Coach Arlan Carroll
The Best Foods to Help With Muscle Cramps
Updated: Feb 22
If you find yourself cramping often, you should adjust your diet to help. Here is a list of the best foods to help with muscle cramps.
Affecting over 37% of the population, muscle cramps are painful muscle contractions. They usually last a few seconds or minutes and can affect any muscle in your body. Their causes include dehydration, certain medical conditions, intense exercise, and electrolyte imbalances.
It's quite frustrating to experience a muscle cramp, especially when you have built the stamina and strength to perform at your best. You have to look for the right remedy, which may include the best foods that help with muscle cramps to regain your performance.
For these reasons, including nutrient-packed foods can help prevent and stop cramping. Here are nine foods that you can take to deal with the spasms.
A common cause of muscle cramps is dehydration. For your muscles to function properly, you must always keep yourself hydrated. Water can prevent the cells in your muscles from contracting and developing into cramps.
Besides drinking water, you can eat watermelon for its incredibly high water content. The fruit is made up of 92 percent water and packed with lots of vitamins and minerals. It's a great snack option that keeps you hydrated throughout the day.
Watermelon is an excellent source of potassium and magnesium, which help balance electrolytes in the body. An electrolyte imbalance can affect normal bodily functions. It makes it very difficult for the body to respond well to fatigue and leads to overstimulated muscles.
One reason avocados are considered a super fruit is that they come packed with vitamins, fiber, and monounsaturated fat. In particular, they contain magnesium and potassium, which can help prevent and reduce muscle cramps. These minerals stimulate electrically charged substances in the body to help essential body functions.
Avocado is a great fruit to have after an intense fitness training activity. The fruit is rich in B vitamins and monounsaturated fats, which can help repair your muscles. It can also boost the body's metabolism as you prepare to have a proper meal.
Greek yogurt is among the best healthy dairy products you can take to prevent and ease muscle cramping. It has high potassium, calcium, and phosphorus content, which helps balance electrolytes in the body.
Calcium in Greek yogurt helps regulate contractions in the muscles. This allows them to function correctly. Taking too little calcium in your food can put you at risk of experiencing irregular heartbeat and muscle cramps.
Greek yogurt is a good source of animal protein needed to grow and repair muscle tissues. Taking this dairy product after working out can help recover certain nutrients. In turn, you'll recover quickly and be less prone to cramps.
Taking one or two cups of a low-fat variation of Greek yogurt daily can help you enjoy its nutritional benefits while maintaining your weight goals. Also, if you have hormonal imbalances or are prone to eczema or acne, seek your doctor's approval before taking Greek yogurt.
If you are looking for a natural-tasting drink to keep you hydrated and help replenish lost nutrients, coconut water should be your go-to solution. Compared to processed beverages like Vitamin Water, it boasts plenty of nutritional benefits. It comes packed with minerals like phosphorus, magnesium, sodium, potassium, and calcium, essential in balancing electrolytes.
Coconut water is one of the greatest remedies for muscle cramps induced by electrical stimulation in the body. Taking it after a strenuous workout can give your muscles the boost they need to stay in proper shape. You will also reduce the risk of experiencing workout or sports-related injuries.
Besides helping in hydration, coconut water is also beneficial to the heart, helps improve kidney health, and helps regulate blood sugar. It has fewer calories and is free of fat and cholesterol.
Adding fermented foods like kimchi and pickles to your diet can help with muscle spasms. They are a product of fermentation, in which yeast and bacteria break down sugars in food. Besides enhancing food preservation, fermented foods also improve the number of probiotics or beneficial bacteria in the gut.
Probiotics in fermented foods boast benefits such as increased weight loss, improved immunity, and improved digestion. They also improve muscle function and mass, reducing the susceptibility to cramping.
When drunk in small amounts, pickle juice can help reduce muscle cramping caused by electrolyte imbalances. You can also take sauerkraut and kimchi for the same effect.
One or two servings of fermented foods can help give your body the probiotics needed to improve your health. You can take them as a condiment with your meals or even have them before meals to improve digestion. Be careful not to take them in excess to prevent occurrences of diarrhea.
Beet greens are a great addition to any diet, thanks to their nutritional benefits. They are rich in iron, potassium, magnesium, B6, vitamin K, and fiber and can be consumed raw. These leafy greens also come packed with nitrates to help lower blood pressure and boost oxygen levels for enhanced athletic performance.
Including beet greens in your diet is a sure way to reduce your risk of developing muscle spasms. You can pair beet leaves with your favorite pasta recipe, soup, or protein to enjoy the nutritional benefits. Beet greens also pair well with classic dishes such as mashed potatoes, green bean casserole, and roasted beets.
Since beet leaves tend to be sandy, wash them in a water basin and swirl them repeatedly to dislodge soil particles. You can tell if the leaves are good by smelling and looking at them. If you spot any with mold or an off appearance or smell, don't hesitate to discard them.
On nutritional content, a cup of cooked beet greens comprises more than 20 percent of the recommended magnesium and potassium intake. The serving also contains B vitamins, phosphorus, and calcium, which are great for muscle health.
Salmon is known for its rich omega-3 fatty acids and protein content, so it can help prevent muscle cramps. This oily fish contains healthy anti-inflammatory fats, which can improve muscle function when paired with minerals such as phosphorus, magnesium, and potassium.
Six ounces of cooked salmon contains over 200 percent of the recommended daily intake of vitamin B12. A diet rich in vitamin B12 helps the body produce more blood cells to deliver oxygen to the muscles. Vitamin B12 also helps prevent muscle cramps, cognitive disturbances, dizziness, and fatigue.
Salmon is a great source of iron, which helps the body produce more blood cells. Iron also improves blood flow and circulation of oxygenated blood in the muscle tissues. When taken in the right amounts, it can prevent muscle cramping.
The vitamin D found in salmon is vital for muscle function. It helps reduce muscular symptoms such as muscle weakness, spasms, or pain when you strain your muscles.
While they may seem tiny, sardines contain essential nutrients for muscle function and development. Particularly, they are rich in magnesium, vitamin D, and sodium. They also contain potassium, phosphorus, iron, and calcium, which help prevent and remedy muscle cramps.
The high selenium content in sardines is essential for muscle function. This is because a lack of selenium can lead to muscular problems such as muscle weakness. Selenium augments calcium release in the body, thus improving the performance of the skeletal muscles.
Sardines are a good choice if you actively engage in strenuous physical activity and want to vary your protein intake. Besides high protein content, they are rich in omega-3 fatty acids, which help reduce inflammation and boost muscle recovery.
According to the FDA, two to three servings of sardines (up to 12 ounces for adults and up to 6 ounces for children) a week are enough. Including them in your diet can promote bone health and reduce the risk of becoming overweight.
Bone broth is a solution made from simmered animal bones mixed with water. You can add spices, herbs, or apple cider vinegar to the broth to improve its flavor and nutritional content. Either way, leave it to cook for a long time (up to 8 hours) to soften the connective tissues in the bones and extract collagen from them.
Bone broth can reduce your susceptibility to muscle cramping when included in your diet. It can keep you hydrated and provide your body with minerals like sodium, calcium, and magnesium. Bone broth is very rich in anti-inflammatory amino acids to reduce inflammation and improve muscle recovery.
Now You Know the Best Foods That Help With Muscle Cramps
Eating foods rich in various minerals and vitamins can help you prevent and recover from this discomfort. Be sure to include the best foods that help with muscle cramps in your diet for natural relief.
In the meantime, hire Arlan Carroll of AC Fitness and Sports Training for your training needs. You can count on Arlan for personal training, sports training, nutrition coaching, and remote coaching. Get started with personalized training today by scheduling a free consultation.