Leg cramps are sudden involuntary contractions in your leg muscle tissues. They might be painful, alarming, extreme, and even debilitating.
But can going keto trigger leg cramps?
The reply is sure…generally. But there are some easy methods to keep away from leg cramps, whether or not it’s due to your keto eating regimen or different nutrition-related causes. If you observe the ketogenic eating regimen and also you’re at the moment coping with leg cramps, you’ve come to the correct place!
Keep studying to be taught the most typical keto-related cramping culprits, plus secure and straightforward at-home options, in addition to indicators that would point out your cramping is extra severe (and when to search knowledgeable medical opinion).
The 7 Most Common Causes of Keto Leg Cramps
If you’re new to ketosis, there’s an opportunity chances are you’ll expertise leg cramps due to dehydration.
Although the keto eating regimen isn’t inherently dehydrating, some individuals expertise a phenomenon known as keto flu at first of their keto journey.
In a nutshell, keto flu happens when your physique flushes out glycogen (sugar saved in your muscle tissues), which additionally reduces the general water content material in your physique.
And till your metabolism catches up and also you turn into totally fat-adapted, the flushing and rebalancing can lead to different signs together with mind fog, irritability, complications, and extreme starvation.
Although it’s thrilling to drop just a few kilos of water weight rapidly, your greatest wager to keep away from cramping is to drink some further water every day whereas your physique adjusts to keto. The added water won’t solely work to hydrate your physique, however can even assist curb your starvation till fat-adaptation happens.
Also, if you happen to’re exercising vigorously or stay in a sizzling local weather, pay further consideration to your water consumption–no matter how lengthy you’ve been on the keto eating regimen
Want to be taught extra in regards to the causes of keto flu, plus how to acknowledge and cope with it? Read Keto Flu: What It Is and How to Get Rid of It.
Dehydration isn’t any good, however ingesting an excessive amount of water can even lead to severe well being points.
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Staying hydrated is one factor, however watch out not to chug an excessive amount of water (or different liquids) all through the day.
Doing so can flush electrolytes out of your cells by way of osmosis and, in excessive circumstances, can even trigger extreme signs like mind swelling. Sadly, individuals have even died of “water poisoning”.
Basically, if you happen to’ve been chugging water nonstop, chances are you’ll have the option to cut back or remove your leg cramps by ingesting much less.
Instead, make sure you solely drink sufficient water so that you just aren’t thirsty. And devour some further fluids everytime you train or sweat.
But so long as your urine is evident or gentle yellow (as a substitute of medium- or dark-colored), you’re in all probability sufficiently hydrated.
three: Not Getting Enough Salt
Electrolytes are an vital, however usually uncared for, facet of your dietary consumption and general well being.
Sodium or salt is probably the most prevalent electrolyte in your physique, and your cells, muscle tissues, and organs require it for correct functioning.
But if you first start keto, or if you happen to sweat or train rather a lot, your physique might flush out sodium, which may end up in cramping.
The answer is fairly easy, however it could shock you: strive consuming extra salt.
Is including further salt to your eating regimen secure? Generally talking, sure–particularly if you happen to’re poor.
Unless you could have sodium-sensitive hypertension, which impacts about 12% of the inhabitants, upping your salt consumption is unlikely to be harmful[*]. (If you aren’t certain, ask your physician earlier than altering your eating regimen.)
Any kind of salt can work, however pure and unrefined types of salt–resembling pure sea salt–are tastier and likewise include different helpful minerals.
four: Magnesium Deficiency
Magnesium is one other very important electrolyte that your physique requires for correct muscle and nerve perform.
And a deficiency in magnesium may end up in leg cramps in addition to different severe signs, together with insomnia, hypertension, and cardiac arrhythmias.
Excessive water consumption or sweating can contribute to magnesium deficiency, however so can stress[*].
Therefore, even if you happen to already devour loads of magnesium, you would possibly nonetheless have a deficiency. Some researchers estimate that up to 30% of the inhabitants is at the least barely poor on this important mineral[*].
The pure manner to increase your magnesium consumption is by consuming keto-friendly meals which might be wealthy in magnesium:
- Pure cacao incorporates up to 140 milligrams of magnesium in a 1 ouncesserving (about 45% of your advisable day by day allowance)
- An ounce of almonds has about 75 milligrams of magnesium, or practically 1 / 4 of your RDA[*]
- A pitted, 200-gram avocado incorporates about 60 milligrams of magnesium (about 20% of your RDA)[*]
Or pure mineral water like San Pellegrino is one other handy manner to get further magnesium.
Alternatively, some individuals go for day by day magnesium dietary supplements as a manner to elevate their magnesium ranges.
Magnesium citrate is the most typical complement kind, however generally causes free stools. If it doesn’t agree together with your physique, you could have higher outcomes with magnesium glycinate, magnesium threonate, magnesium acetyl-taurate, or a “slow-release” type of magnesium.
5: Potassium Shortage
Similar to sodium and magnesium, potassium is one other electrolyte concerned within the perform of your nervous system and musculature.
And research present that inadequate potassium generally leads to leg cramps and different typess of crampin.
Potassium deficiency, additionally known as hypokalemia, might happen due to extreme alcohol consumption, sweating, vomiting, or diarrhea.
Also, some individuals don’t eat sufficient potassium on keto as a result of many potassium-rich meals are additionally excessive in carbohydrates.
However, you possibly can simply get extra potassium with out going bananas:
- Avocados are the reigning champion, with over 950 milligrams of potassium per 200-gram pitted avocado (representing as a lot as 27% of your RDA).
- Gram-for-gram, leafy greens like Swiss chard or spinach include practically as a lot potassium as avocadoes[*][*]
- With round 350 mg potassium per 100 grams, mushrooms are additionally a superb manner to improve your potassium consumption[*]
Conversely, there’s not a lot level in taking potassium dietary supplements. The FDA limits potassium chloride content material of dietary supplements to 99 milligrams per serving (about three% of your advisable day by day allowance) for security causes–an excessive amount of potassium in isolation may cause abdomen issues in addition to severe cardiac points.
Therefore, if you happen to’re mildly poor in potassium, chances are you’ll have the option to treatment it with a dietary tune-up.
But if you happen to suspect you could have a average or extreme case of hypokalemia, it’s best to speak to your physician.
6: Consuming Too Much Caffeine
Coffee or different caffeinated drinks can lead to leg cramps in a number of other ways.
First of all, overconsumption of caffeine might improve the sensitivity of your muscle tissues and lead to extreme muscle contractions[*].
And second, if you devour a variety of caffeine, particularly if it’s not a part of your common routine, it flushes water out of your physique–doubtlessly main to dehydration and electrolyte imbalances[*].
Finally, caffeine is bodily addictive, and caffeine withdrawal is usually related to muscle cramps, ache, and stiffness[*].
Fortunately, the options to caffeine-related leg cramps are fairly easy: if you happen to’re overdoing your caffeine consumption, reduce.
Or, if you happen to’re already quitting or slicing again caffeine and you believe you studied it’s inflicting leg cramps, strive tapering as a substitute of going chilly turkey.
7: Non-Dietary Triggers
Keep in thoughts that whereas the keto eating regimen might quickly trigger leg cramps in some individuals, there are a number of different causes, too.
If nothing we’ve mentioned to date resonates, think about these non-dietary triggers that may additionally lead to leg cramps:
- Tight muscle tissues, which you will have the option to clear up by way of stretching and mobility work
- Physical overexertion, resembling overtraining or collaborating in a sports activities competitors
- Too a lot sitting (for instance, at a desk or in an airplane)–strive to rise up and stroll round just a few occasions every hour, or if you happen to can’t, flex and loosen up your calf and thigh muscle tissues periodically
- Heightened stress ranges
- Anti-hypertensive medicines for hypertension
- Other diuretic medicines
Overall, dietary causes of leg cramps are widespread, however they’re removed from the one motive you would possibly expertise leg cramping.
When to Talk to a Doctor About Your Leg Cramps
While fixing your leg cramps with dietary modifications is often secure and efficient, there are some cases the place it’s best to search a medical opinion as quickly as potential.
Leg cramps are your physique’s manner of telling you that one thing isn’t fairly proper. Here’s when it’s best to go to the physician to be on the secure facet:
- If your leg cramps are extreme, fixed, or excessively painful
- If your leg cramps last more than two weeks, or you possibly can’t clear up them by way of primary dietary modifications or different way of life changes
- If different bodily signs accompany your leg cramps
- If you’re having hassle sleeping due to cramping
- If you additionally expertise “restless legs,” particularly at night time
- If you could have a recognized medical situation
- If you at the moment take prescription remedy
- If you might be pregnant
- If you’re a senior citizen
Additionally, your physician can carry out a bodily and supply providers like lab assessments that may detect electrolyte imbalances, dehydration, or different points that trigger leg cramping. The
Leg cramps are disagreeable, however more often than not, they’re nothing to fear about.
If you’re experiencing leg cramps, they might be associated to the keto eating regimen. Luckily, you don’t have to swap diets–there are many keto-friendly meals wealthy in electrolytes, plus different at-home measures you possibly can take to handle cramping.
Keto electrolyte dietary supplements are one other handy, simple manner to handle leg cramps and different hydration- or dehydration-related points on the keto eating regimen.
On the opposite hand, extreme or lasting leg cramps, or leg cramps together with different signs, are trigger for concern.
If you possibly can’t clear up your leg cramps by way of primary dietary modifications, or in the event that they’ve lasted longer than two weeks, go forward and schedule an appointment with a doctor.