Does Salt affect weight loss?

Diva - 03 Feb 22

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The Big question....Does salt affect weight loss? Our Clients often do not fully know what they are putting into their bodies and what the side effects or consequences of their actions can be. We have a found a big gap of knowledge in people who are trying to lose weight and the topic of salt.

So can salt really cause weight gain? 

Researchers have found there is a role in hunger and weight gain when it comes to consuming salt. Several recent studies shed light on why salt may encourage us to overeat.
Until recently we have always focused on the effect of salt on blood pressure. But it is necessary that we expand our conceptions of salt and diet. 

Salt and Our Health

Sodium, the main ingredient in salt, is an essential part of our diet, and not just for flavour either. It keeps our muscles and nerves working properly, and it helps our bodies to maintain a proper balance of fluids. The problem comes in when sodium levels rise too high, then your blood pressure often goes up as well.

As a result over time, high blood pressure can have serious, life-threatening consequences. It can lead to strokes, heart attacks, kidney disease, and other health problems. To protect yourself against high blood pressure, dietary guidelines recommend that we get less than 2,300 milligrams of sodium per day. That’s about a teaspoon of salt. The ideal target for most adults is no more than 1,500 milligrams daily. 

Using salt in excessive amounts may make you retain water

A lot of people associate salt in their diet with fluid retention.This is because eating too much salt causes your body to conserve water. High salt intake increases thirst. This fact has been proven. Your body uses the extra fluid consumed to dilute the excess sodium that it’s unable to excrete quickly enough.

The problem is your urine volume does not change, that means all this extra fluid stays in your body. It comes to prove that a sudden increase in sodium intake may cause you to gain weight in the form of fluid. 

This is why you will find yourself feeling puffy after eating very high salt foods like take-out foods and salty restaurant meals.
It’s important to note that this fluid retention is generally only temporary. Body fluid levels typically return to normal after a few days. 

Most of the foods that are high in added salt are high in calories  

Foods that are high in salt are also often high in calories. For example, take out food, fried foods, boxed meals like frozen cottage pie, creamy pasta dishes, and pizza are typically very high in salt and calories. 

Eating too many foods that are high in salt and overall calories may lead to weight gain. Studies have also found that high sodium intake may increase your  risk of obesity — independent of your calorie intake. 

Changes you can make to cut back on added salt

For most people, the sodium found naturally in foods like eggs and shellfish isn’t an issue. But it is important to monitor your added salt intake to ensure that your diet isn’t excessively high in salt. Typically, most added salt intake comes from the consumption of highly processed foods. Below are some high salt foods to cut back on to reduce your intake of added salt:

  • Highly processed and salty take-out foods: pizza, mexican food, hamburgers, nuggets or fried chicken, french fries (Chips), etc.
  • Packaged snacks with added salt: chips (Chrisps), pork rinds, pretzels, etc.
  • Processed meats: Biltong, Dried Wors, bacon, salted and cured meat or fish, salami, sausages, etc.
  • Salty condiments: salad dressings, soy sauce, hot sauce, Worcestershire sauce etc.
  • High salt boxed or canned meals: ready-made pasta and rice dishes, canned soups, canned bullybeef, smash potato mash pockets, etc.
Additionally, adding too much salt to home-cooked meals can significantly increase your overall salt intake.Try to reduce the amount of salt you add to foods, and be sure to taste the food before adding any extra salt. You can also use lemon juice, fresh herbs, garlic, and spices to reduce the need for salt in your recipes. What we usually recommend to our clients as well is, to add salt only after your food is cooked. This will help you not to add too much salt, but if you add it whilst cooking then you might be adding too much salt and this is only affecting your body negatively. 
While most of our clients tend to trim fat and carbs from their diets when trying to lose weight (or just eat healthier overall), they don't realise they should be pushing away the salt shaker. A study published in the Journal of Nutrition reveals that salt is the culprit for eating more. As we mentioned above, salt can encourage us to eat more. 

Salt increases how pleasant,  people perceive food to be. This makes people crave more. The results from the study that was done shows that participants wanted to eat more of the high-salt meals than their low salt counterparts.

So What Exactly Is Salt and do I actually need to use it?

It is a seasoning that can flavour food and act as a preservative. It’s about 60% chloride and 40% sodium. Nearly all unprocessed foods like vegetables, fruits, nuts, meats, whole grains, and dairy foods are low in sodium. The salt that we do eat (In moderation with the daily intake) helps to relax and contract muscles, and it lends a hand with nerve impulses, and balances the minerals and water we take in.

Some things you might be experiencing when consuming too much salt

Do you feel bloated?

Bloating -- when your stomach feels swollen or tight, it is generally one of the most common short-term effects of having too much salt. It makes your body retain water, so extra fluid builds up. Foods don’t have to taste salty for them to be high in sodium. Sandwiches is a perfect example. 

Do you feel all swollen or Puffy?

Swelling can be a sign of too much sodium in your body. Body parts like your face, hands, feet, and ankles are most likely to swell. If you’re more puffy than usual, take a look at how much salt you’re eating.

You Aren’t Sleeping Well

If you eat too much salt before bed, it can lead to disturbances in your sleep. Signs can range from restless sleep, to waking up often at night, to not feeling rested in the morning.

Do You Often Feel Weak?

When there’s too much salt in your blood, the water gushes out of your cells to thin out the salt. What is The result? You might start to feel weaker than usual.

Does Your Stomach Bother you?

If you are using too much salt in your diet it makes you dehydrated and your stomach will feel it. You might feel nauseated, or you might have diarrhoea. If your stomach is upset or you have cramps, take a look at what you’ve been eating during the past few days and find a way to cut back on the salt. Drinking plenty of water can help to rehydrate your cells and get you feeling better.

What are the Long-Term Effects of Too Much Salt?

Although there are a lot of short-term effects to watch out for, there are also long-term effects of eating too much salt as we mentioned early in this blog. It might raise your chances for things like enlarged heart muscle, headaches, heart failure, high blood pressure, kidney disease, kidney stones, osteoporosis, stomach cancer, and stroke.


Take it easy with the salt ladies and gents. Your body does not need the high amounts that you tend to put in, and often times this may be the reason why you are struggling to lose weight and also the cause for underlying conditions. 

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