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Why Am I Getting These Wicked Cramps?

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  • Why Am I Getting These Wicked Cramps?

    Twice in the last 10 days I've awoken at night and in stretching out my legs the calf muscle in my left leg goes completely spastic. It just tightens up out of nowhere like I'm trying to curl 500 lbs on a calf machine and it doesn't let go!

    It's some of the most intense pain I've ever encountered and leaves me wanting to scream but I can't even get my breath to do so. It takes two days to fully recover from this and I fell like I walk around with a slight gimp in the mean time.

    Here's some extra info: this happened to me last summer too, probably 5 episodes, it never happens in the winter. My wife had something similar happen last year too but not this year.
    Life is good now that I eat primal, visit my local LA Fitness once a week, and don't stress about life.

  • #2
    1) Drinking enough water?
    2) Potential mineral deficiencies -- I've seen lack of potassium and/or magnesium as culprits.
    Are you a college student, trying to navigate college while being Primal? Do you know any other PB college students on a tight budget? Heck, for that matter, are YOU trying to live Primal on a budget? Enroll at Primal University!

    For after all what is man in nature? A nothing in relation to infinity, all in relation to nothing, a central point between nothing and all and infinitely far from understanding either.
    -- Blaise Pascal


    • #3
      I was drinking enough water when the incidents happened.

      I thought it might be some type of minneral thing too. This started up after I started taking 3 caps of ZMA (recommended dose is 3 caps) before bed. I thought about eating bananas too, but I don't want the fructose before sleeping so I got some NuSalt (potassium chloride) and cap'd them.

      You can't consume that stuff on an empty stomach or it'll tear up your lining so I take it after I finish dinner hoping that the potassium charge will carry through the night. Keeping my fingers crossed. I seriously go to bed in fear of this happening now.
      Life is good now that I eat primal, visit my local LA Fitness once a week, and don't stress about life.


      • #4
        Muscle cramps are pretty common with pb - for some folks its not an issue, for others (myself included) they're a bitch.

        It's your skeletal muscle's way of asking for more glycogen - mine disappeared (they were quite bad for a while) after adding back more starch in my diet, primarily from sweet potatoes. Magnesium at bedtime can also help, but starch is key.

        Just out of curiosity, how would you describe your body type (ectomorph, endomorph, mesomorph)?


        • #5
          Drink more water, and take a potassium and a magnesium supplement.
          Primal eating in a nutshell: If you are hungry, eat Primal food until you are satisfied (not stuffed). Then stop. Wait until you're hungry again. Repeat.

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          • #6
            Originally posted by Griff View Post
            Drink more water, and take a potassium and a magnesium supplement.
            Happened to my husband too, he was in so much pain i'd have to pull his foot back to relieve it. Once we addressed the mineral deficiencies it went away.
            I'm a paleo foodie, come check out my recipes:


            • #7
              If your carb intake is below 50 grams per day or so, you should make sure you are getting enough sodium as well as potassium and magnesium. I salt my food liberally, since I eat no processed foods. I take SlowMag for magnesium, plus Mark's vitamins contain magnesium.

              I have information from a number of sources, most recently a book on low carb eating, that it is really important to get enough sodium, magnesium, calcium and potassium while eating low carb. And, as others have mentioned, be sure to stay hydrated. For me, I do enough exercise, including CrossFit, that staying hydrated in the summer is a real effort, especially on a low carb diet.


              • #8
                This actually happens to me almost every morning the day after overindulging in junk food. Probably has been due to mineral deficiencies, since I substituted nutritious food for crap.


                • #9
                  Thanks all of you, I was having a hard time with this too.


                  • #10
                    Eat foods that are PB approved and rich in magnesium and potassium. Do a search.


                    • #11
                      I've added a cap of NuSalt into the mix after dinner. Was already taking ZMA at night for magnesium, and take 2,000 mg of calcium p/day. I've been able to dodge the cramps since I last posted this. (Thank you Jesus)

                      @jturk - I am eating a sweet potato pudding I make up (6 sweet potates & 4 apples boiled, then layered in a pan w/a bit of maple syrup, cinnamon, and craisins, cooked in the over @350 for 30 minutes and then mashed into a paste) after my workouts. But I wasn't usually eating it on my "move at a slow steady pace" days, so I make a point to eat a little bit of that every day now per your suggestion.
                      Life is good now that I eat primal, visit my local LA Fitness once a week, and don't stress about life.


                      • #12
                        Eades did a post about low carbing and cramps, loss of electrolytes etc. He used to get wicked cramps in his legs and hands. Turned out he was very dehydrated as drank lots of coffee and not much water:
                        The Blog of Michael R. Eades, M.D. Tips & tricks for starting (or restarting) low-carb Pt II

                        Lots of good info for drinking water to remain hydrated.
                        Last edited by Sue; 06-25-2011, 11:23 PM.


                        • #13
                          This is exactly what happened to me. I'll admit that I went a little too low carb (I was pretty much dousing myself with fats and protein at the time). As others have mentioned, the cramps are either due to dehydration or mineral imbalances. I started upping my fruit and veggie servings in the past week (including bananas!) and have never felt better. All the skin, hair, and muscle issues I was starting to see completely reversed themselves. Take a look at your current food consumptions on something like Fitday and see whether you're really getting all the nutrients your body needs.


                          • #14
                            Decided to bump this thread again because for the first time I got another terrible cramp in my right calf muscle the morning of having a seemingly "good" meal day. As I'm trying to gain weight I ate a ton of pork and some other meat, turns out I may have gone overboard (I calculated it was probably around 300g protein for the day!) and I cut back on fruits/veggies, even if it was only a little.

                            Obviously the key is to balance your food, and don't get careless and ignore micronutrients. I really need to learn to plan things better instead of hoping I have what I need in the fridge any given day.


                            • #15
                              I noticed cramps when I tried to eat sugar alcohols.
                              The first day of Primal I was like yay sugar alcohols! Now that I am 7 weeks in I don't get the cramps. After tracing it down to the sugar alcohol I eliminated them from my diet. They cause dehydration which causes your body to tighten which causes cramps. Research helped me understand that. Also the first night after eating around 50grams of sugar alcohol I nearly ended in the hospital.. never again will I do that.