Calf and Shin ache/cramps

(Doug C) #1

I have been Keto since 11/17 and carnivore since 1/19. I have lost all the weight I was looking to lose. I’m 5’9" 152 lbs., 13-14% body fat. I eat just over 2 lbs. of beef a day, mostly ribeye. I lift at the Gym 2-3 times a week. I supplement salt (sodium), magnesium, and vitamin D.

The problem is my calves and shins are always tight like they are about to cramp, they don’t often go full cramp but they never feel relaxed. Last week I had to drive about 3 hours in traffic. My right shin started to hurt so bad I could barely work the gas pedal.

My only thought is maybe I need a potassium supplement. Any other insights would be greatly appreciated.

(Carl Keller) #2

For me, cramping in my legs becomes an issue if my daily sodium intake is less than two teaspoons per day. It’s only happened a few times but I learned my lesson about skimping on this electrolyte.

(Harley) #3

You need potassium, but supplements rarely have enough. Eat more leafy green veggies like spinach and kale. At least 3 cups a day if you can. It’s expensive but one of the best pure and higher level supplement is Dr. Berg electrolyte supplement. Also I found that Zipfizz sold at Costco has a nice dose of potassium. Hope this helps.

(Doug C) #4

Has anyone used Cream of Tartar (aka potassium bitartrate) as a potassium supplement?


I agree with @carlkeller - “daily sodium intake”

It must be daily - because our body cannot store sodium it just circulates in the blood. On keto the kidneys are releasing sodium - so we must top up daily.

And it’s about 5000-6000 mg of sodium not 2000 or whatever most people get.

Then maybe think about magnesium or potassium. At Virta Health I believe about 2/3 of the patients have mag. supplements so it isn’t unheard of but it’s usually a sodium issue.

I also get that tight feeling in calves but I can manage it with sodium alone.

I am not a fan of supplements, I’m even a less a fan of expensive supplements (Dr Berg’s or otherwise).

(Carl Keller) #6

I’ve always been in favor of getting vitamins and minerals from food but I relented when my heart rate was a bit more rapid than my liking last week. I started taking 250mg of magnesium daily and the HR went back to normal. My N=1 suggests that higher amounts of magnesium are necessary too. I was getting around 35-40% of the RDA before supplementing. It just seems odd to me that I ate keto for 6 months before the HR seemed to be high.

(Doug C) #7

Thanks for all the replies. I use a lot of Himalayan and Redmond salt, but I’m not realy tracking how much. I even suck on bigger chunks of Himalayan rock salt, they are quite tasty.

I think i’m going to measure out 12 grams of salt (equals 6 grams of sodium) for a few days so I can see how far it goes. That should give me a better idea of how much sodium I’m getting.


Have you ruled out shin splints? I was having similar issues but it was not cramps, I had both mild shin splints and a pulled soleus musce. It took three months to get better even though it was mild.


Wow that’s interesting and good to know.

Glad you sorted it out .

What brand of magnesium?

(Sam H) #10

I have same issue but I need to sort out my salt etc particularly before/after exercise.

Ps might possibly not be a diet thing? Might need to talk to a physio and get some exercises to reduce this issue

(Carl Keller) #11


(Allan Misner) #12

Here are a few things I do when this happens:

  • Increase water intake
  • Increase potassium and sodium
  • Increase magnesium
  • Self-myofascial Release and stretching twice a day

(Chris - #13

This is the zerocarb subforum, we do not promote eating vegetables as they lack adequate nutrition and bioavailable vitamins. You can get everything you need from animal flesh.

(Chris - #14

Keep it up, meat has the electrolytes you need. It will balance out. Let us know if it doesn’t but it’s been less than two months and you probably have not adapted to carnivore yet.

(Doug C) #15

I have not, The shin pain I experienced sitting in traffic definitely felt like shin splints. I had them when I was in basic training, I remember.

I’m taking a Multi Mag supplement.

I’ve upped my sodium intake and that does seem to be helping. May take a few days to balance out.


To me this is usually a sign of dehydration.

(Doug C) #17

Hi all, I wanted to come back and post a follow up. About two weeks ago I got some NoSalt (Potassium Chloride) I mixed it half and half with Redmond’s real salt and use it to taste. This seems to have solved all my calf cramp issues.

Is there such a thing as sodium to potassium ratio or was I just low on potassium?