Leg Cramps And The Paleo Diet

Both Paleo enthusiasts and skeptics are highly concerned about issues related to leg cramps. In fact, it is major concern for those who start out new on Paleo diet. However, leg cramps may also occur after a few months of starting with Paleo diet. Most people experience a sensation in legs that usually starts on the calf muscles further radiating to the shins.

Leg Cramps And Its Association With Paleo Diet

Leg cramps are essentially caused when muscles become unable of relaxing appropriately. This generally occurs when actin and myosin do not get fully detached and inhibits the process of muscle relaxation. For appropriate actin and myosin detachment, body requires Adinosin Tri Phosphate and magnesium. Absence of any of these disrupts the process of muscle relaxation and leads to leg cramps.

There can be several other reasons of leg cramps including sodium depletion, sodium intoxication, oxygen deficiency and oxygen intoxication. Potassium depletion, vitamin D deficiency, calcium deficiency and vascular diseases can also be some reasons behind leg cramps.

People following Paleo diet, may experience leg cramps in the beginning. Such an uncomfortable experience is generally a result of change in food habits. However, Paleo diet helps people take better control of insulin, helps in weight loss and aid in maintaining blood pressure. This is due to the fact that Paleo diet contains very less sodium. However if leg cramps are severe, Paleo dieters may increase salt intake for a few days. Vitamin D, vitamin B, calcium and the magnesium supplements can also be taken.

Leg Cramps Remedies

If you are a Paleo dieter and experiencing leg cramps, it is recommended that you first start physical home remedies. Some of these remedies include stretching of legs, massaging with hot oil and alternating hot and cold compress. In case, there is either no or very little relief, switch to basic supplements of minerals and vitamins. Minerals and vitamins efficiency may lead to irregular muscle functions.

If leg cramps are painful, try calf stretching exercises. You can do it by standing against the wall and placing your hands on it. Now try pulling your left leg gently such that your heel is on the floor and the knee is straight. Repeat the same for your right leg.

In case, there is very little relief from physical therapy and exercises, try making some food adjustments. Low carbohydrate diet is generally low in potassium, sodium and magnesium. Supplement your diet with some salt so that you have enough sodium and other minerals. You can gradually decrease the salt intake after few months. In case you do not experience any relief, give up the diet for some time as it can be a natural effect of going on in low-carbohydrate diet. Alternatively, supplement your diet with magnesium rich foods such as sardines, almonds, tomatoes, spinach, broccoli, pork chops, Chinese water chestnuts, winter squash, apricots and honeydew melon.


  1. Timestacker says:

    Don’t see tofu mentioned in any of the paleo diets. How come.

    • Paul says:

      Tofu, made from soy, is one of the annual monocrops , along with wheat and corn, that should be avoided as part of a healthy diet. these are all sold as health foods, but in reality are not really suitable for human consumption, causing all sorts of health issues such as obesity and heart disease.

      And as such is definitely not part of the paleo diet. A quick check for food suitable for humans is to ask ‘is it edible in it’s raw form?’ if you can answer yes, then there a a reasonable chance it’s part of paleo (or comes under the ‘okay’ category, eg dairy). Of course if you choose to cook it, or eat it raw then that’s up to you! (oh, and meat, even chicken, if freshly killed can be eaten raw FYI)

  2. Vicki says:

    I am finishing my 4th week on the paleo diet. I’ve been studying nutrition and teaching classes for 25 years. After reading the book and many of the studies, it just all made so much sense. I am not over weight (5’8 – 126 pounds) and I wasn’t having any real health problems except for occasional joint pain and heartburn . Since going strictly paleo, I’ve experienced more heartburn and the last 2 days I’ve had nausea and stomach cramps off and on. Is this normal? I don’t want to give up but I don’t want to feel bad either. On the bright side, I’ve had very little joint pain!

  3. Patricia says:

    I did have leg cramps when started following Paleo, but nothing serious. It went away with regular exercise. Yes, eating magnesium rich foods does help, my favorite choice is spinach and broccoli

  4. Tim says:

    Dill pickles! I hear it has to do with the balance of electrolytes but I really don’t care WHY it works so much as that it does: Dill pickles and pickle juice will melt your cramping calves in minutes. I always keep some on hand when I’m doing sprints (or going to my Aikido class) during the summer. Ten minutes max for my cramps to completely release, often they ease in mere seconds. Also, stay away from the sweet pickles unless you make them yourself as they are typically sweetened with corn syrup.



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