Dr. Sarah Hallberg on causes and fixes for muscle cramps on a ketogenic diet

Dr. Sarah Hallberg on causes and fixes for muscle cramps on a ketogenic diet

August 2, 2019 13 By William Morgan


All right, what causes muscle cramps
on a ketogenic diet,
and how can I fix them?
– Well often muscle cramps are a sign
of decreased magnesium.
It can be decreased potassium too,
but often time the driver of
that is low magnesium levels.
Now I will tell you, you
hear talking about cramps
on a ketogenic diet, but honestly cramps
are one of the most
common conditions anyone
comes into a primary car
physician’s office for.
So they are universal, whether
you’re on a ketogenic diet
or not, and they can be
frustrating to people of all kinds.
They can impact young athletes,
and they can impact
people who are much older.
So it is not a problem confined to anyone
on a ketogenic diet,
but if you are on one,
or not, and having an
issue with muscle cramps,
magnesium is definitely
the number one thing
that you want to do, so supplement.
Our magnesium levels in our
population are low, period.
Again, this is not confined
just to a ketogenic diet.
Unfortunately our soil has less
magnesium in it these days,
and so we’re not getting as much naturally
as we used to hundreds of years ago.
So magnesium is a reasonable choice
for many people to supplement with.
And as I was talking about before
with the diarrhea question,
there’s a couple of different ways
that you can supplement with magnesium.
There are short acting
magnesium supplements
such as magnesium oxide,
and there are the longer
acting magnesium supplements
such as Slow-Mag.
And again, short acting can
sometimes cause diarrhea,
or loose bowels, so it
would be ideal for someone
who maybe has struggled with
constipation in the past.
But if you’re not having
any issues with your bowels,
and want to keep it that way,
Slow-Mag is a good option as well.
Now besides magnesium,
another potential problem
is that you’re not getting enough sodium.
So again, especially early on,
when you are beginning
a ketogenic lifestyle
it is fantastic to be making sure
that you are getting enough sodium.
How do you do that?
I mean, we recommend increasing
the salt in your food,
we recommend bouillon a
couple of times a day.
Or if bouillon isn’t
something that you enjoy,
or especially if it’s the
summer and really hot,
pickles can also be used to just ensure
that you’re getting the
sodium intake that you need.
– And it might be helpful to mention too,
that most of our magnesium
is stored within ourselves,
so when you do a blood test of magnesium
it may not appear that you
are deficient in magnesium,
but yet it still is one
of the most common causes.
– That’s a really good point.
And so a lot of times,
even physicians will judge
magnesium need based on a blood test.
But the blood test does not look
at magnesium intracellularly,
so there’s no good way to measure that.
And magnesium is very
difficult to truly overdose on.
I always give people the
example of when women
go into pre-term labor, and
they come into the hospital
and they’re trying to stop pre-term labor,
which of course is cramping,
right, of the uterus,
what do we give them?
We give them mega, mega
doses of magnesium IV.
And so magnesium, you
can’t gauge very well
through a blood test, so
if you’re having cramps,
take some and see if it
improves your symptoms.
– Cramps or twitches
or charley horses, or–
– Yeah, the whole nine yards, right?
‘Cause they can be problematic,
and always tend to occur worse
– [Both] At night.