Challenge Forum: How Much Sodium Is Too Much?

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Joined: Aug 12
Posts: 899

Posted: 25 Nov 2012, 23:04
The American Heart Association (AHA) and the Mayo Clinic both recommend that your daily sodium intake be restricted to 1,500 mg to 2,300 mg. This is about 1 teaspoon of sodium chloride (salt).

The U.S. Department of Agriculture's 2010 Dietary Guidelines suggests that healthy American adults consume no more than 2,300 mg of sodium a day, and only 1,500 mg if you are:

- Over 51 years of age
- African American
- High risk for developing heart disease
- Suffer from hypertension, diabetes or kidney disease

The AHA and the National Institutes of Health also agree with this suggestion.

Not getting enough sodium?

The body requires sodium to keep body fluids balanced, transmit nerve impulses and influence muscle contraction and relaxation. When eating low-carb, the amount of carbohydrate in our diet changes our need for salt. The body’s metabolism of salt is uniquely different when one is adapted to a low carbohydrate diet. Salt and water are more efficiently excreted, which is a good thing as long as you maintain an adequate minimum sodium intake. And although 1500-2300 mg sounds like a lot of salt, most Americans consume 3,436 mg of sodium daily, according to the AHA.

A large decrease in sodium can cause:

Leg Cramps
Malaise (bodily discomfort)

All of these things are associated with what is known as the Atkins Flu. This happens to many people who are just beginning the Induction Phase of Atkins. The reason being, consuming lots of carbs makes you retain water, but shifting over to fat burning has a diuretic effect, meaning you excrete electrolytes and salt along with fluid. Fluid loss can be too much of a good thing for some. Fortunately, all of the above low-sodium issues are pretty easy to avoid.

To manage this problem, simply drink plenty of water and have either a couple of cups of broth (not the low-sodium kind), ½ teaspoon of salt or 2 tablespoons of soy sauce each day. Have one cup of broth mid-morning, one mid-afternoon; measure out the salt and sprinkle it on food throughout the day; or season foods with the soy sauce. Follow this regimen from Day 1, and you should be spared any problematic symptoms. And no, this doesn’t make Atkins a high-salt diet.

*Tip: If you take diuretic medication for hypertension or other health issues, don't follow the above regimen until your doctor has told you that you no longer need to take your diuretic medication. Instead, consume the recommended amounts of water, increase your intake of leafy greens and/or add some nuts or even half a cup of tomato juice until you feel better.

What are the dangers of too much sodium?

Sodium, or salt, makes your body retain water, which can add pounds to the scale. Every pound of carbs stored in your body hold 2 or 3 pounds of water and it is this water that holds the excess salt. Following a low-salt or low-carb diet may help you lose weight and keep it off, while also helping to reduce the risk of hypertension, and the other medical issues listed below. Health professionals recommend that you eat less salt and unhealthy carbs to maintain or improve your health.

Too much sodium in your diet can cause:

Hypertension (or High Blood Pressure)
Heart attack
Heart Disease
Kidney Disease
Congestive Heart Failure
Stomach and Intestine Problems

Ways to limit your sodium intake:

- Choose a salt substitute, like No Salt, Nu-Salt, Also Salt, Lo-Salt, Morton's Salt Substitute, Salt Sense or Magic Salt. Or, if you don't want to completely cut out the salt, you might try just cutting down by using Sea Salt.

*Note: Salt substitutes are not a healthful option for everyone. Many salt substitutes contain potassium chloride in place of sodium chloride. Potassium consumed in excess may be harmful for some people. For example, many persons with kidney problems are unable to rid their bodies of excessive potassium, which could result in a deadly situation. If you have kidney problems, heart problems, diabetes, or are on any of the medications listed below for your heart, kidneys or liver, it is best to check with your physician before using salt substitutes in place of sodium.

Captopril (and other angiotensiin-converting enzyme inhibitors)

- Season your food with non-sodium herbs and spices such as:

Garlic (or Garlic Powder)
Lemon or Lime Juice
Flavored Vinegar
Salt-Free Herb Blends (like Mrs. Dash)
Fresh Ground Peper
Chili Powder
Red Pepper

- You can also find low-sodium versions of ketchup, mustard, soy sauce, salad dressing, and hot sauce at certain supermarkets.

- Buy fresh or unseasoned poultry, fish, meats, and frozen veggies or choose canned/packaged/processed versions that have no salt added.

- Cut back on salt in recipes.

- Marinate meats and veggies to tenderize them and boost their flavor.

- You could also choose to not use any salt. Tasting salt on our foods is a learned habit, therefore, it can also be unlearned Smile

Here are some great recipes for homemade salt substitutes:

If you are trying to limit your sodium intake, you should be familiar with foods that are low in sodium.

Here is a list of foods that are low in carbs and sodium:

Yellow Summer Squash
Bok Choy
Green Beans
Brussel Sprouts
Canned, crushed Tomatoes
Sweet Green Peppers
Swiss Cheese
Colby Cheese
Cheddar Cheese
Whipping Cream

Or a 3 oz. serving of the following:

Beef, round - bottom, tip or eye of round
Wild Rainbow Trout
Yellowfin or Bluefin Tuna
Wild Atlantic Salmon
Chicken, white meat only
Pork Loin

Ways to deal with water retention/bloating:

If you don't drink a lot of water daily, and you know you have greatly exceeded your sodium limit for the day (or several days), here are some ways that will help you to flush out the excess sodium:

- Drink More Water - According to the University of Maine, you excrete 90 to 95 percent of the sodium in your body through your kidneys by urination. If you increase your water intake, you'll also increase your urine output--and the amount of excess sodium you flush out of your body. CBS MoneyWatch suggests drinking up to one ounce of water per pound of body weight daily, about twice the normal recommended daily intake. This will help flush excess sodium of your body in a very short time. You should only do this for 3 or 4 days at most. Dina Aronson, MS, RD writes that although maximizing water consumption is a healthy lifestyle choice, it's not a sufficient strategy by itself for reducing sodium over time. However, it can help normalize sodium levels after an unexpectedly high-sodium meal.

- Eat Spicy Foods - You also lose a small amount of sodium when you perspire, according to the University of Maine. Spicy foods will make you want to drink more water, which not only keeps you well hydrated in hot weather but also boosts urine production and thus sodium excretion. A Penn State bulletin recommends spicy foods for boosting your metabolism. It states that very hot foods can increase the metabolic rate by 20 percent for about a half hour after consumption. This will be of interest if you're trying to keep your weight down, but it's also relevant in terms of speeding up all your bodily cycles, including fluid and sodium excretion.

*Note: None of these strategies will be enough in the long term if you continue eating foods high in sodium. According to Harvard Health Publications, water follows sodium; too much sodium in your body means less water in your urine to carry sodium away. CBS MoneyWatch adds that excess sodium winds up under your skin, where it attracts water. Lowering your sodium intake reduces water retention. As that water leaves your body, it takes excess sodium with it. And of course a low sodium diet means your body has less excess sodium in needs to flush out in the first place.

"This one step - choosing a goal and sticking to it - changes everything." - Scott Reed

Joined: Aug 12
Posts: 899

Posted: 28 Nov 2012, 05:53
I've been looking at some of the Food Diarys (just call me snoopy lol) and I'm seeing some really high amounts of Sodium. Some are over twice the amount of what is recommended, and those counts don't reflect any additional salt that's being added from the salt shaker.

Too much Sodium can be a killer. Especially if you're not drinking TONS of water to help flush it out of your kidneys. And by TONS, I mean over the recommended 64 oz. a day (and I know that some of you are Smile )

Water isn't just beneficial because it helps you get rid of excess Sodium, it's also a key component in weight loss, especially when eating low-carb.
"This one step - choosing a goal and sticking to it - changes everything." - Scott Reed

Joined: Jul 10
Posts: 348

Posted: 28 Nov 2012, 10:44
Mine averages from around 2200-2950. I always manage to keep it under 3000 but I dont think I have ever gotten below 2200. I'm not even a big salt person, I am always adding pepper over salt. I guess its a good thing I drink a lot of water.

Joined: May 12
Posts: 370

Posted: 28 Nov 2012, 10:53
I really, really try to keep my sodium levels down. Yesterday, I switched over to Mrs. Dash - I can't say that I'm loving it, yet. But I know that after a week or so, I'll be more adjusted to the lower sodium levels and the no added salt.
It 'really' irritates me that even water has sodium in it. But I'm hoping to adjust quickly.
My future MiL uses so much salt in her food that it's hard for me to eat and I can usually tell immediately when I've gone over because I retain water like crazy even if I up my water intake to compensate for it.
- Toni

Starting weight 212 on 1/10/14
Mini goal: 182
Mini Goal: 162
Mini Goal: 142
Mini Goal: 125

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Joined: Aug 12
Posts: 899

Posted: 28 Nov 2012, 11:42
I know both of you drink tons of water Smile

I also use Mrs. Dash, but I use "No Salt", too. The salt substitutes kinda have an odd taste. It's "like" salt, but not quite lol. I tried switching my family over. It worked with all of them except for my mom. But now she uses Sea Salt, so that's better, at least.

Luckily, we have a Sparkletts dispenser, and from what I've researched, it doesn't contain Sodium.
"This one step - choosing a goal and sticking to it - changes everything." - Scott Reed

Joined: Feb 11
Posts: 801

Posted: 28 Nov 2012, 11:46
You are right is amazing that so much food that we buy and cook has so much salt already in it. I do not add salt to anything that I cook...not even my greens! I am thankful that I love water and it is not a chore for me or I would be in DEEP trouble!
Start weight 245# 1st goal: 220#-met 04/07/11 2nd goal: 210#-met 05/21/2011
Start over: 221# 11/08/11 Start over: 233.2# 10/2012 Start over goal met: 220# 11/14/2012
Mini goal 212's by Dec -met 12/31/2012 Mini goal: 207's end of Jan- met 01/31/2013 Mini goal: 197's by end of Feb - met 02/27/2013
re-start grrr Mini goal: 197's by 09/19/2013
I have to restart again as I slipped. I am leaving the above so I can keep track. It happens and I have to keep learning. restart at 227 on 07/20/2017.

Joined: Oct 12
Posts: 165

Posted: 28 Nov 2012, 15:40
I'm guilty of not drinking enough water when I go over my salt intake. I can tell when I've eaten too much face gets all puffy. I usually do that when I eat deli meat, especially the turkey ham (I can't eat pork products) or hotdogs. What I have started to do now is submerge the deli meat in a big bowl of water for 3-5 minutes. Osmosis draws a lot of the salt into the water. So the sodium count on the log is sometimes higher then what the actual intake is, but I'm not as anal about my sodium as I am about the carbs.

On a side note, I don't know what it is about beef hotdogs, but I could eat several of them everyday (it's a sickness Wink). Luckily they make nitrite and nitrate free ones now. Is that allowed on induction?

Joined: Aug 12
Posts: 899

Posted: 29 Nov 2012, 13:42
Toni, I think we all would! LOL

Sue, that's a great idea! I actually read that it's best to wash all processed meats. The beef hotdogs are allowed as long as they are nitrate free, so eat away! lol
"This one step - choosing a goal and sticking to it - changes everything." - Scott Reed

Joined: Oct 12
Posts: 165

Posted: 29 Nov 2012, 20:30
Sweet. Thanks Angie. Sometimes I wonder why I gripe about being on this diet.....Really??? This diet is like having your [cheese]cake and eating it too! (sugar free, of course Wink )

Joined: Aug 12
Posts: 899

Posted: 30 Nov 2012, 01:20
I know, right!? There are so many things that I can eat that many times I feel like I'm cheating lol. My family is always saying, "You can eat THAT??" LOL I just smile and nod Smile
"This one step - choosing a goal and sticking to it - changes everything." - Scott Reed