How Magnesium Can Help Your Workouts
Posted by Adam Meads
The ultimate tonic for everything from sore muscles and depleted energy levels to a racing mind, magnesium is the workout buddy you didn’t know you needed…
Magnesium is a mineral found primarily in the food we eat and supports over 300 different processes in the body. Alongside maintaining proper nerve function and regulating blood sugar levels, magnesium is essential because it’s needed to support the production of ATP (adenosine triphosphate) in the body. A nucleotide that transports chemical energy within cells for metabolism, ATP is essentially what keeps us breathing, moving and functioning properly. In other words, magnesium is a key element for sustaining a fit and healthy fit body. I
f you’re deficient in magnesium (and that’s up to 80% of us according to Public Health England’s National Diet and Nutrition Survey 2008–2012) chances are you’ll be feeling it. From poor sleep and lethargy to lack of concentration, constipation and muscle cramps and soreness, the list of symptoms goes on.
How magnesium can impact your daily workouts
When it comes to working out, there’s plenty of evidence to show that magnesium can help improve performance as well as simply keep us moving. “When exercising, the energy your body uses can require 10-20% more magnesium compared to when you’re resting,” says Gaby Noble, Pilates teacher and founder of Exhale Pilates. During intense exercise, lactic acid builds up in your muscles. This occurs when there isn’t enough oxygen to break down the glucose and glycogen produced by your body for energy. Common symptoms of too much lactic acid will be familiar to many and include nausea, heavy breathing and muscle ache and burn. If on the other hand, you have sufficient magnesium levels, your body will be able to create enough fuel to power your workout without the need for excess lactic acid production.
Suffering from unexplained spasms during exercise could also be another sign that your magnesium levels are low. That’s because magnesium regulates muscle contractions and inhibits the production of excess calcium. Without that to relax the muscles, they will spasm, causing discomfort and ultimately, reduced performance. “Cramps in the feet and calves can be common in Pilates as the focus is on precise, controlled movements of the muscles,” explains Noble. “The benefits of magnesium as an anti-inflammatory and muscle relaxant can improve this greatly, as well as reducing any swelling, joint pain and other inflammations from training”.
How does magnesium help recovery?
It’s not just during a workout that magnesium is effective, but in the body’s essential recovery stage too. “Increasing your magnesium levels has been repeatedly shown to improve your sleep quality and improve your body’s ability to handle stress,” says Lee Mullins, founder of Workshop Gymnasium, “which are two of the most important factors to help improve muscle recovery from workouts and exercise.” When it comes to what kind of magnesium you should be looking for, experts are specific; while magnesium glycinate is easily absorbed, gentle on the stomach and directly aids the liver and muscle tissue, magnesium threonate aids sleep and relaxation.
When should you take magnesium after working out?
“Generally speaking, take it after dinner as magnesium is a natural calmer of the nervous system” advises Mullins. “Taking it in the evening can help calm the nervous system and set you up for a better night’s sleep”.
How should I take magnesium?
Although studies into the exact effectiveness of transdermal magnesium are ongoing, most experts agree that it’s a great way to supplement your intake, and directly soothe sore muscles. “When magnesium levels are extremely low the amounts you need to supplement with to get normal levels back aren’t always possible via oral consumption. Plus, the amount you would need to consume can cause gut upset,” explains Mullins. “It’s best to initially begin combining magnesium rich foods with topical versions of either creams, gels or bath salts, such as Epsom salts. This way the magnesium is absorbed directly into the bloodstream via the skin, bypassing the gut”.
The best post-workout products to try
Make these products an essential part of your gym kit and you’ll be reaping the rewards…
With a two-fold relaxing effect thanks to the inclusion of muscle-soothing magnesium and calming essential oils such as Moroccan blush rose, lime and black pepper, this is a post-shower must-have. Slather all over sore limbs and breathe in deep.
With sleep playing such an important part of a good recovery programme, this thoughtful duo is a no-brainer. To induce the perfect sleepy state, envelop your body in the deeply floral scent of Perfect Night Magnesium Body Butter.
Allow this soothing blend of 24 essential oils to get to work relaxing tightly wound muscles and a racing mind. Including notes of lavender, jasmine and Brazilian rosewood, simply drop into your Wellbeing Pod.