Leg cramps cramping your style? New guide aims to help
This week Diet Doctor launched a new in-depth guide: Six ways to kick legs cramps to the curb.
Many people experience painful, sleep-disrupting night time leg cramps on the low-carb ketogenic. Solving the issue can take a little sleuthing and experimentation, often going beyond the usual advice to up your intake of magnesium.
Researching and writing the guide was a personal quest for me. I wanted to not only help our Diet Doctor readers, but I needed to solve my own leg-cramp issues. Painful leg cramps have been the bane of my night-time existence, my Achilles heel. (Well, make that a few inches higher: my Achilles calf muscle.)
I have had other times in my life when leg cramps were a problem, most notably during athletic competitions as a teen and during my two pregnancies (a common time for increased cramping for many women.) When I started low-carb, ketogenic eating four years ago, however, they came back with a vengeance. Earlier this year they were happening with agonizing frequency almost every night, inflicting at times extraordinary pain and regularly robbing me of a good night’s sleep.
I thought, however, that my regular cramps were simply a painful nuisance, a disruptive bother that hurt my sleep more than anything else.
That is until a trip to Sweden this past summer. Staying in the Diet Doctor apartment on my last night there, I simultaneously got two monster cramps in both my lower legs, from toes to knees. My legs contracted in a rigid, agonizing frog-kick.
While trying to stand up to walk them off, I lost my balance. I put out my right hand to try to cushion my fall and broke my arm. I was in a splint for six weeks! So much for thinking leg cramps were a mere bother. For me they had become downright hazardous.
Since then I’ve been determined to not only solve my own leg cramp issue — for good — but to help other low-carb sufferers out there, too.
Victory: no cramps for me
So I am happy to report that researching and writing the new guide — and following its advice — has reduced the frequency of my leg cramps from an almost nightly occurrence to a very rare event.
Magnesium supplementation was key, but for me it was finding the right formulation. Over the last four years, I had tried at least half a dozen different ways to supplement magnesium, but none of them had worked on their own, and all of the oral supplements had upset my stomach.
Recently, the magnesium supplementation that has worked best for me is Dr. Eric Westman’s protocol of taking daily one-third of the dose of milk of magnesia. That combined with daily drinking of magnesium-rich mineral water and upping my salt consumption has been the biggest help. I love coffee but I have come to the conclusion that my muscles may be sensitive to too much caffeine, so I limited myself to max two cups a day. Red wine, even just a single glass, is a trigger for me, too, so I avoid it. I also avoid sitting for long periods and I now stretch regularly.
Paying attention to all these factors has worked. As I write this, I have now been five weeks without a cramp. A new victory. On a recent, second trip to Stockholm to visit the Diet Doctor team, which included extended sitting on long international flights and a disrupted daily routine — typical triggers for me — I did not experience a single night-time contraction.
And here’s an added bonus, which I believe is related to improving my magnesium levels overall: the general quality of my sleep seems to have improved, too. I have not just been eliminating the disruptive cramps but I am sleeping more soundly, my muscles feel generally more relaxed, and I’m experiencing less night-time waking.
So try our tips and let us know how they work for you. We hope the guide helps you to kick your leg cramps to the curb, too.
Six ways to kick nasty leg cramps to the curb
Guide Among low-carb and keto-eaters, while there are no hard estimates to the number afflicted, increased frequency of leg cramps are known to be a common side effect of the diet. Here are the six key things to know to kick your leg cramps to the curb: