Everyone who loves to train recognizes the feeling of sharp pain during exercise.
Ohhh NO!!! Muscle cramps again!
What to do? How can we prevent it and how does nutrition contribute to muscle cramps during workouts?
What is a "muscle cramp"?
Muscle contractions are a familiar phenomenon in sports, but a very unpleasant one that could force you to stop the activity. There are several nutritional causes for sharp muscle contractions (cramps) during sports. In the following article, I will include three main reasons and provide nutritional solutions.
1) Lack of energy - When you do not eat well before the activity, quick loss of energy can occur that may lead to a problem in the contraction mechanism in the muscle. The available energy in the muscle for an intensive activity is carbohydrates. If you are on a low-carbohydrate diet or simply didn't eat right before the training, the risk of muscle contraction is high. If the phenomenon is repeated in exercises, make sure to have an energy supply during the exercise.
What to do? Eat available carbohydrates every 30-40 minutes. For example: banana, dates or energy bar.
2) Insufficient drinking – Perspiration can cause dehydration due to dry/hot weather or insufficient drinking for the workout's load/intensity. A combination of the two may pose a serious health problem, including muscle contractions.
What to do?
Make sure to drink at least 1/2 liter of fluids for each hour of activity. If it's a hot day, drink one liter and more for each hour of exercise. You can drink water and/or sport drinks in combination.
3) Shortage of minerals – Minerals are important for preventing muscle contractions, including magnesium, sodium (salt), calcium and phosphorus. They are lost in perspiration during activity, and may disturb the important electric balance in the contraction mechanism inside the muscle.
What to do?
Isotonic drinks- Combine isotonic drinks (sports drinks) during exercise to provide salts and carbohydrates. For long trainings in hot weather, drink isotonic drinks and water to make sure you have enough fluids and salts in the body.
Food- Essential minerals are also found in many foods and therefore food can be used as a good source of minerals, especially to prevent during and post-exercise cramps. For example: banana, fresh and dried fruit, tuna, peanut butter, almonds, nuts, legumes, whole grains, yogurt, milk, etc. If you suffer from muscle cramps in the hours after the exercise and even during the overnight sleep, try to incorporate more foods from this list in your menu.