So, what does cause (lower) leg cramps on keto?

(Dirty Lazy Keto'er, Sucralose freak ;)) #12

Just had my Dr’s appointment yesterday, and lower leg cramps was the only negative thing I had to report. My Dr asked if I had been taking any potassium, and I told her I had. So aside from that she said it was possibly dehydration. I feel like I drink plenty… But maybe I’m slacking a little During my weekend driving marathon. My cramping has been worse / most consistent on Monday and Tuesday…


For what it’s worth, I’ve found that the old athlete’s/home remedy of drinking some pickle juice (or a shot of diluted apple cider vinegar) has actually worked when I’ve had severe, hop-out-of-bed-howling foot cramps at night. Don’t ask me about the actual mechanism of why it works (the theories do vary), but worth a shot.

(Mark Rhodes) #14


Helped me.

(Mark Rhodes) #15

(The remembrance of bacon past.) #16

I imagine that being autopsied kind of ruins the rest of the day, no? :rofl::rofl:

(Mark Rhodes) #17

I think would alter the results, no?

(The remembrance of bacon past.) #18

But we would know for sure! :grin:


A large drink of water usually clears them up for me. I take a diuretic for another health issue, and days I haven’t put enough water back in, lower leg cramps wake me and remind me. The biggest problem then is, I may as well stay up, because I will never get back to sleep.

(Bob M) #20

I wish I could figure it out. I had another cramp and the day before that got a blood test taken. All my values (potassium, magnesium, sodium) were normal. I’ve gone back to adding some potassium (via no salt) into my diet, although I take an ACE inhibitor, and the docs discourage taking potassium while taking an ACE inhibitor. I’ve also ordered another bottle of magnesium oil and have been putting this on my legs again (not necessarily to get the magnesium into the calves, but because that’s a large, easy-to-reach area).

Have these helped? It’s unclear. And, I’m concerned that if you increase, say, magnesium, then do you need more of the other elements, such as potassium, too? I’ve seen theories about this, but not a lot of actual data.

I’ll find out again next week, when I’m going to try for 4.5 days of fasting. I’m going to up my salt/mg/K content to see what happens.

As for taurine and the like, that’s interesting. Overall, I’m trying to avoid taking anything. I was down to vitamin D and magnesium oil. Then I tried a bunch of other protocols (iodine loading, liver) and they might have made things worse not better. So, I’m headed to try more whole foods, maybe even carnivore.

(55 yo female started keto Jul '19) #21

Did it seem to help?

(Nicole Sawchuk) #22

I have been keto for over 5 years and while I suffered from leg cramping always, it got bad the last few years. I have upped all my electrolytes and with on and off success. It almost comes seasonally. In other words, I seemed to get it more in the winter months than in the warmer months. Why do I bring this up? Because over the summer, I barely had any and now that we are late in October (I live in Canada) and its gotten cold, they are occurring again.
I feel like I require some magical electrolyte formula that I have not managed to figure out how to dial in.

(Bob M) #23

I still have not been able to figure it out, either. Some magnesiums seem to cause me worse issues (palpitations), although as with any testing, it’s difficult to tell.

For my last few fasts, I had a lot of pickle juice. I cannot tell whether this helped, as I also started taking “fasting drops”, which have a combination of Mg, NaCl, and K. I got what I would call “close calls”, where I could tell there was tightening but no real cramp.

It may also be related to how much other work I’m doing, which itself may be related to how many electrolytes I’m taking in. For instance, I think (it’s always hard to tell) that working on my house all weekend, running up and down multiple levels of floors, seems to correlate with cramps or near cramping. This could mean I’m not taking in enough electrolytes (barely have time to eat), or I’m stressing that area, or both.

And if I don’t fast, I’m not sure I would get cramps. Cramps seem to come more often when I’m fasting.

Having said all this, it’s quite frustrating to decipher, as I don’t keep enough data to perform a real analysis. How much water am I drinking a day and what minerals are in that? I have some idea, but not much. What kind of foods am I eating, when, and do what kind of minerals do they have in them? (I have a theory that eating more plants causes less Mg and other mineral absorption, but haven’t ascertained whether it’s true.)

Anyway, I’m still out on a “limb” (get it!?) with this one.


If it’s not a deficiency; it could be a toxicity.

Drinking coffee?

(Debra J griffith) #25

For me, it was magnesium. I always thought potassium was the culprit, and was taking 1000 mgs/day. Then still ended up with excruciating calf cramps. In my mind, magnesium was the only other possibility. I started supplementing that, and gonzo!

(Bob M) #26

That’s doubtful, since I’ve been drinking the exact same amount of coffee for years, yet get cramps only sometimes.

@Skinnyjeans It could be magnesium, though it’s unclear to me it is. I have gone from taking Mg pills every so often plus Mg oil spray back to only Mg oil spray, and I haven’t had a cramp lately.

So, I’ve been cramp free for a while and have no idea why. I’ll have to see if I get cramps during my next 4.5 day fast (not sure when that’ll be, though). Maybe it’s long fasts?

I’ve also switched from weights to mainly body weight exercises, and I’ve stopped jogging outdoors on the weekends. Instead, I’m doing some body weight exercises and “cold therapy” on the weekends, along with doing a ton of work around the house as my “exercise”. So, I’ve changed too many variables.


I’ve heard it can be different things, usually magnesium and potassium. But it’s always magnesium for me. I don’t get enough from food. It’s not noticeable until I am out of ketosis but as I get into it, I get bad calf cramps the next night (or whenever I sleep) if I forgot to take supplements and magnesium pills solve it right away. I keep taking my pills and the cramps never reappear. Pretty straightforward in my case and in many other people’s case.

(The remembrance of bacon past.) #28

How is your salt intake? Low sodium causes problems with regulating potassium, magnesium, and calcium. The PURE study and others suggest that a healthy range for sodium intake is 4-6 grams daily, which works out to 10-15 grams of table salt (sodium chloride).


Yeah, I’ve read something like this here in this forum lately…
I eat little salt compared to keto recommendations and refuse to raise it significantly unless it magically happens without force. I have a very hard time to supplement anything, it’s some instinct, I want to get things from my food. I will see what I can do, I wanted to track my salt intake for a while anyway. Salt experiments, then. It’s good I love pink Himalayan salt but 10-15g still sounds irrealistic.
I do know I consume too little magnesium to begin with so I keep taking pills for that.
I will read more about sodium and magnesium in the near future, eating lots of salt doesn’t sound so nice, I probably would quit keto pretty soon but I don’t want to. And going carnivore isn’t an option (lucky ones get away with everything and I need to read about nutrients and electrolytes).

(David Cooke) #31

Many mammals, including monkeys, will travel long distances to find a salt lick. They know when they need it and so should you.


Keto metabolism makes people more sensitive to caffeine according to others online.