Too much salt may cause water-weight gain.
Can Reducing Sodium Intake Reduce Body Weight?
If you eat too much sodium, reducing your intake could help curb water retention, leading to fluid loss that registers on the scale. But while cutting sodium may cause you to shed water weight, it won't affect body fat. Excess fat comes from eating more calories than you expend, and sodium does not contain any calories. Regardless of weight loss, reducing sodium may be a good move to protect your health.
Sodium and Weight
If your body retains an extra 400 milligrams of sodium, roughly the amount in a gram of salt, you could carry two added pounds of water weight, according to Dr. Jack D. Osman of Towson University. Your body strives to maintain a delicate balance of sodium and water, so when you eat too much sodium it holds on to more water to offset the excess. This weight is temporary, and once sodium levels return to normal it will disappear. Drinking water can help flush sodium, expediting water-weight loss.
Most adults can be healthy on 1,200 to 1,500 milligrams of sodium per day, yet the average American consumes 3,400 daily milligrams. The tolerable upper limit for sodium is 2,300 milligrams per day, according to Harvard Medical School. African Americans, people with high blood pressure and anyone over the age of 40 should consume no more than 1,500 milligrams of sodium daily. Processed foods take most of the blame for America's high sodium habits, accounting for 77 percent of sodium in the average diet.
The primary concern with excessive salt intake is that sodium often leads to high blood pressure, or hypertension. Hypertension, in turn, can cause heart disease and stroke. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention notes that some people are especially sensitive to the effects of salt, while others can consume larger amounts without ill effects. There is no way to determine sodium sensitivity; therefore, the CDC advises all Americans to limit sodium intake to help ensure a healthy heart.
The only sure-fire way to reduce body weight is to eat fewer calories than you burn. A pound of fat is the rough equivalent of 3,500 calories, so cutting 500 to 1,000 calories per day from your daily energy intake leads to a loss of a pound or two per week. The healthy way to achieve this is by basing your diet on fresh and steamed produce along with whole-grain products such as whole-wheat spaghetti, wild rice and whole barley. Keep proteins lean -- good choices include kidney beans, reduced-fat dairy and seafood.