Have you ever started on a bag of chips meaning to eat only a few, but found yourself devouring the whole bag? Blame the sodium. Sodium is not necessarily a culprit in weight gain, nor does reducing your intake automatically mean you will lose weight. However, food manufacturers often add sodium to high-fat, non-nutritious foods to enhance the flavor. This keeps you eating high calorie foods and coming back to the store for more.
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The FDA recommends that we get no more than 2300 mg per day of sodium. This is equivalent to about 1 teaspoon of salt per day. Those at risk for heart disease should reduce this amount to 1500 mg per day. However, most Americans get much more than 2300 mg in their diets. Over the last 4 decades, Americans sodium intake increased by almost 60%!
What’s Wrong with Sodium?
Nothing. The problem is consuming too much. Humans need a small amount of sodium in their diets, because it plays an important role in muscle and nerve function. However, if you don’t pay attention, you will unintentionally get too much.
How does sodium relate to weight loss? High sodium foods often go hand in hand with foods that are high in saturated fat and high in calories. Furthermore, high sodium intake can cause your body to hang on to excess water weight. If you reduce your sodium intake, the excess pounds from water weight will come off. In addition, you will be likely to avoid the high calorie foods that have a lot of sodium.
Reduce Your Dietary Sodium
Sodium is in virtually everything, but there are some easy ways to reduce the sodium in your diet. Choose fresh or frozen vegetables rather than canned. Try using spices and herbs to flavor foods instead of salt. If you buy packaged foods, choose low sodium varieties. Also, avoid chips, cookies, crackers, and prepackaged meals as much as possible. By reading labels and reducing your sodium intake, you will automatically improve your fat and calorie intake.
Above all, read the labels! You might be surprised at the high sodium content in certain foods. Some brands of raisin bran have almost 400 milligrams of sodium per serving. That is 20% of the recommended daily intake. V8 seems like a nutritious way to get your veggie servings; however, one serving has 650 mg of sodium. If you like getting your vegetables this way, try the low sodium version. Canned vegetables can have as much as 700 mg per cup. Soy sauce is naturally salty, but do you know just how much sodium it contains? Try over 1,000 mg per serving! Watch out for spaghetti sauce, soups, and salted nuts, too.
Reducing your sodium is a great way to improve your health. Not only will it keep your water weight down and help you feel less bloated, but it will also improve your heart health and keep you from eating some of the worst diet offenders on the market.