We’re back with another Workout Nutrition DIY post. This one is all about mineral replenishment after you workout and the benefits therein. A post-workout protein shake is fine for making sure your muscles are fed to grow, but like I say in my nutrition guides, workout nutrition is so much more than that. If you read my previous post on the importance of polyphenols, you know where I’m going with this.
Let’s delve deeper.
You’ve probably been working out long enough to know by now the big three that most people focus on – proteins, carbs, and fats…and that’s fine, in fact those are important when it comes to carving an impressive, muscular physique.
You’ve also been reading this blog long enough (….you have haven’t you?) to know that micronutrients among a plethora of other factors are what keep that physique of yours working in optimal condition; this means handling whatever you throw at it during a hardcore workout session and in day to day life. If you haven’t, well…take the gum out of your ears and pay attention.
Your muscles are fueled by more than what you scarf down at breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Macronutrients (i.e. the big three) and micronutrients – that is vitamins and minerals, go hand in hand when it comes to building a quality physique.
When it comes to working out, the hardest workers in the room are zinc and magnesium – and I’ll explain why.
The Function of Minerals in Your Body
Minerals are the unsung heroes that carry out a range of duties in your body. They’re “cofactors” that is, non-protein chemical compounds or metallic ions that are required for an enzyme’s role as a catalyst; put simply, they’re “helper molecules” that assist in biochemical transformations.
In layman’s terms, this means they help enzymes and compounds carry out important functions.
If you read either of my nutritions guides, you’ll remember the importance of several different minerals – from boron to sodium, iron to potassium, the list goes on and too much to go into detail here.
Two minerals in particular however (aside from sodium), get depleted when you workout – zinc and magnesium. Here’s a refresher from both guides:
“Zinc – your body doesn’t keep a spare supply of this on hand, so you have to add it to your nutrition profile to maintain needed levels. Without it, your body can’t stave off disease and skin infections, heal wounds, store insulin, or even grow properly; largely because Zinc is mandatory for the proper functioning of 100 different enzymes, which help with everything from cellular division and immune function, to DNA synthesis and protein. It’s also a powerful antioxidant.
Magnesium – A personal favorite. Magnesium helps relax the muscles (meaning a better night’s sleep); it also improves cardiovascular function and exercise tolerance. This sexy little mineral takes part in over 300 different reactions in the body – it boosts your immune system, regulates energy metabolism, blood pressure, and blood sugar, and maintains bone health, among a laundry list of other things.”
Zinc is an essential mineral found and derived primarily from animal protein sources, and there’s plenty of foods I outline in both SUPP UP. No Bull…On the Go and SUPP UP. No Bull…At Home nutrition guides that provide this important mineral. If you’ve bought both you know what these are, if you haven’t, well, you know what to do – get your copies today as a bundle and save.
Magnesium is the fourth most abundant mineral in the body, and there are a range of different whole foods you can get it from which are also mentioned in both SUPP UP. nutrition guides. Varying magnesium supplements are also in abundance, but some supplements like magnesium oxide I would avoid due to fact that research shows its poorly absorbed, despite having the highest levels of elemental magnesium. Others however, like transdermal magnesium (also known as topical) have been proven to be very effective; you’ll remember I wrote a blog post on this a while back.
Mineral Depletion During Workouts, Replenishment Post-Workout
While SUPP UP.’s foundation is built on whole food nutrition and limiting reliance on supplementation, there are a few select things that are good to have in your bag of go-to supplements.
Because zinc and magnesium are so easily depleted when you workout – especially if you workout often – adding them back into your nutrition profile via whole foods and supplementation can help fight the repercussions of depletion.
…and when I talk about supplementation, I mean quality zinc and magnesium supplements, not some bunk you get at your local CVS. Keep reading because I’m going to tell you about the best types.
To put things into perspective, something as simple as walking for 90 minutes at an average rate of 3 mph can deplete blood magnesium levels as much as 5%…now imagine a full-blown weight-lifting workout.
If that’s not enough of a reason to start thinking about your zinc and magnesium levels, I’ll let these these 5 key points speak for themselves:
- Supplementing with zinc can prevent thyroid hormone and testosterone levels from dipping due to exercise – regardless of whether you’re an average Joe couch potato or an elite athlete.
- Supplementing with magnesium improves exercise tolerance when you haven’t slept enough; it also improves cardiovascular function during your workouts.
- While deficiencies may vary according to level of activity, and depending on which study you look up, the majority (50-75%) of the general American population is deficient in magnesium; zinc can vary but the deficiency is there no less. When you’re an athlete, if you train between 4-5 days a week each month, you most likely have a deficiency of both.
- Taking quality zinc and magnesium supplements means you can take less, as uptake from the body is better.
- Replenishing these key minerals transfers into other aspects of your life – better sleep, which means better recovery – and ultimately, better workouts.
How to Know if You’re Deficient
If you’re the hands-on type and still want to check for yourself if you’re mineral deficient, there are ways to test this, though most of the time mineral testing isn’t the easiest.
To start, magnesium doesn’t have an easy test; but you can find out by taking too much oral magnesium – hint: it serves as an excellent laxative. Take too much and you’ll know by how quickly you end up making a beeline to the bathroom.
Zinc on the other hand, is the exception to the rule in terms of ease. A good zinc tester (like Zinc Tally™ from Metagenics) or someone who knows how to do an oral zinc sulfate test is your best bet, and it’s simple. You hold about 1 fluid ounce (think a shotglass) of zinc sulfate in your mouth for 5 seconds, then down it. The taste will tell you everything:
- If it’s tasteless like water, this means low levels of zinc.
- If it’s slightly dry but mineral like and there’s a sweet taste after a few seconds, this means marginally low levels of zinc.
- A distinct taste which gets stronger over time means you’re almost in the clear, your zinc levels are almost optimal.
- An instantly strong (and unpleasant) taste means your zinc levels are where they should be.
The first time I tried this, I failed (and I was in good shape)…and you’d be surprised just how many other people fail this simple zinc test, too. If your levels are low, you can start supplementing and continue to test yourself until you reach optimal levels; just test yourself every couple of weeks.
You’re probably wondering what the best supplements are and I’ll shoot straight – there’s two I’ve been using for years, one of which already has zinc and magnesium combined into one handy capsule.
The Most Effective Way to Supplement Zinc and Magnesium
I don’t have a lot of supplements I use, but when I do, I’m selective, picking quality over quantity every time. Taking stuff and “seeing what sticks” isn’t my M.O.
For magnesium, I’ve mentioned this in the blog before – one of your two best bets is transdermally, in addition to whole food nutrition. Magnesium chloride aka magnesium oil is your best bet. The one I use in particular is Ancient Minerals Magnesium Oil Spray, mainly because it has genuine Zechstein Inside® Magnesium, the best quality you can get and it’s instantly absorbed. The. best absorption points to apply it are the tops of your feet, back of your hands, and your armpits after you’ve had a shower before bed and haven’t put anything on (deodorants, lotions, etc).
For zinc, in addition to whole foods, add ZMA® into your supplement rotation. NOW® Foods ZMA Sports Recovery is a trusted brand I use and the NOW® Sports line is something that’s been my go-to for the better half of a decade now. NOW® uses the genuine SNAC formula which provides quality bioavailability and has the Informed Sport seal of approval, so you know you’re not getting a fake. Take it 30-60 minutes (3 capsules for men, 2 for women) before bed on an empty stomach, avoiding foods or supplements containing calcium to ensure maximum effectiveness.
If you’ve read either of my nutrition guides, you’ll remember how I said taking zinc and magnesium together in supplement form isn’t good – to specify, if you take a generic zinc supplement, and a generic magnesium supplement, which are separate from each other, together, this is not good, and for many reasons which I’ll outline below.
I have to stress that the use of high quality chelates (zinc mono-L-methionine, zinc-aspartate, and magnesium aspartate) are critical to the bioavailability in the gastrointestinal tract for both zinc and magnesium. It’s imperative to understand that all zinc and magnesium chelates are not created the same.
What I like about ZMA®, is the quality of zinc (as Mono-L-Methionine, Aspartate & Oxide) and magnesium (as Aspartate & Oxide) that’s used alongside vitamin B6 (as Pyridoxine Hydrochloride), which makes for a potent, quality formula and effective combination that’s easily absorbed by the body.
Additionally, not only are there transporter details to think about, but the time of day ZMA® is taken, since consuming ZMA® on an empty stomach 30-60 minutes before bed is crucial. There are a lot of food, supplement, and plant anti-nutritive factors that can inhibit zinc and magnesium uptake in the body (i.e. if you were to add additional ingredients on top of the formula mentioned above).
Take Home Message
The bottom line is this: when building a better body, you have to look at everything – workouts and recovery, macronutrients and micronutrients, muscle memory and refiring your nervous system – like a well designed engine, there are many components and what seems complex works in a smooth, simple fashion – if you know what you’re doing.
That’s what SUPP UP. is all about, that’s what the guides are for – they’re written to simplify the complexities of health and nutrition while being informative and comprehensive.
…because whether you’re in the military or engaged in busy civilian life, there’s one thing I know for sure – concise information and stripping away the inessential is key in helping you perform at your best.
Like building muscle, there are no shortcuts when it comes to taking care of yourself.
So do it properly.
That’s all folks.
If you liked this post, share it and subscribe.
If you really like this post, but don’t have the SUPP UP. Guides yet, buy them now – they cost less than a trip to the grocery store but unlike those groceries, the knowledge gained lasts a lifetime.
If you’ve already bought the guides (hey, thanks), and like the free knowledge gained on the SUPP UP. blog – then go ahead and check out the other gear in my shop.
Get your FREE printable workout log now. Pick up some whey protein for your next workout, new threads for that sleeve splitting arms day, or something else that’ll help you remember that when it comes to fueling and training your body, once you learn how to, where you are matters less.
It’s a good way to keep the blog running healthy and strong. Every item, the material, colors, style, ingredients, and quality, are all handpicked by me. If I won’t wear it, eat it, drink it, or read it – I won’t sell it – it’s that simple.
You’ve already bought all the gear and guides? Well damn – thanks. Not looking for anything in particular in return? Then go ahead and donate whatever you like.
If you go ahead and get the guide instead, either as an E-book or paperback, you’ll discover great ways to get more out of your workouts while traveling or on the go (preview of chapters available in shop).
Drop by next week for yet another great post to add to your workout and nutrition arsenal.
Stop doing guesswork, start making the necessities of your life easier.
SUPP UP. – Get your gear now.
If You Know How To Fuel and Train Your Body, Where You Are Matters Less.™
– SUPP UP.
Brilla, L.R. and Conte, V. 2000. Effects of a Novel Zinc-Magnesium Formulation on Hormones and Strength. Journal of Exercise Physiology Online. 3(4), pp. 26-36. Available from: https://www.asep.org/asep/asep/BrillaV2.PDF
Chen Yang, Zhu Daoping, Xiong Xiaoping, Liu Jing & Zhang Chenglong. 2020. Magnesium oil enriched transdermal nanogel of methotrexate for improved arthritic joint mobility, repair, and reduced inflammation. Journal of Microencapsulation. 37(1), pp. 77-90. Available from https://doi.org/10.1080/02652048.2019.1694086
Dolati, S., Rikhtegar, R., Mehdizadeh, A. et al. 2020. The Role of Magnesium in Pathophysiology and Migraine Treatment. Biol Trace Elem Res. 196, 375–383. Available from: https://doi.org/10.1007/s12011-019-01931-z
Kalman, D. 2012. The Research Process: The Case of the Negative Research Study. Neutraceuticals World. Available from: https://www.nutraceuticalsworld.com/issues/2012-12/view_columns/the-research-process-the-case-of-the-negative-research-study/
SUPP UP Podcast Version (coming soon)
SUPP UP. TTS (for the vision impaired)