Leg cramps at night and bruising


Hi everyone. Although I have seen several benefits of keto also I wanted to post a couple of negatives which may or may not have anything to do with keto, but which seem to have gotten worse since this WOE.

  1. I have always had leg cramps at night, but not as frequently as of late. I can’t turn in bed for fear of a cramp, and they wake me up and I shoot out of bed.
  2. I seem to have a lot more bruises on my legs although the lipoedema pain is still gone, I just can’t fathom it.

Is it an electrolyte problem? Do I need to supplement with something? I may be low on magnesium, but I do eat nuts every day, I thought they were a good source of that?

Besides frequent night (leg) cramps and a good few more bruises, I’ve not noticed any other negative effects. Any thoughts?


With the cramping, it could certainly be down to a lack of electrolytes. Not sure about the bruising, but then I’ve always bruised super easy; feels like I only need to look at the corner of something to get a bruise xD

I used to suffer a lot of foot and leg cramps, and I’ve found that’s become far less frequent since I started Keto. I do supplement now though. I make a drink every day to which I add salt, and I take a couple of ‘Nutravita sport - Electrolyte complex’ tablets.

I started supplementing D3 a while back in an attempt to ease my ‘SAD’ and vitamin D uses Magnesium for its uptake process. I couldn’t seem to keep a consistent and reliable Magnesium intake from food alone, so wanted to play it safe.

(Pete A) #3

I get cramps in a leg or feet pretty regularly. Not sure about the bruising?


Hi, the bruises are because of my lipoedema, I don’t have a lot of lipoedema fat (I’m 117 pounds, 5.2) but the lipoedema I do have causes bruises. But ever since I started keto, and also more exercise, I’ve seen an increase in the bruising, but that could just be because I’m exercising more.
Occasional leg cramps are pretty normal, I used to have them before I started keto, but now I get them so frequently I can’t help but wonder if it could be an electrolyte problem, though I imagine I get plenty of salt in all the bacon I eat. I also salt food, especially when it’s fish, to taste better and use pink himalayan rock salt. As for magnesium, which I might also lack, I’ve been eating nuts, but am wondering if I ought to take a magnesium supplement. And perhaps leg cramps could also be due to low potassium?


I went through a time where I was getting excruciating cramps in one or other of my thighs or occasionally calfs, at night, in bed. I wasn’t sure what the cause was but read that it is likely low electrolytes. Since supplementing I haven’t had another incidence.

A shortage of Magnesium, Potassium or Sodium can be to blame so I supplement with all 3. Lo-salt or the equivalent is a good/cheap way of getting Potassium and Sodium. I use Magnesium Citrate powder as it is more cost effective than tablets and avoid Magnesium Oxide as it is less bioavailable and has gastric effects :laughing:

Making sure you have enough salt (sodium) has other benefits too - I just feel “better” when I keep my sodium levels up.

Re bruising, have you had your iron levels checked?


Hi, I’ve always bruised easily too, on my legs anyway, and only recently discovered that was due to lipoedema. Apparantly it’s a very common condition, 1 in 10 women likely having it, without realizing it, but if you bruise on your legs or your arms and they’re proportionately bigger than the rest of you then it could be lipoedema.
Anyway, the more I think about it it might not be the keto but that I have begun exercising more that has caused an increase in the bruising. But I think you’re right about the electrolytes, I don’t supplement, but I usually take vitamin D and have run out so I must get some more. I’ll look into the supplements you mentioned.


Hi thanks, I had my irons checked abour four weeks ago, before I started keto, I was up until then eating a high carb, low fat, low sodium diet and wasn’t getting much protein, anyways the irons measured back then were just a bit under normal, my doctor said. Since then I’ve been eating eggs, bacon, burgers, pork and fish pretty much every day as I was hoping to pick up my iron without having to take iron pills. The increase in bruising is something I don’t understand because whereas I used to have less bruising and more pain associated with the lipoedema, now I have a lot more bruises, so I won’t be going swimming anytime soon, and much less pain. But maybe it’s just because my body is still adapting? I have no more water retention as keto lowers insulin and so the water I drink is released, not stored, and I think there has also been a reduction in swelling. So apart from more frequent leg cramps and more bruising, keto still seems to work for me. Prior to starting I had a lot of lipoedema pain and could not have my children sit on my lap for any length of time, or kneel comfortably on the floor with them. Now I can do that without the tenderness and pain.

(Pete A) #8

Your doc can do a panel of your electrolytes as related to your kidney function. (I got mine because of my high blood pressure).

Facts are better than guessing!

To me low carb means regular but occasional calf cramping and foot cramping.

Good luck!


Hi thanks, I recently had a full blood count done to check everything, and apart from being just a bit low on iron (marginally) everything else was fine my doctor said, she also gave me the full blood count test result to peruse myself. That was four weeks ago before I started keto.
It seems there’s an electrolyte cause behind the leg/calf cramps then, possibly because the ketogenic diet is diuretic, so instead of your body holding onto water it just releases it, might be electrolytes are lost in that water loss, not that I’m an expert.

(Pete A) #10

A cup of water with Himalayan salt (gargle some, swallow some) can’t hurt. And good for the vagus nerve! :slight_smile:

(May the blessing of bacon be always with you) #11

The cramps probably are. A search on this site should yield a lot of information about magnesium, potassium, and good ways to supplement them.

The bruising, I’m not so sure about. If anything, I’d have expected the change in diet to reduce bruising, not make it worse. That might be something to take up with your physician. (As a hint, to avoid mis-focusing the doctor’s attention, don’t mention keto, just say that you’ve cut out sugar and reduced the starches, or something like that).


Hi, actually my doctor was very supportive of me starting keto as there is new research it might be beneficial for lipoedema. So she gave me the green light. I’ve always had a lot of bruises on my legs because of the lipoedema. I usually wear black leggings with a dress or my trusty pencil skirt, and then it all looks fine. I would never dream of baring my legs as in addition to the bruises I have varicose veins. The latter I’m looking into having treated because that too, I’ve been told, will benefit the lipoedema. But yes, after starting keto I do seem to have a good few more bruises, but at the same time I have begun exercising more and it could be this. My goal with keto is to reduce swelling, inflammation, bruising and once my body reaches fat-adaptation, that my body will eat up the diseased adipose fat tissue, so that my legs can look and feel normal. I realise it’s a long shot and I’ve decided, initially, to give myself a year to see how beneficial keto will be. Thank you for your reply and suggestions, I will look into the supplements.

(May the blessing of bacon be always with you) #13

Well, that’s great! Congratulations on having a supportive doctor! But I’d still mention to her that the bruising seems greater, now. There may be a benign explanation, or there may be some problem that needs attention. But at least you know she’s not going to automatically blame your keto diet and refuse to look further. I’ve learned the hard way to restrict myself to telling the doctor my symptoms, and not to try to offer any diagnosis, because it seems to get them thinking only along certain lines, when the problem may not be what I think it is, and the doctor needs to approach the problem with an open mind.


Yes, I’ve had that experience too with most doctors. I saw a varicose surgeon recently who outlined my treatment options, I told him about my lipoedema diagnosis and how the keto WOE had virtually erased both the discomfort of my lipoedema and my varicose. His reaction, although he was brilliant in everything else, was to state that that was just not possible, that a diet could achieve no such thing. And his response tends to be the usual response you get from doctors, so I was actually very pleasantly surprised that my GP was so supportive of both keto and also time restricted eating. So yes, in most cases, it would be best to keep ones’ cards just a bit closer to oneself, as you say, as the NHS in general just don’t seem to see much of a correlation between improvement in health and management of various diseases and diet. Anyways, in a few months I was thinking of having a full blood count again to see how well my body is doing on keto, and I’m sure anything amiss might be picked up then.

(May the blessing of bacon be always with you) #15

The results of the blood work will depend on how long you have been on your current diet. If you haven’t already read this, be aware that we find that people who start a keto diet and get blood tests before the six-month mark often get results that alarm their doctor. Usually it’s a false alarm, and the tests give better results by the six-month mark. Though some things take even longer to resolve. I’m not as familiar with carnivore, but I assume something similar obtains there. Also, doctors such as Paul Mason (an Australian sports physician who advocates a ketogenic diet) say that the whole picture needs to be considered; one outlier result in the context of overall normal numbers is probably not a problem, but if several key markers are out of whack, that’s a different situation.


I really do think you should get your bruising checked out again. Tests for clotting factors, platelets, sedimentation rates etc may give clues as to what is going on. Probably benign but best not ignored.

In the meantime, up your electrolytes. You said earlier that you were on a low sodium diet pre keto? Well on keto your sodium levels are going to be even lower now due to your insulin levels being lower, especially in the first few months. And your potassium levels are intrinsically tied to your sodium levels. If one is out then this impacts the other as the body needs to maintain a balance between the two.


Thanks for the heads up, I had no idea. I could’ve ended up sabotaging myself there, as I had a full blood count done just four weeks ago, and on the same day after my blood test I started keto. So if my doctor was happy with my results then, she may have been alarmed now. I will definitely give it longer before I have another blood count, unless I face some odd side-effects along the way. For now I will just “keep calm and keto on” :slightly_smiling_face:

(Robin) #18

I get leg and foot cramps every night if I forget to take a big glass of water with magnesium citrate powder and add salt. Problem solved. I also take potassium pills. Those are the most commonly used supplements by people here.


I never had cramps before keto and I tend to have it now and then on it. Carnivore took it away but then it reappeared. Odd.
In my case, a little magnesium always help. I wondered about trying to add salt but my few seconds baby cramps are more pleasant than eating extra salt now (I had some run-in with super salty bacon ends and now I have a salt aversion… I salt my food but lightly). And if you eat plenty of bacon and salt your food normally, it’s probably not your problem? Though who knows, different people in different situations need different amount of salt, apparently (and plenty means different things for us too etc.)
I think I will try epsom salt as I run out of my magnesium pills for now. It’s a bit bitter but it’s Mg so it will help.

I had a hypothesis that much meat works as it seemed so but it stopped working for some reason… Sigh. Maybe longer term carnivore will be good. I dislike taking supplements.


Hi, I will up my electrolytes. I do use pink himalayan rock salt but perhaps not enough, and I must confess I didn’t realise the keto WOE would be lower in sodium as I thought, eating plenty salty meats such as bacon would certainly up the sodium, but will start to put some salt in my water and coffee as well as lemon. The other supplements I’ll enquire about at the pharmacy, whether it would interact with my medication. I will follow Paul’s advice regarding having any bloodwork done, as my oh so supportive doctor may not be all that supportive if she was alarmed at any irregularities in my test result.

As to the bruising, if it was wide spread, all over my body including the normal non lipoedema areas, I would have been a lot more alarmed. But as the bruises are in those same lipoedema areas where I’ve always had some, I’m not currently too concerned. It’s early days for me on this WOE but as to any inflammation I am still suffering, I think I can be fairly sure it’s dairy. Today I totally overdid the cheese, after I told myself I would give it up, and as a result my roseaca has really flared up. So that’s it, no more nonsense, I’m obviously not been able to just cut down on dairy so I’m going to have to go cold turkey like I did with gluten.