Does sodium make you gain weight?

Updated at: Oct 03, 2017
Does sodium make you gain weight?

Consuming excessive amount of sodium can make you gain weight temporarily. This is due to water retention by kidneys to balance the electrolytes in the body.

 Onlymyhealth Staff Writer
Weight ManagementWritten by: Onlymyhealth Staff WriterPublished at: Oct 03, 2017

The increased amount of water present in the water is directly related to increased kilos on the weighing scale. However, sodium is not the real culprit for this weight gain, as it is calorie free.

Sodium is consumed through table salt as it is the major component of salt. It triggers one’s thirst mechanism as it reduces the concentration of electrolytes in the blood. To balance the electrolyte concentration in your body, kidneys retain water. This increases the water concentration in the blood; it moves to different body tissues, making them swell and developing a condition called edema.

Increased weight can be a result of your intake of foods high on sodium (highly salted foods), such as junk and fast foods and packaged food. These foods are high on calories and contain ample amount of dietary fat. To keep a tab on your weight, choose a low-sodium diet which is inclusive of fresh fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean protein and low-fat dairy products. All these items are naturally low in sodium.

Sodium recommendations

Sodium intake must be kept low to prevent water retention and resultant weight gain. A person’s daily sodium intake must be less than 2,300 mg. Some people suffer from sodium sensitivity so they can improve their condition by reducing their sodium intake to less than 1,500 mg per day. Other than weight gain due to water retention, high sodium intake may shoot up your blood pressure.

Why body needs sodium?

Sodium is an electrolyte and body cells conduct electricity through it. The proper functioning of heart and skeletal muscle cells depend on sodium. If you consume too much of sodium, the body would compensate the added positively charged ions by retaining water. This disturbs the proper functioning of your body making it difficult for you to fit in your old jeans.

Reduce sodium intake

  • Dietary and lifestyle changes need to be made to cut down the consumption of sodium.
  • Avoid eating processed, convenient and packaged foods, especially junk food. These are usually high on sodium as well as on calories and fats.  
  • Choose low-sodium food options. Check labels for sodium content.
  • Eat whole-grain food items, natural foods such as fruits, vegetables and lean protein.
  • Regularly engage yourself in exercise and drink plenty of water to flush excessive sodium out of your body.

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