Magnesium plays a role in regulating your heartbeat, making bodily proteins, maintaining normal nerve and muscle function, and strengthening your bones. You require magnesium to metabolize carbohydrates and fat, and it also helps produce ATP -- or adenosine triphosphate -- a compound that fuels your metabolic processes. Although adequate intake of the mineral is required for good health, it does not directly affect your metabolism to help you lose weight.
About Your Metabolism
When you metabolize food, it's changed into units of energy called calories that your body uses to fuel itself. When you have a faster metabolism, you burn more calories all day long, so it's harder to gain weight. Conversely, a slow metabolism makes it harder to lose weight. About 60 to 75 percent of your metabolism is known as your basal metabolic rate, or BMR, and consists of the energy required for fundamental body functions, such as pumping your blood and keeping your internal organs working. Another 15 to 30 percent of your metabolism is devoted to daily activity, such as exercise and household chores. The last 10 percent fuels digestion and nutrient absorption.
Although magnesium plays a role in more than 300 chemical reactions that affect your metabolism, it doesn't directly affect the speed of your metabolism, or how fast you burn calories.
Magnesium Mitigates Chronic Conditions
Most American don't get enough magnesium, according to the National Institutes of Health. While levels aren't low enough for people to be clinically deficient, regularly consuming too little magnesium may contribute to an increased risk of chronic health problems, including hypertension, osteoporosis, migraines and type-2 diabetes.
People who consume higher amounts of magnesium have less chance of developing type-2 diabetes. A study published in a 2013 issue of the Journal of Nutrition showed that a higher magnesium intake correlated with lower fasting blood sugar and insulin levels, conditions that make you less likely to develop type-2 diabetes.
Type-2 diabetes and other chronic health conditions, such as high blood pressure and heart disease, are often associated with being overweight or obese and may be mitigated by getting enough magnesium. Your weight and overall metabolic rate, however, don't seem to be directly impacted by magnesium intake.
Magnesium-Rich Foods Good for Weight Loss
Magnesium-rich foods may not directly affect your metabolism or directly trigger weight loss, but they're exceptionally diet-friendly. Leafy greens, legumes, whole-grain cereals, brown rice, soy, bananas, dairy and nuts are rich in magnesium. When you pile these foods on your plate in lieu of refined grains, saturated fats and sugar, you're likely to save calories and support weight loss. These foods are also rich in fiber, which helps keep you feeling full and aids digestion. To further save calories and boost your nutritional status, snack on a scant handfuls of magnesium-rich pistachios or low-fat yogurt instead of chips, candy or cookies.
You're better off increasing your magnesium intake naturally through your diet and shouldn't take supplements unless you've been directed to do so by your doctor. While magnesium that's found naturally in food is safe because your body excretes any excess, high doses from supplements can cause diarrhea, nausea and abdominal cramping. Too much supplemental magnesium may also cause your blood pressure to drop and, if left unchecked, could result in mental confusion, lethargy, heart rhythm disturbances and diminished kidney function.
It's also best to only take magnesium supplements under your doctor's supervision because they can negatively affect absorption of certain antibiotics and heart medications. Magnesium can also interfere with the potency of certain drugs, including tranquilizers and anti-coagulants, and intensify the effects of muscle-relaxing medication administered with anesthesia. Other negative interactions with certain drugs are possible.
Ways to Speed Up Your Metabolism
Even if magnesium can't measurably boost your metabolism, other concrete measures can. Gaining more muscle helps boost your basal metabolic rate because your body must devote more energy to maintaining muscle mass than it does to fat. To build more muscle, you can strength-train all the major muscle groups at least twice a week. Strength training is especially beneficial as you age and naturally lose muscle mass.
Cutting calories helps with weight loss, but going too low can be counterproductive because if you're not eating enough, you could be sabotaging your metabolic rate. Regularly consuming too few calories can slow your BMR by as much as 20 percent. Keep your calorie intake above 1,200 calories if you're a woman, or 1,800 calories if you're a man, to keep your metabolism running at an optimal rate.
Eat a sufficient number of calories daily from the magnesium-rich vegetables, nuts, whole grains and beans, as well as lean protein and low-fat dairy, to support healthy weight loss and achieve a balance of other nutrients too. If you're unsure of how many calories you need, consult with a dietitian or use an online calculator that factors in your age, size, activity level and gender.