Guilty pleasures maybe a big temptation, but when it comes to weight loss, we strive to curb all our temptations, albeit with a heavy heart. But, the sight of a Diet Coke and the idea of zero-calories get you dreaming of the good old carefree days, doesn’t it? After all zero calories are equal to guilt-free indulgence!
Similarly, salt is also zero calories, but you soon realize that it doesn’t equal guilt-free indulgence! There is a limit to everything, even salt! Going overboard with it means, inviting flabby woes!
Surprised how this zero-cal salt is causing weighty woes?
After sugary beverages and processed foods, salt-laden food is the next big no-no when it comes to weight loss.
Ever wondered, how easily you down a bowl of salted peanuts while binge-watching your favourite TV series without even realizing it? Research suggests that salt is no less addictive than cigarettes or other drugs, triggering the same genes, brain cells and brain connection. Sodium-rich food acts like a mild opiate, which results in overeating and weight gain since it stimulates the brain’s reward and pleasure centres and makes you munch on without realizing.
What also makes these sodium-rich foods like chips, pretzels or popcorn contribute towards weight gain are that they contain quick-digesting simple carbs, which cause insulin highs and subsequent lows. Given the fact that our taste buds and brain link fast-acting energy with sugar-containing foods like chocolates, soda and pastries, it’s common to consume a sweet once you have satisfied that salty nosh.
No wonder the coke with chips/popcorn combo is a bigger hit than the Salman Khan starrer playing in the cinemas!
Further, keep in mind that sodium-laden food causes dehydration, in turn making you reach out for the readily available aerated beverages, juices loaded with preservatives and even alcohol. As the hunger and thirst centres are located close to each other in the brain, you could also end up interpreting thirst as hunger, a definite downward spiral from being fit to fat.
Now, when mum gives you a handful of soaked almonds and cashews to eat with your breakfast, you cringe. And when you find a bag of salted almonds lying on the dining table when you’re hungry, you finish the entire packet at one go!
It’s SALT that is making the difference!
Our fat cells produce a hormone leptin which tells us when to stop eating. Not so surprisingly, when you add salt to the food, its functionality gets blunted and you tend to overeat.
Research conducted at the Deakin University in Australia demonstrated how consuming too much sodium can lead to cravings for fatty foods and binges. With the upsurge in commercially packaged snacks like chips, crackers or pretzels, or fast foods like burgers the sodium content has increased to such an extent that you are on your path to overeating.
And this is why we don’t stop at one ;).
Though we have explained how salt is the culprit in your weight loss journey, we don’t want you to ditch salt completely. As it has many health benefits if consumed in moderation!
- Salt is an important source of dietary iodine which is vital for a healthy thyroid.
- Salt is necessary to retain hydration, the reason why salt is in things like Gatorade and other electrolyte drinks.
- Salt is a natural antihistamine. A pinch of salt sprinkled on the tongue may help improve an allergic reaction or an asthma attack.
- Salt reduces stress hormones like cortisol and adrenaline and helps us relax. This benefit of salt water helps you get a good night’s sleep.
- Your body needs salt to maintain the proper stomach pH which forms the basis for good digestion.
- Lastly, salt makes food taste good and adds a satiety factor. The adequate salt content of food makes it easier to enjoy quality instead of quantity, thereby encouraging mindful eating and weight management.
Here are some ways how you can eat your salt smartly:
- Choose unprocessed or minimally processed foods. Canned, processed, and frozen foods are often loaded with added salt.
- Opt for homemade popcorn instead of opting for the commercially prepared popcorn.
- An oven-baked potato is lighter and just as tasty as that packet of chips!
- Use spices such as oregano, chilli flakes, black pepper or jeera to add flavour to your raita, salads, sandwiches and soups.
- Opt for fresh coriander chutney or a bowl of curd instead of packaged pickles or tomato ketchup.
- Consume lots of water with salty foods to avoid dehydration.
- Instead of sitting down with a pack of chips Or box of nuts just grab a small bowl or handful to avoid overeating.
- Avoid eating salt at anyone’s place so that they don’t have the opportunity to say ‘Tumne humara namak khaya hai!’ Haha! We are just kidding!
So, we hope you all understood the side-effects of consuming an excess amount of salt and will pay heed to our advice! Variety is the spice of life and salt is definitely one of the major spices!
Eat smart with bon happetee 🙂 , even when it’s salt.
Vishruta is a nutritionist by profession and a writer by heart. Content writing and menu planning have become her passions over the past few years. Love food, love life — is her mantra.