Major increase in leg cramps


For a couple of days I decided to drop my carbohydrate count from 20 to 10. Easy. As a result even less water retention, swelling, my engagement ring keeps slipping off my finger, and my legs are looking better, at least in the mornings. Though I believe there is now less swelling in the evenings too. BUT … I’ve had a major increase in leg cramps. I’m talking now the whole night through and into the morning. Kept my partner awake too. Now I know there are supplements you can take such as magnesium and potassium, but if on a WOE you are forced to take supplements then it is lacking. Yesterday I ate predominantly meat. I could easily do that because meat is delicious. But my body still needs a few carbs. It is obvious. So rather then having to use supplements, I am going to raise the carb intake to 20 again and see if there is a decrease in the leg cramps. Because no WOE that causes such deficiencies is sustainable in the long term. Some people might thrive on just eating meats I am sure. And some people could suffer. We are all so different. And I don’t believe we only evolved to eat meat. There are plant-foods on earth in abundance for a good reason, and leaning to any particular science instead of listening to the body could be detrimental. It really is a matter of trying things and seeing how you go and tweaking as need be. And it’s different for everybody. I also had problems with my digestion, I ate 5 small strawberries yesterday as part of my 10 grams carb allowance and it sorted it. Fibre, for some people, truly is needed. Again, it’s so individual what works, but any path to health involves stopping and looking around and examining the landscape and seeing if one is headed in the right direction, and turn around and choose a different path if need be. Now that could just be about tweaking one or two things without having to give up the journey and realising that there are no absolutes.

(Megan) #2

Hi never2late, I found the leg cramps damn annoying and wondered myself about nutritional deficiencies causing them and whether a woe that produces nutritional deficiencies, if it indeed does, is “healthy”. There is much I do not understand about the workings of the human body. In fact there is very, very little I do understand :crazy_face: I decided to follow the standard advice of upping my salt intake and the leg cramps mostly disappeared. I no longer use that much salt and am still mostly leg cramp free. So maybe my body just needed a bit of time to adjust to the different foods I was eating. Btw I’ve been taking a reasonably high dose of magnesium at night for years but that didn’t prevent the leg cramps. So I guess for me it was just an issue of time, with extra salt supporting the process. Btw I eat carnivore.

Interesting you noticed an appreciable decrease in swelling dropping your carbs from 20g to 10g. I wonder how much sodium your kidneys were letting through as they flushed all the extra water from your body.

In the end we all have to find our own way, and some of that is how long we are prepared to stick with a change we have made before evaluating whether it is working for us or not. This is a very individual thing, with multiple factors influencing our decision. I just wish there was a lot of decent research (double blinded, long timeframes) done on keto and carnivore so we have more than a bunch of peoples’ n=1’s to go on.

(Christian Hirose Romeo Graham/廣瀬 グラハム クリスティン 路美男) #3

Best logic I can come up with, is that the extra carbs/sugar your were eating prior, caused a bigger insulin response, helping the kidneys retain some of the electrolytes. You’re probably experiencing electrolyte wasting right now. I’d experiement with upping my protein first, if I were you, rather than upping carbs.

(Bill) #4



Hi Megan. I did think I already had upped my sodium intake. I made chicken nuggets yesterday and salted each and every one, I do the same with any dinner or boiled eggs. But it’s interesting that you mention you already were taking a magnesium supplement and that it didn’t prevent your leg cramps. It might be something else then. The body is so incredibly complex. I do believe it is something to do with this complete lack of water retention I am experiencing, which should be a good thing, as my lipoedema affected legs are looking a good bit better. So it’s a matter of finding out what the body is lacking and giving it that missing nutrient and carrying on. I have no thoughts about halting keto at this early junction. It’s just finding that missing puzzle piece.


Well I could try that and see if it helps, and also drink a lot more water. I was of the idea it might be a magnesium deficiency, but perhaps it’s something else. I do use a lot of salt, I prefer to use pink himalayan rock salt, as I like the taste, and I pretty much add salt to everything. Perhaps it’s a matter of also upping the fat intake? I have no problems keeping carbs to about 10 and less, but my body has to be happy with it.

(Michael) #7

Leg cramps for my whole life, but they have stopped since going carnivore. Plants obviously caused a deficiency in a micronutrient. How could a diet containing plants be sustainable if you need to supplement to avoid cramps? Humans evolved eating meat, we are not meant to eat plants, as plants are trying to kills us. Everyone is different, but clearly eating plants is the issue for me and must therefore not be a sustainable WOE.

Or, perhaps you are simply not eating a good mix of meats, as I may used to not eat the right mix of vegetables?


Depending on how much fluid you intake, salting your food might not be enough. I didn’t have success balancing my electrolytes until I started salting my water.


Interesting idea that it could be plant-carbs causing it. I did use up most of my carb allowance yesterday on strawberries. Then also had 10 almonds, 3 brazil nuts and a square of dark chocolate. It amounted to about 10 total carbohydrates. As to what you say about the right mix of meats or the right mix of vegetables, perhaps variety is just the simplest answer and of course there’s the unavoidable degree of trial and error. The body is and remains a complete mystery and as to what will benefit it in the long term, well that’s up to us to guess and keep plodding on best we can.

It might be a thing to try to just eat meat for a few days and see if the leg cramps would go away. They are not just annoying but really painful and disturbing sleep for both my partner and my myself. So I am happy to experiment to discover the cause of it.


That is an idea, I think I’ll try that. Do you add anything else to your water then to make it taste better?


Well, yes and no.

You have previously said that until recently you were on a typical high carb diet. In all probability you were very “insulin resistant”. You have been keto for only a few weeks, so though improved, any insulin resistance present before will still be there.

Hyperinsulinemia (high blood insulin levels) will cause your kidneys to hold on to sodium and water. When your insulin drops (keto) you lose a lot of water, hence early rapid weight loss, plus sodium and other electrolytes. Until you are more metabolically healthy you will need to supplement.

So keto per se as a way of eating is not lacking as you put it. Your body is out of kilter and if you give it time, keto will probably fix it.

PS from your many posts you really seem to be in a hurry and frequently trying to change things. You’ve been keto how many weeks now? Maybe just accept that your body in its current state is not “fixed” yet and every time you change something you can’t be at all sure what that change is doing, good or bad. Keep your carbs low, protein to your body’s requirement and sufficient fat to provide your energy needs. Then let things take their course and revisit every 3 months and tweak if you feel that you really must.


Hi, thanks for your reply. I realise it’s early days, perhaps a little over a month now, and I am determined to give keto six months to a year. I’m already at a healthy weight, so do not desire a huge drop in weight. And I realise also that what I’ve been losing is water. I virtually have no water retention now, my boots are loser and my engagement ring keeps slipping off my finger, so with all this lack of water retention, which I used to suffer from on my high carb, low fat diet, I realise it’s most likely an electrolyte problem. But it is interesting that you should mention insulin resistance, and the body being off kilter. It might very well be. I had always thought insulin resistance resulted in a struggle to lose weight whereas for me it’s been really easy to lose weight and maintain it even on my previous diet. But I could be wrong, it could be insulin resistance would cause many other issues as many diseases are linked to metabolic health, and I’ve had my share of diseases. So, your post provides me with some food for thought, I appreciate you taking the time to share your thoughts.


No matter whatever woe I do, it’s always low in magnesium :slight_smile: And I take really little supplements (one Mg pill or now a small spoon of epsom salt once in a blue moon, not even every week), many people need to take much, much more and various ones. I do like to get everything from my diet but it isn’t always possible, life if like that, apparently. No matter what I would add, it wouldn’t help with my low magnesium as I am not willing to eat the best keto Mg sources and the carby ones has carbs and they would feel worse than my few seconds cramps, a few times a year (but I must solve it before the lack of Mg does something more serious, it’s used for zillion very important functions in the body, after all). Oh yep, it’s always Mg for me when cramps come, apparently, it can be any electrolyte but Mg always helped me and I can’t do much with my sodium intake, I am in the range I like and more or less causes problems.

But yes, I try to figure out how to avoid cramps on/close to carnivore. It’s obvious I shouldn’t eat plants but it’s me and you are you.

Yes, herbivores need to eat something too :smiley:
Okay, we are omnivores and it’s good, we surely needed that a lot during our evolution, sometimes one doesn’t have meat and plants helped us to survive.
In a need I eat plants, sure. For survival. Preferably low-carb and protein rich ones but anything edible if there is no other option.
But now that I can choose my food to some extent, I avoid the unhealthy or pointless, not satiating ones. Poor plants, almost all of them are in that group.
I am still not against plants, I broke up with them without hard feelings but they are definitely not for me in big amounts.
But it’s just me, my SO is thriving on them (and animal stuff too, he hardly would be happy with only plants. for a meal, sure, for longer, not so much) and many ketoers say their body is happier with some.
So do whatever feels/seems good, you do experiments already, that’s useful… But don’t think you MUST eat plants just because they exist and humans ate and eat them. I am aware meat contains everything we need, of course it doesn’t mean it’s really like that for everyone or that just eating some meat to satiation is enough, maybe we eat them not in the right way to get everything needed from them. Just like keto can be super unhealthy, carnivore has this chance too (probably a way smaller one but it exists).

Oh yes, it’s so interesting to me, hopefully one day I learn why. My body doesn’t care about its level, I had at it at every level from zero up to quite high (for a short time at least but I never tracked my fiber apart from a few days) and I never noticed any difference. But many others are different.

And yes, maybe you just need more salt. I personally hate salty water with a passion, never would drink such a thing. But I can eat salt and drink water right after so I would do that in the case I needed more. Fortunately I automatically seem to eat just the right amount of salt, I desire more if I happen to go below and get salt aversion if it raises and get closer to the super high (for me) recommended amount…


A standard high carb diet will inevitably lead to some level of insulin resistance.

Insulin resistance can lead to a number of issues, weight gain and T2 diabetes being just two. Weight gain can be a consequence of insulin resistance but you can have the latter without the former. There are plenty of thin T2 diabetics out there.


Well luckily T2 never happened to me. But I’ve had my own share of health problems, which has made me both cautious about both diet and health in general. But I still believe we can only do our best and live and eat intuitively. I am 114 pounds, 5.2 and still appear to be slimming down. That is good for my lipoedema, but I’ve absolutely nothing to lose on top lol. I did have a full blood count just before I started keto and I actually discussed both keto and IF with my doctor. She gave me the green light to try both and my partner has also been very supportive. But it’s early days as I’ve said and much depends on how my body is feeling, my body and me we’re on really good terms these days, after all it’s been a real warrior, and I always listen to it.


Salt is the only thing I add. It shouldn’t taste horrible - if it does, you don’t need that much salt at that moment in time.

If I am lacking salt, plain water tastes insipid but adding salt makes it taste good. If my salt levels are ok, heavily salted water tastes far too salty and not at all pleasant.

Understandably, it changes throughout the day. Sometimes I will come back into a room where I’ve left a drink that tasted perfect a couple of hours ago and within a sip I can tell that it’s far too salty now.


My partner is also thriving on his much more typical high carb, low fat diet. He is a lot more healthy than me. I think this boils a bit down to genetics and factors such as sleep and stress. My partner has always had a good sleeping heart and I believe that must’ve over the years benefitted his health greatly. But he also just has really good genes. I believe life itself is a journey and all the things we do to try and improve ourselves, our health, is just one of those many paths we’ll be taking along the way. And it’s so much guess work, so much experimentation and hoping and persevering, but I believe a positive attitude, within the realm of realism, gets you further. I am grateful every day that my partner and our children are so healthy. And it is my hope that in time, though my medication stands currently a bit like a shadow on my path, that I can achieve such good health and energy one day too.

(Allie) #18

That will flush out the electrolytes you need to be replenishing.
Drink to thirst.

(Megan) #19

This could be one area you need to have a good think about. A few days of anything won’t achieve much. I very much agree with what Gaz said.


I’ve pretty much been doing that already so I’ll just carry on drinking then when I’m thirsty, and add a bit of salt to my drink, if that tastes foul, then whenever I feel like having some water I’ll just put a bit of salt on my tongue, my pink himalayan rock salt has a pretty good taste, so on occasion I’ve done this and it’s been fine, hopefully further increasing my sodium intake will take care of the leg cramps. I’ve really nothing else to complain about at this point with the keto WOE apart from them.