Leg cramps are the worst. Not just because of the pain, but because these tend to bring a disturbing halt in your daily activities till they are fully healed. And, you might just be worsening your already bad enough leg cramps without really knowing. How? Well, are certain foods trigger leg cramps or make them worse, and you might be consuming those foods without this knowledge. But before talking about what foods trigger your leg cramps, let’s take a look at some information regarding leg cramps.

What Are Leg Cramps And How Are they Caused?

Leg cramps are abrupt and unsolicited contractions of one or more muscles in the legs that are often harmless but can be quite painful. Numerous reasons can lead to leg cramps like too much intense exercise or workout, physical labor, dehydration, age factors, and even pregnancy; certain medical conditions like a thyroid issue, kidney failure, etc., are more likely to increase the risk of severe leg cramps. But besides these physical factors, the type of food you eat is also directly associated with the risk of getting painful leg cramps or worsening them. 

What Foods Trigger Leg Cramps?

Here is a list of all types of food that one should avoid while experiencing leg cramps and what you can consume in its place instead: 

1. Red Meat

Excessive red meat is highly likely to trigger muscle cramps, especially leg cramps due to its high nitrate content. 

  • Alternative to consider

Instead of red meat, consume more fish like salmon, tuna, sardines, herring, and anchovies. 

2. Refined Carbs

Refined carbs are something to steer clear of if you’re having leg cramps or if you don’t want leg cramps, then try consuming these as little as possible. And that includes white bread, rice, pasta, and other sources of refined sugar. This is because sugar and refined carbs tend to cause joint pain as well as inflammation. 

  • Alternative to consider

Switch to whole grains like wheat, quinoa, oats, millets, etc. 

3. Certain Vegetables

Vegetables like potatoes, peppers, tomatoes, and eggplant can also trigger leg cramps. All of these belong to the nightshade family and are believed to trigger swelling, inflammation, and joint pain quite frequently as they produce a toxin called solanine. 

  • Alternative to consider

Green leafy vegetables are the best alternative. Not only these help with leg cramps, but thanks to the numerous nutrients, antioxidants, and minerals they contain, consuming leafy greens like spinach, kale, broccoli, etc., is also going to be great for your overall body. 

4. Dairy Products

Dairy foods, especially milk, are rich in a very high level of protein and this type of protein content can very easily trigger inflammation and pain in the joints along with irritation. High saturated fats also lead to the same. This is why dairy products should be strictly avoided. 

  • Alternative to consider

Nut milk or soy milk, tofu, etc., are some plant-based dairy products that serve just right as alternatives. 

5. Citrus Fruits 

Although potassium is considered good for your health and body, fruits like limes, lemons, and grapefruit that tend to have a high content of citrus, are only going to end up making your leg cramps worse. 

  • Alternative to consider 

Have exotic fruits like bananas, mangoes, guava, and pineapples instead of eating citrus fruits. 

6. Salt 

This one of the worst ingredients to use in your food if you are having leg cramps because too much salt consumption leads to a drop in the fluid of your body and low sodium levels not only cause joint pain but also make you feel dizzy and nauseous. So, you want to avoid salt as much as possible. 

  • Alternative to consider

If it is seasoning and the taste of your food that you are worried about, then you can always use fresh herbs like thyme, rosemary, parsley, etc., and spices like cumin, turmeric, etc., instead of salt to add flavor and balance to your food. 

7. Refined Sugar 

Refined sugar is a big enemy as it contributes to leg cramps too. And baked and processed goods that contain lots of refined sugar like packaged muffins are to be strictly avoided. 

  • Alternative to consider

Instead of having packaged baked goods, simply bake at home so that you can use alternative ingredients like mashed bananas, honey, or unsweetened applesauce in the place of sugar, whole wheat flour, or coconut flour instead of white flour, etc. 

8. Eggs 

If you consume eggs then your risk of developing joint pain accompanied by swelling tends to increase a lot because the high content of saturated fat that eggs have causes joint paint. The yolk of the egg contains an acid known as arachidonic acid that is also likely to increase the risk of inflammation. 

  • Alternative to consider

Sunflower seeds, ground flaxseeds, sesame seeds, pumpkin, etc., are a bunch of great and healthy alternatives to eggs. 

9. Caffeine 

Caffeine increases the chances of mild dehydration which ultimately causes joint pain. Not only that, but too much caffeine can also lead to muscle spasms as well as muscle twitching. So, it is highly recommended to cut down your caffeine intake. 

  • Alternative to consider

Green tea, chamomile tea, matcha tea, or any herbal tea is way better than caffeine for that matter. You could even try lemon water, rose water, etc.

10. Fried Food

Fried food
Fried food

Greasy and fried food takes longer to digest and tends to cause inflammation, thereby triggering cramps. 

  • Alternative to consider

A quick and simple alternative to fried food is eating more grilled and roasted foods. You could also stir-fry your food and avoid cooking at extremely high temperatures. This is why diet tends to play a paramount role in the overall well-being and healthy functioning of your body. So, it is highly advisable to avoid all these foods that cause leg cramps and instead shift to a healthier alternative or foods that are anti-inflammatory. 

Also read- Leg Cramps