Short Answer: It certainly can if you don’t have a well-formulated Ketogenic diet.
One of the more common complaints I hear from people new to the ketogenic diet is muscle cramps, especially in the legs at night. Just as a personal aside, I got the occasional leg cramp before I went keto but never had one after I started losing weight so it is entirely possible to avoid them.
Causes of Muscle Cramps
The most common causes of muscle cramps are dehydration and low electrolytes. Guess what you are very prone to in the transition stage of a ketogenic diet. That’s right, dehydration and low electrolytes.
When you start weaning yourself off the sugar and grains, your body begins to burn off its sugar stored in the form of glycogen. While a certain amount of that sugar is stored in the liver, the majority is stored in water in the muscles. As the body burns off sugar, it dumps the extra water the glycogen is stored in. This is why it is not uncommon to pee a lot during the early stages of keto adaptation.
As that water leaves the body, it takes with it electrolytes like potassium and sodium. This gives you the double-whammy of being low on both water and salts which can result in muscle cramping.
How to Fix Muscle Cramps
So what do you do? Well it’s a pretty easy fix. Drink more water and eat more salt. I would recommend against the highly processed salt like Morton’s that most of us use and spring for a more natural salt. My personal favorite is Redmond’s Real Salt. If you would like to see more reasons why you should up your salt intake, click here. For more reasons why you should drink more water, click here,
The reason why these problems will sometimes happen is people tend to get a hold of the low-carb part of the diet and miss the other components that make for a well formulated diet. Not only is it low-carb, but it is also moderate protein, high fat, high salt and high water. While I’m not sure “high water” is an actual medical or nutritional term, you get my drift. You must drink more water and eat more salt on this diet in order to maximize the benefits.
If you would like to read an entire book about salt, check out Dr Nicolantonio’s book “The Salt Fix”. A great and informative read.
If you have any questions, leave them in the comments and I’ll answer them as soon as I can,