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Old 06-19-2013, 06:54 AM   #1
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Leg Cramps

I'm getting bad leg cramps at night when sleeping, any suggestions?
I'm a type 2 diabetic, try to follow a low carb diet, walk for exercise and work in my garden.
Not sure what to do with this problem. It comes and goes. I'll go for a period of time with really severe cramps in calf, ankle, feet. Then it stops for awhile. Seems kind of bizarre. <sigh>
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Old 06-19-2013, 07:51 AM   #2
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Not bizarre at all... you probably should supplement minerals. Potassium, magnesium, calcium and sodium. Many people find just adding more salt works. Are you eating enough vegetables?

A quick search can help you find lists of low carb, high potassium foods.
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Old 06-19-2013, 08:48 AM   #3
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my first suggestion is WATER. when the cramps hit, if you drink a couple of tall glasses of water do they go away? my leg cramps, thankfully infrequent but HORRIFYING when they happen are in my thighs, but water straightens them out pretty fast.

second, salt, I agree. especially if you are taking a diuretic and trying to keep blood pressure in check with low salt diet, on low carb that can be TOO MUCH. if you are in ketosis, you do not retain salt like carb eaters do and you can get really low.

best of luck! cramps are awful *hug*
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Old 06-19-2013, 09:30 AM   #4
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I've been having issues during the last week (after a spell at a conference where I let my water intake drop -- figured that out in retrospect). I am not sure what the final combo is that works. It may be another "YMMV." In the past, extra P did the trick for me, but I've started adding extra salt. I normally prefer unsalted food, so I've been drinking a tsp or two per day just in water. And also at night when cramps wake me. Sometimes, I drink a lite salt combo. I always take 6-8 of the 90mg tabs of P per day so that is kind of a constant. I also take a mag supplement once a day, and calcium once a day. So all said, it's a mystery to me. I am upping my water and my salt and my cramps are lessening a lot in magnitude, but it has been 9-10 days since I've slept through the night. My cramps are always legs but they move around a bit.

Some other suggestions include dill pickles and pickle water, or ACV (it does contain P, and I wonder if its other amazing properties are at work). Small amounts of quinine in tonic waters are suggested.
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Old 06-19-2013, 09:34 AM   #5
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I get up and go eat a pickle and drink a big glass of water. That seems to help.

It's all about me for a change!
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Old 06-19-2013, 07:42 PM   #6
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Drink 1oz of water per 2lbs of body weight each day MINIMUM.

Take calcium/magnesium supplements.

I exercise HARD 5-6 days per week and keep the leg cramps away by drinking at least 4 litres of Smartwater (my favourite) per day and taking cal/mag supplements. No potassium pills for me....
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Old 06-19-2013, 08:11 PM   #7
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Meenie50....Bless your heart! I had leg cramps so hard Friday night that my legs are still sore today, five days later. Plus I feel like I have snakes crawling around under my skin still. I read that it caused from stress, too much caffeine, and the need for minerals. I also think I drink too much water. I took a prescription diuretic..(not mine) for 3 days and I also read that it can be an after effect of that! I know one thing, it is a miserable thing! A night of interrupted sleep is too! I hope something works soon for you!!!
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Old 06-20-2013, 04:23 AM   #8
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I managed a night without cramping legs, so I am going to keep up with what I am doing. All things considered, I think extra salt is what is helping me most. Someone suggested that on this board when I first restarted in March. I was skeptical but I am coming around to that view. Potassium and sodium has to be maintained in a certain balance and I think when I got dehydrated on my recent travels that really upset the balance I had established.
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Old 06-20-2013, 08:26 AM   #9
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I found this earlier post from Reddarin, which says:

"Mineral depletion is the problem

Here is a post I did a week or so ago that might help you out. Keep in mind that after 6 weeks you are essentially starting from scratch body response-wise to LC.

Originally Posted by reddarin

Originally Posted by KittyMcKnitty
Low-carb diets tend to rid you of excess water initially, which is why they are so good for hypertension. However, some people lose too many electrolytes with that initial water flush.

That is very true about the initial release of fluids the kidney holds with a high carb diet.

Originally Posted by avid
Low carbers need to take in extra salt?
I knew that there was not restriction on salt
but I didn't realize it was actually part of the program
to purposely ingest it.
What's up with that?

This from reddarin: Yes. LC is not a low sodium diet. You should get 2 to 3 grams a day in. 5 grams is what you need but as long as you supplement with a couple of grams you'll get the rest from what you are eating.

You can get those extra grams from a couple of cups of broth.

It works like this:

High carb diets (for our purposes that is 60+ grams daily) are water retention diets. The kidneys hold on to water when you eat carbs.

Ketogenic diets (most LC diets - which excludes Paleo, SBD and JUDDD generally speaking because their carb limits are either non-existent or 50g+) are carb restricted so the kidney does not hold water. But you are still working up a thirst and drinking water, coffee, soda pop, whatever, so you are still shedding fluid.

Minerals are lost and since the kidney is not holding onto more fluid the minerals need to be replaced.

And the pecking order, in this case, is that salt is more important than potassium. So you excrete more potassium because the body is trying to conserve salt supplies because you are not getting enough unless you are cognizant of the need or just happen to be someone that salts the heck out of stuff in combination with a higher sodium menu of food.

At any rate, if you aren't getting your ~5 grams of sodium in your body sacrifices potassium which causes the hellish cramps. If you get too low on potassium and salt you get dizzy or headaches or both which is when everyone chimes in and tells you to drink some broth - which is salty.

We come full circle here and this, I think, is why the sodium requirement isn't very well known (unless you read it and believed it in Phinney's book) - if you salt your food and eat enough sodium rich food it never becomes an issue. On the other hand, if you are a low-sodium junky *you* are gonna have some painful familiarity with the exact contour of your calf muscle.

That is the case for me. I never have been a big fan of salting stuff. Just a little when I cook and I don't use much if any at the table. Until about 3 days ago when I got to that part in Phinney's book.

And I end with the usual disclaimer to be aware of your own health conditions before you zap yourself with a ton of salt.

Oh, 5 grams of sodium is 2 teaspoons of table salt. Most food logging sites will track sodium although you may have to set it up. Today I got 3 grams just from the food I ate."

Last edited by Patience; 06-20-2013 at 08:27 AM..
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Old 06-20-2013, 01:17 PM   #10
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When I only drink 1 cup of broth per day, I get cramps at night. When I drink two cups per day, I don't.
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Old 06-20-2013, 02:58 PM   #11
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One thing I've noticed is the sodium content of various broths is quite a bit different.
How much sodium are you getting per serving (assuming a serving is a cup).
Just curious.
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Old 06-20-2013, 04:12 PM   #12
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The only "issue" I have with what you quoted is this...

"That is very true about the initial release of fluids the kidney holds with a high carb diet." And... "Minerals are lost and since the kidney is not holding onto more fluid the minerals need to be replaced."

The initial loss of fluid is NOT from the kidneys. It's the water that's necessary to hold glycogen in storage in our liver, muscles and tissue. When you deplete your glycogen storage (and don't replace it) the water is no longer needed... and it is excreted. Not really important to this discussion, but misinformation should be corrected IMHO.
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