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Does anybody know the kind I am talking about.....crippling calf/foot/leg cramps waking me up in the middle of the night. I have no idea if there's any truth to this but I used to get these and my doctor told me it had to do with a potassium deficiency and that I should eat bananas. Obviously, I have severely cut down on my banana intake since I started this two weeks ago. Or maybe potassium is not the issue at all. I have no idea.... any advice?

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I used to have those crippling cramps, but, come to think of it, I have not had any since I started taking a potassium supplement. I ate lots of food that is high in potassium - still do - but still got cramps. I don't know why.

Bananas are number 10 on the list of top 10 foods that are high in potassium: http://www.healthaliciousness.com/articles/food-sources-of-potassium.php Spinach, acorn squash, salmon, avocado, and mushrooms are Whole30-compliant foods that are higher on the list.

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I also get these nightly. Only in my left leg, and only for the past year, which, coincidentally, was a year in which I was recovering from back surgery. A ruptured disc (l5-s1) was crushing the sciatic nerve in my left leg (same leg) for months -- yes, this was excrutiatingly painful. I have to believe this is left over nerve damage from that. It's just too much of a darn coincidence. Any of that sounding at all similar to anything that's happened to you? FWIW I had them before, during, and after my whole30, with no change one way or the other. I've also been told it can be caused by dehydration, but dehydration doesn't last a year (at least for me).

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I frequently get leg cramps at night as well. They started after I pulled both of my calf muscles while on swim team in high school. Since then I wake up with the blinding calf pain every once in a while. Sometimes it's so bad I can't walk the next day. I have been told by doctors that the following will help with preventing cramps: a teaspoon on yellow mustard during the cramp (I find this gross!), tonic water with quinine before bed, or more potassium. Unfortunately the tonic water is out since it contains sugar. I'm not sure about the mustard since I don't use it and haven't bothered to check the ingredients.

I have also been told that when the cramp starts you should actually "help" the muscle cramp up. The muscle will feel like it is really small and tight. To help the muscle cramp I take my right hand under my knee and my left just at the bottom of the calf muscle and gently push my hands towards the muscle. This will hurt a lot but will stop the cramp sooner. You want to make sure you are gentle with this.

Good luck!

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I actually came to the forum today to research this. I used to have leg cramps when I was younger, but haven't had them in years. I am on day 8 of Whole 30 and about 2 nights ago (right after the "hangover" day) they came back in full force. After the first night I started taking Potassium supplements, but so far that hasn't helped. I have been tossing and turning getting to sleep with restless leg syndrome, and then wake up with legs especially tight and cramped and lots more general body aches in lower back and neck. I haven't changed anything else in my life lately, just the diet. Not sure what else to do, but this is reducing my quality of life/sleep!

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I had a severe leg cramp one night a week or two ago (during the second week of my W30, I think). I hadn't had one since I was on fertility meds. Some people say it's a magnesium deficiency rather than a potassium deficiency. I've been having a banana every few days and trying to have dark green leafy veggies daily (altho' this doesn't always happen) since the cramp and have only had minor toe cramps since then.

I can usually get the cramp to stop by standing on the cold floor or flexing my foot for a bit (pushing down on heel, opposite movement from pointing your toe).

Good luck.

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I suffered from terrible, daily foot cramps, and weekly calf cramps for 7 years. I asked all of my doctors (GP, Gyn, Chiro, dentist, new GP) what could be causing it, and nothing they suggested worked. Last summer I found out I was severely deficient in vitamin D. (And I live in Florida!) I started taking 5,000 IU daily and have had 2 foot cramps since (right after starting back at boot camp). If you research foot cramps, it doesn't come up. But if you research Vit D deficiency, cramps come up.

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Wow - it's so great to see so many others have this problem. I've had foot and lower leg cramps nightly for many many YEARS. The first thing to do is check your shoes - I've gone up a 1/2 size and have seen a huge improvement, and before whole30, 3 vitamin waters a week really helped a ton. But when I started this diet in early Feb they got markedly worse again, I guess because I can't have the vitamin water, just not so much in my feet as in ankle to calf. I think it's an electrolyte plus vitamin issue, and have been boosting the amount of greens and mushrooms, plus taking magnesium (which I don't think helps because I've been taking it from the very beginning of this diet), but added 4k/day Vit D after lab results showed I was at the very bottom of normal despite supplementation. Guess what, it's better!! I also have multiple sclerosis, and for years blamed the cramps on spasticity due to MS. But now I know better - check the fit of your shoes if the cramps are mostly in your feet - then boost your greens and Vit D. Good luck!

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Day 16... Nighttime restless legs are getting better for me, but I am getting calf cramps which are debilitating in the day now. I've been taking extra D and Potassium, so I guess I will try the magnesium next. This really only started for me since starting the Whole30, not sure what to do as this is really the healthiest I have eaten in many years. I don't want to go back to eating crap to get rid of these.

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Cramps, Cramps and more Cramps. I have them every night, sometimes 3-4 times a night. This had gone on for years. I have tried eveyyhing under the sun and nothing has worked for any length of time. I am currently seeing a Chiro who is going to do do some food senstivity testing on me.I do use a liquid product called leg relaxer by nature's rite and it helps some but at this point I am willing to try anthing. Thanks for all of your stories. I do not feel like i'm the only one suffering here.

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Just want to report back...One day on magnesium and they are 90% gone! I went out at lunch after I posted previously and purchased some. I was greatly improved by the time I went home for the day! Thank goodness! RLS hadn't been as bad as it was 5 days ago, but was gone last night.

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For me, it's magnesium. Didn't matter how much potassium I ate/took, they didn't go away. If I keep up with the magnesium, they don't come back (plus I sleep better in general).

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I too started having leg cramps since doing the Whole30, it's really messing with my sleep.  I started taking Magnesium well before the Whole30.  I also eat a lot of asparagus which has lots of Potassium.  I am also waking up a lot to urinate which I never used to.   Any suggestions would be appreciated. 

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4 hours ago, fatgirl said:

I too started having leg cramps since doing the Whole30, it's really messing with my sleep.  I started taking Magnesium well before the Whole30.  I also eat a lot of asparagus which has lots of Potassium.  I am also waking up a lot to urinate which I never used to.   Any suggestions would be appreciated. 

We would need significantly more information to give suggestions... what have you been eating aside from magnesium and asparagus?  A few days of intake including portion sizes related to the template, specific veggies, protein, fat and fruits, water intake, pre-existing medical conditions etc... 

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I am on Day 18 and for the last two nights have had cramping in my calves and they remain sore in the morning. I am seeing a lot of earlier posts about potassium and magnesium being the culprits. What do others think and what daily dosage of each should I be looking for in either food or supplements?

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Potassium, magnesium & sodium will all prevent cramping. Much of the western world is magnesium deficient so a magnesium supplement wouldn't go amiss - you can get a combi one with added calcium if you're not eating things like salmon or sardines with the bones in, or dark leafy greens like collards, spinach & kale regularly too. Natural Calm original is the favoured one around these parts, but a decent magnesium citrate, a transdermal spray, or even epsom salt baths work equally well.

Bananas & avocado are great sources of potassium, and you should be salting all of your food as sodium intake can drop by up to 70% when switching from SAD to a whole food diet.

Hope this helps :)

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I just woke up with a very painful calf cramp. R1D5. I don't think I've ever had one before. Maybe while pregnant, but my babies are teens now so I don't even remember. I've been eating several servings of spinach and/or kale since I started and drinking plenty of water so I don't think potassium or hydration should be the issues based on the thread above? But I might try a magnesium supplement and hopefully avoid having another one because OUCH!

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Nightly leg cramps suck! I have peripheral neuropathy. In the past I have a few calf and foot cramps each month. I wonder if the two are connected. Also, noticed that cramps have been more often in the last two years after I turned 48. We are on day four and I have had cramps every night that wake me nearly screaming.

  • Day one: single cramp in right calf
  • Day two: five cramps (one about every ninety minutes)
  • Day three I started taking potassium and magnesium supplements: one mild cramp
  • Day four (today) I am going to try increasing sodium (salt) intake and see if that helps.

On day three I started standing for several hours (my desk elevates) during work to break-up the sitting all day. Tonight (day four) I'm also going to do a stretching routine before climbing into bed.

The American Heart Association recommends, "no more than 2,300 milligrams a day and an ideal limit of no more than 1,500 mg per day for most adults."

I'm also going to shoot for 2,000 mg sodium today, which is just under a teaspoon each day.

Hopefully I can hack away these cramps, because this loss of sleep is tough.

-Vaughn

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I used to get them pretty bad, still do sometimes. The ones at night would have me bolt out of bed, trying to alleviate it. Another time, I got one while driving; of course it was my right foot/leg. I had to pull over and wait awhile. I asked a podiatrist; he pretty much said I have bad "engineering" of my feet; my skeleton, especially feet bones, is not the best to my muscles, and so I'm likely to have more feet/leg cramps.

I haven't had them too frequently recently, but now I'm on day 15 and the past day or so, I've been getting one along my right shin. I've had it since about last night. It's still tense but not debilitating.

Here's some tips I know about to help alleviate cramps at the moment:

- If you get one in your sleep, you can try pointing your toes up towards your face to help ease the cramping. It tends to work for me usually. It's better than bolting up to stand, disrupting whoever else is sleeping next to you, and leaving the warm comfort of your bed.

- Sometimes it helps sitting down with a leg out in front of you and pulling on your toes. I'd take my shoes off to do this. 'Specially helps with feet cramping.

- The ones along your shin, or if nothing else helped your other types of cramps, you give it a sort of massage. But it's more of a squeeze-and-release repetitive motion. Squeeze, let go. Squeeze, let go. Just keep "massaging" it that way, decently firm/hard squeezing with your fingers, not a constant massage. 

Otherwise, I would find drinking water would help subside it as well... If I noticed more cramps than usual, I'd up my water intake.

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