Skimping on carbohydrates, protein or fats will decrease your performance and your capacity to burn plenty of unwanted body fat. Your muscles need the vitamins and minerals found in a variety of foods to function effectively and efficiently. When you go on a very limiting diet, you decrease not only your intake of calories, but you also decrease your intake of vitamins and minerals.
Calcium is a mineral not only essential for bone health, but it's also required for muscular contraction. Once muscle cells receive a signal from the corresponding nerve, calcium floods into the stimulated muscle cells and binds with a protein called troponin. This moves another protein, tropomyosin, away from the binding site of myosin, according to authors William McArdle, Frank and Victor Katch of the book “Exercise Physiology: Energy, Nutrition & Human Performance.” Myosin is a thicker protein that bends and elongates to create muscle contraction. Calcium from dairy products is more effectively absorbed compared to calcium in foods such as spinach. The recommended daily intake of calcium for a healthy adult is 1,000 mg. Drink three cups of skim milk and eat a slice of low-fat cheese to satisfy your daily requirement.
Magnesium is another mineral you need for optimal muscular function. Magnesium permits nerve chemical messengers to stimulate the muscle cell so that calcium can enter muscle cells, resulting in muscular contraction. This mineral also is necessary to produce cellular energy, referred to as adenosine triphosphate, or ATP, during aerobic and anaerobic exercise. Magnesium is necessary to convert the glucose in your food into a smaller molecule that can be used inside the mitochondria to produce plenty of ATP. Consuming the daily requirement of magnesium helps to ensure you can optimally contract your muscles to produce sufficient force and that you can exercise at higher intensities for a longer period of time. If you are a man, you need about 420 mg of magnesium; if you are a woman, you need around 320 mg. Good sources of this mineral include whole grains and green, leafy veggies.
Biotin and Vitamin B6
Biotin and vitamin B6 are coenzymes in glycogen metabolism; this means they augment other enzymes in the formation of glycogen, the storage form of glucose. Glycogen is essential for fueling your muscles to contract at the onset of exercise. If you eat enough carbohydrates, you can spare the glycogen in your muscles so that you have energy at the very end of your workout or race. Legumes, meats, vegetables, nuts and egg yolks are rich in biotin. The average adult needs about 30 micrograms of biotin. Vitamin B6 also is found in meats and veggies, as well as in poultry, whole grains, fish and cereals. Healthy adults need between 1.3 and 1.5 mg of vitamin B6.
- “Exercise Physiology, Energy, Nutrition & Human Performance”; William McArdle, Frank Katch and Victor Katch; 2007
- Linus Pauling Institute: Calcium
- “Strength and Conditioning Journal”; Magnesium and Implications on Muscle Function; Phil Carvil and John Cronin, Ph.D.; February 2010