This Magic Ingredient Can Transform Your Fitness Routine

Updated: May 22, 2017

The key to improved physical fitness could be found in the amount of magnesium your diet includes. Read on to find out how to incorporate enough of the supplement in your diet.

If you’re looking to boost your fitness level, the amount of magnesium in your diet could be the answer. Studies already show the adverse effects that magnesium deficiency can have on your body. But the latest reports from fitness and health experts give you one more, waistline-approved reason to make sure you’re getting enough magnesium in your diet: Magnesium may greatly improve the effectiveness of your exercise and improve fitness performance. Here’s how.

Without enough magnesium in your diet you’re at risk of injury during workout, and you may not reach your body’s full fitness potential. According to the Washington Post, magnesium helps muscles remain flexible and without it muscles can’t relax, resulting in cramping and possible injury. Low magnesium levels can further result in a buildup of lactic acid, causing pain and tightness in your muscles after a workout.

Why your body needs magnesium

Magnesium is involved in countless metabolic processes in your body, including those needed for physical activity and performance, says Tom Hritz, PhD, RD, LDN, and Clinical Nutrition Manager at Magee-Womens Hospital of UPMC in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. When you have ample magnesium in your diet, the mineral can be available for the muscles you’re working during your exercises, which helps increase strength and power.

“Studies done with trained athletes report an increase in delivery of oxygen to working muscles and less reliance on anaerobic metabolism when adequately nourished with magnesium,” Hrtiz said. What does this mean for you? These athletes were able to push themselves harder and had better endurance in cardio-type activities with less muscle fatigue, Hrtiz says. He cautions that more research needs to be done before a conclusion can be drawn.

Meeting your daily magnesium requirements provide the body with much-needed energy needed for hitting the gym and ensures a good night’s rest through the production of serotonin, the Washington Post reports. Serotonin is crucial in relaxing the nervous system, ensuring good emotional well-being and contributes to healthy sleeping patterns.

Should you take a magnesium supplement?

Meeting the recommended daily intake of magnesium (350 to 360 milligrams depending on age) helps the body produce “more insulin-like growth factor,” a much-needed aspect in continued muscle growth and strengthening, the Washington Post reports. However, if you’re already getting enough magnesium from the foods in your diet, there is no evidence that additional amounts will improve your performance, Hritz says.

“You should be able to meet your daily magnesium needs through a good, healthy diet,” Hrtiz says. “The best food sources for magnesium are nuts, seeds, beans, whole grains, and leafy, green vegetables. If you eat some or all of these foods daily, you should not need to take magnesium supplements.” To incorporate more magnesium in your diet, Hritz recommends foods including pumpkin seeds, cooked oatmeal, bananas, black beans, and firm tofu.

Although many Americans get less than the RDI of magnesium, deficiency is not common and typically occurs over a long period of time. Diets lacking in magnesium are caused by low dietary intake, excessive losses of magnesium through diarrhea or vomiting, certain health conditions, or the use of certain medications. Here are some of the signs of magnesium deficiency.