Leg Cramps - What to do when you've tried everything?


(John) #1

Wife has been on Keto / low carb for about 1.5 years.

In her pre keto life she had some leg / calf cramps but not this bad. Her mother also has some cramps.

She’s up most of the night. Foot, calf, leg cramps are apparently excruciating and causing massive sleep disruption. She went to the general physician yesterday who had zero advice. Some docs are truly space cadets.

She has tried: keto aid; potassium pills, magnesium pills (slow mag, mg oxide), electrolyte supplements, salting the hell out of food with sea salt and pink salt. Nothing seems to work.

She exercises daily and is rather slim. She’s doing this for the keep the sugar low cancer connection.

My thoughts at this time are to get off keto and see if that helps. Or do a calculated carb increase to see if water retention can come back a bit to help with electrolytes.

Or maybe its not even keto related? Anyone have any ideas or heard anything like this?


Magnesium chloride oil to either rub onto skin or do a bath soak might be worth a try, ive never found taking the oral mag to be very usefull but the “oil” (not really an oil btw, just feels like it, get the salts and add to water to make your own, much cheaper that way) works well for me and it allows your body to absorb to need. (Plus no digestive issues)
Also I find using both potassium and mag usually more effective than only using one or the other.

Other causes I can think of off the top of my head… dehydration. Electrolyte imbalance, Low calcium levels, vit D deficiency (leads to low calcium levels) hypothyroidism, & some medication side effects.

(Daisy) #3

I used to suffer from severe leg spasms and cramps. Massive restless leg syndrome. Here was my saving grace:

2 of these each night.

You can either use that straight up, or my recommendation is using it to make this:

Several recipes found on Pinterest, but I’ll try to find the one I use and post it.

Edit to add:
I’ve used both of these:

(Edith) #4

Is the cocoa butter, the same stuff I can buy and eat, or something different?

(Daisy) #5

This is what I use: And yes I use it for food and beauty

Just be cautious when melting, as I had it explode on me the first time I did it! Lol


This is what has helped me and others with muscle cramping.


If her mother also had them, it might even have a genetic component. Has she had a DNA test? If so upload to promethease.com or some other site, like foundmyfitness.com, they have a small fee @$10 and you get a ton of information on what is good and bad for your genes.

I understand her pain, good luck on getting it sorted out.

(Edith) #7

Excellent! I have that.


(squirrel-kissing paper tamer) #8

She could always do a personal experiment and eat carbs before bed and see if that has an effect on her cramps and sleep that night. If it helps tremendously, then that would answer some questions. She doesn’t have to go off completely to experiment with increasing some types of carbs to see if it helps.

(John) #9

She’s seen no real difference when she has high carb days vs strict low carb days. We thought green veggies were playing a role but she will cramp after a big serving of asparagus too. She has started to have a kale smoothie in the morning but that hasn’t helped.

I was thinking get off keto for a week or two to truely let the water retention electrolyte situation to get back to “normal.”

She has done the baths (every night mostly) and puts a cream on her legs at night. Nothing helps.

I have a feeling she isn’t willing to keep trying different varieties of each mineral. This has been going on for a long time so we’ve tried most of the commercially available versions of Mg, Ca etc. She feels defeated.

Have we tried them all in a nicely controlled manner? No. She doesn’t appear to want to do that.

I don’t know.

(squirrel-kissing paper tamer) #10

Has she tried a bar of soap in between the sheets? I’m not kidding. My father’s mother taught it to him and he suffers terribly with cramps due to his statins. He sleeps with a bar of soap in between the sheets near his legs. I tried to google it years ago and couldn’t even come up with a theory on why it might work but it’s working for him. Other people have said, Oh I’ve heard of that. I had never heard of it myself.

Also, is it possible she’s taking a medication that could have cramps as a side effect?


Then she needs a new doctor. There are prescription drugs for this, as well as a number of OTC options. While it wouldn’t be my first step, most of the usual suspects (minerals and electrolytes in various doses and formulations) don’t seem to be working.

Sometimes a vitamin B complex can help and quinine can help, too. I’ve heard good things about using quinine for leg cramps. There have been some problems with overdoses of quinine when people are on prescription levels of it, but a glass or two of tonic water with real quinine in it is pretty mild and can be effective. Maybe try swapping out a before-bed glass of water for a tonic water. Some people say they keep tonic water by the bed instead of regular water for middle of the night flare-ups.

Anyway, she has my sympathies. I had problems with this for years and it’s horrible. Warm water soaks in the bathtub is usually the only thing that stops them for me once they’ve started up.

(Daisy) #12

My mom told me to do that, that my grandmother swore by it. Didn’t help me. Lol

(Laura) #13

I use Theraworx, which is a foam you apply to the cramped muscles. Mine are definitely hereditary. My grandmother and father suffer with them. Theraworx is the only thing that works for me.

(Full Metal KETO AF) #14

As much as I hate taking prescription drugs I have to live with some of them for the rest of my life. I have had restless leg syndrome for years. Since I started keto it’s not as bad but it usually raises it’s ugly head a couple hours after dinner. The magnesium glycinate 400mg and pink salt have helped, but I still have the condition and phantom pain from a leg amputation 20 years ago. For me 500mg Gabapentin at night is what keeps it at bay. It’s a fairly low dose compared to people who use it as a psychiatric drug, minimizing side affects so I have chosen it as the lesser of two evils. :neutral_face:

(Cyndi Shelby Manka) #15

Dr Berg says electrolytes

(David Cooke) #16

I am beginning to suspect that my very occasional, low beer consumption may be liked to my occasional nightly cramps A quote from a study from 2018: (http://www.annfammed.org/content/16/4/296.full)
"We found a strong association between the global consumption of alcoholic beverages and NLC. To the best of our knowledge, this is the first study to measure such a link. " and
“There was no linear relationship between amount of alcohol used and odds of cramps.”
I drank a can of beer last night, had bad foot and leg cramps this morning. Low carb beer also seems to be giving me cramps, but less painful… anecdotal I know but I am going to experiment a little, maybe works for me but not others.


Add salt to the diet

(traci simpson) #18

If all that doesn’t work, it might be dehydration like runswithdogs mentioned.

(Jay Patten) #19

She needs more potassium.

She needs more potassium.

She needs more potassium.

Did I mention that she needs more potassium?

Been there, done that.

She can chug water and eat salt all day long and still get Hell cramps.

She. Needs. More. Potassium.


Listen to me. Potassium.


(John) #20

She takes a potassium pill before bed along with the other electrolytes.