Can coffee cause cramps in your legs when you go for a walk and exercise?

I had debilitating thigh cramping during my early morning walks, and coffee might’ve been the cause.

During pandemic times, a habit I started to do was early morning walks for at least an hour.

In the last half of 2023 and into 2024, however, I’d start to get muscle cramping in my thighs to the point where I’d have to stop and take a breather for a few minutes for the cramping to subside before continuing.

Sometimes the muscle cramps would get so bad I’d have to abort the walk entirely. With a cramping sensation, I’d painfully make my way back home.

This muscle cramping even carried over to my cycling, if I waited a bit, ate some breakfast, drank some water, and attempted to cycle after the cramping/walking episode, I’d cramp up on the bike, too.

It was seriously getting debilitating and depressing, as walking and cycling are my two main ways to exercise.

I tried all sorts of methods to stop the muscle cramps from happening, including taking a multi-vitamin to address any nutritional deficiencies, taking a magnesium supplement, eating more bananas for potassium, supplementing Gatorade for electrolytes, and stretching every day.

I even made sure to drink plenty of water, more so than I normally do. I was peeing a lot.

Nothing worked effectively.

The muscle cramping episodes would go away on their own after a week or two, but a month later, they’d reappear to derail my exercise.

What worked for me.

What finally worked for me was eliminating caffeine before exercise.

How I’d normally start my exercise before my walks was drinking three large glasses of half coffee and water.

Weird, I know.

I usually start my day with coffee so, to facilitate drinking a cup and a half as fast as possible, I’d mix in cold water.

Half coffee+Half water = one glass of liquid I’d be able to chug down.

During my walks, I’d pee a lot.

Coffee is a diuretic.

What I realized is the coffee was eliminating the water that my body needed.

Instead of the water hydrating my muscles, they stayed in a dehydrated state and weren’t getting enough water (if that’s even a scientific way of explaining it.)

I’d wake up essentially dehydrated, drink my coffee+water, and I wouldn’t get hydrated enough.

I cut coffee before my morning walk and just drank warm water.

Since then, those weird, early morning leg muscle cramps are no more (fingers crossed.)

Not surprisingly, I’m peeing less during my walks, which leads me to believe the water that I would’ve literally whizzed away is doing its hydrating duties.

When I do drink coffee, it’s after exercise.

If you’re someone who gets leg cramps early in the morning with no discernible cause but happen to drink coffee before exercise, hopefully this helps you out.

Try eliminating coffee before exercise and drink water (or a decaffeinated beverage instead.)

It might solve your muscle cramping problems.

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