Salt and Sugar: do they play a big role in weight gain?
Weight loss is a lot more complicated than breaking it down into specific foods. However, consumption of certain foods can be predisposing factors towards weight gain. Craving certain foods can also indicate what is going on within our body.
While looking through this perspective, what better foods to look at than sugars and salts. There is so much confusion about these two foods and looking at this from different perspectives can really help you to decide what you need to do.
Sugar and weight gain
So much has been spoken about sugar and there is a lot of confusion. Before you decide on your approach, it depends on the state of your body at present.
Two key aspects play a role in this. The first is blood sugar balance and the second is predisposition to infections.
If you are insulin resistant or prediabetic, and are trying to reverse the condition without medication, all sugars do impact. If you are prone to blood sugar imbalance, where you have inconsistent energy, mood fluctuations, headaches, inability to skip a meal without getting angry and needing snacks every few hours, then most sugars can be impactful. In this situation, it is best to sweeten only with stevia, used in moderation. Stevia will not impact your blood sugar, and help you restore the balance.
If you are prone to infections, including gut infections, then it is possible that there might be dysbiosis. This is an imbalance of beneficial and pathogenic bacteria, where the proliferation of pathogenic bacteria such as yeast can demand sugar through cravings, and any sugar can increase their growth. If you keep getting infections and taking antibiotics every few months, it is a clear sign of this. In this case, you may want to gradually wean off sugar in order to starve these bacteria, which will help you gain control and not have these terrible cravings for sugar.
Salt and weight gain
When it comes to salt, again, we must consider key aspects within the body before you decide the best approach for you personally. If you have a body type that is prone to water retention, then salt can be tricky. Typically, this is not always weight gain, but cellular fluid retention. Being prone to water retention will show up as edema, swollen breasts, facial water retention, puffiness around the eyes and slower metabolism. Women especially can be very sensitive to this, based on the menstrual phase. This happens due to improper sodium potassium regulation.
Salt should be kept on the lower side as it encourages absorption and retention of water and increases wetness in the body. Foods that are high in salts such as processed foods and sea plants should also be kept very low. Chinese food can increase wetness due to the tendency to hold water for several days after consumption.
What are the right sugars and salts that we can consume?
Remember that the body is dynamic and ever changing, based on stressors, foods, seasons, sleep, hormones, and so much more. Each moment in time, we might need to do different things. We must consider our body type overall and what are we feeling now. This can provide us the foundation on which we can decide which sugars to consume and how we consume our salts.
· While a lot is spoken about healthy sugars like coconut sugar, jaggery, and honey, if you are struggling with severe blood sugar imbalance, all of them are going to impact you, as your body does not know which is a healthy sugar in terms of metabolism. Therefore, overdoing these in the form of desserts will not serve you. If you do want to consume these healthy sugars, do so in moderation and in combination with healthy fats and proteins.
Including up to two teaspoons of coconut sugar occasionally as a clean dessert in combination with besan, walnuts, or peanuts can be fine for you.
Having several spoons every day, several times will impact blood sugar and weight gain negatively. If you want to keep your blood sugar balanced, sweetening a drink with some stevia is a better way.
· When it comes to honey, it is a nutrient dense therapeutic food. Moderation is beneficial, where adding one teaspoon of raw honey to almond milk or a rice pudding will not impact you negatively at all. However, honey is not meant to be heated. Heating honey and consuming it increases ama or toxic accumulation in your body, impacting detoxification and healing. This is where a lot of healthy desserts fail as they can be cooked with honey. Use your honey at room temperature.
· Salt is very much required by our body. There are times where I have seen people reduce salt to such a low amount when they do not have reason to do so, and their sodium levels fall, impacting blood pressure. If your blood pressure is generally very low, you need salt.
Black salt, pink salt, Jaljeera, and chaat masala are all great forms to include healthy salts. If you are prone to weight gain and water retention, keep your intake of white salt and hidden salts lower.
Chinese foods usually have very high quantities of salt, which in combination with the glutamates, end up making you swell up and hold water for several days thereafter. If this is the case, cook with moderate salt and drink hot water rather than cold water, so that you do not hold water.
· Normal salt consumption in home food is never the problem. Usually, people gain weight where salt is a trigger due to consumption of packages foods, which are high in salts, such as chips, nachos, and other snacks. Don’t be afraid of adding some black salt to your buttermilk, pink salt to your food or chaat masala to healthy snacks.
When it comes to sugar and salt, what matters is your body and what it is telling you, the right forms of these, and moderation. Going overboard with sugars, albeit the healthy ones, will tip the blood sugar cascade spiraling you out of control. When that happens, it can make you feel as if you do not have will power and that is not the case at all. It is just your body trying its very best to bring back the homeostasis. Enjoy the treats for sure. Have them occasionally as healthy desserts where there are healthy fats like ghee to buffer the sugar. For daily usage, stay with a little stevia. Include all the healthy salts that India is so rich in, and avoiding the processed foods where they actually make you hold water weight.
(Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of YourStory.)