Of all Tastes, Salt

Can that which is tasteless be eaten without salt?

–Job 6:6

To end our three post series on salt, let’s consider why you need more salt if you aren’t eating carbohydrates and find out whether there is any danger of you overdosing on salt if you’re eating real food?

The answer to the first question is bound up in our old friend (or for some of you, nemesis) insulin. Insulin has many jobs in the body, one of the most important for your weight being to tell your fat cells to keep their stores locked up so that the toxic sugar in your bloodstream from your whole grain pasta meal with a brownie for dessert can get burnt off as soon as possible. But another function of insulin is to tell your kidneys to hold on to their sodium stores. Once you ditch the Special K and granola bars, your insulin levels plummet. This signals to your kidneys to dump the sodium, which they do. They then dump water as well, which ends bloating for most people and is the reason why low-carb diets usually produce significant weight loss in the first week. Of course, the poor deluded people at this website will tell you that all the weight loss in low carb diets is just water.

Funny. I never knew I was carrying around 145 pounds of water. Has anyone investigated a connection between humans and camels?

Anyway, this is the reason that people eating few carbs may feel lightheaded, dizzy, or lethargic, or get headaches. (It might also be the reason people who eat high carb also feel that way if they’re on an insanely restricted sodium diets.) It’s simple to fix this with some extra salt or bouillon.

So is it possible to be getting too much salt on a low carb diet?

Not if you’re doing it right.

If your idea of “low carb” is nothing but bacon, sausage, hot dogs, deli meats, processed cheese, and fast food burgers, you might be getting a lot of salt. But frankly that’s the least of your problems.

Let’s say you’re eating like me. So for breakfast you have some plain Greek yogurt, a cup of coffee with unsalted butter and coconut oil, and homemade breakfast sausage with a slice or two or cheddar cheese. Total sodium: 405mg

For lunch you eat three eggs, coconut milk, cacao powder, maple syrup, and another tablespoon of MCT oil. Total sodium: about 100mg

For a snack you have some peanut butter and cheese. Total sodium: 360mg

For dinner you have a salad, and some avocado, and a lovely little desert prairie chicken that is quite small, but quite tasty: 209mg

And then let’s be generous and say that I liberally salted my chicken, which I did. A quarter teaspoon would be a lot of salt to come out of a shaker, but let’s imagine it did and that’s another 500mg.

Total for the day: 1,574mg

Eating nothing but real food, and salting everything liberally, I still just barely made it to the USDA’s 1,500mg per day ideal target. Which is why I also took three salt tablets today (1,200mg more) and ate 1/8 teaspoon of salt directly from the container (another 250mg). If I don’t do that, I feel crappy and slow. And get nauseous. In fact, I’d probably feel even better if I took three more salt tablets, and I certainly would have if I’d gone outside to run around.

So the answer is: No. If you are eating good, real food you can’t possibly overdose on salt. So unplug the holes in that shaker, folks, get some real salt (not the junk table salt garbage) and start shaking. When people ask if you’re watching your salt, tell them Yes, I watch my salt. I watch it as it blows over my food like a Lilliputian blizzard. And then quote some of these proverbs, from every corner of the earth:

  • Don’t buy the salt if you haven’t licked it yet –Congolese
  • Trust no one till you have eaten a bushel of salt with him. –German (A similar proverb can be found in many other countries)
  • What is salt to tasteless food; what is a word to a foolish head? –Turkish
  • Eternity makes room for a salty cucumber.  –Russian
  • Even on old goat likes to lick salt.  –Hungarian
  • The lucky eagle kills a mouse that has eaten salt –Ugandan

 

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2 thoughts on “Of all Tastes, Salt

  1. You would love touring the underground salt mine museum we have here:
    http://underkansas.org/
    You even get to grab a rock or two to take home if you want. It’s very cool(quite literally) to be 650 feet underground and surrounded on every side by solid rock salt. Just thought I’d throw that in there for your dream vacation to KS some day.

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