New year, new you right? Well, if this is the mindset you’re taking into 2023, we’re so here for it! We’re deeming this year as the year of health and balance. To create the optimal environment for your body while you train, you may want to consider the essential nutrients which will help you reach and maintain your health and fitness goals. Just like exercising your muscles through strength training or cardio activity is so important, so is fueling your body in the proper manner through diet and nutrient supplementation. Focusing on some key nutrients can work by increasing your endurance, but also improve your overall health by bolstering your immune system, improving bone health, and minimizing oxidative stress. Plus, eating adequate amounts of micronutrients and vitamins is so crucial for muscle building and recovery from the stress of intense activity.
The bottom line is that regular exercise, while incredibly important, can lead to an increase turnover and loss of nutrients from the body. Therefore, greater calories, vitamins and minerals are required to help cover the losses and supplement them in your diet. So, to help you mitigate this problem, here are six essential nutrients for active people you want to consider incorporating into your diet.
In order for your muscles to work efficiently, you need to be pumping some iron – literally! DYK – an hour of working our could deplete 5.7% of your iron levels, which helps red blood cells carry oxygen to your muscles. Iron is a must-have for the metabolism of carbs, protein, and fat, so a deficiency may inhibit endurance as well as immune and cognitive functions.
Get more from: beef, eggs, spinach, broccoli
Poor calcium intake can ultimately lead to bone-related issues (like stress fractures) – and we want to avoid those at all costs! Calcium can help in muscle contraction and nerve impulses, as well as increasing bone mass.
Get more from: milk, yogurt, leafy greens, beans
3. Vitamin D
Vitamin D is needed for sufficient calcium absorption in your stomach. It also contributes to a well-functioning nervous and skeletal system. Without enough Vitamin D, mitochondria in muscle fibers can’t adequately regenerate energy after your muscles contract, which will lead to you feeling more tired, quicker.
Get more from: milk, salmon, trout, egg yolks
Magnesium is a powerhouse nutrient. It’s a component of more than 300 enzymes (!!!) involved in energy metabolism, plus it plays a role in bone formation. You can lose this through sweating, so make sure you’re getting a good dose of it before a hard weight-lifting sessions or a long run.
Get more from: leafy greens, almonds, halibut, quinoa
Feeling crampy post-workout? You may be low on potassium. See, there’s a reason marathon runners reach for a banana once they cross the finish line – it’s high levels of potassium nix cramps and help speed up recovery. How? This nutrient works with sodium to help your muscles and nerves work as they should. It also plays a major part in balancing water content throughout your body. TDLR: It’s an essential fuel following a tough workout.
Get more from: sweet potatoes, bananas, avocados, tuna
Zinc plays a crucial part in immunity, protein utilization, metabolic efficiency, and thyroid function. By loading up on carbs and limiting your protein and fat consumption, you’re actually likely to deplete your zinc levels significantly, leading to major fatigue. In fact, about 90% of athletes actually have a zinc deficiency mainly due to the fact that they aren’t eating enough rich food sources of this mineral.
Note: Vegetarians who don’t eat enough whole grains or meat are at a higher risk for a zinc deficiency. However, by overdoing your zinc consumption, you can actually cause a copper deficiency, so consult with your doctor if you think you may be low on zinc consumption before your try any supplementation.
Get more from: red meat, chickpeas, pumpkin seeds, quinoa
Looking for some guidance on how you can jumpstart your weight loss goals for 2023? Here are 7 weight loss tips you haven’t tried yet (we promise!)
Hayleigh Butcher is a Content Writer & Brand Strategist for Blender Networks. When she’s not managing blogs for FitMinutes, The-E-Tailer, Cartageous, InStyleRooms, NurturedPaws & Shoelistic, she’s finding a new trail to hike with her dog, Gemma or finding the best new spot in her hometown of Bedford, Nova Scotia for an iced coffee!