Health & Wellness

Top 11 Foods that Cause Leg Cramps at Night

Looking for foods that cause leg cramps at night? If you’re like most people, you’ve probably experienced leg cramps at some point in your life. Leg cramps are a common symptom of many different conditions, but they’re often caused by a lack of water or electrolytes in the body. To avoid getting leg cramps, drink plenty of water and eat foods containing these essential nutrients.

Here we have mentioned some foods that cause leg cramps. If you’re experiencing leg cramps regularly, it may be helpful to try eliminating one of these foods from your diet for a few weeks to see if that resolves the issue.

In This Article

  1. Foods that Cause Leg Cramps
  2. Can certain foods cause leg cramps at Night
  3. What deficiency causes leg cramps at Night
  4. What vitamin deficiency causes leg cramps at night

Foods that Cause Leg Cramps

Here is the list of foods that can cause leg cramps and the best way to avoid them if you have leg cramps.

Foods that Cause Leg Cramps

1. Dairy Products

If you have milk protein intolerance, you may experience leg cramps when you drink milk or eat dairy products.

It’s not just milk that can cause leg cramps – cheese and yogurt are also high in lactose, a sugar molecule that can cause leg cramps. If you suffer from leg cramps often, you’ll want to avoid dairy products as much as possible. Simply reducing your intake of these foods will often help reduce or eliminate your leg cramps.

2. Caffeine

Caffeine can increase susceptibility to muscle cramps, so it’s essential to be aware of its effects on your body. When the body consumes caffeine, it increases blood flow to the muscles and provides a temporary surge of energy. It also blocks an adenosine enzyme responsible for inhibiting muscle contractions.

3. Less Fluid intake

One of the most common causes of leg cramps is dehydration. When dehydrated, your body doesn’t have enough fluids to function properly. This can lead to muscle stiffness and pain, and leg cramps are one of the symptoms that typically occur.

4. Drinking Alcohol

Drinking alcohol can lead to dehydration, one of the main causes of leg cramps. However, it’s also important to remember that drinking alcohol can cause lactic acid build-up, which can trigger muscle cramps.

5. Carbonated Beverages

There is some truth to the claim that drinking too many carbonated beverages can lead to leg cramps. Experts say this happens because potassium levels drop when people drink too many carbonated beverages. This drop in potassium levels causes muscles to contract involuntarily, leading to leg cramps.

6. Refined Carbs

Certain types of refined carbs can cause leg cramps. These carbs are typically found in white bread, pasta, rice, and other grains. They’re also common in many processed foods.

Refined carbs block the intestines’ ability to absorb essential nutrients, which leads to poor muscle function and pain.

7. Processed Meat

Processed meats, especially beef, are the main culprits in causing leg cramps. They contain high tyramine, a compound that can cause muscle cramps.

8. Tobacco Smoke

There is some evidence that tobacco smoke may be responsible for causing leg cramps. A study published in the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that people who smoke are more likely to experience leg cramps than nonsmokers.

Smoking tobacco creates an inflammatory response in your body, which triggers leg cramps. The cramps are caused by a muscle spasm that limits the blood flow to your legs.

9. Dark Chocolate

Dark chocolate can indeed cause leg cramps due to its high amount of intake of chocolate as it contains caffeine in the cocoa solids. Ingestion of too much chocolate can lead to caffeine intoxication, a condition characterized by anxiety and restlessness. This causes muscle spasms that are commonly known as leg cramps.

10. Salt

Salt can cause leg cramps due to its high concentration of sodium. When you eat or drink salty items, your body retains more water and sodium ions. This causes tightness and pain in the muscles, particularly the ones in your legs.

11. Refined Sugar

Refined sugar can cause leg cramps due to its high glycemic index. This means that it increases blood sugar levels quickly, which in turn causes muscle glucose deprivation and fatigue.

Q. Can certain foods cause leg cramps at night?

Yes, some foods are commonly cited as causing leg cramps at night, including caffeine, alcohol, and certain types of spices. If you experience leg cramps after eating one of these foods, it may be a good idea to avoid eating them in the future.

Q. What deficiency causes leg cramps at night?

Some potential causes of leg cramps at night may include dehydration, electrolyte imbalance, muscle fatigue, and low blood sugar levels. If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, it is essential to seek medical attention as soon as possible.

Q. What vitamin deficiency causes leg cramps at night?

If you’re experiencing leg cramps, it’s probably because you’re deficient in vitamin B1 (thiamine). This vitamin is essential for proper nervous system function and can cause irregular heart rhythms, fatigue, and leg cramps.

If you’re concerned that you might be deficient in B1, talk to your doctor for a test. In the meantime, you can try taking a vitamin supplement or eating foods high in thiamine.


Understanding the root cause of leg cramps and their related symptoms is essential. This will help you control them in no time! Eat a healthy diet rich in fruits, vegetables, and whole grains.

Besides that, avoid high-sugar foods like sweetened desserts and carbonated drinks before bed. In case you still have issues with leg cramps, then it’s time to get a check-up done!


  1. Nocturnal leg cramps: Prevalence and associations with demographics, sleep disturbance symptoms
  2. A review of nocturnal leg cramps in older people
  3. Criteria in diagnosing nocturnal leg cramps: a systematic review

Dr Maria

MD. Board Certified physician. Fellowship In Family Medicine UK. 8 years of medical experience in Lifestyle-related health disorders. Graduated from AIIMS – All India Institute Of Medical Science, INDIA

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