I'm afraid I still haven't perfected my strategy so I end up waking up at 2:00 AM with painful muscle cramps, taking Nu Salt mixed in water and waiting and waiting for the cramps to settle down. I'm getting kind of sick of it though and would like to know what is your best strategy for avoiding them in the first place? Are you able to do it solely by diet? What are your go to foods? Do you regularly supplement with potassium? How much? Any other strategies that you use? I think my problem is that I don't want to get too much potassium so I end up not using it until it's too late and I'm already cramping.
Dr. Michael Eades just addressed this issue on his blog recently: Tips/Tricks for Starting or Restarting Low Carb Pt II
It finally occurred to me that my cramping problem might be due to dehydration and that the diet tonic that solved the problem did so not because of the quinine but because I was drinking all the water the quinine was dissolved in. And it occurred to me that the cramping was worse in the middle of the night because a lot of water is lost through the breath at night. (See my second post on the Anthony Colpo Smackdown to read more about this.) You can lose a couple of pounds during sleep simply by breathing water vapor away, which was, I’m sure, what was happening to me. I was barely hydrated enough to prevent cramping while awake, but when I slept and my fluid level fell due to my breathing water away, I hit some critical threshold of fluid that kicked off the cramps.
I started rehydrating first thing in the morning and throughout the day. Now I get up, drink anywhere from 16 to 32 ounces of remineralized water (more about which later) first thing. Then I head to the espresso maker and start my daily Americano regimen. But I consume at least 8 ounces of sparkling water after each cup of coffee. And I drink water after each shot of Jameson and/or glass of wine (or any other alcoholic libation),* and I’m proud to report that I have been cramp free since upping the water.
Personally I have found great relief from cramps in the middle of the night from popping a multi-vitamin (which I save for this occasion only). Unfortunately this is a band-aid since I still have to deal with the cramp and waking up in the middle of the night to do it.
I think Dr. Eades is onto something though. Since I've been very well hydrated I haven't gone through this in a while.
According to Dr. Carolyn Dean lo carb (or at least high protein) can cause magnesium wasting, which could definitely cause muscle cramps. When I was preggo I would get crazy leg cramps at night and Thorne CalMag Citrate totally saved the day. Knowing what I know now though I probably only needed the supplemental magnesium. You can rub either magnesium oil directly on the muscles or take an Epsom Salt bath if you have any trouble with oral magnesium.
When I first started eating low-carb, I was told to sprinkle a little bit of salt substitute (half-sodium chloride, half-potassium chloride--I used Morton's Lite Salt) on my food to get rid of the muscle cramps in my legs and it worked like a charm.
Late the other evening, I was a little hungry and craving something salty. This is unusual for me because I don't often crave things. I had not eaten almonds for a long time but remembered I had seen a small bag of them in the back of a cupboard, so I dug them out and ate a few handfuls. (They were not very nice and when I looked at the back of the bag after eating them, they turned out to be 2 years out of date! lol). They were not salted and did not satisfy my salt craving. I then ate a few pumpkin seeds (not salted). My craving was still not satisfied so I ate a chicken drumstick. I no longer felt hungry but the salt craving was still there. For some reason, I did my best to ignore it and went to bed shortly after. Five or six hours later, I got woken up by cramp in my left calf muscle. This seemed to show me that my body was craving salt for a very good reason and I really should have listened to it. I have given advice to other people that they should listen to their body concerning water and salt cravings, in the past but didn't take my own advice on this occasion and paid the price! (slaps own forehead).
I have a salt substitute. Radisson Sal Especial. I don't know if this particular brand is available outside of Spain but there are plenty of other similar products in supermarkets. I very rarely use it on food but sometimes take a quarter teaspoon of it with a little water if I have been sweating a lot and feel hints of cramp or dehydration (my work is very physical). The ingredients are potassium chloride, sodium chloride, malic acid and magnesium carbonate.