Anyone else think that the level of sodium in our diets is insane?

Work at a BB and, with working from office becoming more common again, the Seamless and Uber Eats office lunches and dinners are making a frequent return as well. During 2020 I became a lot more nutrition / fitness-conscious, so now back in the office I try to carry that over by attempting to track calories and nutrient intake, at least directionally / ballpark.

I've found that staying within calorie limits isn't too difficult (for me at least), but what really has shocked me is the amount of sodium that literally any restaurant, healthy or not, is packing into any of their foods these days. It's actually fucking appalling (and slightly terrifying). Go look at the nutrition info for sweetgreen, a midtown lunch staple, for example. One of their most popular salads, the Kale Caesar, has 405 calories. Pretty amazing given the volume of salad you get, right? I thought so too until I looked at the full nutrition facts and saw that it's packing 1250mg of sodium, which is more than 50% of the daily recommended intake of 2300mg.

As another example, you can order a chipotle salad which has nothing except salad greens, chicken, fajita veggies, corn, and salsa, and it's only 325 calories but it's fucking 1300mg of sodium (not to mention that that's a pretty sad bowl without any beans, rice, or guac, all of which would up that figure even more).

Not trying to lambaste Chipotle / SG specifically btw as this is endemic across US eateries, fast-casual or otherwise. If you base weekday food decisions primarily on calorie count (as many people do when going "one level deep" on nutrition / dieting), you can be goaded into feeling that you're crafting a very healthy takeout-based diet while unknowingly showering your insides in salt, which research overwhelmingly points to as a key culprit of hyoertension and heart disease. Mixing excessive sodium with almost any lifestyle therefore seems dangerous, let alone the high-stress low-sleep lifestyle of juniors in IB.

The obvious workaround to this is to do more of your own meal prep to reduce reliance on high-sodium prepared foods. Let's put aside the question of how feasible  consistent meal prep is for your standard analyst since that will vary based on group sweatiness / personal lifestyle choices. I'm really just more curious as to others' thoughts on sodium intake / the ubiquity of high sodium in the American diet / broader thoughts (or counterpoints). 

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Comments (38)

Aug 16, 2021 - 8:40pm

Most take out places, restaurants and processed foods you buy at the market have a lot of sodium because that is what appeals to most people.  It is generally more expensive to eat foods that are healthful.  It is harder with restaurants a lot of the time, you do not know what they are adding in with the mix of ingredients. If you go to a baseball game, the ones who eat the most crap are the people who should not to it.  I guess some of it comes down to will power.  I am a label reader and will not buy foods with a lot of sodium or high bad fat content.  My diet was pretty bad when I was younger, though.  I am sure most young guys probably do not care all that much about reading labels.  

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  • Analyst 1 in IB - Restr
Aug 16, 2021 - 11:47pm

Will add that a lot of processed foods at the stores use salt as the storing agent for the product. Recently checked the label on a can of pasta sauce, blew my mind. Asian ingredients are even worse. 

  • Analyst 1 in IB - Gen
Aug 16, 2021 - 8:49pm

i agree and i may be dumb and too lazy to google but what curious what does too much sodium do and whats recommended intake? thanks

  • Analyst 2 in IB - Gen
Aug 16, 2021 - 9:59pm

OP here. Not a scientist by any stretch (or even a healthcare coverage banker) but my understanding is that the main issue caused by excessive sodium is the effect it has on blood pressure. An excess intake of sodium leads to excess water retention (basically your body holding on to more water to dilute the salt content now in your body - a rough analogy would be adding enough freshwater to a glass of ocean water such that you could drink the combined solution without the salt level being too high). The increased water level puts extra strain on your heart and blood vessels, making one more susceptible to hypertension onset or heart disease. 
 

the exact mechanisms and causalities are still a subject of debate / controversy from what I've read, but the correlation between high sodium and higher instance of these issues is fairly well-established I believe.

The CDC recommends 2,300mg a day, and I've read that people with hypertension or pre-high blood pressure should try to pare that down even further. Apparently the average American eats like 3,400mg per day.

  • Analyst 1 in IB - Gen
Aug 17, 2021 - 12:34am

Thanks and wow yeah, have eaten ceasar salad bowls with 1100 mg of sodium when i actually looked up the nutrition facts.. wonder how many foods marketed as "healthy" are actually "healthy"...

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Aug 16, 2021 - 9:19pm

as I've gotten older I try to eat less sugar and salt. my parents went to Jamaica where sodium is less common and said that they tasted obtrusive levels of salt after they got used to it and came back to the US

path less traveled

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Aug 16, 2021 - 11:15pm

ITNAmatter

as I've gotten older I try to eat less sugar and salt. my parents went to Jamaica where sodium is less common and said that they tasted obtrusive levels of salt after they got used to it and came back to the US

I had roughly 60x 24oz Gatorades last week. That's 320mg of sodium and 42g of sugar per bottle. I also had 60 gels, the 100mg caffeine Clif Gel Expresso flavor, worth 60mg sodium per gel and 12g of sugar. That's 22,800mg of sodium last week and 3,240g of sugar - in Gatorades and gels alone, not including meals.

Get some.

"If you always put limits on everything you do, physical or anything else, it will spread into your work and into your life. There are no limits. There are only plateaus, and you must not stay there, you must go beyond them." - Bruce Lee

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  • Analyst 1 in IB - Cov
Aug 17, 2021 - 12:05am

The only real fix is to cook at home and use potassium chloride substitutes to try and balance everything out. I like salt a lot, so many people might find cutting out salt entirely as an easier solution, but salt substitutes can be a pretty good compromise. A lot of people are potassium-deficient, and potassium chloride can cut down on sodium intake while boosting potassium intake. Can be a nutrient win-win for a lot of people.

Aug 17, 2021 - 1:31am

Sodium isn't bad for you. There are correlations that show high sodium diets appear with increased obesity and a plethora of other life shortening diseases that often go together… but there isn't causation. Couple studies go into this in detail. More specifically, limiting sodium has been found to not decrease the risk of heart disease or death at any statistical significance.Only thing it does is slightly reduce is blood pressure, and that is very slightly.. borderline negligible..

If you're really fitness conscious, go over the diet recommendations on sodium / day. It'll help with water retention and allow for bigger lifts with improved endurance.

Aug 17, 2021 - 5:17pm

EatClenTrenHard

Sodium isn't bad for you. There are correlations that show high sodium diets appear with increased obesity and a plethora of other life shortening diseases that often go together… but there isn't causation. Couple studies go into this in detail. More specifically, limiting sodium has been found to not decrease the risk of heart disease or death at any statistical significance.Only thing it does is slightly reduce is blood pressure, and that is very slightly.. borderline negligible..

If you're really fitness conscious, go over the diet recommendations on sodium / day. It'll help with water retention and allow for bigger lifts with improved endurance.

A lack of causation does not mean one should ignore the authorities and sources that say there is correlation.  There are other factors at play here but why take a chance.  

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Most Helpful
Aug 17, 2021 - 11:15pm

Dude, take everything the authorities say with a grain of salt. No sodium pun intended. Authorities are wrong all the time, especially in medicine. There's a reason medical errors are the 3rd leading cause of death in the US. 

To be more specific.. every time a nerve instructs a muscle to fire, sodium is released into the channel and potassium trickles out. The more sodium you have, the more firing can happen. Some people use the gasoline analogy, 87 vs 91 or whatever, the higher the number the bigger the kick. I don't think this is a great analogy.. but for athletes at the pinnacle of their sport.. often times they're taking sodium supplements. Look at tour de france riders or powerlifters, sodium bicarbonate supplementation is very common.. typically consumed within 90 minutes to the event and intermittently throughout. Could go more into detail.. but dig for yourself, not pulling your leg. 

The other factors you mention here are the kicker. Usually people with high sodium intake eat a shit load of fast food. It's crap quality that tastes better when they dump a shitload of salt on.. so that's why it is there.. Doesn't take Einstein to see why there is correlation here.. correlation you should 100% confirm to be noise rather than signal and choose to disregard when multiple studies go into the specifics to determine there is no direct link between sodium intake and health issues. The only caveat is blood pressure. The more sodium you consume the more water retain. The more water you retain the more you have pumping through your veins and viola.. higher blood pressure. Not a cause for concern for healthy individuals. 

Aug 17, 2021 - 2:06am

I'm pretty sodium conscious.

When there was a Subway restaurant in my office building I would check the nutrition facts and ended up ordering the Tuna or Roast Beef as they had the least amount of sodium.

I like to use vinegar (black or vinaigrette) to add flavor to foods as an alternative to sodium.  On my Subway sandwiches too.  Just vinegar.

I don't cook much because if I had my way, food would taste natural (which isn't what other people in my household want).  It'd be a steamed salmon, rice and broccoli.  No dressing or sauce, but with lemon. 

I think it's a balance.  Eat low salt when you can, so you can eat out and not worry as much. 

Have compassion as well as ambition and you’ll go far in life
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Aug 17, 2021 - 8:06am

odog808

I'm pretty sodium conscious.

When there was a Subway restaurant in my office building I would check the nutrition facts and ended up ordering the Tuna or Roast Beef as they had the least amount of sodium.

I like to use vinegar (black or vinaigrette) to add flavor to foods as an alternative to sodium.  On my Subway sandwiches too.  Just vinegar.

I don't cook much because if I had my way, food would taste natural (which isn't what other people in my household want).  It'd be a steamed salmon, rice and broccoli.  No dressing or sauce, but with lemon. 

I think it's a balance.  Eat low salt when you can, so you can eat out and not worry as much. 

Yeah, substitutions are the key.  You can train yourself to eat better without missing the stuff that is potentially terrible for you.   You do not have to change your diet all at once.  Start with one food that you like.  If you like pretzels, you do not have to eat the ones with 600 sodium per serving.  Pretzels with much lower levels of sodium taste just as good to me.  

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Aug 17, 2021 - 8:21am

Read The Salt Fix. I'm a big fan of salt. Put it in my water and on all food. I use Redmonds Real Salt from Utah and Himilayan pink salt. Stay away from modern sea salt because microplastics unfortunately. But if you want a treat, smoked sea salt is amazing to cook with. Hickory or cherry smoked sea salt with steak.. 

heister:

Look at all these wannabe richies hating on an expensive salad.

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Aug 17, 2021 - 1:28pm

I feel like I eat a ton of sodium and have excellent blood pressure & overall health because I'm eating minimally processed, nutrient-dense foods and exercising hard like it's my religion. Not to completely discount your post, OP, but I think sodium is pretty low on the list of evils plaguing the American Diet & Lifestyle to be completely honest.

  • Intern in IB - Gen
Aug 17, 2021 - 6:40pm

What's actually worse is that a lot of these foods that would be decently healthy (chipotle, etc) are cooked using seed oils which are awful for your body. Seed oils and high fructose corn syrup is a big reason why so many Americans are obese. Start checking packaging, they're in everything. I'd recommend trying to meal prep lunches so that you're only worrying about seed oils/sodium/HFCS/whatever else for one meal a day. Pretty easy to meal prep for 5-6 days by taking an hour on sundays and just either make up a bunch of chicken or steak or maybe both to alternate each day.

  • Prospect in IB-M&A
Aug 18, 2021 - 1:40am

do banks reimburse you for food that you bring from home? Like if you buy a salad at Walmart or target beforehand and bring your food from home, would the company repay you? 

  • Analyst 2 in IB - Gen
Aug 18, 2021 - 11:56am

At almost all banks the answer is no (that I know of). You generally get a $25-30 meal stipend that you can use to order something on Seamless / Uber Eats / etc. if you work past x time (varies by bank). However the purpose of the stipend is to make you whole for the fact that you're working too late to have time to go home and cook or procure dinner. It's not meant to subsidize your grocery budget (that's what your salary is for). In fact most banks (BBs in particular) don't even let you use the stipend to buy groceries, even if you buy them after the approved time when the stipend kicks in. They'll also often ask you / your admin to upload receipts when you submit your expenses so that you can prove that you weren't "stockpiling" (i.e., buying two bowls from chipotle so that you could save one for later).

The upshot is that the meal expense policy is generally meant to replace one meal for one day, so you couldn't use it on your meal prep. Obviously the specific leniency and loopholes will vary by bank (e.g., can they PROVE or do they even care that you didnt eat 2-3 sandwiches in one sitting?).

  • Prospect in IB-M&A
Aug 18, 2021 - 12:26pm

ohh ok. Yeah i understand how chipotle would be unhealthy, because they add a terrible amount of salt to their rice to flavor it. Id imagine they do the same to their beans and fajitas as well.

  • Intern in IB - Gen
Aug 18, 2021 - 6:42pm

Lol its all pushed by the big food companies.  Its like when the cig companies put up all those ads talking about how dentists/doctors reccomend cigs.

Lol those ads aged like milk.

  • Intern in IB - Gen
Aug 18, 2021 - 6:41pm

Some advice from my analyst while I interned and ill relay to you:

1. Try to limit the amount of sauce you have in your food (Ceasar sauce, hot sauce, bbq sauce, etc.). I know sometimes the food is super dry and not as flavorful, but many of the meals without the sauce cut a significant amount of sodium, calories, and fats. If you order SG and just have your regular salad with squeeze of lemon instead of sauce, you reduce your sodium intake by quite a bit.

2. Bring raw fruit/vegetables to work to snack.  Eating apples/oranges/ bell peppers/cucumbers/etc. not only help you feel more full while you work, but there are a lot of vitamins that can help you feel less tired/groggy. Also, makes you order less/eat less of the actual meal you ordered

3) Soda/gatorade/any sweet drink. Plz dont drink. Drink water, tea, and anything that is derived from natural things in the world. I used to crush 4-5 monsters on bad weeks and that was like 1000mg of sodium.

  • Associate 1 in PE - LBOs
Aug 21, 2021 - 1:25am

Agreed, with the exception being hot sauce. Good hot sauce is mostly just sodium. Most MMA fighters and weightlifters trying to make weight pretty much use salt, pepper, 0-cal dressing, and inordinate amounts of hot sauce on everything to give flavor. 

Aug 19, 2021 - 5:52am

Sodium has been demonized for years, you can eat very high sodium amount without any problems if you dont have high blood pressure or kidney issues.

Especially if you workout a lot, you burn through a lots of sodium and other minerals,.

For me adding sodium, potassium and iodine to my diet in dosages recommended by stan efferding has done wonders for my energy levels, I eat pretty low carb i might add.

For more information people should check out The salt fix by james dinicolantonio.

Aug 19, 2021 - 1:25pm

Yes - the US food industry is really rotten to the core. We are consuming untold amounts of toxic crap.

"Work ethic, work ethic" - Vince Vaughn

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