5 Foods to Help Avoid Muscle Cramps (Plus 2 Busted Myths)

muscle cramps can largely be avoided. Besides training properly and not trying to bite off more than your body can chew, you can protect yourself with proper nutrition:

1. Potassium rich foods. Most Americans are deficient in potassium, a mineral that in conjunction with sodium helps regulate electrical signals to the muscles. Eat foods such as bananas, sweet potatoes, yogurt, white beans, and broccoli to boost your potassium intake.

2. Salty food. The body loses sodium through sweat, especially during prolonged exercise in hot weather. An energy drink will usually have some salt added, but other options during a workout are salt pills or munching on some pretzels.

3. Calcium rich foods. Low levels of calcium can lead to muscle cramps. Eat yogurt, sardines, turnip greens and dark leafy greens, cheese, and milk.

4. Carb-rich food and beverages during exercise – If your workout or competition lasts for over an hour, you may need to fuel up on carbs to avoid glycogen depletion. Glycogen is the immediate energy stored in your muscles. If the levels are too low, the muscle is fatigued and the chances of cramping are higher.

5. Pickle juice – many athletes report that pickle juice (and pickles) are good for preventing an alleviating muscle cramps. The exact mechanism is not quite understood yet.

Busted Myth #1: Studies on magnesium supplements and foods rich in magnesium have not shown them to be an effective means to reduce cramping in athletes.

Busted Myth #2: Mild dehydration does not cause cramping. In fact, most people over-hydrate before and during exercise, so don’t drink too much as a preventive measure.

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