Waking up hungry? Your salt intake
might be at fault!

Waking up hungry? Your salt intake might be at fault!

Your appetite is regulated by a plethora of complex interactions that are related to hormonal, neurological, psychological, and mechanical signals.

One of the most central elements to control them all is your salt intake, and you could always treat it as the pivot of all your daily activities.

You take too little of it, your blood pressure drops. You take much of it, you get a racing heart. The next case is of the time and place of having more salt. Modern research believes that one major factor that contributes to increased appetite is meal timing.

Having late-night meals or snacks can contribute to physiological changes that may increase your hunger when you wake up. The more unprocessed sugars and salts that it has, the worse it can be for you. We are investigating how late-night eating and taking too much salt can detrimentally affect your health:

Case 1: Nocturnal eating

Most of us are likely to snack on something rich in carbs or sugar in the night, an act induced by our appetite-inducing hormones. This increases the levels of insulin in our blood, thus causing glucose to be rushed into cells. The process continues while you slumber.

Since your blood sugar levels are continually dropping, the body stimulates the release of regulatory hormones and the appetite center of your central nervous system to counter it. While some people may wake up in the middle of the night for a quick snack, others wake up ravenously hungry.

1. Lack of sleep

Lack of sleep is associated with higher levels of the appetite-stimulating hormone, ghrelin. What’s worse is that if you don’t get enough sleep, you’re most likely going to turn towards high-calorie or high-carb foods as your body searches for quick sources of energy. This may explain why people prone to obesity are likely those not getting enough sleep.

2. You’re probably just really thirsty

Start your day with a tall glass of water. You’ve probably heard this several times before but it does work wonders. Just mild dehydration can make you feel fatigued and sluggish, which can push your body to look for sources of fuel (you guessed it, more carbs!).

Experts suggest drinking a tall glass of water before giving in to your cravings. Chances are you’ll do a much better job at keeping yourself away from the cookie jar.

3. PMS

Most of us instinctively know this is true and there’s sufficient evidence to back this up as well. When you’re in the pre-menstrual phase, your body is producing more progesterone, which boosts appetite and the unpleasant feelings you may have with your body in general. It creates that emotional mess that we all are so aware of.

4. You’re bored

Dopamine is a chemical messenger that’s part of the reward center of your brain. It gives us those good feelings when we consume something delicious and sometimes potentially unhealthy. When you don’t have anything fun and exciting going on in your life, the brain may look for ways to trigger such feelings by making you eat more sugar.

If this sounds familiar, look for alternate ways to enjoy your time, such as going out for a jog, reading a good book, listening to music, yoga, or just smelling the roses.

Case 2: Salt Intake

(or can salt trigger weight gain or weight loss, especially when you do not want it?)

That’s indeed a question you should ask yourself. If you haven’t done that so far, here’s a hypothetical situation for you:

You’re working out very hard in the gym and are counting your calories. You know how many carbs, fats, and proteins you’re taking every day and you are working out pretty much all the time. However, there’s still some weight that doesn’t seem to budge.

Why water retention is bad?

Salt retains water in the body and this is often one of the major causes of weight gain. It can also lead to dehydration.

When you’re working hard to lose weight and your sodium levels are high, the salt you consume will inhibit water from performing its vital functions in the body. This will not help metabolism or burn calories, but will only remain stagnant in your body. This is sure to affect your weight loss goals.

Too much of sodium is bad

There’s also another connection between sodium and your weight. When you consume salty foods, you begin to feel thirsty because your body gets dehydrated. Some people tend to quench their thirst with high-calorie beverages such as soft drinks, energy drinks, and other store-bought fatty and sugary drinks.

Salt also amplifies the taste of all food items and this may result in overeating. You may well add up the variables to know what a ghastly situation this may turn out for you!

How much is enough?

You cannot survive without sodium. The American Heart Association recommends consuming 1500 mg of sodium (salt) per day. Research shows that an average American consumes more than 3000 mg of salt per day, which is double the recommended amount!

Processed food and snacks consist of heaps of salt so be sure to check the packaging and find out how much salt a serving contains before having something.

How you can reduce salt from your diet?

Your best bet would be to prepare your meals at home. This would give you complete control of all the ingredients that you’d add to your meals. You should also consider making the following changes in your lifestyle:

Throw away all store-bought cookies, chips, crackers, and other salty snacks.

Processed junk is always packed with sodium. There are many cleaner alternatives for processed junk food.

As an example, try oven-baked sweet potato fries instead of having packaged chips. Season them with a pinch of sea salt and add some herbs to make them a healthy and delicious snacking option.

1. Get rid of store-bought salted nuts

The obvious alternative for this is consuming raw and unsalted nuts as snacks. Nuts can be used to prepare a variety of healthy snacks as well.

2. Ease into a low-salt lifestyle

If you are used to having a lot of salt in your food, first focus on getting rid of all the junk food in your pantry. Switch to a light salt or try adding your favorite spices to your food to add flavor. Avoid making drastic changes as this may make your new health choices less sustainable.

Be particular about what you are eating and when you are eating it!

Salt intake and improper timings often sit at the base of what could be wrong with your fitness process on a daily basis. The longer the issue persists, the worse it starts faring for you. You would always have a positive side of switching to a healthier and organic diet, and also by cutting down an unnecessary amount of salt (processed or unprocessed foods), especially for snacks and junk foods.

Remember, if food and salt could energize you for the day, they can sap your day just as easily too!