The first bite of your dinner tasted downright divine and somehow the whole thing tasted so good that you just couldn’t manage to stop. Now your plate is clean and your pants are, well, uncomfortable. You can feel the stomachache coming on and everything in between the first and last bite is a bit of a blur.
It’s not you! Sure, eating in front of the TV can cause mindless eating, but if you’re sitting around the table, it’s the fault of one ingredient that’s probably in way more of your meals than not: salt. In fact, this sneaky diet saboteur made people eat 11% more food and calories in a recent study published in the Journal of Nutrition. Yikes.
It gets a little scarier; the researchers tested the effects of manipulating the levels of both salt AND fat in participants’ prepared lunches and found that it’s more salt, not more fat, that makes people want to eat more and more and more beyond the point of fullness. While fat makes us eat more calories, we end up eating the same volume of food--not so with salt.
Even participants who were found to be sensitive to fat (these lucky individuals tend to have a built-in barrier to overeating and eat less of the nutrient) ate as much of the saltier food as those who were the least sensitive to the taste of fat, suggesting that salt dulls our feelings of fullness.
So in the battle against the mid-line bulge, your best and easiest tactic might be keeping your hands off the salt shaker when you’re at home, and reading product labels for low-salt options when you’re at the grocery store.
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