Episode #91: Cramping – Everything You Need to Know

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Fitness, Podcast

Click here for the full written transcript of this podcast episode

In this April 21st audio episode:cramping, insulin, exercising your calves, apple cider vinegar for fat loss, SPARK energy drink, analyzing supplement quality, bike tire choices, carb loading, staying fit through injuries, and more on mini-fasts – (sorry about some of the audio issues on this one – in the process of switching mics!)

Remember, if you have any trouble listening, downloading, or transferring to your mp3 player just e-mail [email protected]. And don't forget to leave the podcast a ranking in iTunes – it only takes 2 minutes of your time and helps grow our healthy community! Just click here to go to our iTunes page and leave feedback.


Featured Topic: Cramping

Dr. Pascal has been treating and creating miracles with high  school, college and world-class athletes for more than 17 years. His experience not only includes work with Olympic track and field stars but has spanned other sports and athletic disciplines as well. From 1990 to 1991, he worked with the Women's Pro Beach Volleyball tour, with gymnasts at the World Gymnastic Championships in 1991 and with golfers from 1994 to 1998 on the PGA Nike Golf tour.

Dr. Pascal grew up in Los Angeles, where he was the City Cross-Country Champion, ran the fastest mile at the California State Track & Field Championships, and was awarded the coveted moniker of “Athlete of the Year.”  He ran cross-country and track for UCLA, where he set the NCAA Intramural National Record for 800 meters, and was a  member of the NCAA National Championship Track & Field Dual Meet Team.

He was sponsored by Nike while competing for the Santa Monica Track Club (ranked as the #1 track team in the world at the time), and for the U.S. Team on the World Tour (Zurich, Berlin, Helsinki, Stockholm, Oslo). He has run the metric equivalent of a 3:57 mile, and was the 1,500-meter Champion at the 1983 World Games in Helsinki, Finland.

During our interview, Dr. Pascal and I discuss the following:

What are the cause factors for cramps?

Are certain people or body types more prone to cramping?

Are there foods that raise/lower the risk of cramping?

What about pickle juice as a preventive measure for cramping?

Is sodium chloride the only salt involved, or does it need anything else to work properly?

Are all cramps created equal, or can there be cramps related to dehydration vs. cramps related to muscular fatigue?

What are techniques to quickly rid the body of cramps that occur during competition?

Could fluid or electrolyte transport to the muscle actually not work properly in some people?

Can you actually massage a cramp out on the go, or should you just stop?

Can eating a carbohydrate or consuming gels help?

Can licking your own skin or sucking on a sweat band recycle some minerals?

During the interview, Dr Pascal also talks about the “Natural Vitality” minerals and products that he uses with his athletes. Click here to learn more about them.


Special Announcements:

1. $300 in cold, hard cash, a FREE Gymstick, and a 1 hour personal interview with Ben Greenfield…a free one year membership and access to all past archives of Ben’s Body Transformation Club….a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to get the body and health you’ve always wanted….Sound interesting? From May 1-May 15, Ben will be accepting entries for a brand new event called Ben’s 2010 Summer Body Challenge. 

2. The 2010 Ironman CDA Triathlon Camp is being taught by Ben Greenfield from Sunday, May 16- Wednesday May 19, 2010, and is specifically designed to completely prepare you for the race course, race day tactics and nutrition and pacing strategies for Ironman Coeur D' Alene! Click here for more information and to register.

3. Ever wonder if your swimming technique is all it could be? Want to know if your bike is fit properly, or if you have a good pedal stroke? Would you like to know if your running gait is slowing you down or setting you up for injury? Our online video analysis of swim, bike or run is quick way to get professional feedback, inexpensively. Click here to get started now with a swim, bike or run video analysis from Ben Greenfield and the team at Pacific Elite Fitness. Want to see what a video analysis looks like? Check it out by clicking here.

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Listener Q&A

Do you have a question for Ben? Just click Ask a Podcast Question at the bottom of this page and leave a voicemail, leave a Skype voicemail to username “pacificfit”, or e-mail [email protected].

B.J. asks: “I have found out through both blood tests and saliva tests that my fasting insulin level, and insulin level after a challenge meal are both so low as to be undetectable.  My endocrinologist gave me a glucose meter which I have used to check my blood glucose level at various times before and after meals.  I have never gotten a reading that was abnormal for the time it was taken in relation to a meal.  So it seems I am producing enough insulin even though it is low.  My doctor suggests that I may have insulin hypersensitivity and that I just don't need much to keep my blood sugar regulated.  I know that insulin is important in building muscle etc.  Can having low insulin such as I do hinder my athletic performance?  Is it common for generally fit people to have low insulin levels?  Should I be concerned about this or just consider it normal for me?”

Congratulations to B.J., who was nominated as the top question for this week's podcast! B.J. will receive a free month of membership to the Body Transformation Club, full access to the Club's secret video page, the life-changing piece of Club mail that I will personally send her  each week, and much more. To learn more about the Body Transformation Club, click here.

Listener Thomas asks: “I recently signed up for your podcast and am finally all in for this fitness push.  I am a 40yr former wrestler for Univ of Maryland.  I have recently (last 3 years) had tremendous problems with my calf muscles, I am 6 foot 275 pounds wrestled 190. My calf muscles are approximately 20 inches in circumference and I am constantly straining them and pulling them as I start to push myself with exercising.  I am signing up for the 2010 Summer Contest in May.  Can you make any suggestions?  I am using the elliptical and have found it to be less stressful on my legs didn't know if I should put off running until I get my weight much lower?  Any suggestions would really be appreciated.  BTW I started taking Magnesium and zinc and vitamin D and have never slept better.  Thanks.”

A big shout out to Thomas, who donated 25 bucks to the podcast! If you want to donate, just scroll down to the bottom of the page, and I'll mention you on the show!

Listener Phil asks: “I am currently training for IMCDA in June. Last week I had unexpected surgery on my abdominal area and surgeon has grounded me from anything except spinning on trainer for two weeks. What should I be doing to keep as strong as possible during this time? I can lift weights as long as they aren't too heavy.”

Listener Chuck asks: “I read an article recently that talked about a new way of carbo loading.  It did not mention what distance it was referring to, but the article suggested that instead of doing a traditional load over a few days, to instead do a very hard 3-minute exercise bout followed with 30 seconds at maximum speed 24 hours before the race.  Then for that next 24 hours, to eat 10g of carbohydrate per kilogram of bodyweight leading up to the race.  I was wondering what your thoughts on this were and if I got right what the article was saying? I was also wondering about the carbohydrates used during training, and those used for recovery after training: Should there be a difference between them?  For example, would taking a couple servings of Hammer Nutrition Heed carbohyrate formula after a workout be a good source of refueling carbs?”

Greg asks:  “I wonder if you could provide some advice on what type of wheels I should get for my Tri bike. I recently demoed a pair of high-end carbon tubular wheels and was blown away by the performance but many folks say that I shouldn't use tubulars for racing since they are difficult to repair and could cost you the race. I will never podium so I am willing to take the risk but others are saying that I should go with a clincher since the performance gap is not that big anymore.  Any thoughts?”

Tina asks: “I've been using your recommended green supplement, EnerPrime, for about 2 months now and I'm really enjoying the energy and feeling of wellness I get from it.  As mentioned on your podcast, I did experience about 4 weeks of very itchy skin and a mild rash as I released the toxins from my body which eventually subsided.  Since EnerPrime can be quite expensive, I decided to try another green supplement from Trader Joe's that was more cost effective.  However, shortly taking the Trader Joe's version, I started experiencing the same itchy skin and rash symptoms.  Why would I have to detox again if I was already taking EnerPrime but then switched to another green supplement?  Does the other green supplement release different toxins?  And how do I tell the difference in quality between green supplements?

2) In your last podcast, you talked about mini-fasts with a 30-45 minute aerobic cardio session to burn extra fat.  Would you recommend this mini-fast if you were also doing weight training?  I like this concept, but I only work out in the early mornings and I'd like your opinion on how to do workouts and use these mini-fasts optimally.”

DeAnna asks: “I have a question.  I just recently tried a sample of an energy drink called SPARK made by a company called Advocare.  Is this an ok energy drink? Because I really liked it better than any of the energy drinks and it seems to be better for me?”

Kelly asks: “I love listening to your podcasts.  I am an avid marathon runner and enjoy listening to all your advice on training tips and nutrition.  Despite logging the miles necessary to run a 3:40 marathon (In Boston) I still struggle to keep my weight down.  I am a tall  5'10” 39 year old female who has always been involved in sports ( I have a fair amount of muscle on my frame).  I currently weigh about 156 pounds but it seems like a constant struggle to keep the pounds off and it seems next to impossible to lose that irritating 10 pounds that hang around my midsection.  I am willing to try anything and would like to know your thoughts on using natural weightloss aids such as apple cider vinegar etc.  My bmi is around 22.5 but I would like to get it down to 20 (or 145 pounds) because according to your optimal race weight I should be at about 140 pounds (although this might be a little unrealistic).  Currently, I run 3x ( 2 runs of about 1 hour at a 8 minute per mile pace and one long slower run at about an 8:40 pace) per week and usually do weights once per week.  Is there anything I can do nutritionally  or using a natural supplement like apple cider vinegar to lose the weight?  I can't see myself adding anymore workouts to my current schedule because of a busy work schedule and family commitments.  I know that lifting weights can help.”

Remember, if you have any trouble listening, downloading, or transferring to your mp3 player just e-mail [email protected].And don't forget to leave the podcast a ranking in iTunes – it only takes 2 minutes of your time and helps grow our healthy community! Just click here to go to our iTunes page and leave feedback.

Brand newget insider VIP tips and discounts from Ben – conveniently delivered directly to your phone! Just complete the information below…

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Ask Ben a Podcast Question

3 thoughts on “Episode #91: Cramping – Everything You Need to Know

  1. JoeBruin88 says:

    Hi Ben, Dr. Pascal mentioned taking minerals as a prophylactic measure against cramping. Does that mean drinking an electrolyte sports drink for several days before a big race? If that is so, wouldn't the electrolytes just get flushed out with urination? Or wouldn't this extra ingestion of electrolytes just throw off the electrolyte balance?

    1. Your body can store extra sodium, up to about 8g. ONce you're there, any extra won't do you any good, but if you're on a low sodium diet, then before an event, stepping up sodium could help you store more.

  2. Lance says:

    I liked the cramping interview, especially with warmer weather on the way. What an awesome resume that guy has to discuss the topic! I just wanted to chime in that when I switched to Hammer HEED and Endurolytes last summer I noticed improvement. Then I started adding aproduct called “Electro Mix” (from the company that makes Emergen-C) to my all day water bottle, and I noticed even more improvement. The final improvement came after I started listening to your podcast and learned about the importance of magnesium, which I had suspected, but didn’t know much about. I got great results from the Natural Calm powder and the topical magnesium oil. On a weird side note, a colleague told me at lunch that her crazy mother actually got hyponatremia from popping pills! Those were big glasses of water, or A LOT of pills!

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