When you’re trying to boost your fitness, whether it be in terms of strength, endurance or sporting performance, it’s easy to solely focus on the intake of macronutrients. Protein, carbs and fibre, for example, tend to get the limelight. Micronutrients however, which are mostly vitamins and minerals, are also essential to our health. Want an edge in peak performance? Then continue on for Magnesium: A Fitness Guide on Why & How to Include it in Your Diet!
3 Reasons Why Magnesium (Mg) is Especially Useful for Fitness Enthusiasts
1. Helps Minimize Injury
The most frustrating element of any athlete’s life is battling with injury. Low magnesium levels cause a build-up of lactic acid, tightness and cramp in muscles after a workout.
2. Improves Quality of Sleep
Just as magnesium relaxes our muscles and helps prevent injury, it also supports in the balancing of stress hormones. As a result, the body finds it easier to get the quality of sleep it needs necessary for muscle growth and repair.
While we typically think of protein as the go-to nutrient for muscle production, magnesium is also very useful in this department. According to scientific research, magnesium produces an ‘insulin-like growth factor’, which aids long-term muscle growth.
Magnesium is so useful for athletes because its rewards are so rich and varied. Moreover, a magnesium-rich diet is incredibly easy and cheap to put together. The vast range of foods that are packed with this muscle-making magic mineral is as exciting as it is surprising.
5 Healthy, Tasty Magnesium-Rich Foods (to help you sneak it into your diet!)
It’s exciting that one of the most decadent flavours on the planet can fuel a health-kick. Not only does it boast a healthy dose of magnesium, it’s swimming in antioxidants (to maximise your health boost, try to get a bar with over 70% cocoa). Dark chocolate is also an easy way to add a delightful bitter sweetness to a variety of dishes. Try grating it over a bowl of cinnamon-spiced porridge, melting it into yogurt for a healthy pudding or sprinkling it over some ravioli to fuel your inner avant-garde chef!
Lentils are cheap and easy to make tasty. They’re full of protein as well as magnesium and deserve to be first in your shopping basket. However, you’d be forgiven for feeling slightly nervous when staring a packet of dry lentils in the face. What do you do with them? Where do they go? I recommend a lentil tarka dhal. Simply boil some lentils in vegetable stock with some spices (cumin, garam masala and coriander preferably), and leave to simmer for twenty minutes. Easy!
Cashews, almonds and pecans are all stars of the magnesium show. Try using salted cashews to add a pleasing texture dimension to a noodle stir-fry. Try crushing or shaving almonds into a zesty, fresh couscous. You can try pecans in literally anything because they’re just so delicious.
Even though it’s spilling-over with magnesium and protein, tofu sometimes gets a bad rep. Every vegetarian has heard the unrelentingly hilarious ‘tofu tastes like cardboard’ quip from omnivorous rivals. However, clearly the enemies of tofu have not honed their spice skills. Tofu on its own is very bland. Try baking it in a garlic aioli (a blend of crushed garlic cloves and olive oil), with a little rosemary, or try frying it with some soy sauce. Superb.
Spinach is a superfood which, like tofu, is hard to make properly tasty. To avoid having a limp, wet pile of leaves on your plate, try stirring it into a chickpea curry. An easier and equally yummy solution is whacking it in a toastie with a sprinkling of feta cheese. Now that’s memorable!