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The Secret to Skinny: How Salt Makes You Fat, and the 4-Week Plan to Drop a Size and Get Healthier with Simple Low-Sodium Swaps Paperback – August 3, 2009

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About the Author

Lyssie Lakatos, R.D., alongside her sister, Tammy Lakatos Shames, R.D., have been featured on the cover of Woman's World, and have appeared in publications including Cosmopolitan, Self, Good Housekeeping, Vogue, InStyle, Parents, First for Women, Glamour, O Magazine, and Family Circle. The Nutrition Twins developed a Wellness Planner and a weight management planner for Day-Timer, which they featured several times on QVC in 2009.

Tammy Lakatos Shames, R.D., and her sister, Lyssie Lakatos, own a nutrition counseling practice and are the exclusive nutritionists for NBC's celebrities and employees at Rockefeller Plaza as well as for Juva Health and Wellness, an upscale, full-service Manhattan boutique featuring top physicians, all of whom teach at Mt. Sinai Medical Center. The Nutrition Twins have been featured regularly as the nutrition experts on The Discovery Health Channel, Fox News Channel, NBC, Bravo, WABC-TV, WPIX-TV, CBS, The Learning Channel, FitTV, Oxygen Network, Life and Style, Court TV, Fox & Friends, The Daily Health Feed and Fox 5's Good Day New York.

Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.

All set to go with The Secret to Skinny plan? Before we explain how dropping the salt can help you drop a size, you might want to better understand what too much salt does to your health and your appearance and therefore why it's so important to stick to the plan.

Many people are well aware of the health problems that too much salt can cause, including high blood pressure and cardiovascular disease. But most people aren't aware of how excess salt contributes to weight gain.

Sodium, along with other minerals such as calcium, magnesium, chloride, and potassium, is an electrolyte that helps keep your metabolism running, ensures proper flow of nutrients and waste into and out of your body, and maintains the acid-base (pH) balance in your blood. If you get too much sodium, you create electrolyte imbalances that throw your body off-kilter. This means your metabolism can't function at its peak, and you can't burn as much fat as you should.

Excess salt also negatively affects insulin, a hormone that helps transport sugar out of the blood and into the muscles and tissues for energy. This means that insulin can't do its job, so sugar builds up in the blood, damaging vessels and making it difficult for fat-burning oxygen to flow to cells and melt fat. Making matters worse, when people gain weight, especially in the abdominal area, they can become insulin resistant. This means their bodies don't respond well to insulin. In response, the pancreas secretes more insulin, which in time can result in diabetes. With higher insulin levels, not only does your body store more fat, but your kidneys will have a harder time getting rid of salt, which can lead to electrolyte imbalances, high blood pressure, and bloating.

Have you ever found it hard to stop eating after a handful of salty chips or salted nuts? Your willpower wasn't an issue. The fact is salty foods increase your thirst and hunger, making it more likely that you'll consume calories you don't need. And, as we mentioned in the Introduction, recent research shows that a high-salt diet causes fat cells to become denser, which is not going to help you win the battle of the bulge.

Bloating and Appearance

In addition to weight gain, too much sodium can take a toll on your appearance, including causing a puffy, tired-looking face. Ever notice that after a meal filled with salty foods (think soy sauce, smoked fish or meat, French fries, or chips) your stomach is distended and you weigh more the next morning? That's your body's reaction to eating too much salt. The retention of extra water and fluid leads to major bloating. Even if you're skinny, you'll still look bloated and puffy from all the excess fluid.

Think you can hide the bloat with your clothes? You may be able to if you're a fashion genius, but you can't hide it on your face. Think about how people look when they have a hangover after too much alcohol. They wake up feeling tired and headachy, and when they look in the mirror, the result is on their face. It's the same with a 'salt hangover.' (See our Emergency Salt Hangover Remedies in chapter 4 on page 78.)

Excess salt damages your cells, which means you won't look as good as you usually do because injured cells on the inside lead to damage on the outside. What's more, most salty, processed foods lack essential nutrients (B vitamins and zinc) that help your body maintain optimal health, and they also lack the antioxidants (vitamins A, C, and E) that help fight off damaging free radicals. Too many salty, processed foods increase inflammation in your body, which can then lead to red and irritated skin and puffy bags under the eyes, as well as serious degenerative diseases.

Heart Disease

Salt-filled foods can lead to cardiovascular disease, not only from high blood pressure, but also from increased fat and cholesterol intake. Most of the salt Americans get comes from processed food, which is full of fat, cholesterol, and calories. Not only do these fats attach to your waist, hips, and thighs, they also clog and harden your arteries and make it more difficult for oxygen to get to your cells. When oxygen can't get to your cells, not only can't you burn fat, but you are also at higher risk for a heart attack. When your heart pumps blood through the blood vessels, oxygen and nutrients are delivered to your cells, and waste products are removed (you get an energized body, glowing skin, nourished muscles, and increased fat burning). As it circulates, your blood exerts a force against the walls of the blood vessels, and this force is known as your blood pressure (BP). Problems occur when your blood vessels get clogged up. This can happen from eating large amounts of fat and cholesterol, but too much salt intake is also a major culprit in clogging the pipes. Since excess salt intake leads to excess water in the blood, there is more pressure in your blood vessels, and your heart has to work harder. This is what we call high blood pressure or hypertension.

If your blood pressure is between 120/80 and 139/89, you have prehypertension, which means you're likely to develop high blood pressure in the future. About 90 percent of Americans will develop hypertension (a blood pressure higher than 140/90) at some point in their lives. Shocking, we know! High blood pressure affects one in three adults―that's 72 million Americans! Prehypertension affects another 69 million Americans, and the biggest culprit for developing prehypertension is salt intake.

People with prehypertension are two and a half times more likely to develop cardiovascular disease over the following twelve years than people with normal blood pressure. People with prehypertension also have double the risk of dying from cardiovascular disease than people with normal blood pressure.

The average American consumes 3,000 to 5,000 milligrams of sodium a day. If you cut out 25 to 30 percent of your intake you would just barely reach the maximum amount of sodium you should be consuming. And that could save your life. (Hopefully those white crystals are becoming a little less tempting.)

According to the Institute of Medicine, the adequate intake of sodium for people 19 to 50 years old is 1,500 milligrams (3.8 grams of salt) per day, the amount it takes to replace the average amount lost in a day from sweat, tears, and other bodily processes. The American Heart Association, the USDA, and the 2005 Dietary Guidelines for Americans all recommend consuming less than 2,300 milligrams of sodium per day (about 5 grams of salt), which is equivalent to about 1 teaspoon of salt. So the average American actually consumes twice the recommended amount! It may not sound like a big difference, but it's enough to influence your health. And it's a far cry from the 600 to 750 milligrams of sodium that our ancestors took in. The human body is not biologically designed to handle as much salt as we now consume, which is why excess salt is such a health concern.

Think You Can't Drop the Salt?
Try These Sodium-Saving Swaps

• Leave that tablespoon of butter off your daily morning toast and use I Can't Believe It's Not Butter! spray instead; you'll save almost 10.5 pounds
in a year and 13 days' worth of sodium.
• Dump that biscuit with 12 grams of fat and 750 milligrams of sodium and have a whole wheat dinner roll instead. Do this twice a week and save three pounds per year and 26 days' worth of sodium.
• Switch your morning bowl of Special K (330 milligrams of sodium) to a bowl of oatmeal with fresh blueberries (0 milligrams of sodium) three days a week and save 7 days' worth of sodium a year. 
• Swap Wolfgang Puck's All Natural Uncured Pepperoni Pizza (1,110 calories, 2,370 milligrams of sodium, 51 grams of fat) for South Beach Diet Harvest Wheat Crust Grilled Chicken & Vegetables Pizza (330 calories, 600 milligrams of sodium, and 10 grams of fat); or Lean Cuisine Deep Dish Margherita Pizza (340 calories, 540 milligrams of sodium, and 9 grams of fat); or Healthy Choice Gourmet Supreme Pizza (360 calories, 460 milligrams of sodium,
and 4 grams of fat). 
• Want to be five pounds lighter tomorrow? Swap your Chinese restaurant General Tso's Chicken (1,300 calories, 3,200 milligrams of sodium, and 11 grams of saturated fat) for one cup of chicken and snow peas, one cup of brown rice, and a side of steamed broccoli (501 calories, 379 milligrams of sodium, and 0.5 grams of saturated fat).
• Want another swap to make you five pounds lighter the next morning?
Swap your miso soup, crunchy shrimp roll, tempura roll, and spicy salmon = GRAND TOTAL: 2,019 CALORIES; 4,052 MILLIGRAMS OF SODIUM for:
2 cups unsalted edamame with pods, salmon with wasabi, 1 tablespoon low-sodium soy sauce on the side, and steamed veggies with one half cup of brown rice = GRAND TOTAL: 400 CALORIES, 639 MILLIGRAMS OF SODIUM.  You'll save 1,619 calories and 3,413 milligrams of sodium.  Do this once a week and you'll save 24 pounds and 77 days of sodium a year!

Calcium Loss and Osteoporosis

If you take the time to work out and perform weight-bearing exercises a few days a week to keep your bones strong, all of your hard work could be undermined by eating too much salty food. Unbelievable, but true. Studies show that postmenopausal women with a high-salt diet lose more bone minerals than other women of the same age, putting them at higher risk of osteoporosis. And don't think that just because you haven't yet gone through menopause you can eat all the salt you want. The typical American diet contains so much sodium that it results in a lack of calcium absorption from the food you eat―in any age group. Considering that most Americans don't meet the minimum daily calcium requirements, less calcium absorption spells trouble and it results in weaker bones over time. The two minerals, sodium and calcium, compete to be reabsorbed in the kidneys, and when more sodium than calcium is in the body, the sodium wins entry into the kidneys. Since there is a lot more sodium than calcium in our food, it is no surprise that calcium loses out most of the time. It has been found that for every 2,300 milligrams of sodium you take in, you lose about 40 milligrams of calcium. Considering that the average American takes in about 4,000 milligrams of sodium per day, we're talking about a calcium loss of almost 80 milligrams a day. The recommended amount of calcium is 1,000 milligrams a day for adult men and women (up until the age of 50), and the average intake is only 737 milligrams a day. You probably already don't get what you need, never mind the excess you lose from your sodium intake. The good news is we can help both problems with effective exercises and our salt-slashing lifestyle plan.

So get ready to improve your blood pressure, reduce your risk of heart disease, and beat the battle of the bulge―and bloat―for good.

©2009. Tammy Lakatos Shames, RD, Lyssie Lakatos, RD. All rights reserved. Reprinted from The Secret to Skinny. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system or transmitted in any form or by any means, without the written permission of the publisher. Publisher: Health Communications, Inc., 3201 SW 15th Street, Deerfield Beach, FL 33442


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 312 pages
  • Publisher: HCI; 1 edition (September 1, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0757313515
  • ISBN-13: 978-0757313516
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.8 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (22 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,224,157 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

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A friend of mine told me about this book and i am so grateful i bought it. The results you get from following their advice are guaranteed and outstanding. First of all i was a hard-core salt lover. No one else on the planet loves/loved salt more than me. Even to this day i can't stand bland food so don't let the title put you off, if you think to yourself you can't live without salt. I love the jumpstart sample plan provided in the book, it keeps you eating almost all day and the foods do taste surprisingly good. It could seem like a lot of work to keep up with their advice but it really isn't - trust me. If i can do it so can you especially with their sample meal plans. Also for the guys - don't get put off there is information specifically for both men and women so this is not a book written for just women. I also love how they recommend specific brand names of foods for those who don't have time to read all the labels of the 60+ different brands of bread (for instance) that you find at the grocery store. What else can i tell u, oh, BUY THIS BOOK. IF you follow their advice to the letter no matter your age, body type or metabolism rate you are sure to loose at the very least 2 pounds a week. (but the key is to follow their instruction without cheating). And the best part is you feel great on their diet plan, you have more energy and feel better about yourself as this is not one of those diets that you are hungry all the time. Lastly, i love that they also mention cures for a 'salt-hangover'. The early stages of the plan really detoxifies your body of all the crap we eat thats really BAD for us and thats what makes weight loss a breeze thereafter.Read more ›
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Format: Paperback
The Nutrition Twins expertly address the issue of salt in an easy-to-read, easy-to-follow book. There is no mystery to salt, as the experts Lyssie and Tammy explain every facet of salt and its effects on the body, and then go on to teach the reader how to eat deliciously and nutritiously without overeating sodium in its various forms. I followed the ten-day Jumpstart Plan and lost eight pounds! I particularly love the Almond-Crusted Shrimp and the Baja Fish Tacos with Mango Sauce. The recipe section of the book is full of yummy dishes that provide variety and nutrition in every bite.

The book is filled with helpful techniques, such as The Rule of the Hand, which makes it easier to control portion sizes. There is also great guidance in finding appropriate substitutes for salt. The Nutrition Twins have another winner in their second book and I highly recommend everyone, including those with no weight issues, to read this book to bring about increased health by decreasing sodium intake. Buy it - you will be glad you did!
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Format: Paperback
This book focuses on how fat builds up in our bodies when we eat too much salt in our daily diets. The bloating that is caused by eating too much salt makes us retain water, which actually adds pounds over the long run. The authors state that salt builds up in the tissues and increases fat stores and food cravings. The cravings for snacks are better served by eating "green-light" foods which flush out our systems and act as anti-bloaters in our diets. The authors state that the "red light" foods plug our systems and blot our bodies, promote flab to form and should be avoided.

The idea of a diet book is not new, but the idea that salt makes us overweight is new for most of us. The book offers menus with an eye towards low salt alternatives, includes fact boxes and pull-outs with nutritional tips for living a healthier lifestyle right now. It has recipes with the caloric information handy for review, maintenance day menus, charts and graphs, and healthy alternative recipes for anyone interested in getting on an approved weight loss plan.

The suggested ideas from the authors included keeping a food diary, and to utilize their four week plan which explains the foods to eat and what to avoid, and ideas on eliminating and countering bloating and other weight gain issues women face. What I found interesting is that alcohol is considered a fat adding drink, since the body has to process the alcohol and halts the other fat reducing processes in the meantime. I knew it would take time to exercise off a glass of well-chosen wine, but I never knew it would be difficult to process the alcohol in my body since the liver shuts down to do one action at a time, and it can't process alcohol and also maximize normal body functions at the same time.
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Format: Paperback
I tried running, the elliptical, and weights, and I didn't see enough difference to keep at it until... Thankfully, my friend gave me a preview copy of this book because I had gained 40 pounds after my kids were born and my fat pants were getting tight.

Even so, wasn't sure this book was for me because I rarely added salt to my food and I was not a saltaholic. . . or so I thought. Reading the book opened my eyes to the many ways I was sabotaging myself every day and packing on the pounds because of it. Within a week, I had lost my "pooch." Within a month, I saw a noticeable difference--I could actually wear clothes I had thrown to the back of my closet (Hallelujah!). Within two months, I was wearing a sexy bra---one I couldn't wear prior because of the dreaded BACK FAT. People were actually coming up to me, asking what I had done to look so good. (Who, me?)

Yes, some parts of the plan are hard core--but so are the results.

Thank you, Nutrition Twins! You have changed my relationship to food, the way my husband and my children see me (healthy and fit!), and you have changed my life for the better.
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