Vegan Lifting: Dealing with Cramps and Soreness

vegan cramps and soreness
young woman runner hold her twisted ankle

Many of us measure how well of a workout we had by how sore we are the next day. Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness or DOMS for short, is is the pain, cramps and soreness felt in muscles several hours to days after unaccustomed or strenuous exercise. The soreness is felt most strongly 24 to 72 hours after the exercise.

After such exercise, the muscle adapts rapidly to prevent muscle damage, and thereby soreness, if the exercise is repeated. While most people feel the effects of the dreaded DOMS, Vegans can get them pretty hard and the answer could be hiding in your diet.

cramps and soreness

There is  one micronutrients in particular that I would like to highlight that can help deal with muscle cramps and soreness for an active Vegan. The first one being sodium. Lack of sodium in a Vegan diet plus regular sweating will deplete the body’s sodium supply.

Anyone who has adopted a plant-based diet are going to be more likely to have reduced sodium levels, often resulting in muscle cramping and soreness. Now in an omnivore diet, there is actually a risk of taking in too much sodium. Many dairy products as well as processed meats like salami have a sodium count that could very well exceed the recommended sodium intake for the day in one serving.

On the other hand, with exception of seaweed, many plant based foods contain little to no sodium at all. Herein lies the problem as the more we sweat, the more sodium we need.

cramps and soreness

Vegans can benefit from adding salt to their food and as part of their daily regimen. Ideally, sea salt would be your best bet. By adding sea salt to regularly eaten foods, most Vegan athletes will notice that muscle cramping subsides and suppleness returns.

Even sodium tablets can help you out, especially if you are an endurance athlete or looking to workout in a warmer climate. You can always swig some pickle juice, an old school trick I have found works quite well. Here is a list of sodium rich foods every Vegan athlete should be eating.

  • Cardoons, 1 cup shredded, 303mg

  • Artichokes, 1 medium, 120mg

  • Celeriac, 1 cup, 156mg

  • Beets, 1 cup, 106mg

  • Turnips, 1 medium, 82mg

  • Celery, 1 medium stalk (7-1/2″ to 8″ long), 32mg

  • Chard, 1 cup, 77mg

  • Sweet potatoes, 1 cup cubed, 73mg

  • Spinach, 1 cup, 24mg

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