Cramps are involuntary, localized muscle contractions that are often painful. Leg cramps typically affect the calf muscle, though they can occur in other parts of your leg as well.
These contractions commonly occur at night and can last seconds to minutes. Most leg cramps are over in less than a few minutes.
Although their exact cause isn’t always clear, multiple factors, including pregnancy, medical treatments, insufficient blood flow, and the use of certain drugs, may increase your risk.
The keto diet may make you more susceptible to leg cramps for several reasons:
Too little electrolytes
A potential cause of leg cramps is an electrolyte imbalance.
Electrolytes are minerals that are essential for critical functions in your body, such as cell communication. They include sodium, magnesium, chloride, potassium, calcium, phosphate, and bicarbonates.
If your levels become depleted, your nerve cells may become more sensitive. In turn, this leads to pressure on nerve endings, which may cause muscle spasms.
When adapting to the keto diet, your body may lose more electrolytes through urination in response to decreased levels of blood sugar and the hormone insulin.
This loss is typically greatest during the first 1–4 days of transitioning to keto, so muscle cramps related to electrolyte imbalance may be worse during this period.
People transitioning to the keto diet often urinate more due to factors like reduced insulin levels and increased sodium excretion. In turn, increased urination can lead to dehydration, another potential cause of leg cramps.
Dehydration is one of the most common keto side effects and may thus increase your risk of leg cramps.
All the same, evidence is mixed and more studies are needed
Aside from leg cramps, other symptoms associated with the keto diet include headaches, constipation, and fatigue — collectively known as the keto flu.
These symptoms may likewise be caused or worsened by dehydration and electrolyte imbalances, making prevention all the more important.
The best way to prevent and treat leg cramps on keto is to ensure that you’re eating nutritious foods, supplementing if necessary, and staying properly hydrated. Here are a few tips…