Leg cramps on keto

(Scarlett Hyde) #1

So I’ve gotten myself back into keto and it’s literally been my first day on keto successfully and I’ve been waking up to my leg locking up in a cramp which is by far the most painful way I’ve ever woken up. And then the pain continues for the whole day and I get a slight limp. I first started getting this when I was just starting keto and I dismissed it as a coincidence but whenever I would break out of keto for the holidays or whatever, the cramps would go away too. Is this common and is there anything I can do to stop it? I might go to a doctor but want to keep that as a last resort.

(Full Metal Keto) #2

Calcium, potassium and magnesium. But absolutely SALT/SODIUM. You are flushing out minerals with water loss. I hope you’re feeling better soon Scarlet.


(Carl Keller) #3

This happened to me twice. More sodium seems to be the key to prevention for me. 2+ teaspoons (10+ grams) of salt over the course of your day should fulfill the majority of your electrolyte needs. Regularly eating foods rich in potassium and magnesium won’t hurt.

(David Cooke) #4

Since increasing my salt intake my cramps have almost disappeared. 1TSP in water pre-breakfast, one at midday, one in th evening and again before bed. Won’t be the same for everyone.
Potassium doesn’t seem to help much, magnesium doesn’t seem to help as much as salt.
People that take one alcoho;ic drink or less per week have much fewer cramps.

(Scarlett Hyde) #5

I’m still underage so don’t drink any alcohol. I’ll try to increase salt intake and see if that helps. I’m those people who are very salt sensitive though, I can taste a little salt and too much just ruins a meal for me. I’ll try the salt water thing

(Full Metal Keto) #6

Thanks David for that link. I have been avoiding alcohol on any regular basis since I started KETO which I think overall is good. But I do love a good whiskey, and also heard that a small amount of alcohol near betime gives you less of a morning BG and insulin spike, aka dawn phenomenon. So that got me interested first and now this, my restless limb syndrome was HORRIBLE before KETO but has gotten much better although not completely gone. It’s mostly in my biceps now. I think it’s time to try a shot at bedtime to see how it affects me.

By the way I remember you were considering giving up keto a while back, it’s great to see you’re still here. :cowboy_hat_face:

(Full Metal Keto) #7

If that doesn’t work out for you Scarlet,
(I can’t get behind drinking salt water myself!) what I do is take a pinch of Himalayan Pink Salt rocks, pop them in my mouth like pills and wash them down with a big glass of water. You won’t taste the rocks nearly as much as fine ground salt and they dissolve a bit slower in your stomach so it isn’t as likely to cause a bad stomach reaction. Too much salt at once can cause stomach pain until it’s absorbed so drink plenty of water with it. :cowboy_hat_face:

(Karim Wassef) #8

Sodium and potassium

(The Lackadaisical Ketologist ) #9

Welcome to my life. When I am on keto I get all friggen’ kinds of cramps. Some little titchy cramps and some rip me out of bed in the middle of the night WTF is happening cramps. The kind that can only be relieved by standing up and forcing them out as I curse Robert Atkins and offer human sacrifices to whatever god can guarantee me that they will never come back.

My initial and very effective cure is to consume pickle juice, the original and only truly effective sports drink. Pickle juice is chock full of sodium, magnesium, potassium, and other goodness which really does help reduce the frequency and intensity of cramping. I learned about this in my youth as a football player. Of course you have to be careful what other horrible ingredients may be present in said pickle juice, especially commercially prepared versions which presumably also have pickles floating in them.

As pickle juice turned out to not be the most cost effective long term solution to cramping I also turned to magnesium supplementation. I started out by buying magnesium at Walmart, which helped but not anywhere near as well pickle juice. That is because, as it turned out, that most readily available and lowest cost magnesium supplements are magnesium oxide. The least effective type of magnesium as the human body absorbs very little of it (sometimes as little as 4%). I then switched to magnesium citrate which has a MUCH higher rate of absorption without being that much more expensive. It was effective for me and kept the cramps at bay, but after some research I decided to try magnesium oratate. Magnesium oratate has the side benefit of B13 which aids in tissue repair and is supposed to improve both energy and stamina. I started taking it 30 minutes prior to going to sleep and it has delivered on it’s promises. No more nightmarish leg cramps and I definitely feel less sluggish on it as well. I personally believe I sleep better too.

On a side note, I personally take 400mg daily when I am eating and 200mg daily when I am fasting. Any more than that I find myself spending more time in the restroom that I care to as magnesium, especially in excess, can have a laxative effect.

And yes, I still drink pickle juice whenever it’s available. Love the stuff.

I have sodium tablets that I take when I am low on sodium. I hate salt water, keto drinks, etc. While I don’t mind the salty brine of pickle juice I much prefer popping a tablet in my mouth and swallowing it down.

And finally, I do not drink alcohol. Ever. Did not stop me from getting leg cramps.


@BeefCake do you have the brand, or a link to what you buy?

(The Lackadaisical Ketologist ) #11

@dlc96_darren I use KAL brand that I purchase from Amazon. Here is a link to the 200mg bottle but I have a closet full of 400mg bottles too.

(Bob M) #12

I just did a 4.5 day fast, and it was the first time in a long time I had leg cramps. I might have to go back to taking magnesium. I did take in salt and some potassium, but I haven’t needed to take Mg in a while.

(Scott) #13

I add some magnesium citrate to my hydroflask every time I fill it. I missed a couple of days and leg cramps came back. I add about a half eyedropper full.

(David Cooke) #14

You’re welcome.
I am now what I guess is a low carber, aiming at 30 gm daily. I was getting too THIN and when my weight went under 70 Kg I decided to do a reset.
Maybe 30 gm is still keto.

(Bunny) #15

We should have a leg cramp category…lol

Works for hiccups too!

(Michael - Don't expect miracles and you won't be disappointed.) #16

This was a ‘food frequency questionnaire’ which is the least reliable study methodology. The primary problem is not accurately remembering what you ate/drank last week, last month or the past x weeks or whatever, although that is a major problem. The primary problem is confounding factors that people don’t think have any relevance to the questionnaire and do not report.

I would not read too much into this. For example, I’m 74 and have night cramps every morning. My entire adult life I have been exclusively a very light consumer of alcohol. That would be weeks between drinks. I currently have had no alcohol for nearly 3 months. Yet my night cramps continued to worsen until I started experimenting with an electrolyte mix and have by now been reduced in severity significantly, although not in frequency. From my experience I would guess alcohol is a dead end on this issue or at best merely correlated but not causative. Sodium, potassium and magnesium looks like a much more likely area of research.

Just my humble opinion, of course. :slightly_smiling_face:

(squirrel-kissing paper tamer) #17

Scarlett, I second the pickle juice. Months ago I could be found drinking pickle juice from the jar in front of an open fridge in the middle of the night when I just couldn’t get those suckers to stop plaguing me. I also upped my water intake throughout the day. I’m one of those ladies who carries a purse and a tumbler full of ice water all over the place now. I haven’t had a problem in months. Best wishes, hope you feel better soon.

(Susan) #18

When everyone is talking about drinking pickle juice, do you just buy pickles and drink the juice from those jars? or do you buy pickle juice itself somewhere?

(David Cooke) #19

So what is contained in pickle juice? Is it the combination of salt and vinegar that does it? If so, I don’t need to drink pickle juice…?

(squirrel-kissing paper tamer) #20

Oh man, I forget. I would say ask @atomicspacebunny. She’s the one who I read it from and credit her with explaining it to me.