Monday, November 28, 2011

How Not to be Crippled by Cramps and Headaches When You're Low-Carbing AND Exercising

Get some electrolytes in to avoid cramps and headaches
I recently went through an induction phase for the Nth time, which should have been business as usual for someone who's gone low-carb at several points in her life, but the difference this time was that I was really on Atkins instead of South Beach, so my carb intake was a LOT lower than ever before (no milk, very limited quantities of tomatoes), PLUS I was a month into working out heavily, and I didn't want to stop. Add to that the fact that I (very unwisely) decided that, oh, I guess I'll try out Bikram Yoga (a form of hot yoga for those who don't know) for the first time at the same time. I can't even tell you how much I wanted to stop working out forever as I tried to convince myself I wasn't dying halfway through my third yoga class.

Lack of caffeine is what people usually point out as the culprit when it comes to low-carb headaches, but that's never been the real issue for me because I never listened no matter how many times Dr. Atkins/Dr. Agatson reitarated I should not be drinking coffee. No one. Touches. My. Coffee. So I had to figure out what else was giving me these blinding headaches, and from doing some more reading I figured the culprit might be lack of magnesium and potassium due to the strict diet. I just figured I'd take some Centrum and other supplements, no big deal. Except it WAS a big deal, when I had terrible leg cramps halfway through a Jillian Michaels workout (which has NEVER happened to me), and like I said, felt like I was dying during yoga.

Eat some spinach, that's all I'm axskin' you.
The one good thing that came out of me doing yoga then was I found a better way of getting electrolytes in me (magnesium and potassium are electrolytes), when the yoga instructor noticed I seemed to be dehydrated even though I had basically chugged an entire bottle of water throughout the workout and handed me an Emergen-C Electro Mix packet (5.30/box 18 cents/packet at Amazon), which has no sugar or carbs but plenty of electrolytes (it's sweetened with Stevia). It's a powder packet you just pour into your water bottle that instantly makes it a zero carb/calorie sports drink. I'm never low-carbing and doing a workout without it again.

If you want a more natural way to get electrolytes in you, go for beans and spinach. They're both good sources of potassium and magnesium.