We’ve all been there. You’re in the middle of a good workout, and all of a sudden, you get a cramp on your side. Or maybe you’re out for a run, and your calf starts cramping up. Or you’re just sitting on the couch, and your foot starts cramping.
No matter how or when it happens, muscle cramps are never fun. But why do they happen? And more importantly, what can you do to prevent them?
It turns out that you can eat a few foods to keep those muscle cramps at bay. First, let’s take a look at what causes them. Then I’ll dive into the seven foods that help prevent them.
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Muscle Cramp Causes
There are many possible causes of muscle cramps. Sometimes they’re caused by dehydration or electrolyte imbalances. Other times, they can be caused by overuse, injury, or even vitamin deficiencies. And most times, they can be caused by the foods you eat. That’s right—certain foods can lead to muscle cramps. For example, alcohol, coffee, sugars, and sodium-rich foods can all trigger cramps.
Foods that may help prevent muscle cramps.
Here are seven foods that can help keep you cramp-free:
Bananas are rich in potassium, which is an electrolyte that helps regulate muscle contractions. When you don’t have enough potassium in your system, muscle cramps can occur. Therefore, eating 2-3 bananas a day can help keep your levels in check and prevent muscle cramps.
2. Sweet Potatoes
Sweet potatoes are a good source of potassium and magnesium. They’re also rich in fiber, which can help regulate digestion and minimize gastrointestinal discomfort that could contribute to muscle cramps. Include 1-2 sweet potatoes in your diet each day.
3. Dark Leafy Greens
Dark leafy greens like spinach, broccoli, and kale are packed with magnesium, another important electrolyte. Magnesium helps relax muscles, so Incorporating these greens into your diet may help prevent cramps.
4. Coconut Water
Coconut water is a great source of electrolytes, including potassium, magnesium, and sodium. These electrolytes are important for hydration and for preventing muscle cramps.
5. Pickle Juice
Pickle juice is a surprisingly effective remedy for muscle cramps. It contains vinegar and electrolytes that can help relieve the cramp quickly. That is why some athletes drink pickle juice after strenuous workouts.
Milk contains electrolytes such as calcium, potassium, and sodium. It also contains casein, which is a protein that helps build and maintain muscle tissue. Drinking 1-2 glasses of milk a day can help prevent muscle cramps.
Watermelon is not only refreshing and satisfying, but it’s also packed with nutrients that can help prevent muscle cramps. It is an excellent source of electrolytes like potassium and magnesium, which are essential for proper muscle function. It’s also 92% water, so it can help keep you hydrated and prevent dehydration-related cramping.
Also Read: Here’s Why Your Leg Cramps at Night
Frequently Asked Questions
Will eating these foods cure my muscle cramps permanently?
No, dietary changes will not cure your muscle cramps permanently, but they may help to decrease their frequency or severity.
What are the best foods to eat to prevent muscle cramps?
There are a few different types of food that can help prevent muscle cramps. One is potassium-rich foods, such as bananas, sweet potatoes, and avocados. Another is magnesium-rich foods, such as dark chocolate, nuts, and seeds. And last but not least are calcium-rich foods, such as dairy products and leafy greens.
Why do these foods help prevent muscle cramps?
These foods help prevent muscle cramps because they are rich in minerals that are essential for muscle function. Potassium helps muscles contract and relax properly, magnesium helps muscles maintain their strength and elasticity, and calcium helps muscles produce the energy they need to contract efficiently.
How much of these foods should I eat to prevent muscle cramps?
There is no set amount that you should eat of these foods to prevent muscle cramps. However, a good rule of thumb is to include them as part of a balanced diet. Eating a variety of these foods every day will ensure that your body gets the nutrients it needs to function properly and avoid muscle cramps.
What other things can I do to prevent muscle cramps?
In addition to eating the right kinds of food, there are a few other things you can do to help prevent muscle cramps. One is to stay hydrated by drinking plenty of water throughout the day. Another is to stretch regularly so that your muscles stay loose and limber. And last but not least is to warm up properly before exercise so that your muscles are less likely to be shocked into spasms by sudden exertion.
How can I treat a muscle cramp?
You can treat a muscle cramp by:
- Stretch the affected muscle gently and slowly until the cramp subsides.
- Apply heat or ice to the affected area for 10-15 minutes at a time.
- Massage the affected area with your fingers or a massage ball/tool.
- Take an over-the-counter pain reliever, such as ibuprofen (Advil) or naproxen (Aleve).
Muscle cramps can be frustrating—but they don’t have to be! By eating the right kinds of food and taking some simple precautions, you can help prevent them from happening in the first place.