Does switching to a diet rich in low sodium foods guarantee weight loss success? While there is no magic bullet for losing weight, studies show that by cutting back on salt, you improve your health and your waistline.
Many dieters make the mistake of using a diet program that advocates processed foods, such as snack bars, protein shakes, and diet sodas. However, these foods contain large quantities of sodium, which can slow down your weight loss. Need more reasons to switch to low sodium food? Here are the basics of why and how you can begin eating healthy to lose weight.
Does Sodium Contribute to Weight Gain?
Sodium can contribute to weight gain in two ways. First, if you indulge your cravings for salty snack foods, chances are you will grab a bag of chips, pretzels, or crackers and eat freely. Even if these foods are low in calories, they are highly processed and contain not only sodium, but hydrogenated fats, fillers, and preservatives. These substances, along with sodium, can contribute to water retention, swelling, and edema.
Secondly, you can actually feed an addiction to salt by giving in to your cravings, putting you in a vicious cycle of binging on salty snack foods.
You can improve your cardiovascular health as well as eliminate water retention by cutting back your sodium intake. Most experts consider a low sodium diet to be anything under 2 grams per day. In order to meet this goal, you will need to make careful food choices and read labels scrupulously.
Learn How to Read Package Labels
Many foods are labeled "low sodium" or "no sodium," but what does that mean? According to the guidelines set forth by the National Labeling and Education Act, a low sodium food product contains 140mg of sodium or less per serving. A no sodium food contains less than 5mg of sodium per serving.
When reading package labels, pay attention to two things: the serving size and the mg of sodium per serving. Don't pay any attention to the percentage of daily value, as that percentage is not based on a low sodium diet.
Remember that a single teaspoon of table salt contains nearly 2300mg of sodium. So if you need to restrict your intake of salt on the Diet Program, you can see how necessary it is to begin reading all food labels.
Eating Out vs. Eating at Home
Eating a low sodium diet while dining out can be tricky. At the grocery store, you can read package labels, but you cannot usually find out the ingredients and their measurements of a typical restaurant meal. Your safest bet is to order a grilled entrée, such as chicken or beef, and ask them to hold any sauces, seasonings, or rubs. Steamed vegetables without salt or butter are a good option as a side order. Avoid cheeses, processed foods, and grains.
If you dine at home, you have a lot more control over the foods you prepare. You can increase the flavor of your food and decrease your sodium intake by adding fresh herbs to your meal plans for weight loss. You can even learn how to cultivate your own kitchen herb garden, a fun and delicious hobby. You can also cut salt by cooking with organic unsalted butter. Eliminate cheese from your diet, as it is naturally high in sodium. And, it goes without saying; you should also avoid bringing processed or salty snack foods into your home, such as microwave popcorn, chips, and crackers.
A diet rich in whole, unprocessed foods is naturally low in sodium. Keep your refrigerator stocked with all-natural cuts of meat, fresh vegetables, and fruits, all of which are low sodium foods. If you need to occasionally indulge your craving for salty snacks, a single dill pickle can satisfy your need for a crunchy, salty food.