associated with fluid retention.
This is when lots of salt in the body causes you to conserve and retain water.
High salt also increases thirst and dehydration, as the body uses the extra fluid to dilute the excess sodium that it can’t get rid of quickly enough.
However, if your urination does not change, then this excess fluid simply stays in the body, and you retain weight in the form of fluid.
This is why you may feel puffed up after eating a lot of salt. However, this feeling is only temporary and the excess fluid does not permanently affect your weight. It is only short term weight gain.
If you are worried about weight gain, then high salt intake can make you gain weight.
Foods that are high in salt are often subsequently high in calories. When you eat too many calories in relation to how many you burn off, you will gain weight.
In addition, studies have shown that people with high sodium intake are at an increased risk of obesity, regardless of how many calories you consume.
Higher salt intake is also significantly linked to higher levels of body fat in both children and adults, and the majority of this body fat may be found around the midriff.
For instance, a moderate intake of sodium per day is between 1,500-2,300 mg. Those who consume a 1 gram per day increase of the 2,300 guideline, are more at risk of weight gain, obesity and belly fat.
Therefore, while sodium is an essential nutrient that the body needs for fluid retention and bodily function, too much sodium per day can lead to an increased risk of obesity and weight gain.
Foods High In Salt
As mentioned above, most foods high in salt are also very calorific, which is an easy way to take on a few extra pounds. Some of the more common foods that are high in sodium are:
- Smoked/cured meats
- Cold cuts
- Frozen breaded meats
- Salted nuts
- Canned soup
- Packaged frozen shrimp
- Mac and cheese
- Salad dressings
- Sandwiches (processed meats and cheese)
- Broths & stocks
- Pork rinds
- Canned vegetables
- Soy sauce (very high in salt)
- Hot dogs
- Bagels and bread
The bottom line with avoiding salty foods is to eat them in moderation.
We’re not saying that you cannot ever have mac and cheese, but this should be a treat and not part of your every day diet.
You can also eat things like bacon, or the occasional sandwich with processed meats every once in a while, but there is a lot of sodium in these foods, and you should not have these as a staple of your diet.
In addition, as you can see, processed or canned foods are also high in salt which can be unhealthy.
It is therefore better to eat meats and vegetables that are as fresh as possible.
This is particularly important with seafood. You’ll want to ensure you buy fresh seafood as packaged, frozen sea food can be flavored with excess salt to ensure it lasts well and tastes better.
To conclude, we do need salt, or sodium in our diets in order for our bodies to function normally.
Sodium is essential in fluid balance, which is why you need electrolytes after you’ve lost hydration through vomiting or sweating.
However, this also means that a lot of salt in your system can lead to water retention, which can make you weigh heavier temporarily.
In addition, an excess of salt in your diet can also lead to weight gain as salty foods can often be calorific and linked to obesity, weight gain and other medical issues such as heart conditions.