Eat to beat muscle cramps

Question: I often cramp up during tough workouts. Could it be something I'm eating?

Answer: That depends on where you're getting those stitches. If it's a pang in your stomach, consider switching up your pre-workout snack. Besides the obvious no-no's (read: cheese fries), there are other culprits: Fiber-rich foods, like certain energy bars, and dried fruit, which contain potentially irritating sulfites, can set off a sensitive tummy. Try fueling up with an easy-to-digest banana or smoothie at least 30 minutes before working up a sweat.

Seizing up in your muscles? Dehydration may be the cause. Drink up before, during and after your sweat session. Then consider your diet: An imbalance of minerals, like getting too much sodium or calcium and not enough potassium or magnesium, or vice versa, can lead to cramping. You may need to load up on potassium-rich foods like avocado and coconut water, and foods high in magnesium like beans, leafy greens, and whole grains. Finally, consider doing nothing at all. Stress and overtraining can tax your muscles, so a day or two of rest may be in just what the doctor ordered.

About our Pro: Ashley Koff, R.D., a Los Angeles-based celebrity dietitian, counsels many elite and pro athletes. Visit her online at www.ashleykoffRD.com.