How to Cure Leg Cramps at Night

Steven’s Question:

I’ve been having leg cramps in the middle of the night.  What is something to take/drink after my rides that can help me with post-recovery?  I’m limited because I’m diabetic and really have to watch the sugar/carb intake.

Kelli’s Answer:

Thanks so much for your question!  There’s a few aspects of nutrition that can help relieve or prevent cramping.  Try:

1)       Hydration: Make sure you are hydrated the day you ride and continuously.  I recommend 64-90 oz. water per day for most males (~64 for females) + 24-32 oz. per hour of training (during or immediately afterwards).

2)      Sodium and potassium: During any training that’s >90 minutes and moderate to high intensity, try to get in 400-700 mg sodium and 100-300 mg potassium per hour of training.  You can try NUUN caps, Camelbak Elixir, or other low-calorie, low-carb electrolyte drink options (these are very low in sugar and total carbs).  Or, if you’d rather use electrolyte supplements, take a look at S Caps! and Hammer Endurolytes.

3)      After the ride: Make sure to recover well with fuel after riding, and include electrolytes.  Aim for 400-500 mg calcium, ~100-400 mg magnesium, and 300-500 mg potassium.  8 oz. plain yogurt + 2 Tbsp chopped nuts + cinnamon + stevia will provide a low carb, high protein snack with ~500 mg calcium, 70 mg magnesium, and 680 mg potassium.  Or, use our Perfect Recovery Smoothie and get 219 mg sodium, 813 mg potassium, 421 mg calcium, 108 mg magnesium.  Replace the honey with Stevia to cut the carbs down to ~30 grams carbs.   Many athletes are also turning to coconut water which provides fluid, 200+ mg sodium, and 600+ mg potassium per cup (but, you’ll likely still need to add calcium/magnesium).

4)     If you still have night-time cramps after taking care of #1-#3, or you’d rather use supplements from the beginning, take a Calcium/Magnesium (500 mg calcium/250 mg magnesium) and 100-300 mg Potassium supplement before bed after training.

Night cramps, as opposed to on-the-bike cramps, generally point to electrolytes and fluids.  However, if you don’t find relief, look into your form on the bike, and your bike-fit, to make sure it’s not a positioning or mechanical issue.

Please send us your questions for our Expert Sports Nutritionist, Kelli Jennings to “Ask the Sports Nutritionist“. Kelli Jennings is a Registered Dietitian with a passion for healthy eating, wellness, & sports nutrition. For more information go to

  • Runzilla

    I had a similar problem. I began drinking Tonic Water. Not sure exactly how it helped. Something about the quinine.

  • Jd

    Cool… How bout stretching too …