Three Weeks to Go - Nutrition
Nutrition Tips Series
Developed by Lisa Lovejoy, Sports & Wellness Dietitian
3 Weeks to Go!
Many of you have likely experienced muscle cramping during or after a workout and wonder what it is and how to prevent them. Muscle cramps are often a result of dehydration. To prevent dehydration-induced cramps, maintaining optimal hydration levels before, during, and after workouts is essential (refer to “eight weeks to go tip”). Limit your intake of dehydrating beverages including alcohol and caffeinated beverages. Monitor your urine color and output, aiming for clear, pale yellow and copious urine.
An electrolyte imbalance (low potassium or sodium) is also a possible cause for muscle cramping. Low potassium can be avoided by eating potassium-rich foods on a regular basis (fruits, vegetables, dairy). Although it is unlikely to become deficient in potassium as a result of sweat losses, including fruits, vegetables, and dairy is not a bad idea. Low sodium is also unlikely to occur unless salt is being restricted in the diet or you are losing significant amounts of salt in sweat from longer bouts of exercise. Not overly restricting sodium intake when you are doing frequent, higher intensity exercise, may help to prevent cramping from occurring due to low sodium.
Cramping could very likely be related to a non-nutritional factor, including overexertion or inadequate conditioning. Relief from cramping is usually achieved through rest, massage, and stretching.