Sure, other health foods may be more exciting. But while these three nutrients might be the dietary equivalent of mom jeans, they’re tried and true, and a deficit of any one of them can keep you from reaching your full potential. So add this trio of simple, sometimes overlooked nutrients into your diet to reap their performance rewards.
How it helps: Consider magnesium the renaissance man of minerals. It’s a major player in hundreds of biochemical reactions in our bodies, affecting everything from nerve to heart to bone to muscle functioning. So it makes sense that higher intakes are associated with a lower risk for heart failure and diabetes, per a 2016 BMC Medicine study. And based on its role in energy production within our cells, low levels could contribute to general fatigue and feeling beaten down during training.
Are you missing out? Dietary surveys show that about half of all Americans are not reaching their daily magnesium quota—400 milligrams daily for adult men and 310–320 milligrams for women, about how much you’d find in 2.5 cups of spinach. This happens when too many processed and refined foods like white pasta edge out magnesium-rich plant-based whole foods.
Load up: Be sure to eat plenty of legumes, whole grains like quinoa, nuts, seeds (especially pumpkin seeds), potatoes and dark greens such as spinach and Swiss chard.