The LCHF diet and Leg Cramps: How to stop night cramps while Banting
On this episode of The Ask Prof Noakes Podcast we chat to Prof. Tim Noakes about leg cramps on the Banting diet, particularly whilst sleeping. We learn where these leg cramps originate from and how to stop them.
How to stop night cramps
On this episode of the Real Meal Radio we chat about a question we get fairly often relating to the LCHF diet and it has to do with leg cramps on the Banting diet, particularly whilst sleeping.
The question was submitted by Andre Walters, and he also gave us a bit of background to go with it. He’s been following the Banting Diet for eight months, he’s 54 years old and He’s dropped a lot of weight.
He had a stent put into one of his coronary arteries four years ago. He had a double bypass. In total he’s lost 21kg, his waist line is down from 127cm to 101cm and he is feeling fantastic.
The only issue he has, is that he’s getting severe leg cramps, particularly at night that in order to remedy this, he needs to get up and walk it off and massage his leg.
Andre wants to know if leg cramps, particularly while sleeping, is normal on the Banting or LCHF diet and he wants to know if there is a way to alleviate the leg cramps?
Prof Tim Noakes: That’s a really interesting question because it’s very clear that cramping is more common in people eating the Banting or LCHF diet. Cramping is actually a brain phenomenon, or a spinal cord phenomenon. It’s not occurring in the muscle itself. It’s the nerve control that has changed and how the Banting diet could change the nerve control is beyond my understanding. But it’s clear that something’s happening and we do not pretend that it’s not happening.
Why do your legs cramp at night on the LCHF or Banting diet
So Andre is describing a real phenomenon. What Steve Finney, who’s one of the fathers’ of this diet, says is you do need to increase your salt intake, and Andre does not need to worry about increasing his salt intake, because if his blood pressure has come down, as it should on this diet, then it tells him that it was the carbohydrates that were driving his high blood pressure and not the salt. So he can take more salt.
What we can say is he just needs to stretch his calf muscles for ten minutes before he goes to sleep. Do some conventional runner stretches for the calf muscles, and start at ten minutes in the evening, and he’ll probably be able to drop down to five minutes and eventually he will need to do it only once every two or three days.
That will prevent all cramping. Stretching is well known as the cure for nocturnal or night leg cramps. Make sure you stretch before you go to sleep.