Young man stroking chin and wondering if sodium is bad for weight loss

Is Sodium Bad for Weight Loss?

Written on August 28, 2023 by Sendra Yang, PharmD, MBA. To give you technically accurate, evidence-based information, content published on the Everlywell blog is reviewed by credentialed professionals with expertise in medical and bioscience fields.

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Most people in the United States eat too much sodium.[1] On average, Americans consume over 3,400 milligrams of sodium each day. This is much more than what is recommended as part of a healthy diet. The Dietary Guidelines for Americans, 2020-2025, recommends consuming less than 2,300 milligrams per day for adults.[2] Read on to learn about the good and bad about sodium and if it is bad for weight loss.

What Is Sodium?

Sodium is a mineral found in various forms found in different types of food.[1] Most sodium consumed is in the form of salt. Salt or plain table salt, also called sodium chloride, contains 40% sodium and 60% chloride. Other forms of sodium in food include monosodium glutamate (MSG), sodium bicarbonate (baking soda), and sodium nitrate (a preservative). Sodium can be used in multiple ways, including flavoring foods, curing meats, baking, as a thickening agent, as a preservative, and to retain moisture.[2]

The Good About Sodium

Sodium is an essential nutrient that your body needs to function properly and stay healthy.[3-5] A small amount of sodium is required to help your nerve impulses work correctly and muscles contract and relax appropriately. It also has a role in maintaining your body's fluid balance. Your kidneys help your body maintain a consistent sodium level by adjusting how much is excreted in the urine.

The Bad About Sodium

Eating too much sodium is not good for your health.[1,3-7] Excessive amounts of sodium can make your body retain water by negatively affecting your kidneys. Retaining water can lead to high blood pressure because more fluid enters the bloodstream and pushes against the blood vessel walls. Elevated sodium consumption can lead to an increased risk for cardiovascular events.[7] High sodium levels can also lead to bloating, increased thirst, and difficulty sleeping. The risk of being overweight or obese was also associated with higher sodium intake.[8-10]

Is Sodium Bad For Weight Loss?

Not only is sodium terrible because of the various previously mentioned effects, but it is also bad for weight loss.[2] Sodium can make you hold fluid and lead to weight gain.[3-7] Consuming salty food can increase your thirst, urging you to drink more water and retain even more fluids. Additionally, foods that contain high sodium levels tend to have more calories. When trying to lose weight, you should eat fewer calories than what you can burn. High salt consumption has been linked to an increased risk of obesity.[8-10] A 1 gram per day increase in salt intake was associated with an elevated risk of obesity by 28% in children and 26% in adults.[10]

If you are trying to lose weight, you should consider limiting your sodium intake. Speak with a healthcare provider about the right amount for you. One easy way to do this is via the Everlywell Weight Care+ telehealth option which pairs GLP-1 prescriptions online with regular clinical care, lab testing, and support for related conditions.

Everlywell Weight Loss Support

Tips On Reducing Sodium In Your Diet

Since too much sodium is bad for weight loss, here are some tips to help you limit the amount you consume:[2,11]

  • Know and follow the recommended daily value for sodium, which is less than 2,300 milligrams per day for adults
  • Learn how to read the nutrition facts labels on packaged foods and take note of the sodium amounts
  • When cooking, baking, or eating, try to limit adding sodium and try herbs and spices for more added flavor
  • Choose fresh or frozen fruits and vegetables to avoid additional sodium in canned options
  • If you have to buy canned beans, tuna, or vegetables, give them a good rinse with water to remove the extra sodium
  • Select condiments that have light or reduced sodium, or consider using oil and vinegar for salads instead of bottled dressings
  • Consider cooking at home more often to control how much sodium is in your foods
  • Limit the packaged and processed foods you consume since these contain high sodium content
  • Be aware of your portion size; smaller sizes would mean less sodium being consumed
  • Select snacks that are low in sodium or have no salt, such as carrots or celery sticks, and low-sodium nuts or seeds

Weight Loss With Everlywell

If you want to know what impacts weight loss and how to reach your goal weight, speak with your healthcare provider. Everlywell has a telehealth option where you can meet one-on-one with a certified clinician through Virtual Care Visit with our Weight Care+ program. The comprehensive program pairs GLP-1 prescriptions (if you qualify) with regular clinical care, lab testing, and support for weight-related conditions. You will be able to discuss your weight goals and get help for your weight loss journey. Through the Weight Care+ program, you will have regular check-ins with your healthcare provider, who will review your weight loss progress, assess your medication tolerance, order follow-up lab testing or prescription refills, and adjust your care plan as needed.

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  1. Sodium intake and health. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. June 6, 2023. Accessed August 20, 2023.
  2. Current dietary guidelines. Dietary Guidelines for Americans, 2020-2025 and Online Materials. Dietary Guidelines for Americans. Accessed August 20, 2023.
  3. Sodium. MedlinePlus. Accessed August 20, 2023.
  4. Strazzullo P, Leclercq C. Sodium. Adv Nutr. 2014;5(2):188-90. doi: 10.3945/an.113.005215
  5. Mente A, O'Donnell M, Yusuf S. Sodium Intake and Health: What Should We Recommend Based on the Current Evidence? Nutrients. 2021;13(9):3232. doi: 10.3390/nu13093232
  6. Signs you’re eating too much salt. Cleveland Clinic. May 1, 2023. Accessed August 20, 2023.
  7. Farquhar WB, Edwards DG, Jurkovitz CT, Weintraub WS. Dietary sodium and health: more than just blood pressure. J Am Coll Cardiol. 2015;65(10):1042-50. doi: 10.1016/j.jacc.2014.12.039
  8. Lee J, Sohn C, Kim OY, Lee YM, Yoon MO, Lee M. The association between dietary sodium intake and obesity in adults by sodium intake assessment methods: a review of systematic reviews and re-meta-analysis. Nutr Res Pract. 2023;17(2):175-191. doi: 10.4162/nrp.2023.17.2.175
  9. Haghighatdoost F, Sarrafzadegan N, Khosravi A, Noori F, Boshtam M, Mohammadifard N, Abdollhi Z, Azadbakht L. Is the association between salt intake and blood pressure mediated by body mass index and central adiposity? Arch Iran Med. 2013;16(3):167-71
  10. Ma Y, He FJ, MacGregor GA. High salt intake: independent risk factor for obesity? Hypertension. 2015;66(4):843-9. doi: 10.1161/HYPERTENSIONAHA.115.05948.
  11. Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition. Sodium in your diet. U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Accessed August 20, 2023.
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