- How magnesium works after exercise
- How magnesium helps your body after exercise
- When is the best time to consume magnesium?
- Magnesium and sleep
- Other benefits of magnesium
- How much magnesium do you need?
- What foods contain magnesium?
- What happens if you take too much magnesium?
- Buy magnesium supplements online
- Magnesium for Athletes: Why it’s Essential for Recovery
- Why Magnesium for Athletes is Important
- Ways to Get More Magnesium
- Reach Peak Performance Now
- What’s the best way to speed up recovery of sore muscles?
- How much time is appropriate for recovering from weight training? How about long distance running?
- What types of factors inhibit recovery?
- Are there any specific foods that help assist recovery?
- What do you do when you’re overtrained and fatigued for several days in a row?
- What is potassium?
- What happens to potassium during exercise?
- Where does potassium come from?
- Should you supplement potassium?
- Can you get too much potassium?
- What does this mean for an athlete?
- Electrolytes for Muscle Recovery | Dr. Millie Lytle
- Electrolytes for Muscle Recovery
- The Role of Magnesium Within Exercise
- How Magnesium Improves our Fitness Levels
- Magnesium Before or After Working-Out?
- Supplementing Magnesium for Athletes
- Getting started
- Magnesium: Why You Need It for Better Performance
- Magnesium performs numerous functions
- How important is magnesium for athletes?
- Increased consumption can be helpful
- These foods are good sources of magnesium
How magnesium works after exercise
Magnesium is an important mineral, especially for anyone who works out. Unfortunately, it’s also one that a lot of people don’t get enough of in their diet. Here, we look at the reasons why you need plenty of magnesium and how to make sure you get the right amount.
How magnesium helps your body after exercise
If you work out regularly, magnesium is definitely a nutrient that you don’t want to be lacking in. Sweating gets rid of key electrolytes in the body, including magnesium. These need to be replaced after a gym session, especially if it was a fairly intense one.
Magnesium helps the muscles to relax post-workout, which counteracts the role that calcium plays in contracting the muscles. A lack of magnesium can upset this delicate balance and you’re likely to feel the effects of this as sore muscles. If you don’t replace the magnesium you lose while you’re working out, your muscles find it harder to recover.
Magnesium is also involved in helping your body to convert glycogen into glucose. If there isn’t enough magnesium to do this, the body moves into anaerobic metabolism instead. The end result? Lactic acid build up, fatigue and even more potential for sore muscles.
Studies have suggested that magnesium can help you to perform better, which isn’t too surprising when you consider the benefits for your muscles and general energy levels. According to studies, even being slightly deficient in magnesium can affect your performance and forces your body to work harder.
If you regularly suffer from sore muscles after a gym session, it could be a sign that you’re not getting enough magnesium.
Source: Amazon Australia
When is the best time to consume magnesium?
Ideally, you want to be replacing the magnesium you’ve lost as quickly as possible so that your muscles don’t feel the effects. Experts often recommend that you consume something with magnesium in it straight after a workout and do the same roughly 1-2 hours before you go to bed.
In a nutshell, getting plenty of magnesium every day is the important part, so don’t worry too much if you don’t think you’re taking it at the “right” times. You’re doing a lot better than people who don’t get enough magnesium full stop!
Magnesium and sleep
If you don’t sleep well, you might want to have a look at your magnesium intake. Studies have linked low magnesium levels to poor sleep quality.
Magnesium can promote better sleep on a number of levels. This includes stimulating the parasympathetic nervous system (which calms the body) and increasing production of melatonin (otherwise known as “the sleep hormone”). Its calming and relaxing effects can also play a big role in reducing the effects of anxiety and stress, and this can also help to improve your sleep patterns.
Other benefits of magnesium
- Research has also suggested that magnesium can keep blood pressure in check. This can result in less strain on your heart.
- Reduced inflammation is another bonus. Some studies have shown a link between low magnesium levels and inflammation and others have shown that getting plenty of magnesium actually decreases inflammation levels.
- For diabetics, magnesium can help to reduce blood sugar levels and research has also indicated that getting enough magnesium every day can reduce your risk factor for developing diabetes.
- If you’re plagued by migraines, magnesium may be a factor here too. Some studies have suggested that supplements can have a positive effect on how severe migraine attacks are and how often they occur.
So as you can see, the benefits of magnesium supplements can be pretty broad, especially if you’re not currently getting enough through your diet alone.
How much magnesium do you need?
Men aged up to 30 are advised to get up to 400mg of magnesium every day and this rises slightly to 420mg for males in their 30s and beyond.
Women don’t need quite as much – they’re advised to get up to 310mg of magnesium every day if they’re under 30. Women also need a bit more magnesium once they hit their 30s – the amount they need goes up to 320mg. Pregnant women need to up their magnesium intake to 350mg (up to age 30) or 360mg (age 31 and upwards).
You may be more likely to be deficient in magnesium if you have diabetes or digestive issues that affect absorption of nutrients. Your body’s ability to absorb magnesium also decreases as you get older.
If you decide to supplement, the recommended upper limit is 350mg. If you take supplements that contain more than 350mg of magnesium, you may start to experience some of the side effects of too much magnesium (which we talk about below).
What foods contain magnesium?
Some of the foods you can stock up on for a magnesium boost include:
- Dried apricots
- Beans (black beans, kidney beans)
- Some whole grain breads
- Peanuts and peanut butter
- Leafy greens such as spinach and chard
- Dark chocolate (especially the high quality kind)
- Some bottled waters are also fortified with minerals such as magnesium
What happens if you take too much magnesium?
It is possible to take too much magnesium and this is something to think about when you weigh up whether you really do need to get the benefits of magnesium supplements or if you’re already getting plenty of magnesium from your diet.
The risk isn’t that high if you’re not supplementing because for most healthy people, your body will try to flush excess magnesium. However, this doesn’t always happen if you have kidney or heart problems or digestive issues.
Some of the signs you may be getting too much magnesium include diarrhoea, vomiting, fatigue, weak muscles, an erratic heartbeat, low blood pressure, breathing difficulties and as a worst case scenario, it can lead to a heart attack.
If you take supplements with more than 350mg of magnesium, you may notice some of the digestive symptoms in particular.
Buy magnesium supplements online
You can buy magnesium supplements online from these stores:
Top 10 Sites to Buy Supplements Online
A common misconception is that the body becomes stronger through sports, but in fact only energy has been spent. Only through a proper (physiological) recovery, that mainly occurs during sleep, the body becomes stronger. Stimulating the recovery of the body to a higher level (in top sport know as super-compensation)is especially enhanced by the use of magnesium.
Without adequate recovery there is no physical top performance (stronger and improved stamina) in the short and long term with the consequence of an over trained body. Besides shortening recovery time, increasing of athletic endurance and improvement of strength performance, magnesium is also a natural muscle relaxer, repairs muscle tissue and reduces muscle fatigue and joint stiffness.
Slather your body after every workout with The|Tides Liquid Chill Pill | Magnesium Body Oil or take a relaxing and restorative After Workout Magnesium|Sea Salt Body Bath specifically formulated with a 100% pure aromatherapy blend of Wintergreen, Rosemary, Laurel and Juniper berry. The|Tides Muscle Charger | Magnesium Body Gel Formula provides a slower release; perfect during exercise or for targeted application on painful areas.
Magnesium for Athletes: Why it’s Essential for Recovery
Did you know that not getting enough magnesium can prevent you from reaching your workout goals?
It doesn’t matter how hard you work if your body isn’t also getting the nutrients it needs. A lack of magnesium will hinder your ability to perform, and make the recovery process slower.
The importance of magnesium for athletes has been thoroughly studied, and the results are clear: you need it to perform your best, no matter what kind of athlete you are.
Fortunately, it’s easy to get magnesium into your body using supplements, diet, and topical treatments.
In this essential guide to magnesium for athletes, we’ll take a look at just why this mineral is so important for recovery, and how to make sure you’re getting as much as you need. Read on to learn more!
Why Magnesium for Athletes is Important
This mineral is essential for anyone who works out regularly. Let’s take a look at why it’s so important.
1. Prevents Muscle Spasms
The cramps and spasms that many athletes are so familiar with can actually be prevented. Magnesium is the key to helping spasming muscles relax.
Depleted magnesium levels have been scientifically proven to cause cramps in the legs and other muscle groups. The dehydration caused by exercise makes the effect even more intense. Adding magnesium to your supplement regimen will help prevent uncomfortable cramps, even after a workout.
2. Provides You With Energy
When you exercise, your magnesium levels drop rapidly. The reason for this is that when you sweat, this mineral is removed from your body, and of course, you sweat the most when you’re working out.
During an intense workout, magnesium actually enters the red blood cells in order to help sustain your energy levels. This is because intense exercise depletes the oxygen in your blood cells, so magnesium is your body’s way of balancing out that loss to sustain energy.
This means that if you’re doing high-intensity workouts, especially if they are in a hot environment, you’ll need magnesium to keep providing your body with the power it needs.
3. Aids Muscle Recovery
Of course, the prevention of spasms and the replenishment of red blood cells are part of helping your recovery process. However, magnesium also has other properties that make it essential for your muscle recovery post-workout.
It’s actually an anti-inflammatory, making it a great method for reducing any swelling, joint pain, and other post-workout inflammation. You’ll even help prevent future arthritis when you take magnesium supplements.
Magnesium for athletes is essential because it is what allows muscles to go from a contracted state to a relaxed state.
Without enough of this mineral, your muscles will stay tense for too long, which is why magnesium deficiencies can cause cramps. The lactic acid buildup caused by intense exercise can also be combatted with magnesium.
Use supplements to keep your muscles functioning properly – it won’t just help reduce pain post-workout, but will also help you recover fully to prevent injuries in the future.
4. Helps You Perform Better
When you exercise, your body turns glycogen into glucose, providing your muscles with fuel for the workout. Magnesium is necessary for this process to work. When you aren’t getting enough of this mineral, you’ll feel fatigued more easily and will struggle to complete your workout.
Every athlete knows the importance of protein for performance. But did you know that magnesium also helps you metabolize protein better? This means you’ll get the most power from your protein, giving you strength for your performance.
5. Builds Lean Muscle
Your body’s sensitivity to insulin goes down when magnesium levels drop. This makes it more difficult for your body to lose fat and gain lean muscle. With higher magnesium levels, you’ll build the muscle you want much faster.
Ways to Get More Magnesium
As you can see, there are many ways magnesium will help you perform your best. So how can you be sure you’re getting enough in your diet?
There are a few reliable sources of magnesium for athletes. Let’s take a look at what they are so you can decide which one is best for you.
Making changes to your diet is one way to get more magnesium.
Spinach is one of the best-known sources of this mineral. However, you can also get it from pumpkin seeds, kelp, almonds, cashews, buckwheat, and a number of other food sources. Foods that have a lot of fiber also tend to have plenty of magnesium.
One of the easiest ways to incorporate many of these ingredients is by blending them into a smoothie, along with some fruit. This allows you to consume larger amounts of these foods quickly and easily.
Magnesium supplements are one of the simplest ways to aid your workout recovery.
Most oral magnesium supplements will need to be taken twice a day. It can be hard to get enough of the mineral through food, so a supplement helps you get what you need without hassle.
3. Topical Treatments
You can actually get the benefits of magnesium by applying it to your skin, too. A bath that uses magnesium flakes is a great way to help speed up post-workout recovery.
Although Epsom salts have traditionally been used for a magnesium-rich bath, magnesium flakes actually provide more powerful benefits. After your workout, a warm bath with these flakes added helps your muscles recover quickly.
It’s best to start with a smaller amount to see how your body reacts, then add more to the bath as needed. Try adding some sea salt and baking soda to the bath, as well, for the best recovery method.
Reach Peak Performance Now
Science has shown that magnesium is key to attaining your best athletic performance. Without enough of this essential mineral, the recovery process is slower and more painful, and your performance won’t be at its peak.
Whether you use food, supplements, or magnesium baths, it’s important that you give your body what it needs. The best approach is often to use all three tactics to make sure you reach full recovery after every workout session.
Want to learn more about boosting your athletic performance? Learn more about natural ways to perform your best here.
Going to the gym and not progressing on your lifts or improving your times can get frustrating. If you’re the type that grinds away and works out hard, day in and day out, you won’t progress if you take rest and recovery lightly.
What’s the best way to speed up recovery of sore muscles?
Surprisingly, there are no definitive ways to speed up recovery of sore muscles that are supported by research. There are, however, a handful of treatments, which may help alleviate the feeling of soreness:
1) Rest or active recovery – Getting plenty of sleep and resting your body may be the most effective treatment. In addition, active recovery, which is light exercise during the recovery phase can stimulate blood flow to the muscles to help reduce muscle pain. Active recovery can include swimming, or a light jog.
2) Hydration – Drinking plenty of water can help flush out toxins from your body and prevent dehydration, which can make muscle soreness even more painful. While there is no consensus on how much water you should drink, somewhere around 1/2 your body weight in ounces of water per day is a good starting point.
3) Pre-workout & post-workout nutrition – Consuming a 2:1 ratio of carbs to protein either before, or after a workout, or both, may help reduce the severity of muscle soreness.
4) Topical creams – creams like Ben Gay and IcyHot provide the perception of pain relief, but have no effects on the underlying muscle.
5) NSAIDS – nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs like Advil and Alleve can help relieve the discomfort of muscle soreness. It’s not advisable to use NSAIDS on a consistent basis, but rather for an acute bout of soreness.
Other treatments include ice, cold baths, Epsom salt baths, massage and gentle stretching, but the effectiveness of these methods for speeding up recovery is questionable.
How much time is appropriate for recovering from weight training? How about long distance running?
A: The amount of recovery you need from exercise depends on a variety of factors including (1) your fitness level, (2) the volume & intensity of exercise, (3) familiarity of the exercise. For example, if you are in great shape and complete 2 sets of bench press with light weight, your chest probably won’t be sore at all the next day and you could workout again without any issues. If you add more volume (sets & reps) and intensity (weight) such as four chest exercises for 12 sets with heavier weight and use unfamiliar movements, then it’s possible your chest may be very sore not only the next day, but for several days. Finally, it also depends on the metabolic intensity of the workouts. If you do heavy squats and deadlifts on Monday, it’s probably a good idea to hold off on completing the same exercises for a few days because of how much they tax your central nervous system.
The same variables apply to running where fitness level is particularly important. For example, some elite marathoners run 100+ miles per week and need almost no rest between runs. On the other hand, a weekend warrior may attempt to run 20 miles in a week, or change up the stimulus with hill running, which could create intense soreness and require longer recovery times.
What types of factors inhibit recovery?
The 3 biggest factors that inhibit recovery include:
1) Lack of sleep – if you are chronically sleep deprived, the muscle soreness will likely be more painful and may take more time to heal.
2) Lack of proper nutrition – If you are not adequately hydrated, or deficient in potassium, or are not eating enough protein, pain from muscle soreness may be more intense.
3) Overtraining – If you continue working out intensely without sufficient rest, muscle soreness may get worse.
The best way to avoid very sore muscles and improve recovery is to use a progressive exercise program where workouts become harder at a measured pace over time.
Are there any specific foods that help assist recovery?
There are a handful of foods that may help assist recovery:
1) Foods high in potassium – potassium is a mineral that is crucial to heart function and muscle contraction. Those who have low potassium levels may experience muscle soreness and cramping. Foods with high potassium levels include bananas, oranges, melons, raisins, and potatoes.
2) High-protein foods – protein is the building block of muscle, so foods that are high in protein may help repair sore muscles. High protein foods include meat, eggs, and dairy.
3) Pineapple – this tropical fruit is high in the enzyme bromelain, which is a natural anti-inflammatory that can help treat strains, sprains, and bruises.
4) Cherries – some studies show that cherries may be as effective as anti-inflammatory medications. Cherries contain anthocyanins, which are antioxidants which reduce inflammation.
5) Fish oil – high in Omega 3 fatty acids, fish oil may help reduce inflammation in joints and muscles.
What do you do when you’re overtrained and fatigued for several days in a row?
Overtraining occurs when you perform more training—both in and out of the gym—than your body can recover from. For a newbie, overtraining can happen quickly, whereas for an experienced athlete, it may take weeks of unusually difficult exercise to set in.
There are a number of overtraining to watch out for including elevated heart rate, decreased strength, lack of motivation, and chronic soreness in your joints.
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Many physiological processes depend on certain electrolytes, including sodium, potassium, calcium and magnesium. In this blog post, we delve into the importance of potassium to exercise performance.
While there is some debate about the importance of potassium to athletes, many studies have shown that it is beneficial to replace lost potassium during the course of exercise. Otherwise, performance will decline. This is due to the role potassium plays in things like nerve functioning, glycogen processing and fluid regulation.
If you have ever wondered “why potassium,” this blog post is for you.
What is potassium?
Potassium is a salt the body uses to help manage several processes, including sweat, nerve functioning, glycogen and fluid management, and blood pressure.
Nerve functioning: Potassium — when broken down into the bloodstream — is an electrolyte, meaning it contains an electric charge. This aspect of potassium helps polarize cells, which is essential to conduct nerve signals, as these signals are electrical impulses sent through the body.
Glycogen and fluid management: Another key function of potassium is fluid management in the bloodstream and cells. Both sodium and potassium levels contribute to blood pressure, and the process of balancing fluid throughout the body is depended on having the right ratio of each electrolyte. Potassium, which is primarily intracellular, works with sodium, which is primarily extracellular, to move water, glycogen and waste products through the cell walls.
Blood pressure: It is important to get the ratio of sodium and potassium correct to achieve a healthy blood pressure level. Many people mistakenly assume that they have to consume low amounts of sodium in order to reduce blood pressure. In fact, an equally successful solution is to consume higher amounts of potassium. A 1997 study by the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute found that volunteers who consumed 4,700 mg of potassium per day through a well-balanced diet that included lots of fruits and vegetables reduced their blood pressure in just two weeks.
What happens to potassium during exercise?
During exercise, potassium plays two critical roles in the form of sweat and the processing of glycogen.
Sweating: When you sweat, you lose several electrolytes, including sodium, potassium, magnesium and calcium. Notably, potassium concentration in sweat is higher in hot environments even for individuals who are heat-acclimatized, according to research conducted in the 1970s. “The potassium depletion in sweat, even in acclimatized , is heavy and is likely to play an important role in the causation of heat-illness,” the research concludes. Intensity also affects sweat rates: A study published in 2016 found that potassium losses in sweat increased along with exercise intensity.
In order to keep physical performance output at a maximum, it is important to replenish this lost potassium during exercise, especially if the time spent exercising is three hours or more (such as in a marathon or long bike ride), or sooner if in a hot environment.
Glycogen breakdown: Potassium is also essential to the process of breaking down glycogen in the muscle cells, which helps fuel these cells as they contract repeatedly during endurance exercise. As glycogen is broken down, the muscle cells are depleted of potassium as it flows into the bloodstream before leaving the body through urination or sweat.
Potassium blood concentration: There is some debate in the exercise community on the importance of measuring the concentration of potassium ions in the bloodstream. As discussed above, when cells break down glycogen, they release potassium into the blood. A few studies of athletes have found that during the course of exercise, blood concentration of potassium does not change much. This has led to an incorrect conclusion that potassium levels in the body do not change much.
Instead, after potassium is released into the bloodstream, it is secreted through sweat or urination, which keeps blood levels consistent. Potassium lost through these methods is replaced by potassium secreted from the muscle cells — at the detriment of the muscle cells. In other words, the bloodstream is just a step in the process, and potassium levels in the blood do not correlate with potassium levels in the muscle cells.
This process of depleting muscle cells of potassium is detrimental to exercise performance over time. As potassium concentration in the cells lowers, there is less available potassium to help with things like blood pressure or nerve functioning. This can dramatically affect performance if not counteracted. Studies of marathon runners (1970, Journal of Applied Physiology) have found that long exercise results in greater amounts of potassium outside the cells, which can contribute to cramping, bloating and general fatigue.
Potassium deficiency symptoms are nausea, slower reflexes, vomiting, muscle weakness, muscle spasms, cramping, and rapid heart rate.
Where does potassium come from?
Potassium is abundant in fruits and vegetables, meaning that for the ordinary person, a healthy diet should be sufficient to obtain the daily requirement for potassium intake. Athlete-friendly foods particularly high in this mineral include bananas, sweet potatoes, berries and watermelon. (A while back, we published a list of recipes that contain high amounts of potassium. Check them out, if you’re struggling to add these foods into your diet.)
Should you supplement potassium?
For athletes exercising in the heat, exercising at high intensities, or exercising for long durations, potassium supplementation may be necessary. This is for all the reasons listed above, namely that potassium is crucial for glycogen processing, and without an adequate plan to replace lost electrolytes, performance will be reduced.
If you are deciding among supplements, feel free to use our product comparison chart below. Remember, it is the ratio of electrolytes that is more important than the exact amount of electrolytes consumed. As you can see SaltStick is the only product that formulated to closely resemble the electrolyte profile lost during activity: sodium, potassium, calcium and magnesium — all in a form your body can easily absorb.
Can you get too much potassium?
Before discussing the concept of “too much” of any one mineral, it is important to remember that endurance athletes are not typical in their nutrient needs. The average person is not completing one to several hours of exercise per day. While the USDA recommends adults consume 2,300 mg of sodium and 4,700 mg of potassium, standard nutrition advice does not apply to endurance athletes who run through copious amounts of calories and salts during training.
That said, it is possible to over consume potassium (or, as we discussed above, under consume sodium, as it is the ratio of these minerals that matters). Athletes should never take potassium supplements in large doses (beyond normal supplementation) without the advice of a physician.
What does this mean for an athlete?
There are a few key points to keep in mind:
- Athletes need potassium for a variety of performance-related functions, namely the sweating process and the process of breaking down glycogen for energy.
- In a normal day, adults can get adequate amounts of potassium from a diet that includes plenty of fruits and vegetables.
- During the course of long periods of exercise, athletes should ensure they are replacing potassium to help maintain performance. Supplementation can assist in this process.
If you want to learn more about potassium and how it is incorporated into SaltStick products, you can view our “Why Potassium” page here.
Disclaimer: Contact your physician before starting any exercise program or if you are taking any medication. Individuals with high blood pressure should also consult their physician prior to taking an electrolyte supplement. Overdose of electrolytes is possible, with symptoms such as vomiting and feeling ill, and care should be taken not to overdose on any electrolyte supplement.
Electrolytes for Muscle Recovery | Dr. Millie Lytle
Electrolytes for Muscle Recovery
Written by Millie Lytle, ND, MPH, CNS
When you flex your muscles, your body needs calcium in order to produce a contraction. When you relax your muscles, it requires magnesium instead. When your heart pumps, calcium is needed for the contraction to increase blood pressure, while magnesium is required for the relaxation of the muscle, which reduces blood pressure. When you sweat, you lose water. When people think of hydration they tend to think of water alone but some hormones regulate water and hydration with the help of key minerals called electrolytes.
The more you sweat, the more electrolytes you lose, so the more you need to replenish these important alkaline minerals. From a chemistry perspective, electrolytes are substances like acid, base and salts that conduct electricity in their liquid solution due to ionization.1 In the blood, urine, intra- and extracellular fluid, it is the presence of ions (charged elements) in solution that’s responsible for the conduction of electricity. Hormones produced by the kidneys and adrenal glands such as rennin, angiotensin, aldosterone and antidiuretic hormone secrete electrolytes based on the presence of water and key minerals, sodium and potassium.1 When the body is dehydrated of water and minerals, we get thirsty.
What Do Electrolytes Do?
- Electrolytes maintain the charge across cell membranes of nerve, heart and muscle cells, which further carry electrical impulses (such as nerve impulses and muscle contractions) across themselves and to other cells.
- Electrolytes keep us hydrated, with proper water and blood volume. Excess hydration is released in urine.
When Do We Lose Electrolytes?
- During daily normal muscle contractions
- Through normal process of heartbeat and heart rhythm
- Through sweat, vomiting, urine, and diarrhea
When you exercise, your muscle fibers are tearing and repairing themselves. During the repair process, the muscle builds and produces lactic acid. Acid is buffered alkalizing electrolytes. Electrolytes are minerals that help maintain alkaline pH and hydration, first in the intestines and then in the rest of the blood and tissues. Electrolytes include magnesium, potassium, calcium, sodium and bicarbonate. Taking a multi-mineral dietary supplement significantly increases the pH of the blood and urine. Adequate levels of magnesium, potassium and calcium in the blood are beneficial to address muscle cramping, charley horses and nerve pain. Atypical muscle contraction, such as arrhythmia, is also reduced with magnesium.
The University of Mississippi Medical Center reports that the cellular pH in resting skeletal muscle is typically 7.15.2 During exercise, as alkalizing minerals are utilized, pH falls in proportion to the intensity of the exercise. Lactic acid concentrations along with carbon dioxide contribute to the more acidic pH, which falls as low as 6.57.2 Electrolyte minerals are required to normalize the pH following exercise. If a balance of magnesium, potassium, sodium and calcium are not replenished adequately, this leaves electrolyte deficits that can contribute to abnormal muscle function. Based on the normal physiology of the skeletal muscles, as well as the heart muscle, muscles require a substantial concentration of available alkalizing minerals to fire and function smoothly, maintain regular blood flow to the cell, and reduce tension. In an acidic environment, the inflammatory response of muscles can lead to lack of recovery and other symptoms including pain, numbness, and even paralysis (tetany). For instance, increasing potassium and magnesium levels through supplementation can reduce muscle pain and tension in people with Gitelman’s Syndrome, a genetic metabolic alkalosis characterized by low blood potassium, low urinary calcium and low blood magnesium3, as well as people with normal mineral physiology. Thiazide diuretics can also cause these same muscle symptoms.3
Blood pressure physiology involves the mineral balance of sodium, potassium, magnesium, chlorine and calcium. Health promotion efforts from public health departments have highlighted the importance for the population to eat a low-salt diet, but have not emphasized the importance to balance salt intake with more alkalizing minerals such as potassium, calcium and magnesium. When these minerals are relatively low in the diet, the negative effects of too much salt become dire. In an acidic environment, blood pressure rises, heart beat becomes irregular and cardiac events can result. Increasing potassium and magnesium levels through supplementation can nutritionally support the over-excitability of the heart3. Men who die of a sudden ischemic heart attack have been shown to have very low levels of magnesium and potassium in the heart muscle as compared to others who had a heart attack, but who did not die4, suggesting that death as a result of cardiac arrest could be dependent on levels of electrolytes available. Ironically, it is diuretics that are prescribed for high blood pressure, which have the same known action of eliminating potassium as well as magnesium. The sudden magnesium deficiency as a result of diuretics could be the main cause of sudden death in heart failure patients5.
Signs of Electrolyte Deficiency:
- Not having a daily bowel movement
- Kidney stones
- Heart Palpitations
- Seizure disorder
- Irritable bowel syndrome
- Symptoms of Fibromyalgia
You are at risk for having an electrolyte deficiency if you drink alcohol, regularly vomit or have diarrhea, take a diuretic, do not consume several servings of green veggies per day, or sweat without replenishing your minerals. Most sports recovery drinks do not supply sufficient potassium and magnesium to replenish levels. Additionally, Potassium is the only mineral that is not legally sold as a dietary supplement in levels that represent the RDA or minimum daily value recommendation. The RDA of potassium is 4700mg per day, whereas the highest amount allowed to be sold in a capsule is 99mg. Fortunately, InVite®’s Scientific Director, Jerry Hickey has realized that if potassium is formulated into a powder, a much higher amount can be consumed (1000mg per scoop). Solving electrolyte deficiency can be very easy – but it won’t happen on its own. Many of us have been told to avoid over-consumption of salt, sodium or chloride, but the doctors rarely tell you to load up on potassium and magnesium as well. Carbohydrate-electrolyte drinks can have a significant role on energy balance during exercise. One study looked at the effect of oral carbohydrate-electrolyte supplementation on sports performance and cardiovascular status of national level male athletes during exercise and recovery. Results shows significant improvements in total endurance time, heart rate responses, and blood lactic acid during exercise at 70 percent max after the supplementation. Significant improvement in cardiovascular responses, blood glucose and lactic acid removal were noted during recovery following the electrolyte drink6.
To sum all this up, every time you lose body fluids in excess, you ought to be thinking about how to replenish not only water, but especially the minerals that regulate our hydration- potassium and magnesium.
Assisting Scientific Director and Pharmacist Jerry Hickey is a team of nutritional professionals – a group of hand chosen, dedicated experts, available at each and every InVite® Health retail location – there to provide you with a FREE, personalized, and professional nutritional consultation. Visit an InVite® Health retail location near you for assistance in selecting the correct nutrients to address your health concerns.
You can also e-mail an InVite® Nutritionist or call us directly with any of your nutritional questions. The InVite® Health team is always available to assist you.
There’s a whole range of benefits to using magnesium, from improved sleep, an increased metabolism, and even, an improvement in our mood while reducing feelings of depression.
However, the big question is “should you take magnesium before or after a workout?”
Within this article, I’ll discuss what magnesium’s role is in helping training adaptations to take place, and whether or not to use it pre/post, or even both.
Magnesium can be taken at any point in the day. However, there’s something to bear in mind: magnesium ‘pill’ supplements may cause stomach upsets for those who are sensitive to magnesium when taken on an empty stomach, such as first thing in the morning before breakfast.
As for when to use magnesium for training; before a workout with your pre-workout meal with vitamin C will help to increase absorption and its ability to assist in training adaptations (discussed in more detail below).
Furthermore, magnesium can, and potentially should also be taken post workout for optimal results. That is of course, if you train with intensity, or your duration lasts longer than 90 minutes. This is because magnesium is water soluble and is quickly lost via perspiration.
Table of Contents
The Role of Magnesium Within Exercise
As I’ve mentioned in my main magnesium article, it’s a mineral that’s responsible for over 300 enzyme systems that regulate diverse biochemical activities throughout the body.
Okay, this is fantastic, but what does this mean exactly?
This means that magnesium can help to deliver nutrients around the body. Helping us to repair and heal at a quicker and more efficient rate.
However, there’s also something that magnesium can do which is going to help to get fitter, faster, and stronger.
Magnesium is needed to help the mitochondria improve and adapt to a new training stimulus. Let me explain:
How Magnesium Improves our Fitness Levels
When we take part in HIIT for example, the mitochondria adapts and becomes more efficient in producing energy. It’s the mitochondria’s role to supply our muscles with adenosine trisphosphate – ATP.
“Mg2+ transporter of mitochondrial inner membrane MRS2 is an essential component of mitochondrial Mg2+ uptake system”. (01)
The better our mitochondria is at producing energy, then it goes without saying… We’ll be able to work-out harder, longer, and our recovery will take place easier than before.
Another interesting thing about the mitochondria, is that is can literally mimic other mitochondria cells in the body.
So, when we increase our fitness via HIIT for example, the mitochondria that have already adapted to the training stimulus, producing more efficient energy, will then pass on its genes to new mitochondria that are being created.
This is where magnesium can help!
We need magnesium to help the mitochondria replicate itself and work more efficiently.
So, with this information in mind, you can now begin to see how and when magnesium may benefit your training protocol.
Best Way To Absorb Magnesium?
Before we take a look at the best time to take magnesium. First, let’s clear up the confusion as to what is the best way to absorb magnesium, along with the best type to use:
- Himalayan Salt: Great for increasing magnesium while also improving your electrolyte stores. This is best taken with food (either in your pre or post meals) or even a pinch of Himalayan salt in the water you drink throughout the day will do the trick.
- Magnesium Pill: Magnesium pill supplements are a convenient way to increase your magnesium stores. You can use magnesium either before, or after you exercise. Alternatively, you can use magnesium first-thing in the morning on an empty stomach to help increase absorption. Bear in mind though, that some people cannot tolerate magnesium on an empty stomach. Therefore, eating a meal beforehand may be a better option. This will all come down to testing how you react.
- Magnesium Spray: Ideal for muscle cramping. Magnesium spray helps to get magnesium into your muscles while increasing the magnesium levels in your body. However, this is only a ‘light’ remedy. Some people will need to ingest 400 mg and upwards of Mg per day, which would be virtually impossible via a spray.
- Epsom Salt Bath: If you have the luxury of having a bath, then adding Epsom salts into your nightly soak is one way to improve your magnesium levels. However, just like with the magnesium spray, this will not be adequate enough to replenish magnesium levels on its own. At least, the kind we need to improve training adaptations.
“Magnesium might be able to get into the lymphatic system beneath the dermis and enter the circulatory system, bypassing the regulation through the GI tract and hereby increasing serum magnesium”. (02)
Magnesium Before or After Working-Out?
Now that I’ve painted a picture as to how magnesium can help improve your fitness goals, the big question is: When should you use it? Let’s now have a look at the different times to take magnesium.
Before A Workout:
Magnesium can help the mitochondria to improve and replicate itself with the use of magnesium, it then makes sense to use magnesium before a workout.
This could be in pill form, or even by adding more Himalayan salt to your pre-workout meal or water bottle. Himalayan salt has numerous trace minerals, one, in particular, that’s important is magnesium.
Fueling up on magnesium pre-workout will help to increase your overall electrolyte balance. This has been shown to not only extend performance, but also, to increase the body’s responses at adapting to new stressors from exercise.
A study which looked at the effects of supplementation with carbohydrate and electrolyte beverage, compared to placebo showed significant training adaptations and increased exercise stamina.
“Subjects displayed longer exercise times when the CHO-E solution was ingested compared with placebo or no fluid groups”. (03)
After A Workout:
As magnesium is a water-soluble mineral, it’s easily lost through sweat and perspiration in general. This means, that if you’ve loaded up on magnetism before a workout, you may have significantly reduced your magnesium stores during your intense workout.
Whether or not to add more magnesium post workout will all depend on your levels of training, and how hard you have just exercised (sweat lost etc), or if you live in a hotter climate where you’ll naturally sweat more.
Therefore, you may need to add more magnesium back into your diet post workout. This is to make sure your muscles and your mitochondria get the help they need – to recover and become stronger and more efficient.
As you can see, as long as you have a plentiful supply of magnesium in your system pre and then, post workout, you’ll be giving your body a fighting chance at adapting to the training stimulus you put on it.
You can take magnesium in pill supplement form (preferred) or you can use Himalayan salts to top-up your magnesium and electrolyte levels even further.
To learn more about magnesium, read this article on magnesium here.
If you want to go the extra mile, why not have an Epsom salt bath. But if you don’t have a bath, you can also use magnesium sprays to help your muscles recover and relax much quicker post workout.
A study which looked at magnesium application via a cream noticed a slight increase as opposed to a placebo group, which highlights that transdermal magnesium application does work.
If you have any questions regarding magnesium and how it can benefit your workout performance, please get in-touch or comment below.
(01) Mitochondrial Mg2+ homeostasis decides cellular energy metabolism and vulnerability to stress. (source)
(02) Myth or Reality—Transdermal Magnesium? (source)
(03) The Effects Of Ingesting a Carbohydrate-Electrolyte Beverage 15 Minutes Prior to High-Intensity Exercise Performance. (source)
(04) Effect of transdermal magnesium cream on serum and urinary magnesium levels in humans: A pilot study. (source)
Table of Contents:
For high performance athletes, a magnesium deficiency can prevent you from taking your game to the next level.
During physical education class you’re taught to replace the electrolytes sodium and potassium after a workout, practice or match. However most of us don’t even consider replacing our magnesium storages after a workout.
It’s extremely bad news considering that the competitive athlete is predestined to suffer from hypomagnesemia and other electrolyte imbalances more than the average person.
Whether you’re crushing it in the gym or sweating on the practice field, electrolytes are lost in greater amounts through consistent perspiration, urine excretion and from not practicing proper electrolyte replacement after your workouts.
During strenuous activity magnesium is required by the organs (including muscle) and a situation is created whereby there is an increased difficulty to supply magnesium to the athletes by natural sources in sufficient amount. Continuous magnesium supplementation to the athlete must be considered as a supportive and beneficial measure during periods of long physical stress .
Magnesium is also used in large amounts for ATP production and to aid in recovery in muscles, which can also cause magnesium to become further exacerbated leading to a severe depletion .
Popular electrolyte replacement supplements (think Gatorade) are poor at remedying hypomagnesemia because many of these supplements don’t contain either the best magnesium chelations, or proper amounts of supplemental magnesium.
What’s even worse is that magnesium isn’t highly concentrated in many of the different foods that we eat on a daily basis. Even for foods containing high amounts of Mg, most of it is bounded by phytic acid which prevents your body from absorbing it .
As an athlete, all of these factors directly contribute to low magnesium levels. Supplementing with a premium quality magnesium supplement is the best option for immediate results.
There are a multitude of studies that suggest correcting magnesium deficiency can also improve overall athletic performance.
- Our results show that supplementation with magnesium increases free and total testosterone values in sedentary and in athletes .
- Magnesium supplementation positively influences the performance of training athletes by increasing erythrocyte and hemoglobin levels .
- Adequate magnesium levels are required in order to sustain an appropriate performance level due to its key role in energetic metabolism, in membrane stabilization and in muscle contraction .
Supplementing Magnesium for Athletes
Proper magnesium supplementation should be based on your bodyweight.
Half of your daily dosage should be taken immediately after a workout. The rest of your daily magnesium supplemental dosage should be taken at bedtime to help facilitate recovery and improve sleep quality.
Recommended guide: 200 mg for every 50 lbs of bodyweight.
On days of increased physical performance, you may need to increase the dosage to 300 mg for every 50 lbs of bodyweight.
I strongly advise to all of my clients that they should be supplementing with magnesium on a daily basis to prevent the development of hyopmagnesemia and insure the body is at an optimal level. Remember that you’re not able to get the daily required amount from food alone.
You may also want to have your physician perform a RBC magnesium blood test every three to six months just to be certain that your magnesium blood levels are okay.
As you begin researching different products available, I always tell people to start with MagTech as it has one of the highest absorption rates of any magnesium supplement ever developed. It can further provide performance benefits for you because of the chelations that are used in the supplement.
Magnesium taurate can help increase ATP production in your muscles and help protect your heart, while L-threonate may greatly increase magnesium concentration in the brain and spinal column for increased cognitive function, as well as improve your nerve conduction .
You’re probably suffering from a magnesium deficiency and don’t even know it
Magnesium l-threonate can improve brain function and long-term potentiation
Scientific References (click to expand):
- Golf S. Magnesium and physical exercise. Journal of Trace Elements and Electrolytes, 2008; 25(4): 231.
- Changes of Magnesium Concentrations in Endurance Athletes.
- Phytic acid added to white-wheat bread inhibits fractional apparent magnesium absorption in humans.
- Effects of Magnesium Supplementation on Testosterone Levels of Athletes and Sedentary Subjects at Rest and after Exhaustion
- Effects of magnesium supplementation on blood parameters of athletes at rest and after exercise
- Magnesium status: influence on the regulation of exercise-induced oxidative stress and immune function in athletes.
- Novel Magnesium Compound Reverses Neurodegeneration
Magnesium: Why You Need It for Better Performance
Magnesium is probably one of the first minerals that comes to mind when you think of fitness. But, hardly anyone knows how essential magnesium truly is and how it can improve your physical performance. We have the facts for you!
Magnesium performs numerous functions
Magnesium is a vital mineral: it is present in nearly every cell of your body. Approximately 30 % of the magnesium in your body is stored in the muscles. The mineral performs numerous functions: it is needed for aerobic (= with oxygen) and anaerobic (= without oxygen) energy production. Magnesium is also required to form endogenous protein (protein of body origin, rather than dietary origin) and plays an important role in muscle contraction and relaxation. The mineral is also essential to the formation of bone and teeth. In addition, it is involved in the activation of hundreds of enzymes.
How important is magnesium for athletes?
Numerous studies have shown that even a slight magnesium deficiency can impair athletic performance. This means that you can improve your performance by ensuring an adequate supply of this important mineral. What happens in your body? According to studies, magnesium appears to lower lactate levels in your blood. Lactate (lactic acid) is a metabolite that is primarily produced by intense physical exercise. If it builds up, it can limit muscle performance and you will fatigue faster. Plus, exercising without sufficient magnesium will lead to increased oxygen consumption and heart rate. The mineral also plays a major role in strengthening your immune system. It works similar to an antioxidant by strengthening your defenses and protecting you from diseases.
Magnesium has been shown to lower lactate levels in your blood.
Increased consumption can be helpful
Healthy adults should get 300-350 mg of magnesium per day. A balanced diet is usually enough to satisfy this daily requirement. But, if you like to exercise or work a physically demanding job, your diet probably won’t cover your daily needs because you lose a lot of magnesium through sweat. This loss has to be replaced: you also need to consume more magnesium in the case of diarrhea or stress. Studies have shown that people who suffer from a magnesium deficiency can improve their physical performance by increasing their magnesium intake.
Did you know?
You lose a lot of magnesium through sweat.
However, if you take too much (for example, through a dietary supplement), this can lead to stomach and intestinal issues. Therefore, you should pay attention to how much you are getting per day.
These foods are good sources of magnesium
Many runners consider bananas to be the top source of magnesium. But, there are many other foods that have as much or even more magnesium than the yellow fruit. Here are the 11 best sources of magnesium:
- Wheat bran
- Sunflower seeds
- Pumpkin seeds
- White kidney beans
- Baby spinach
- Whole grain products
As you can see, nuts and seeds are packed with magnesium, but don’t forget that these foods groups are high in fat and thus contain many calories.
Mineral water also contains varying amounts of magnesium. You can find the nutrition facts on the label of the bottle.