No linkage of salt and fat

EATING WELL

October 12, 1993|By Colleen Pierre, R.D. | Colleen Pierre, R.D.,Contributing Writer

People still seem confused over the relationship between salt and fat. To set the record straight, there is none.

Confusion arises because, historically, weight-loss strategies limit both salt and fat. This produces both immediate and long-term changes on the scale, but not necessarily change in your body composition.

Here's why. The object of any weight-loss attempt is to reduce excess body fat. One pound of fat consists of 3,500 calories that you ate and to some degree didn't need.

When you create a difference of 250 calories a day between calories in vs. calories out, you lose 1 pound of fat in two weeks. Do that consistently over time, and you decrease your body fat significantly.

Proteins, carbohydrates and fats all provide calories. Excess calories from any source are stored as body fat. But the fat you eat is the most concentrated calorie source, as well as the most easily converted to storage fat.

Salt contains no calories, so can't add to or subtract from your body fat. But it can affect your weight temporarily. Salt is sodium chloride. Sodium is always in balance with water in your body. Water, like sodium, is calorie-free, but two cups of it weigh a pound.

When you suddenly limit sodium, you'll lose 3 to 5 pounds of water in just a few days. When you eat high sodium foods, you retain an extra 3 to 5 pounds of water as part of your body's balancing act. Colleen Pierre, a registered dietitian, is the nutrition consultant to the Union Memorial Sports Medicine Center and Vanderhorst & Associates in Baltimore.

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