10 Foods That Help With Muscle Cramps
Muscle cramps are a common (and annoying) occurrence in the human body. You've probably experienced one yourself, and if you came to this article, then you're looking for a way to relieve muscle cramps naturally with food. Well, guess what, you're in luck! Here at TSK we always recommend a food first approach and we've lined out the top 10 foods that help with muscle cramps.
What Causes Muscle Cramps
Often times, in active individuals and athletes, muscle cramps are commonly caused by an electrolyte balance, dehydration, and poor nutrient delivery from diet. By making sure you stretch pre- and post-workout, eat whole foods, drink plenty of water, and replenish electrolytes from what you lose during exercise or in the intense heat, you should be good to go.
10 Foods That Help With Muscle Cramps
Dark, leafy greens should be a staple in your food routine, not only because of their fiber content, but because of their stores of calcium and magnesium. While vital for overall functioning, regularly eating foods like broccoli, kale, spinach, other salad greens and green vegetables can help with muscle cramps AND menstruation cramps so that you can stay in the game even when on your period.
Papaya is interesting because it has been studied relatively well due to its rich potassium and magnesium contents. While it is often not available or very expensive in areas that are not near a tropical area, this food source may not be the most sutainable, but may more so be a good go-to when you’re traveling or looking for a fun fruit alternative.
Beets are packed full of something called nitrates, which are compounds that help improve blood flow, blood circulation, and blood vessel function, which is essential for your body not only at rest, but during activity. By improving your overall blood flow and circulation by incorporating more beets into your diet, you can effectively prevent muscle cramps. If you don’t like beets, then we recommend supplementing with a greens + reds powder that contains many of the foods on this list and minerals for overall wellness, athletic performance, and of course, preventing muscle cramps.
Sweet potatoes can provide some pretty sweet relief from muscle cramps. Similar to the banana on this list, they’re full of potassium, magnesium, and calcium. In addition to providing these crucial minerals, they’re also rich in water, antioxidants, and are great for building really quality muscle from your workout.
RECOMMENDED: CLEAN CARBS supplement - powdered sweet potato, yam, oat, and blueberry powder easily mixable in water or with water and protein powder for a complete post workout.
Fermented Foods and Brines
Brines and fermented foods, like pickles, kimchi, sauerkraut, and peppers, are pretty great at rapidly replenishing sodium lost through exercise and sweat. You might see on social media athletes and bodybuilders drinking straight out of a pickle jar. While it might not be for the faint at heart, if you’re looking for an immediate release of muscle cramps, you might want to have a tablespoon or two of the brine.
Bananas have been a long time go to food for helping prevent and alleviate muscle cramps because they’re packed with potassium. Not only that, but they also have calcium and magnesium, which are two other minerals crucial for proper muscle functioning.
Watermelons are pretty much water, with about 10% of them being delicious and nutritious. They can help with muscle cramps by delivering potassium specifically to the body. Other melons, like cantaloup, can also deliver magnesium, calcium, sodium and water to the body to replenish what you lose through sweat and help prevent dehydration, especially when they’re ripest during the hot months of summer. Watermelon is also a nitric oxide booster.
RELATED: What are Nitric Oxide (NO) boosters?
Deliciously nutritious, coconut water is often an athlete favorite because of the drink’s electrolyte content that exists naturally within it. It contains calcium, potassium, phosphorus, magnesium, and sodium, which are all crucial electrolytes for proper and healthy muscle functioning, including preventing muscle cramps.
While salmon doesn’t deliver a ton of minerals like the other foods on this list, what salmon can do is help improve circulation and blood flow. We recommend adding in salmon, or other types of fish, into your diet a few times a week to reap the benefits and help prevent blood flow circulation problems that lead to muscle cramps.
Greek yogurt is a good go-to food for preventing muscle cramps thanks to the protein and carbohydrate content. You can eat a container or cup pre- and post-workout to help your muscle tissue perform and recover.
Supplements That Help With Muscle Cramps
Research supports that by replenishing the body with nutrients such as sodium, magnesium, B vitamins, vitamin D, and potassium, you can prevent muscle cramps.*
B-Vitamins For Muscle Cramps
Our bodies use B vitamins for health at the cellular level, cardiovascular function, overall wellbeing, energy production, the conversation of food into energy, as well as brain and nerve function. The best way to take B vitamins is in a B vitamin complex tablet, especially if you’re looking to relieve muscle cramps with B vitamins.*
RECOMMENDED PRODUCT: B Vitamin Complex (30 tablets) from Swolverine
Minerals For Muscle Cramps
If you experience nocturnal muscle cramps then you may be low on nutrients like magnesium and zinc. By having more of the minerals that your body needs for overall functioning, deeper sleep, and relaxation, you can alleviate the effects of muscle cramps and potentially prevent them altogether.*
If you suffer from menstrual cramps, there is some research that points to zinc and magnesium deficiencies making these types of muscle cramps worse. That being said, the research is unable to conclude if it is because of the nutrients’ influence on prostaglandins or if the mineral has anti-inflammatory effects on the uterus.*
RECOMMENDED PRODUCT: ZMT from Swolverine (60 servings) from Swolverine
BCAAs For Muscle Cramps
If you’re not getting enough nutrients from food and water alone, then chances are you’re also unintentionally breaking down muscle mass during your activity and starving the muscles of what they need to repair and rebuild themselves. Supplementing with a branch chain amino acid powder that has added sodium, potassium, and glutamine for optimal hydration and replenishment can be a great way to bridge the gaps in your nutrition and to prevent muscle cramps.
RECOMMENDED PRODUCT: BCAA + Electrolyte Powder - Lemon Lime (50 Servings) from Swolverine
10 Foods That Help With Muscle Cramps: Takeaway
While we do always recommend a food first approach to your health, fitness, and muscle cramp prevention, as you can see the common theme here is increasing your micronutrient (vitamin and mineral) delivery. Electrolytes such as sodium, potassium, magnesium, and calcium are essential for proper muscle function and contraction, and when you're regularly eating whole, natural foods, you can effectively reduce and prevent muscle cramps to train longer and harder.
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