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Question
Posted by: LesR | 2007/08/16

Leg Cramps - connected to starch?

Mu husband has been having severe leg cramps in the upper leg, and we have noticed that it always occurs after he has eaten a lot of potato, either mash or potato chips (fries) . I have never heard of potato giving anyone leg cramps, but we have absolutely ruled out anything else. Has anyone else had these symptoms related to potato?

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Our expert says:
Expert ImageDietDoc

Dear LesR
I must admit that I too have never heard that starch, esp in the form of potato can cause leg cramps. Generally cramps in the legs are caused by stiff muscles that can be counteracted by doing stretching exercises, or in some cases deficiencies in minerals like calcium, magnesium, potassium and/or sodium. Finally severe spasms in the extremities could be indicative of poor blood circulation and require medical treatment.
I do hope your hubby stops having these cramps.
Best regards
DietDoc

The information provided does not constitute a diagnosis of your condition. You should consult a medical practitioner or other appropriate health care professional for a physical exmanication, diagnosis and formal advice. Health24 and the expert accept no responsibility or liability for any damage or personal harm you may suffer resulting from making use of this content.

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Our users say:
Posted by: Anonymous | 2016/06/01

I am so glad I typed in potatoes causing leg cramps onto my search engine. I have been Paleo for about 3 months and haven't had any cramps. Well last night I had french fries. Omg. I thought I was going to die. The pain was excruciating from my groin, thigh to my feet. I couldn't stand up. I couldn't sit down. I just stood half bent over and hobbled into the kitchen. I was just grabbing whatever I could find. Puckles. Pickle juice. I swigged the whole juice from the jar. It worked. Took about 5 minutes but it stopped. I love potatoes. But they don't love me! My body can testify.

Reply to Anonymous | 1 comment (hide)
Posted by: Anonymous Woman | 2016/07/31

Yes, I have noticed it too and when the pain occurs, it is so severe that I was willing to go to the doctor for an immediate shot of relief. It has happened when I consume lemonade (purchased from Chickafila) and Honey Barbecue Chips by Lays. It is only alleviated when I take salt (just a pinch) or potassium supplements.

Posted by: Anonymous | 2016/01/19

Starch is a glucose polymer. We efficiently depolymerize it with salivary, and then pancreatic amylase. The blood absorption of glucose is then rapid (like the toll booth lane that doesn't have to stop). Once in the blood it promptly stimulates a release of insulin, whose job in part is to give glucose permission to leave the bloodstream and be taken up into body tissue. This is the stage where the cramps occur. The reason is that for every glucose molecule transported into a cell a potassium has to follow. You get transient hypokalemia low potassium) and trigger the neuromuscular irritability. Genetics and the days' activities will affect this no doubt, but try taking over-the-counter potassium tabs with your starchy meals. An example is potassium gluconate 595mg each - try two.

Reply to Anonymous | 5 comments (hide)
Posted by: kim | 2016/07/05

Thanks for info! I`ve been eating whole30 for months and for first time had corn tortilla chips and had an unbearable night with cramps in both feet. This makes sense.

Posted by: Camille | 2016/06/25

I ate a single banana at work yesterday. Then last night I ate a meal of many steak sized french fries with ketchup (neither are on my health plan) and woke up at midnight with calf and foot cramps. Took potassium citrate and magnesium citrate. Didn't help because I woke up again at 3:30 am with cramps. So I googled and found you guys, thank God. If it was a potassium deficiency, bananas and potatoes are both foods high in potassium, so I have to suspect the starch and/or the nightshades factor (the potato and ketchup both contain nightshades). Due to diabetes I'm not supposed to eat much banana or potato anyway, let alone sugary ketchup. But now I will be more aware. Another reason to stay on my food plan, right?

Posted by: Joy | 2016/04/27

Thank you. I have already known I can only eat a small amount of potato (oddly or banana) at dinner without having a night leg cramp, usually inner thigh. If I'm not overtired I wake up in time to carefully get to the refrigerator for a swallow of pickle juice. Works. The nurse at the gym tests my hydration level; it is better but still low. She said we are to drink 16 small bottles of water a day. (Sounds ridiculous.) In reading about dehydration I learned potatoes, banana are sticky and thought that was causing a blood flow problem, I thought the answer was more water less potassium. The confusion was in so many people recommending potassium. Thank you. I finally understand. I've spent the last hours researching everything from kidney to liver disease and really can't identify...thankfully. I experimented with a new recipe and had wondered if white pasta would be a problem too. Yup. It was organic broccoli and pasta. I won't be eating that for a while. Even pickle juice didn't help. When, if (that was some cramp) I do, 1/2 cup cooked pasta, max. I was so happy to find this link. I knew cutting out white potatoes worked, but I hadn't heard anyone else thought so too. Tonight my legs itched badly first, but maybe that was related only in that I moved quickly just as a cramp started, one leg and starting at the other calf. It all seemed to start several years ago with overdoing it at the gym and not drinking water (eating potatoes at night was never a problem). Maybe aging doesn't help. I'm 66. So, now I know the connection. Thanks!

Posted by: Joy | 2016/04/27

Thank you. I have already known I can only eat a small amount of potato (oddly or banana) at dinner without having a night leg cramp, usually inner thigh. If I'm not overtired I wake up in time to carefully get to the refrigerator for a swallow of pickle juice. Works. The nurse at the gym tests my hydration level; it is better but still low. She said we are to drink 16 small bottles of water a day. (Sounds ridiculous.) In reading about dehydration I learned potatoes, banana are sticky and thought that was causing a blood flow problem, I thought the answer was more water less potassium. The confusion was in so many people recommending potassium. Thank you. I finally understand. I've spent the last hours researching everything from kidney to liver disease and really can't identify...thankfully. I experimented with a new recipe and had wondered if white pasta would be a problem too. Yup. It was organic broccoli and pasta. I won't be eating that for a while. Even pickle juice didn't help. When, if (that was some cramp) I do, 1/2 cup cooked pasta, max. I was so happy to find this link. I knew cutting out white potatoes worked, but I hadn't heard anyone else thought so too. Tonight my legs itched badly first, but maybe that was related only in that I moved quickly just as a cramp started, one leg and starting at the other calf. It all seemed to start several years ago with overdoing it at the gym and not drinking water (eating potatoes at night was never a problem). Maybe aging doesn't help. I'm 66. So, now I know the connection. Thanks!

Posted by: Anonymous | 2016/04/11

Last week I had an evening of severe leg cramps that required two doses of Leg Cramp homeopathic tabs. That night as I put my head down on my pillow and was considering what was the cause, the potatoes in my chicken and potato curry came to mind. I then remembered I had potatoes earlier in the week and had also experienced leg cramps. I jumped up Googled “potatoes and leg cramps” and there was your brilliant science based explanation along with a suggestion for potassium gluconate as a solution. Instead of running out to buy it I decided to check what herbs were high in potassium. Dill was at the top of the list and I happened to have large bunch in my refrig.that I’d bought for no particular reason at all. Since I had a lot of remaining curry, for the next two days I made a tea from the dill that I drank prior to eating the curry. Miracle of Miracles -- no leg cramps. Understanding the biochemical science and nutrient interactions behind the foods I eat and the liquids I drink helps me remain in good health and drug free. You have a fan. Where else can I find your advice?

Posted by: Sue | 2015/11/22

Yes I also have mostly toe cramps as well as legs

Reply to Sue
Posted by: Anonymous | 2015/10/05

I'm so sorry you all have these cramps but I was starting to think I was crazy. Any potato product I eat will cause leg cramps in the middle of the night, mostly inner thighs and feet and occasionally my calves. I haven't found a solution but am just so glad to hear I'm not the only one.

Reply to Anonymous | 1 comment (hide)
Posted by: kathy | 2016/03/07

i also get severe leg cramps at night after eating potatoes especially french fries or potato chips. i wonder what in potatoes causes this problem and looks like we are not the only ones and medical science has no clue. doesnt surprise me.

Posted by: Anonymous | 2015/03/18

I struggled with excruciating muscle cramps in my legs and also in the muscles between my ribs, all of which would wake me from sleep at night. As I got older the problem seemed to be worse until I realized it had to be caused by something I was eating. Turned out to be POTATOES . Even the slightest amount of potato starch, e.g in sauces and gravies would give me painful cramps. I cut potato out of my diet and have been free of this plague ever since. Hope my experience can help other sufferers.

Reply to Anonymous
Posted by: Anonymous | 2013/12/31

I also have severe leg cramping after eating potatoes. Chips, fries, baked... it's pretty much the same result. Mostly the cramping occurs in the calves and feet, and it happens while I am in bed. To quel the severe cramps, I first stand and walk. And I keep a small bottle of homeopathic pills in my nightstand drawer, and/or in my purse (in case this happens on a plane!). The homeopathic pills are made by the company Boiron and can be found at better health food stores, like Whole Foods. (they are very small containers about the size of a Chapstick. Boiron categorizes the pills by their Latin names. The one I take is called: cuprum metallicum 30 and is for Leg Cramps / Muscle Cramps. I put 5 of these tiny pills under the tongue, and allow them to dissolve, and the cramps go away within 45 seconds. (Not kidding.)

Reply to Anonymous | 1 comment (hide)
Posted by: Anonymous | 2014/01/02

Starch also give me feet and leg cramps. I have autoimmune atrophic gastritis. Salt will cure my cramps with in seconds similar to what you indicate with your homeopathic med. You can also eat a couple dill pickles or drink the juice and they will vanish - quickly! Good luck!

Posted by: captain | 2008/02/19

please assist me with the leg cramps why do i get it while i am asleep ??????????????????????

thanking you inadvance

Reply to captain | 1 comment (hide)
Posted by: Anonymous | 2016/04/12

My child and sister is suffering from the same cramps. I read that it is an allergy to night shadecrops. You can Google this allergy. It is much better since we cut out patato.

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