Go Back  Bike Forums > Bike Forums > Cyclocross and Gravelbiking (Recreational)
Reload this Page >

Nutrition to keep legs from cramping

Notices
Cyclocross and Gravelbiking (Recreational) This has to be the most physically intense sport ever invented. It's high speed bicycle racing on a short off road course or riding the off pavement rides on gravel like : "Unbound Gravel". We also have a dedicated Racing forum for the Cyclocross Hard Core Racers.

Nutrition to keep legs from cramping

Old 10-22-21, 03:13 PM
  #26  
franswa
Senior Member
 
franswa's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jul 2014
Location: ATX
Posts: 1,796
Mentioned: 14 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 324 Post(s)
Liked 250 Times in 105 Posts
I made some cleat adjustments and brought them back a tiny bit more and no more cramping for me.
franswa is offline  
Old 10-30-21, 02:16 PM
  #27  
Colorado Kid
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Jun 2013
Posts: 709
Mentioned: 5 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 261 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 88 Times in 49 Posts
I've always had a bad time with leg craping. Doc couldn't figure out was going wrong. I took all the usual steps but nothing worked. I heard an old story about field worker in the deep South always had a sip or two of Pickle Juice after working in the fields.. It's been two weeks and I haven't had one leg cramp. Go figure.
Colorado Kid is offline  
Old 10-31-21, 08:00 AM
  #28  
Branko D
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Feb 2018
Posts: 626
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 261 Post(s)
Liked 332 Times in 199 Posts
Hard to sort out what's placebo (which means it works pretty well) and what actually has physiological basis for helping...

That said, cramping happens more often when you haven't done the training for the event you're doing and that's supported by research and personal experience of many athletes alike. The only time I had severe cramping was doing a marathon without any long distance running (longer than 10-12 km) for months. That wasn't a very good idea, right calf cramped 2km from the finish, I tried running left legged which the left calf vigorously objected to in short order and I sort of hurriedly hobbled through the finish line 🤦 My nutrition was just as good as when I did it a year ago with proper training.

That said, if I'm riding at race pace in my water bottles it's either water with electrolyte tablets or water with carb-electrolyte race mix. Never just water.
​​​​​
​​​​​​It seems that much of it is luck of the draw. It's not known why some people are more predisposed to cramping than others, but apparently there are significant differences between people. I'm not naturally predisposed to cramps unless I'm doing something really way out of what I'm prepared for.

Last edited by Branko D; 10-31-21 at 08:04 AM.
Branko D is offline  
Likes For Branko D:
Old 11-02-21, 10:28 AM
  #29  
ksryder
Senior Member
 
Join Date: May 2014
Posts: 2,549

Bikes: yes

Mentioned: 18 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 1281 Post(s)
Liked 641 Times in 328 Posts
Originally Posted by mstateglfr View Post
So it's back to the drawing board. Not enough electrolytes? Not enough hydration? Too fatigued since I am riding harder and farther without a stop?
I realize this is a month old but I haven't logged in for a while.

Here's my 2 cents -- stretching.

I think the reason there are so many solutions for cramping is because there are multiple things that can cause cramps -- bike fit, nutrition, cleat adjustment, heat, training, etc. And sometimes more than one thing is causing it at the same time.

I was battling cramps a few years ago and was trying everything nutrition/hydration-related with limited success. I started doing a 30-minute yoga workout on youtube for unrelated reasons and lo and behold suddenly I wasn't cramping. I think its easy as cyclists to neglect flexibility and fitness in non-cycling areas but for me that proved to be a gigantic piece of the puzzle.

Not saying this is the solution for everyone but it's definitely one of them.
ksryder is offline  
Likes For ksryder:
Old 11-23-21, 07:33 PM
  #30  
sgtdirt
Senior Member
 
sgtdirt's Avatar
 
Join Date: Sep 2013
Location: Mentor, Ohio
Posts: 261

Bikes: KHS Grit 400, Redline Conquest SS, Redline MonoCog SS,2014 Felt TK3,

Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 9 Post(s)
Liked 20 Times in 8 Posts
yep, i suffered especially bad this year. believe me, i've tried a **** ton of different "remedies" without any lasting results. i'm starting to lean towards: age, fitness level and fatigue. being in my late 50's, i am usually, by far, the oldest in the SS race category. although i train hard, i don't feel i train "race hard". trying to put in those power zone 4 to 5 sustained efforts during a training ride aren't cutting it either. another reason i think it's fitness level is; one year, i was literally racing every other week. i was in good "race form". by the end of the season, i didn't feel any potential cramps until mile 60 or better in a 65 mile gravel race. to sum it up: sure we train hard but that training is no where near as hard as when we race. eventually, the muscles fatigue and cramp. this is just my opinion. not based off any science just my experience.
sgtdirt is offline  
Old 11-24-21, 10:08 AM
  #31  
MinnMan
Senior Member
 
MinnMan's Avatar
 
Join Date: Aug 2009
Location: Minneapolis
Posts: 5,033

Bikes: 2020 Salsa Warbird GRX 600, 2020 Canyon Ultimate CF SLX disc 9.0 Di2, 2020 Catrike Eola, 2016 Masi cxgr, 2011, Felt F3 Ltd, 2010 Trek 2.1, 2009 KHS Flite 220

Mentioned: 18 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 3476 Post(s)
Liked 2,432 Times in 1,478 Posts
I can suffer from really bad leg cramps - sometimes at the end of a longer ride and more commonly, after the ride. As people probably have already said, the onset of cramps *after* the ride is after a period of being stationary. If I sit on the couch (or take a nap) in the afternoon after a hard ride, and then stand up, the cramps in my quads or hamstrings can be ***excruciating**.

Without denying the roles of proper attention to hydration and electrolytes, cramps correlate with conditioning, or rather lack thereof. If I haven' been riding long hard distances regularly (i.e., averaging less than 200 miles/week in the month previous), I can get cramps after a 60 mile ride. If it's mid-summer and I'm riding 300 miles/week, I can blast out a full-gas century without any worry about leg cramps. Yes it can be worse or better depending on the heat, hydration, etc., but for me, conditioning is the first-order predictor.
MinnMan is offline  
Old 11-26-21, 07:58 AM
  #32  
unterhausen
Randomhead
 
Join Date: Aug 2008
Location: Happy Valley, Pennsylvania
Posts: 22,666
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 4 Post(s)
Liked 2,212 Times in 1,567 Posts
Originally Posted by MinnMan View Post
Yes it can be worse or better depending on the heat, hydration, etc., but for me, conditioning is the first-order predictor.
I agree, I used to have leg cramps every spring after starting riding again. And it didn't take 60 miles either. Once I had a lot of miles in my legs, I would only have cramps when I took a day off, as punishment.
unterhausen is offline  
Old 11-26-21, 03:42 PM
  #33  
pbass
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Sep 2012
Location: SoCal
Posts: 1,105

Bikes: 2016 Surly Cross Check singlespeed, 2019 Kona Rove ST

Mentioned: 5 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 254 Post(s)
Liked 253 Times in 176 Posts
Originally Posted by ksryder View Post
Here's my 2 cents -- stretching.
And I'd add to that, foam rolling, before and after rides and on days off as well. I learned from a myofascial release therapist that while stretching is of course great, you're mainly affecting the connection points of tissue with it. If you add in foam rolling you're really massaging the full length of the fascia and muscles, and can really open them up and "get out the gunk" as she would call it. I'm 61, and as long as I foam roll religiously (with a couple simple yoga stretches), I never have any cramps or uncomfortable stiffness or soreness--knees, hips, lower back, legs--all good. If I get lazy and don't do it for a couple days, man, I can get woken up in the middle of the night with a calf cramp that practically makes you fall out of bed!
pbass is offline  
Likes For pbass:
Old 11-26-21, 04:02 PM
  #34  
Calsun
Full Member
 
Join Date: Mar 2021
Posts: 482
Mentioned: 1 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 194 Post(s)
Liked 109 Times in 85 Posts
Problems with quads suggest either using too high a gear or having your seat too low (something I see all the time). Supplementing magnesium is usually advisable. Electrolytes in the form of some sports drink are worthless despite all the marketing hype.

Staying hydrated is a different matter and sugar can result in water entering the blood stream faster. With dehydration the blood is thicker and one can understand that this is detrimental. Another blood clogger is animal protein and thick of Crisco in your veins.

Training is important so that your muscles increase their ability to process glycogen and to remove waste products. An excellent book covering much of this is the one Exercised: Why Something We Never Evolved to Do is Healthy and Rewarding by Daniel Lieberman.

Daniel Lieberman is Edwin M. Lerner II Professor of Biological Sciences and a professor of the Department of Human Evolutionary Biology at Harvard University. He received degrees from Harvard and Cambridge, and taught at Rutgers University and George Washington University before joining Harvard University as a Professor in 2001. He is a member of American Academy of Arts and Sciences. If you want science and not the opinion pseudo experts of which there are many thousands, then this is a great place to start.
Calsun is offline  
Old 06-21-22, 02:29 AM
  #35  
koala logs
Senior Member
 
Join Date: May 2022
Posts: 517
Mentioned: 2 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 269 Post(s)
Liked 131 Times in 108 Posts
Originally Posted by mstateglfr View Post
My calves aren't happy, but my quads are straight up angry.
Your seat is definitely too high and you're pointing your toes down excessively on the down stroke. High seat is easy for quads but hard on the calves.

Drop your heel and seat a bit to put less work on the calves and more to the quads, glutes, and hamstrings. Helps even things a bit.

Nothing seems to be wrong with your hydration and fueling. If there is, your whole legs, not just the calves will bonk out.
koala logs is offline  
Old 06-21-22, 07:48 AM
  #36  
mstateglfr 
Sunshine
Thread Starter
 
mstateglfr's Avatar
 
Join Date: Aug 2014
Location: Des Moines, IA
Posts: 14,513

Bikes: '18 class built steel roadbike, '19 Fairlight Secan, '88 Schwinn Premis , Black Mountain Cycles Monstercross V4, '89 Novara Trionfo

Mentioned: 116 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 8239 Post(s)
Liked 5,066 Times in 2,944 Posts
Originally Posted by koala logs View Post
Your seat is definitely too high and you're pointing your toes down excessively on the down stroke. High seat is easy for quads but hard on the calves.

Drop your heel and seat a bit to put less work on the calves and more to the quads, glutes, and hamstrings. Helps even things a bit
curious analysis without having seen me on a bike.
mstateglfr is offline  
Likes For mstateglfr:
Old 06-26-22, 10:47 AM
  #37  
pennstater
Junior Member
 
Join Date: Mar 2007
Posts: 179

Bikes: Look 765 Gravel RS, Lynskey Cooper CX, Lynskey R260

Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 5 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 8 Times in 5 Posts
I am 69 years old. For years I regularly suffered leg cramps. About 2 weeks ago I had a B12 injection following finding of low B12 level. Since then no leg cramps. Coincidence? Maybe. But, if you are over 60, or vegan or on an antacid proton pump inhibitor like Nexium you may exhibit low B12 abosorption. A simple blood test can determine your level.
pennstater is offline  
Old 06-26-22, 01:40 PM
  #38  
Calsun
Full Member
 
Join Date: Mar 2021
Posts: 482
Mentioned: 1 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 194 Post(s)
Liked 109 Times in 85 Posts
As we age our ability to absorb key nutrients from food decreases. We also have far fewer micro nutrients in our industrially produced and process foods where fiber is removed to increase shelf life. Less fiber and the "food" passes through our intestinal track more quickly and even less of the remaining nutrients can be absorbed.

Magnesium is one key nutrient that is important for leg muscles but also for another muscle, the heart. Often when people are admiitted after surviving a heart attack it is found that they are extremely deficient in magnesium.

The thinking that you do not need supplements if you eat a healthy diet is severely flawed and would not be true for someone in their twenties much less a senior or a senior athlete. This shows up with the level of vitamin D that needs to be evaluated by measuring the blood serum level. The RDA is less than 1000 mg but I need 7,000 mg to keep my vitamin D blood serum level in the "normal" range.

Family doctors are clueless when it comes to nutrition as they only need one introductory course that focuses on infant formulas in order to graduate from medical school. Doctors that have gone on to specialize in functional medicine know far more and can often provide more comprehensive solutions.

I avoid artificial (man made industrially processed as with sugar alcohols) sweeteners entirely. Aspartame was clearly shown to produce brain tumors in the lab and it was initially rejected by the FDA for this reason. Donald Rumsfeld, the chairman of Searle that had developed the sweeter, was a major campaign fund raiser for Ronald Reagan. Once Reagan took office one of his first acts was to apppoint a new head for the FDA and this man quickly approved aspartame and in doing so he made Rumsfeld a very rich man.
Calsun is offline  
Old 06-26-22, 02:19 PM
  #39  
wolfchild
Senior Member
 
wolfchild's Avatar
 
Join Date: Feb 2008
Location: Mississauga/Toronto, Ontario canada
Posts: 7,509

Bikes: I have 3 singlespeed/fixed gear bikes

Mentioned: 22 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 2887 Post(s)
Liked 1,643 Times in 804 Posts
Originally Posted by Calsun View Post
As we age our ability to absorb key nutrients from food decreases.

The thinking that you do not need supplements if you eat a healthy diet is severely flawed
If your body can't absorb nutrients from food ,what makes you think it will absorb artificial supplements and nutrients which have been processed and isolated from food ??...
wolfchild is offline  
Old 06-26-22, 02:42 PM
  #40  
Calsun
Full Member
 
Join Date: Mar 2021
Posts: 482
Mentioned: 1 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 194 Post(s)
Liked 109 Times in 85 Posts
Are you being serious? It has been known for over a century that people develop scurvy when they lack fruit in their diet. Sailors were given limes to prevent scurvy on long voyages. The body can absorb man made ascorbic acid and it will prevent scurvy. Not a major concern in the USA but a problem in India and other places where people cannot afford to buy fruit for their diet.

The problem is that with industrial farming the nutrients are removed from the soil and what is added in is man made nitrogen but no mineral elements like copper and magnesium and selenium which are important for proper body functioning. This information is not at all difficult to find but one does has to open ones mind and be capable of critical thinking.

When the teachers went on strike in Washington state the union head spoke out that they were protesting the use of the federally mandated (and highly profitable for the companies involved) student tests. Their concern was that they were teaching for the test and what the students needed to be learning instead was critical thinking. She was right as this is sadly lacking among children and adults.
Calsun is offline  
Old 06-26-22, 09:00 PM
  #41  
koala logs
Senior Member
 
Join Date: May 2022
Posts: 517
Mentioned: 2 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 269 Post(s)
Liked 131 Times in 108 Posts
Originally Posted by mstateglfr View Post
I had 24oz of water in the first 20mi, 24oz of Body Armor in the following 15mi, 20oz of Nuun in the next 10mi, then 20oz of water over the last 10mi.

I drank before riding too, obviously. Maybe more sooner?
...or I need to ride with with camelback of picklejuice.
I usually drink one whole bottle shortly before the ride. Typically less than 15 minutes before the ride and then pee right before I left.

I also take a huge meal around 30 minutes before the ride. Mostly rice (high, slow-burn carb) and some meat and cold milk chocolate drink. Many cycling articles advice against eating a huge meal shortly before a ride but it doesn't seem to have any negative effect on me. And that's for a non-stop 60 mile ride in the mountains. I also bring at least three bottles of water, with ~85F riding temps and rice-based fuel food.

The point is if you're rationing food and drink, you probably didn't bring enough. Eat and drink liberally during the ride as long as you don't feel stuffed.

It's probably the fueling and try to avoid standing too often to pedal on climbs long, hard, no stopping rides. It can ruin your pacing. Perhaps, improve your seated climbing with training. Train for higher cadence spinning, and even install smaller gear ratios.
koala logs is offline  
Old 06-27-22, 08:20 AM
  #42  
mstateglfr 
Sunshine
Thread Starter
 
mstateglfr's Avatar
 
Join Date: Aug 2014
Location: Des Moines, IA
Posts: 14,513

Bikes: '18 class built steel roadbike, '19 Fairlight Secan, '88 Schwinn Premis , Black Mountain Cycles Monstercross V4, '89 Novara Trionfo

Mentioned: 116 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 8239 Post(s)
Liked 5,066 Times in 2,944 Posts
Originally Posted by koala logs View Post
I usually drink one whole bottle shortly before the ride. Typically less than 15 minutes before the ride and then pee right before I left.

I also take a huge meal around 30 minutes before the ride. Mostly rice (high, slow-burn carb) and some meat and cold milk chocolate drink. Many cycling articles advice against eating a huge meal shortly before a ride but it doesn't seem to have any negative effect on me. And that's for a non-stop 60 mile ride in the mountains. I also bring at least three bottles of water, with ~85F riding temps and rice-based fuel food.

The point is if you're rationing food and drink, you probably didn't bring enough. Eat and drink liberally during the ride as long as you don't feel stuffed.

It's probably the fueling and try to avoid standing too often to pedal on climbs long, hard, no stopping rides. It can ruin your pacing. Perhaps, improve your seated climbing with training. Train for higher cadence spinning, and even install smaller gear ratios.
Thanks, but based on your totally baseless and incorrect analysis earlier in this thread, I have written off your views.
mstateglfr is offline  
Likes For mstateglfr:
Old 06-27-22, 08:25 AM
  #43  
koala logs
Senior Member
 
Join Date: May 2022
Posts: 517
Mentioned: 2 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 269 Post(s)
Liked 131 Times in 108 Posts
Originally Posted by mstateglfr View Post
Thanks, but based on your totally baseless and incorrect analysis earlier in this thread, I have written off your views.
That's alright, no big deal.
koala logs is offline  
Old 06-27-22, 08:43 AM
  #44  
chas58
Senior Member
 
chas58's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jul 2010
Location: Michigan
Posts: 4,845

Bikes: too many of all kinds

Mentioned: 35 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 1143 Post(s)
Liked 403 Times in 325 Posts
ms state

I've been using this the last couple of years. Trace Minerals Research Endure Performance Electrolyte. I used to get totally drained from a good bike ride, but now I recover quickly with this stuff. Its concentrated - a bottle lasts me a year. I use it before, during, and after. Hydrating doesn't do me any good if my electrolytes are off.

https://www.allstarhealth.com/de_p_r...lectrolyte.htm
(i don't know the vendor, its just from a google search).
chas58 is offline  
Old 06-27-22, 08:46 AM
  #45  
mstateglfr 
Sunshine
Thread Starter
 
mstateglfr's Avatar
 
Join Date: Aug 2014
Location: Des Moines, IA
Posts: 14,513

Bikes: '18 class built steel roadbike, '19 Fairlight Secan, '88 Schwinn Premis , Black Mountain Cycles Monstercross V4, '89 Novara Trionfo

Mentioned: 116 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 8239 Post(s)
Liked 5,066 Times in 2,944 Posts
Originally Posted by chas58 View Post
ms state

I've been using this the last couple of years. Trace Minerals Research Endure Performance Electrolyte. I used to get totally drained from a good bike ride, but now I recover quickly with this stuff. Its concentrated - a bottle lasts me a year. I use it before, during, and after. Hydrating doesn't do me any good if my electrolytes are off.

https://www.allstarhealth.com/de_p_r...lectrolyte.htm
(i don't know the vendor, its just from a google search).
Thanks!

I havent cramped since this event last August, but I will always look into something simple to add like this.
I did a 100mi ride a week and a half ago and used nuun tablets in addition to some food and pickle chips at a quick stop, but I have 3 more century rides in the next 6 weeks and anything that can quickly replace what I sweat out is good to try.
mstateglfr is offline  
Old 06-27-22, 09:57 AM
  #46  
chas58
Senior Member
 
chas58's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jul 2010
Location: Michigan
Posts: 4,845

Bikes: too many of all kinds

Mentioned: 35 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 1143 Post(s)
Liked 403 Times in 325 Posts
I suspect its doing the same thing as NUUN or Pickle Juice. I find it more cost effective than NUUN if I’m biking a lot in hot weather (and sweating a lot), and well, pickle juice is what, mostly vinegar…? NUUN and pickle juice are more fun to talk about though.

I just add 10 drops to a bottle of water. Rather tasteless (adds a slightly salty taste to the water)
chas58 is offline  

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off


Thread Tools
Search this Thread

Contact Us - Archive - Advertising - Cookie Policy - Privacy Statement - Terms of Service - Do Not Sell My Personal Information -

Copyright 2021 MH Sub I, LLC dba Internet Brands. All rights reserved. Use of this site indicates your consent to the Terms of Use.