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Does Salt Break A Fast? Sodium For Intermittent Fasting
Intermittent Fasting

Does Salt Break A Fast? Sodium For Intermittent Fasting

HR_author_photo_Edibel
Written by Edibel Quintero, RD | Medically reviewed by Medically reviewed by Rosmy Barrios, MD check
Published on September 23, 2022
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7 min
does salt break a fast

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Salt is the most abundant natural mineral in the oceans. Without it, the human body wouldn’t function properly. From the food we eat to the minerals we take in, sodium plays a role in every aspect of our physiology that supports our biological systems. 

As an Intermittent Fasting enthusiast, you may have read or heard about how salt affects your fast. In this article, we’ll take a look at the science behind it and cover the benefits and pitfalls of using salt with intermittent fasting.

Does Salt Break a Fast?

Technically, salt doesn’t break a fast. To put it simply — pure, unprocessed sea salt contains no amounts of carbs or protein. Both these macronutrients are the main culprits that generally trigger an insulin response and in their absence, there’s no effect on the body physiologically.

Furthermore, to determine if salt will break your fast, it is equally important to understand the source of sodium or how you consume your salt.  For example, if you add a pinch of salt to your water or sip bone broth to maintain your electrolytes during a fast, it won’t break your fast.

However, if you are asking does salt break a fast, it is important to note that consuming processed packaged foods high in sodium and calories, such as cottage cheese, chicken, eggs, or fast food from restaurants, will knock you off track by driving insulin levels into the bloodstream. It is because they are calorically dense and carb-heavy. Which is certain to break your fast.

Can I Drink Salt Water While Fasting? 

Yes! Adding only a dash of sea salt or other electrolytes to your water will not break your fast. It only enhances it by adding valuable trace minerals and electrolytes to keep you hydrated which is extremely important when fasting.

Sodium makes up about 0.4 percent of your body weight and is an electrolyte that’s essential to your overall health, heart, and brain functioning. During fasting, your body naturally loses sodium through sweating and urination, so adding a pinch of salt to your water can help replenish lost sodium. 

The recommended amount of salt is ¼  teaspoon per liter of water. This will help prevent symptoms of dehydration like headaches, fainting spells, and nausea.

What Type of Salt Should and Shouldn’t Be Used?

Not all salts are created equal! While there are many different kinds of salt, not all of them will be enriched with natural minerals to restore electrolytes in your body and get you back on track faster.  Here are quick facts about each type of salt, so you can reap the maximum benefits of Intermittent Fasting and achieve your weight loss results. 

Pink salt (Himalayan salt)

Himalayan pink salt, a salt mined from the Salt Range mountains in the Himalayas, gets its signature, rosy hue from mineral-rich deposits. Known for its beneficial electrolyte minerals, such as potassium, magnesium, calcium, and iron— it has less sodium than table salt (according to Journal of Sensory Studies) and it has been used for medical purposes since ancient times.

In fact, proponents of intermittent fasting assert that pink salt is a healthier source of sodium when compared to other salts. When it’s fused with water, its mineral-rich content can help curb hunger pangs by toping up electrolyte deficiency and keeping your energy levels up —so you can gain energy through longer fast! 

Sea salt 

Sea salt is an unrefined salt that’s available in fine grains or coarse crystals! Harvested from evaporating seawater, sea salt leaves behind trace amounts of ocean minerals including potassium, iron, and calcium, and helps regulate fluid balance and blood pressure in the body. 

In addition to more superior amount of trace minerals particularly sodium,  sea salt is minimally processed and contains low sodium levels in general. In fact, nutritional analysis reveals that sea salt contains 2,000 mg of sodium/tsp, compared to 2,300 mg of sodium/tsp in table salt. With this advantage, you can use sea salt less and keep your sodium intake in check. 

Table Salt 

Table salt (Salt used most prominently in Restaurants) is made from refined sea salts (alkali) and contains little to none of the minerals found in Himalayan salt or sea salt.  Regular table salt contains a number of chemicals, binders, and anti-caking agents that do not contribute to a healthy lifestyle. 

This means, using ordinary table salt during the intermittent fasting period can be counterproductive—it will not deliver the desired minerals and electrolytes, and your body won’t reap the full benefits of fasting.

Kosher salt 

Mined from salt deposits or evaporated seawater, Kosher salt is mainly used for seasoning because of its great taste, coarse texture, and quick dissolve rate. Kosher salt crystals are large, which lets them draw blood from meat faster, making the koshering process quicker.

Unlike table salt, which is fortified with iodine and contains additives, kosher salt is usually purer and doesn’t even contain anti-caking agents. However, like other salts, it delivers sodium to maintain optimum levels of fluids and supports your nervous system.

What Are The Benefits Of Sodium And Electrolytes? 

Your body needs a variety of electrolytes to function properly, and one of the most important ones is sodium. If you’re wondering what heath benefits sodium has and why it’s so important, read on for the scoop!

#1 Gives more energy

When your sodium levels are low, you feel lethargic. You lack energy because your cells’ electrolyte balance is thrown off. Drinking more sodium-based electrolytes can help you feel replenished because they help replenish essential nutrients and fluids while rehydrating them. Moreover, when you increase salt intake, your body is better able to absorb carbohydrates; providing more efficient fuel for your muscles, so you’ll have more energy. 

#2 Flavors a food

Unlike other flavor-boosting condiments, salt seems to be the most crucial element for enhancing taste. It’s a universal flavor that enhances the taste of sweetness without masking the flavor. A pinch of salt is always added to sweet things, such as cookies and cakes because it makes them taste better. 

And when added in a higher concentration, salt enhances the savory flavor known as umami. That’s not all, if you’re looking for a way to amplify your food’s flavor without adding excess fat or sugar, salt is your absolute pick! 

#3 Helps to stay hydrated

When our bodies are dehydrated we often experience muscle cramps, dizziness, lethargy, and headaches. In extreme cases, dehydration can be fatal. The great thing about sodium is that it helps us stay hydrated by drawing water into our cells through osmosis. If you don’t have enough sodium in your body then you won’t be able to retain fluids leading to dehydration and increased thirst.

However,  you should remember that a high-sodium diet can cause dehydration, so if you eat a lot of processed foods or salty snacks, you need to drink lots of water.

What Are The Risks Of Overdosing Salt?

The main risk of sodium is too much fluid accumulation in your body, which can lead to heart failure. The American Heart Association recommends that people eat less than 2,300 milligrams of sodium a day. It also recommends that those over 50 or those with hypertension, diabetes, or chronic kidney disease eat less than 1,500 milligrams a day to help prevent serious complications.

#1 Increases blood pressure

When your body’s salt concentration is too high, your body will try to dilute the salt by retaining more water in the bloodstream through the process of osmosis. This makes your blood volume go up and raises the pressure against the walls of your arteries, resulting in high blood pressure. 

Interestingly, consuming more dietary sodium than the threshold amount correlated with higher blood pressure in a study of over 100,000 subjects.

#2 Increases risk of heart diseases

Overconsumption of salt can lead to elevated blood pressure, which increases the risk of developing coronary heart disease. This is because excess salt can lead to fluid retention, putting strain on your heart and stress on your circulatory system to pump blood through your body. This increases the risk of developing cardiovascular diseases such as debilitating heart failure.

#3 Possibility of stroke

The World Health Organization recommends that adults consume no more than 5 grams of salt per day or about one teaspoon. High salt intake can increase your risk of developing high blood pressure. And if it’s 120/80 mmHg or more, it may be out of control and lead to stroke.

A Word from MD

During a fast, you can quickly drain your body of electrolytes and cause it to become dehydrated. Make your fast a healthier one by drinking plenty of water. Pinch a bit of salt into some water to increase your water absorption and reduce dehydration, making you feel full longer.

At the same time, it is important to note that everyone’s water and electrolyte needs are different! To put that into practical terms, start with ⅛ tsp. of pink Himalayan salt and 12 oz. of water in a cup or glass and see how it works for you. 

Conclusion

When you are practicing intermittent fasting, it is important to remember that sodium is an essential electrolyte, as it helps in keeping your body’s fluids balanced. However, you should make sure that you stay within the daily recommended guidelines, as too much sodium poses health risks such as high blood pressure. 

HR_author_photo_Edibel
Written by
Edibel Quintero is a medical doctor who graduated in 2013 from the University of Zulia and has been working in her profession since then. She specializes in obesity and nutrition, physical rehabilitation, sports massage and post-operative rehabilitation. Edibel’s goal is to help people live healthier lives by educating them about food, exercise, mental wellness and other lifestyle choices that can improve their quality of life.
Medically reviewed by Rosmy Barrios, MD
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