Whether you are just getting into fitness or you are an experienced athlete, it is essential that you fuel your body properly with these important nutrients. Physical activity puts your body under strain, so incorporating nutrients into your diet will not only help your body to recover, give you energy, and protect your health, but it will also improve your performance. So, to see significant changes in your fitness journey, incorporate these nutrients into your diet!
Vitamin C and Zinc – Muscle Recovery
Any form of exercise is demanding for your muscles, so you need to make sure you provide them with something to help them recover. A great vitamin to do this is vitamin C, as it is involved in the production of collagen, which helps to repair your muscles. The best way to consume vitamin C would be to have a fruit-packed smoothie after your workout. Place orange juice, strawberries, kiwi, and spinach in a blender and pulse until smooth. Not only does it taste amazing, but it will ensure you are providing your body with the support it needs to recover, helping you to perform better the next day. Alternatively, you could explore the various nutraceutical supplements out there to see if they could help you to top up the level of vitamin C, among other vitamins, in your body.
Zinc is another important mineral in helping your body to repair tissues after your workout. Your body doesn’t need much zinc, so if you opt to take supplements, make sure you are only consuming the suggested dose. Too much zinc in the body can have nasty side effects for the digestive system. It is recommended that women consume 8mg of zinc, whilst men should aim for 11mg. For reference, one cup of cooked chickpeas contains about a quarter of your daily requirement.
Magnesium – Boosts Energy
Magnesium is key to the healthy functioning of all the cells in the body. It works by turning food into energy, which provides the body with a much needed energy boost. If you are deficient in magnesium, you are likely to feel lethargic, weak, and tired. More serious side effects can include cramps, numbness and even abnormal heart activity, so it is essential to ensure you are consuming enough magnesium. Taking magnesium tablets before a workout is a quick and easy way to make sure you will perform to the best of your ability. Supplements shouldn’t be used to replace a bad diet, but can be really effective when consumed alongside a healthy, balanced diet.
Omega 3 – Healthy Heart
Omega-3’s are nutrients found mostly in fish, but also in nuts, seeds, and many plant oils. They are essential in protecting the heart and helping it to function properly. The healthier your heart is, the more fit and healthy you will feel. Omega-3’s work by reducing clotting, the levels of fat in the blood, and the chance of your heartbeat becoming irregular. This one is key for your overall health, so make the effort to incorporate omega-3’s throughout your diet.
Vitamin E – Healthy Lungs
Vitamin E supports healthy lung function due to its antioxidant effect which can reduce damage to the lung tissue. If you are especially focused on cardiovascular exercise, ensuring your lungs are as healthy as possible is really important. On days that you workout, help to protect your lungs with a vitamin E rich meal. For example, try avocado, eggs and spinach on wholemeal bread with toasted almonds and pomegranate seeds. It is insanely good for you and will give you peace of mind that you’re looking after yourself.
Calcium – Regulate Blood Pressure
High blood pressure can be dangerous at any age, so helping your body to regulate it is important. Calcium is a mineral that can do this, as although it is most commonly known for its ability to protect our bones and teeth, consuming it before exercise can help to stabilise your blood pressure. Calcium is rife in dairy products, but for any plant-based eaters, you can find it in leafy green vegetables, soy products, sesame seeds and calcium-fortified foods such as plant milks.
Probiotics – Effective Absorption of Nutrients
Now that you have made an effort to ensure you are eating plenty of essential nutrients, you need to make sure your body is absorbing them properly. Probiotics assist with breaking down your food to release nutrients, as well as helping the body to then absorb them. They can also help your digestive system to remain healthy and function properly. Probiotics are good bacteria that occur in yoghurt, sauerkraut, kimchi and miso, so aim to include a few of these foods into your diet two to three times a week.
If you feel that you aren’t performing to the best of your ability when exercising, identify the cause, for example trouble breathing, lack of energy or sore muscles. From here, you will have a better idea of the nutrients you might be lacking, meaning you can focus on finding ways to incorporate them throughout your diet. You will be surprised at the difference nutrients can make to your performance and overall well being.