Having worked with a WAFL team, I have had this question posed to me a few times from the players. Anecdotally I did get a player who suffered from cramps to eat a banana a day for a boost in potassium and it did seem to help him. Whether or not it was the placebo effect im not too sure.
There are a few common causes of muscle cramps during exercise including dehydration, low salt levels in the blood and muscle fatigue (i.e. not fuelling the muscles prior to exercise). Without being able to perform a full dietary assessement its hard to pinpoint what might be causing your cramps.
Here are a few tips that may help you:
- Always start exercise well hydrated
- If you are a heavy sweater and lose alot of salts, try adding some salt to your meals or include salty foods such as ham, vegemite, or canned baked beans.
- include foods that contain plenty of potassium and magnesium (i.e. nuts and seeds, plenty of leafy vegetables, milk, yoghurt, dried fruit)
- Ensure you get adequate rest and recovery between sessions. You might like to include a pre- and post-run snack containing both carbohydrates and protein to optimise muscle recovery.
If you are still experiencing muscle cramps, might be best to speak to an Accredited Practising Dietitian (APD) or Accredited Sports Dietitian to sort our a plan that works for you. You can find one at either www.daa.asn.au
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