Whether it’s potato chips, fries, or a bowl of pasta, salty foods continue to remain a topic of discussion between dietary experts. Most agree salt is horrible for the body especially in the amounts it’s consumed these days.
However, a question that does arise is whether or not salty foods impact your weight.
Do you gain weight when you up the amount of salt consumed on a daily basis? This is an intriguing question and it is one most people are going to have at one point in their life.
What Causes Weight Gain?
To better understand the body’s ability to gain weight, it’s important to recognize how it all works. The human body functions using the drinks and foods a person consumes throughout the day.
In general, the body requires water to stay alive and some form of food. What you put into the body will depend on what’s available but weight gain is all about caloric intake.
A lot of people assume weight gain is based on the type of food going into the body but that’s often untrue. Instead, it’s the number of calories you are consuming per day and how it stacks up with your maintenance number (i.e. the number of calories needed to keep the same weight).
Most people end up blaming the food but it has to do with how much they are eating.
Of course, healthier foods tend to be a lot more filling, which means you eat fewer calories but still feel full. With this in mind, it’s easier to move forward and look at the impact salty foods have on the body and weight gain.
In general, the reason people assume salty foods impact their weight has to do with the bloating effect.
Salt tends to increase a person’s bodyweight temporarily (by 2-3 pounds) for around 24 hours or so.
This is nothing to be alarmed about as the water weight will go away eventually.
However, a lot of people note their cheeks bloat and assume they are starting to get fatter. In reality, this is simply the body reacting to the amount of sodium that has been consumed and the amount of fluid that’s being retained.
As soon as the levels go back to normal, so will the bloated areas of your body.
Please note to avoid this water weight effect, a person should be consuming less than 2,300 mg per day of sodium. In fact, you should be aiming for far less than this number to stay as safe as possible!
Reasons to Avoid Overly Salty Foods
1. Can be Bad for the Heart
There are many reasons for avoiding salty foods that have nothing to do with weight gain. The first reason would have to do with your heart and its ability to stay in good shape as you get older.
The heart can be under serious duress if you are overshooting sodium levels every single day by eating potato chips, fries and/or bowls of pasta. You want to make sure this is not the case because heart conditions are not a joke. They can have a serious impact on your quality of life and will put a lot of pressure on your health.
Most people don’t realize this and assume they are going to be okay when that’s a risky mindset to have.
Salty foods can continue to pound away at the heart and will start to clog arteries and put more pressure on the blood vessels. This is why cutting down on these foods is a must.
2. Can Lead to Bad Dietary Choices
This is where weight gain can be associated with salty foods. A person that is eating these foods will also notice a boost in their hunger levels.
In essence, you are going to see a rise in your serotonin levels as soon as these foods are consumed and that will make you want to eat even more.
The same tends to happen when you consume sugar.
As soon as you get addicted to this feeling, you are going to start eating more and more with each passing day. This is common among people and they end up making horrible dietary choices that are bad for their long-term health.
To avoid this, it is important to stick to removing these salty foods from your diet as soon as possible. Otherwise, the weight is going to go up because you will be eating far too many calories.
Once those calories go up, your weight is going to be heading upwards as well!
3. May Put Stress on the Kidneys
Your kidneys are going to be under duress just like the heart and it’s common for people to start dealing with kidney-related conditions as they get older. The sodium tends to put pressure on the blood vessels, which are interlinked with the kidney’s functions.
As a result, those pressure points are going to lead to major issues down the road as the kidneys have to manage additions tress that’s put on them throughout the day.
Kidneys are reliant on their being a regulated amount of sodium in the body. If not, it is going to kickstart the process of making sure the body gets back to that state. In these situations, the kidneys have to work even harder in order to make sure water levels don’t get elevated.
This also includes pressures put from the heart not functioning as it is supposed to, which doubles down on the kidneys.
Can You Still Have Some Salt?
Salt in moderation is OK for most folks, so you don’t want to eliminate it altogether. That said, you should consult with your medical doctor to see what a healthy amount of salt or sodium is for you.
The amount may vary depending on your health, blood pressure, etc.
There are plenty of diets or eating plans you can follow that are safe, healthy, and effective for weight loss, and that still include salt with your meals.
Mayo Clinic Diet (read about it here) is one of our favorite diets for long-term health and weigh loss, if you’re looking for a good one to check out.
It all comes down to understanding what causes weight gain and making adjustments. Yes, salty foods on their own are not going to lead to weight gain but they can certainly act as a catalyst over the long-term.
It’s all about developing good habits and eating salty foods is not one of them. Those looking to improve their diet and get on top of what is going into the body need to start cutting out salty foods as soon as they can.
This is the only way to get healthier over the long-term!
Ben Corbin brings more than 20 years of experience as a health and wellness author and writer. He holds a master’s degree, has a passion for health and fitness, and is driven to provide readers with accurate and honest information. Learn more about Ben and the DadQuarters mission at our About page.