You’ve got your dumbbell set, you’ve booked the personal trainer and you’ve dug your trainers out from the wardrobe. But before you embark on your mission to become a lean machine, you’ll need to consider your diet, too. And not just the amount of fat, protein and carbohydrates that you’re consuming, but also the amount of vitamins and minerals.
Not just a phrase doled out by moms when children make a face when ordered to eat up their vegetables, vitamins and minerals – or micronutrients – are an essential part of everyone’s diet. However, if you’re going to be ramping up your exercise levels, it’s even more important that you get a balanced intake.
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Here’s a word of warning – too many vitamins and minerals can at best be excreted, and at worst cause problems for your liver, so dosing up on multivitamin tablets isn’t the answer. Here, we take a look at the essential micro-nutrients and some foods that you can introduce to your diet to get your intake in a safe way.
Helping to stabilize muscle contraction and regulate body water are two vital jobs that potassium helps with, which will make a noticeable difference when you’re working out. Add some bananas, low fat milk and whole grains to your diet.
You won’t be surprised to learn that calcium will help your bones to become strong, but the mineral is also fantastic for your cardiovascular health and muscle contraction. Milk, cheese and yoghurt are great sources. You should aim to get 1000-1500mg of calcium every day.
It’s touted as being one of the best vitamins to consume when colds strike, but though we don’t know about it being the miracle cure of the common cold, we do know that it is great for immune system support in general. Plus, vitamin C helps to repair connective tissue and ligaments, as well as offering antioxidant function – in fact, it has about 30 functions in the body. Eat oranges, strawberries and kiwis to get yours.
This marvelous mineral is great at enabling your muscles to repair after exercise, as well as helping to convert food into workout fuel, so it’s a definite necessity in your diet. Try bran, beef, oysters and fish.
Too much salt can be very bad news, leading to high blood pressure and consequently strokes and heart disease. However, too little salt is bad if you’re exercising too, as it can cause cramps – a great way to stop your workout in its tracks. Sports drinks are a good way to replenish your salt stock, but don’t reach for them unless you’re exercising for more than three or four hours at a time.
If you have problems with fatigue, it’s not necessarily because you’re unfit – it could be down to a lack of magnesium. The mineral also helps with cramps and nausea, so make sure you have nuts, figs or soy beans in your diet.
An iron-rich diet is vital to keep your blood transport oxygen to where it needs to be when you are working out, so try to eat 10-15mg every day. Iron is abundant in lean red meat and leafy green vegetables such as spinach.
Your skin and respiratory system will thank you for your daily intake of Beta-Carotene, which is another fabulous antioxidant and particularly good for these areas. If you suffer from any wounds while training, it’s great for these too. Pop a carrot on your plate to get your allowance.
Salmon, olive oil and sunflower seeds are all fantastic sources of vitamin E, which helps to reduce muscular damage and is a brilliant antioxidant.
Another great resource for your immune system is Selenium, which also helps with cellular damage. Brazil nuts, mushrooms and garlic are all great sources.
About The Author: Hi there, my name is Alex, I am a self-professed fitness geek and I work at www.Seven-Seas.com where we sell various natural supplements to help you to live a healthier lifestyle. My hobbies include weight lifting, Jiu Jitsu and hiking, so you’ll understand why nutrition is so important to me!