Salt & Sugar – A Dieting Nightmare

by November 9, 2012

For people looking to become healthier by losing weight, it can be confusing to sort through all the information and advice give in the dieting world. Some experts say that only calories matter and as long as a person consumes fewer calories than the body requires for energy, weight loss will occur. Others say that different types of calories either promote or inhibit weight loss due to their effects on the metabolism and feelings of satiety.

The truth is that while calories-in-calories-out is still the fundamental principle behind weight loss, consuming foods high in salt or sugar can make it difficult for people to lose weight and stay healthy. Salt and sugar can derail weight loss efforts by increasing cravings and failing to give a feeling of fullness at a meal.

Sugar and dietingSugar is a type of carbohydrate. There are many naturally occurring forms of sugar, such as sugar found in fruit and milk. Sometimes there are added sugars in food, including ingredients such as high fructose corn syrup. Carbohydrates are a quick form of energy and are an important part of a balanced diet. According to the Harvard School of Public Health (HSPH), a healthy diet includes around six servings of carbohydrates a day. These carbohydrates should come mostly from whole grains, which are high in fiber and take a longer time to digest. One of the problems with sugar, according to the Mayo Clinic, is that it causes spikes in insulin and blood sugar. Once the spike drops, a person may feel groggy and crave more unhealthy foods. Added sugar should be avoided in favor of “slower” carbohydrates, such as whole grains.

Salt or sodium, can also be problematic for those trying to drop pounds. People think of salt inside the shaker at the dinner table, but the CDC reports most sodium intake comes from sodium already added to processed foods. Salt can increase a person’s likelihood of stroke, heart disease, and kidney disease. Better Health advises that salt can cause water retention, which causes disheartening jumps on the scale for dieters. The CDC recommends the average American consume no more than 2,000 mg of salt per day.

In summary, reducing the intake of salt and sugar is an important step to eating healthier and losing weight. While technically possible to only consume salty and sugary foods in low quantities and lose weight, this type of diet would be neither healthy nor sustainable. When eating at a calorie deficit, it is important to eat foods that are digested slowly and are high in fiber. This allows a person to feel fuller for longer and continue to make healthy choices. By following the guidelines set forth by the CDC and HSPH, a person can lose weight while eating balanced and healthy meals.

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