You eat right. You exercise. But still your scale won't budge.
Despite your good intentions and all the stomach crunches you can stand, you could be unknowingly be sabotaging your efforts every day by eating one ingredient that is guaranteed to plug you up, bloat you out, and pack on the pounds.
That dreaded diet saboteur is salt.
Salt is everywhere-especially in the very diet foods we eat to lose weight-and it's devastating to our health and our waistlines.
In fact, as the Nutrition Twins explain in The Secret to Skinny (HCI), if you drop the salt you will drop at least one size in just four weeks!
Think you can't imagine eating food without the salt and flavor? Think again.
The Secret to Skinny -- as well as the Diet-to-Go meals -- provides palette-pleasing meals and snacks that will fill you up without filling you out while you enjoy the side benefits of going low-sodium: improved blood pressure, heart function, skin tone and overall energy.
The Nutrition Twins, a.k.a. registered dietitians Tammy Lakatos Shames and Lyssie Lakatos have pinpointed the foods that get and keep you lean by ridding your body of excess salt and revving your metabolism for maximum fat burning. They've also discovered the everyday foods that are derailing your best efforts.
"Just taking the salt shaker off the table won't make that much of a difference," Tammy tells DiettoGo.com. "We get 70 percent of our salt from the processed foods we eat. And that includes 'healthy' stuff like whole-grain bread and turkey breast lunchmeat!"
The "easy answer" is to eat wholesome foods like fresh fruits and veggies, brown rice, water and green tea.
"And always read the labels," Lyssie urges. "We need to be paying better attention to what we buy and eat."
For more information, be sure to check out the website NutritionTwins.com.
Meanwhile, check out this Secret to Skinny excerpt reprinted courtesy of HCI Books and the Nutrition Twins.
Many people are well aware of the health problems that too much salt can cause, including high blood pressure and cardiovascular disease. But most people aren't aware of how excess salt contributes to weight gain.
Sodium, along with other minerals such as calcium, magnesium, chloride, and potassium, is an electrolyte that helps keep your metabolism running, ensures proper flow of nutrients and waste into and out of your body, and maintains the acid-base (pH) balance in your blood. If you get too much sodium, you create electrolyte imbalances that throw your body off-kilter.
This means your metabolism can't function at its peak, and you can't burn as much fat as you should.
Excess salt also negatively affects insulin, a hormone that helps transport sugar out of the blood and into the muscles and tissues for energy. This means that insulin can't do its job, so sugar builds up in the blood, damaging vessels and making it difficult for fat-burning oxygen to flow to cells and melt fat.
Making matters worse, when people gain weight, especially in the abdominal area, they can become insulin resistant. This means their bodies don't respond well to insulin. In response, the pancreas secretes more insulin, which in time can result in diabetes. With higher insulin levels, not only does your body store more fat, but your kidneys will have a harder time getting rid of salt, which can lead to electrolyte imbalances, high blood pressure, and bloating.
Bloating and Appearance
In addition to weight gain, too much sodium can take a toll on your appearance, including causing a puffy, tired-looking face. Ever notice that after a meal filled with salty foods (think soy sauce, smoked fish or meat, French fries, or chips) your stomach is distended and you weigh more the next morning? That's your body's reaction to eating too much salt. The retention of extra water and fluid leads to major bloating. Even if you're skinny, you'll still look bloated and puffy from all the excess fluid.
Salt-filled foods can lead to cardiovascular disease, not only from high blood pressure, but also from increased fat and cholesterol intake. Most of the salt Americans get comes from processed food, which is full of fat, cholesterol, and calories. Not only do these fats attach to your waist, hips, and thighs, they also clog and harden your arteries and make it more difficult for oxygen to get to your cells.
When oxygen can't get to your cells, not only can't you burn fat, but you are also at higher risk for a heart attack. When your heart pumps blood through the blood vessels, oxygen and nutrients are delivered to your cells, and waste products are removed (you get an energized body, glowing skin, nourished muscles, and increased fat burning). As it circulates, your blood exerts a force against the walls of the blood vessels, and this force is known as your blood pressure (BP).
Problems occur when your blood vessels get clogged up. This can happen from eating large amounts of fat and cholesterol, but too much salt intake is also a major culprit in clogging the pipes. Since excess salt intake leads to excess water in the blood, there is more pressure in your blood vessels, and your heart has to work harder. This is what we call high blood pressure or hypertension.
1. Salt increases the number of fat cells in your body
2. It makes the fat cells you have fatter
3. Salt prevents your metabolism from burning fat as it should
4. It increases insulin resistance
5. It makes you hungrier and thirstier
6. Salt makes it more difficult for fat-burning oxygen to blast the fat in your fat stores
Salt is not the same thing as sodium. Salt contains sodium and chloride. However, to simplify, we use the terms "salt" and "sodium" interchangeably since most people need to reduce sodium, and the best way to do it is to cut back on salt.