2

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How many carbs do you eat on the days you get cramps in your feet?

Answered on August 19, 2014
Created March 11, 2013 at 2:12 PM

So, many of us get weird cramps and we are trying to figure out why. I have been under a lot of stress lately, so I tend to eat less. I noticed one day that my feet felt okay in the evening. I did have some carbs that day, but early, like 10 am, after I worked out. Probably somewhere between 20-40g from some Enjoy life chocolate chips. I think I had some fish later on that day, when I got home, and MCT oil. I was not very hungry.

The next day I went out to a coffee shop and on the way back I grabbed a bag of dates from the grocery store. I proceeded to eat all of them. This is something like 180 grams of sugar. A little later I got the cramps in my feet. I really hadn't had anything else to eat. I doubt it was the coffee; coffee intake may be too much but it was consistent across all these days. I had some chicken and bacon later that day.

So the next day I didn't have much to eat- similar to the first day I mentioned, but no carbs. The cramps did not happen, though a couple of times I thought they might. I've always thought it was electrolyte related, and since I tend to be low carb, I didn't associate it with carbs. But I can't remember if I had them during a period of ketosis, or if I just had them on the days where I did eat carbs.

Can you confirm or deny this hypothesis, with real life experience? Or, go eat a bag of dates and report if you get the foot cramps (assuming you suffer from this condition)? They came on about two hours later. I suppose you could drop carbs and see if you don't get cramps. It might be less painful, but it would take longer to figure out if this is the correct assumption.

Update: I went to the grocery store last night, still stressed, and basically starving by then, so I ate strawberries and had an 85% chocolate Lindt bar. I also had about a cup of pumpkin later on that night (and fish, but I doubt that's the relevant factor). I did get a cramp in my feet. It wasn't as bad as the day with the dates, but then it wasn't as much carbs either. So far, at least, the hypothesis is holding up. So, if you've got these sort of cramps, you can now use SCIENCE as an excuse to have a sugar binge. Come on people, cheat for a good cause. It would be great to put this mysterious cramp thing to rest forever.

UPDATE: Heavy resistance training appears to reduce this cramping. I suspect it is because I am building more muscle, thus there more space for the glycogen to be taken into, so it causes fewer problems.

7bf306ada57db47547e9da39a415edf6

(11214)

on April 10, 2013
at 04:03 PM

I ate six bananas yesterday. One of my toes went all crampy afterward.

7bf306ada57db47547e9da39a415edf6

(11214)

on April 02, 2013
at 02:20 PM

Hmm, I could try about the same amount of carbs with bananas and see if the foot cramps come again.

Cf416725f639ffd1bb90764792ce7b8a

(2799)

on March 13, 2013
at 03:48 AM

I suppose it could. I can't crank the mag really high to test that one or I get the runs. Mine are odd now in that I only get cramps on workout days an hour or so after a high carb cheat meal. It's a shame since workout day seems a good day to cheat.

7bf306ada57db47547e9da39a415edf6

(11214)

on March 12, 2013
at 05:43 PM

Also, overall carb intake may not, strictly speaking, be the issue here. It may be a certain threshold of them taken at one time.

7bf306ada57db47547e9da39a415edf6

(11214)

on March 12, 2013
at 05:41 PM

I tried potassium gluconate. It actually seemed to make things worse. I had a cramp in my chest that night that was particularly powerful, and everything else kept threatening to cramp too. It lasted a long time too.

7fc82eebafd44badc73c520f44660150

(3275)

on March 12, 2013
at 04:19 PM

@Rob: could it be the ratios? e.g. how much potassium relative to sodium, etc.?

7bf306ada57db47547e9da39a415edf6

(11214)

on March 11, 2013
at 04:31 PM

I do salt too. I put some in when I brew coffee and salt everything I eat. On these days when I am basically fasting, I probably need to remember to take salt; last night I sprinkled some in my mouth and it felt like the sort of thing I needed. But I didn't have any cramps yesterday, either.

7bf306ada57db47547e9da39a415edf6

(11214)

on March 11, 2013
at 03:28 PM

I supplement with Magnesium too, which is why I'm still casting about for reasons why these cramps happen. I get them in other places too occasionally. I don't know if they are all related. The ones I get in my chest are particularly weird. There is muscle close to the solar plexus that knots up. Feels like an egg.

Ce41c230e8c2a4295db31aec3ef4b2ab

(32564)

on March 11, 2013
at 02:24 PM

No connection to carbs/no carbs for me.

Ce41c230e8c2a4295db31aec3ef4b2ab

(32564)

on March 11, 2013
at 02:24 PM

No cramps after I started supplementing Magnesium. I used to get them in my legs all the time.

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7 Answers

1
96bf58d8c6bd492dc5b8ae46203fe247

(37227)

on April 02, 2013
at 02:12 PM

My solution for cramps is bananas. I don't have them every day, but if my muscles start getting jittery I buy a bunch and the muscles get happy. The bananas also seem to help when I need to be active in our Nevada heat.

7bf306ada57db47547e9da39a415edf6

(11214)

on April 02, 2013
at 02:20 PM

Hmm, I could try about the same amount of carbs with bananas and see if the foot cramps come again.

7bf306ada57db47547e9da39a415edf6

(11214)

on April 10, 2013
at 04:03 PM

I ate six bananas yesterday. One of my toes went all crampy afterward.

1
35ba1f50dad25c85ac1aa2599fe5c5cb

(2485)

on March 12, 2013
at 05:36 PM

I get foot cramps on 40 g of carbs a day and I get foot cramps on 150 g of carbs a day. Carbs seem to have almost zero effect. What does have an effect is electrolytes, getting enough potassium from food (even at 40g of carbs I eat a lot of veggies), getting adequate but not excessive sodium and taking a magnesium supplement before bed. However, in my case, I have some scar tissue in my foot from an old broken bone, so even best case scenario, I still get foot cramps, they're just less severe if I have adequate electrolytes.

7bf306ada57db47547e9da39a415edf6

(11214)

on March 12, 2013
at 05:41 PM

I tried potassium gluconate. It actually seemed to make things worse. I had a cramp in my chest that night that was particularly powerful, and everything else kept threatening to cramp too. It lasted a long time too.

7bf306ada57db47547e9da39a415edf6

(11214)

on March 12, 2013
at 05:43 PM

Also, overall carb intake may not, strictly speaking, be the issue here. It may be a certain threshold of them taken at one time.

1
A0c49f398499246c623e6527e9dd5ca2

(548)

on March 11, 2013
at 04:53 PM

Lyle McDonald wrote a nice article about muscle craps.

http://www.bodyrecomposition.com/nutrition/whats-causing-my-muscles-to-cram.html

I hope you'll find what causes your cramps in it.

1
5b9a25a1a676397a25579dfad59e1d7b

(2318)

on March 11, 2013
at 04:51 PM

I've been getting painful cramps in my calves and feet and I noticed it only happens after I eat lots of carbs (ex. extra sweet potatoes with my usual veg). For me its def not dehydration/electrolytes/potassium (I drink lots of water, coconut water and get potassium from my food sources). Working out doesn't seem to make a difference either.

1
2ad0d53ee3811fedf3e77535cd22dd6a

on March 11, 2013
at 04:13 PM

I get foot cramps from dehydration, usually immediately after or during a workout. I found increasing my salt intake has helped dramatically. I have very low blood pressure so sodium isn't a concern for me.

7bf306ada57db47547e9da39a415edf6

(11214)

on March 11, 2013
at 04:31 PM

I do salt too. I put some in when I brew coffee and salt everything I eat. On these days when I am basically fasting, I probably need to remember to take salt; last night I sprinkled some in my mouth and it felt like the sort of thing I needed. But I didn't have any cramps yesterday, either.

1
Cf416725f639ffd1bb90764792ce7b8a

(2799)

on March 11, 2013
at 03:11 PM

I get something similar and asked about it a while back, but got no replies. In my case it can't be electrolytes since I take high dose supplements.

7fc82eebafd44badc73c520f44660150

(3275)

on March 12, 2013
at 04:19 PM

@Rob: could it be the ratios? e.g. how much potassium relative to sodium, etc.?

Cf416725f639ffd1bb90764792ce7b8a

(2799)

on March 13, 2013
at 03:48 AM

I suppose it could. I can't crank the mag really high to test that one or I get the runs. Mine are odd now in that I only get cramps on workout days an hour or so after a high carb cheat meal. It's a shame since workout day seems a good day to cheat.

0
56c28e3654d4dd8a8abdb2c1f525202e

(1822)

on July 23, 2013
at 06:27 PM

I cramp only in my feet and only when swimming and mostly in summer. I exert much more vigorously when I play soccer, no cramps with soccer, ever. And neither when I bike or work in the yard.

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