Written by Tihomir Stefanov | 18 January 2020
Pretty much every dietitian recommends magnesium for weight loss, but is it actually the best solution?
Magnesium is an essential mineral which the body needs to function properly.
It helps with a variety of functions, including but not limited to:
Not only that but magnesium plays a key role in the transmission of nerve impulses and hence, the work of the muscles.
The heart, muscles, kidneys and many other organs, need magnesium to function correctly.
So here is an important takeaway, nothing in the body can’t be done without energy.
Without magnesium that energy can neither be created nor used (or at least, not optimally).
And that ultimately means a tougher period of weight loss.
But here is some food for thought…
To get it out of the way, we just wanted to mention that magnesium is NOT the prime determinant for weight loss.
There are other factors to consider and using supplements such as magnesium oxide, can be just an addition to them.
Weight loss is driven by the consistent deficit of energy in one’s body.
As we said, everything that happens in the body and everything we do with the body requires energy.
There is a daily amount of energy your body requires to function and maintain its weight.
That amount is referred to as: “Total daily energy expenditure (TDEE)” and it is influenced by the following factors:
If you consume calories equal to your TDEE, consistently, your weight won’t change all that much, besides for water fluctuations.
On the other hand, if you consume more than that number, consistently, you will more than likely gain weight.
Last but not least, for the goal of weight loss, one must consume less than their TDEE, consistently, to lose body fat.
When in a deficit though, the body also loses muscle mass, which is why your daily caloric deficit must not exceed 500 calories.
Your protein can be set at 1.5-2.5g per kilogram of body weight to optimise muscle retention further.
Fats can be at about 0.8-1 g per kilogram of body weight to optimise hormonal function.
The rest of the calories can be given to carbohydrates to optimise resistance training workouts.
“Higher dietary magnesium intake is strongly associated with the attenuation of insulin resistance and is more beneficial for overweight and obese individuals in the general population.”
As you know by now, magnesium is one of the key micronutrients that the body needs.
Now, to get this straight – you can’t use magnesium for weight loss alone and expect miracles.
Simply said, weight loss is not caused by magnesium alone, but instead, a deficit of magnesium may hinder your weight loss in a variety of ways.
With modern-day nutrition, many individuals happen to be unable to grant their bodies sufficient magnesium from food alone.
This is due to a variety of reasons, mainly linked to how the food is grown or processed.
Think about it; the fruits and veggies you eat may look fresh but did they actually grow in a micronutrient-rich soil?
If the environment they were grown in lacked certain vitamins and minerals, odds are the end product may lack too.
Health issues may also lead to low magnesium.
Such are Crohn’s disease and other gastrointestinal diseases.
Furthermore, diabetes and some kidney diseases may affect the way magnesium is metabolised in the body.
If you are healthy otherwise but drink a lot of alcohol and coffee, that might turn out to be one of the things that rob your body of magnesium.
Whatever the case may be, don’t miss out on reaping all of the health benefits magnesium offers.
Just think about it, magnesium is perhaps one of the best, preventative measures for an array of possible health issues.
“For every 100-mg/day increment in magnesium intake, the overall risk of having metabolic syndrome was lowered by 17%”
Besides everything else, magnesium plays a key role in the activation of vitamin D.
In turn, vitamin D helps regulate calcium and phosphate balance.
This is especially important for active trainees, as it is what may influence the growth and maintenance of bones.
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It just so appears that the enzymes that metabolize vitamin D require magnesium.
There are a variety of symptoms that point to magnesium deficit, as this substance is involved in an array of biochemical reactions in the body.
Odds are, one or more people have recommended magnesium to you after you told them you were cramping up.
If you are a trainee, you know how important magnesium is for your musculature.
Given that there is a deficit, muscle cramps are one of the primary symptoms.
If you are getting enough magnesium and water and are not training exhaustively, you won’t get cramps as often.
Among other symptoms of magnesium deficiency are anxiety, hyperactivity and insomnia.
A deficit of magnesium acts badly on the central nervous system (CNS).
This can simply lead you to the conclusion that if you have a stressful life or are working out extensively, you can start supplementing with magnesium to improve the CNS.
A magnesium deficit is a premise for developing blood pressure issues.
Given that this is not taken care of on time, it may worsen with time and cause cardiovascular disease.
Hypomagnesemia can be caused by a wide range of inherited and acquired diseases. It can also be a side effect of several medications. Many studies have reported that reduced levels of magnesium are associated with a wide range of chronic diseases.
Within the medical recommendations of intake, magnesium is completely safe to use and does not have any side effects.
However, if you are consistently exceeding that daily amount, you might experience side effects such as diarrhoea and general stomach discomfort.
Other possible side effects are nausea, general weakness, mood swings, disrupted heart rhythm and high blood pressure, which if sustained can lead to heart disease.
Symptomatically, a magnesium ‘overdose’ is much like a magnesium deficiency.
So the conclusion is: Don’t overdo it!
Just follow the daily magnesium recommendations in heading below:
The widely accepted medical advice for daily magnesium intake is up to 300-400 mg.
Depending on weight, you may need 5-6 mg of magnesium, per kilogram of body weight.
With physical activity, that daily requirement might go up.
For example, if you are a highly active individual, you may be in the upper spectrum of the 300-400 mg range, or even exceed it.
Again, magnesium is one of the most important minerals for the body and deficits must not be sustained over the long term.
We get it, some of you may be against supplements and that’s fine.
Though magnesium supplements may turn out to be one of your best allies, you can still meet your daily needs from food!
You can find magnesium in a variety of natural foods.
The good thing? These foods are healthy overall, so including them in your daily nutrition might be one of your best weight-loss optimisations.
Here is our list of magnesium-rich foods:
This grain is abundant of proteins and micronutrients, such as E and B vitamins, as well as magnesium
Pumpkin seeds, almonds and walnuts are amongst the best foods to get magnesium from.
Leafy greens like spinach and lettuce are the perfect low-calorie choice for a magnesium source.
These vegetables provide your body with a flurry of micronutrients, that optimise your biochemistry.
Foods like beans, green beans and lentils are not only rich in protein and carbs, but also micronutrients like magnesium.
Did we mention that if you boil some lentils with tomato sauce and throw some spices into the mix you are getting a hell of a meal?
You can find magnesium in a variety of seafood, such as salmon and tuna fish.
We recommend including seafood at least 3 times a week.
For those of you that have a sweet tooth, authentic dark chocolate is perhaps one of the best and tastiest sources of magnesium.
Don’t overdo it though!
Getting magnesium from food is one thing, but some cases require magnesium supplementation.
There are many different types of magnesium and manufacturers often mix it with other vital micronutrients like Vitamin D and B.
One of the best-known formulas is a Magnesium + B complex, which is a perfect combination to support the musculature and the CNS.
If you are not a fan of big pills and would rather drink your supplements, you can use this version of magnesium as a supplement.
This is perhaps the best option, as it is easily digestible and most of the time, comes with a pleasant added taste.
This variety of magnesium products is one of the best options when it comes to post-workout recovery.
If you are someone who frequently gets cramps, this is your go-to product!
It is one of the handiest ways to grant the body enough magnesium.
The best thing? The body absorbs as much as it needs and you can’t “overdose”.
Magnesium oils may help ease inflammation, improve blood flow and optimise the nervous system.
Apply these oils on the top of your hand or the bottom of your feet or as recommended on the pack.
Much like the magnesium oil, the gel version is a product for direct application, that optimises the absorption of this significant mineral.
Acting locally, the magnesium gel eases pain and inflammation and improves blood flow.
The difference between the Oil and the Gel?
Well, the gel was designed for quicker absorption and on top of that, it won’t leave your skin greasy.
If you stumbled upon this article, odds are you are looking for a way to lose fat.
Well, in the first part we got to the conclusion that fat loss is not magnesium driven, so to speak.
So, prioritise magnesium for weight loss? No.
What you can take care of first is putting the body in a state of caloric deficit, so that it can tap into the fat reserves.
After taking care of the calories, you have to take care of the actual food sources.
And then, after establishing a healthy diet, you can think about supplementation, be it with magnesium, a multivitamin or protein powder.
Nevertheless, there are better ways to optimise for fat loss and make for a better end result, which is why we recommend reading our article on how to lose body fat fast.
Tihomir Stefanov (Tisho) is a qualified personal trainer and content writer with a dedication to helping fitness enthusiasts around the world. In his spare time, he enjoys rock climbing, photography, and working out at the gym.