Skip To Main Content
Hometown: NYC, NY
Motivation: Helping people find a way of eating with low carb that promotes robust health outcomes and sustainable weight loss and maintenance.
Favorite Atkins Friendly Food: Cashew Trail Mix Bar
Tips for Success: Read your labels. Watch out for hidden carbs; to calculate the grams of carbs that impact your blood sugar, subtract the number of grams of dietary fiber from the total number of carb grams. Also double-check serving sizes on labels; some foods and drinks are actually two or more servings, so you need to add in those extra carbs and calories.

Salt—The Good, The Bad, the Ugly

January 11, 2016

New dietary guidelines came out last week, and, as seems to be the case lately, they are causing some confusion. Let’s start with salt. The guidelines recommend limiting sodium intake to 2,300 milligrams a day, which amounts to about 1 teaspoon a day.

In reality, 90% of Americans consume far more than this amount. It’s true that high sodium intake has been linked to some health problems, including high blood pressure and heart disease. But for the average healthy adult, according to a recent study in the New England Journal of Medicine, an estimated sodium intake between 3 grams per day and 6 grams per day (3,000 to 6,000 milligrams) was associated with a lower risk of death and cardiovascular events, as compared with either a higher or lower estimated level of intake.

With that being said, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 43% of sodium eaten by children comes from some of these very common staples: pizza, bread and rolls, cold cuts, chips, cheese, pasta dishes and chicken nuggets. In fact, about 75% of sodium intake in our diet comes from processed food similar to what our kids are eating, which includes salty snack foods, canned and instant soups, processed meats, pickled foods, soy sauce, and even bread, cottage cheese and some breakfast cereals. I think there’s one thing we can all agree on: Limiting our intake of processed foods in favor of fresh vegetables, certain fruits, meat, seafood, poultry, dairy and healthy fats, as recommended by the Atkins Diet, is the way to go. There is a certain level of sodium naturally found in these wholesome, unprocessed foods, but that shouldn’t cause a problem.

Yes, some health conditions may require you to limit your salt intake, especially if your doctor recommends it. But if you’re passing on processed foods, and focusing on whole foods, there is probably no need to worry about your salt intake.

And there is also something else to consider, especially when you are just starting a low-carb diet like Atkins. Shifting over to burning fat for fuel instead of carbs has a diuretic effect on your kidneys. This means they speed up the amount of salt and water they get rid of. Overall, that's a good thing, because you will feel less bloated. If you have high blood pressure, you may see your numbers come down in the first few days or weeks. However, for many people this can be too much of a good thing. Particularly if you weren't bloated or have high blood pressure to begin with. The good news is that this is a cheap and easy problem to manage—make sure you’re eating all your vegetables, drinking plenty of water and a cup or two of broth each day. This broth, which you can make for yourself at home or from bouillon cubes, keeps your circulation primed and ready for action despite the extra fluid and salt being released by your kidneys, and you'll avoid headaches, dizziness, fatigue, weak legs, and/or constipation that some people experience during the first two weeks on Atkins.

Check out this article that also talks about sodium and Atkins—How to Do Atkins Right: 10 Mistakes to Avoid.

Register with Atkins today for additional tips, low carb recipes, and ideas on how to overcome your weight loss plateau.

FAQ

Get answers to the most frequently asked questions about the Atkins Diet and the Atkins principles.

Learn More »
FAQ

Science/Library

Read nutrition articles, learn the science behind Atkins, and sample the extensive amount of peer-reviewed published studies in major scientific journals demonstrating the effectiveness and the health benefits of the Atkins diet.

Learn More »
Science Library

Atkins Blog

Enjoy our blogs and learn about weight loss and healthy eating!

Learn More »
Atkins Blog

Free Weight Loss Tools

All the Atkins tools you need to succeed on the program, and they’re all 100% free!

Learn More »
Free Weight Loss Tools