Potassium & Coke: Who Knew?

I’ve started getting headaches the last three days. At first, I could not figure out why. On the first day, I thought it was strange, but I assumed it had something to do with having my period. But by day three I was getting a bit freaked out. I never get headaches, and if I do it’s a one time isolated event.

My first reaction was that I was having caffeine withdrawal, but that didn’t make sense. I’m still easing off the coke, but I haven’t made a big step down. I had only cut out one soda for the week. Yet when I gave in and allowed myself to drink a soda the headache stopped. On the surface, it seemed like it was caffeine related, but that really wasn’t adding up.

See, I sat at 10 cokes a week for a couple of weeks, and I had felt fine. I didn’t think I should be having a major reaction by cutting down to nine cokes in the period of one week.

Then, as I was pondering if I should take some advil I got a cramp in my calf. That’s when I thought – aha! Postassium deficiency.

I’ve had a potassium deficiency once before  – a long time ago. I thought I had a handle on it. For those of you outside the Bikram yoga world, all the sweating we do in class can create potassium and magnesium deficiencies. I take a magnesium supplement almost daily.

Mark rasied the question about how much potassium is in soda. Turns out that Coke Zero (what I normally drink) is high in potassium for a soda. So, the theory is that I was getting some of my potassium through my obscene soda intake. When I cut back on the soda, I cut back on the potassium, but I did not replace that potassium through another source. And now I have a slight potassium deficiency. Yesterday I remedied that by taking a potassium supplement, eating a bananna, and drinking an extra coke. Hey – I was on my way out for the afternoon when all this clicked, and I needed to find a way to fix it quick. I’ll figure out today how to get more potassium in my system that doesn’t require an extra soda. It’s not that hard.



9 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Ellie
    Jan 07, 2013 @ 10:46:16

    Just add a banana or a magnesium based food like broccoli, molasses, almonds. You need to restore your pure water intake as well. I once had a pro golfer patient who experienced debilitating leg cramping. It was an easy fix when he added magnesium and water to his daily diet. (You might find that you are craving chocolate a little more too, which has magnesium in it.)

    You’ll overcome this – I once had a patient who drank 30 cups of coffee a day and she even overcame her addiction so you surely can because you’re sensible and determined! Best wishes in the new year!


    • leighahall
      Jan 07, 2013 @ 14:55:32

      Thanks Ellie. I am adding in more bananas. That’s easy to do as a snack. Almonds would be easy to have as a snack. My chocolate cravings are down at the moment. But thanks for the tip about chocolate and magnesium!


  2. leela
    Jan 07, 2013 @ 12:49:08

    Coconut water has a lot of potassium as well.


    • leighahall
      Jan 07, 2013 @ 14:56:07

      Good point leela! I am not a huge fan of coconut water, but it might be a good idea to try to work some in here and there. An easy thing to do along with my extra bananas.


  3. Meg
    Jan 07, 2013 @ 16:42:08

    First time commenter, although I’ve been following you for a few months now. But I didn’t get here because of any of the, um, interesting, search terms you’ve mentioned recently 🙂


    I love your blog and can relate to a lot of it (from the yoga to being another woman in academia, etc). I completely relate to this potassium thing! Work stuff had me sitting at only getting to yoga 2x/week for a whole academic year. I felt great during class (but of course wanted to be there much more frequently!). I jumped up to 4-5x/week for the summer and starting getting really woozy and having these massive headaches during and after class, every. single. time. Couldn’t figure out what was going on — I was plenty hydrated — then I remembered that the last time I was regularly in the hot room 5+ times/week I started paying very careful attention to my potassium intake. I started putting an EmergenC packet in 1L of water each afternoon with my regular before-practice-water and my headaches were gone immediately!

    I drink Coke Zero when I have soda — I didn’t realize it was “helping” my potassium when I had one.

    So glad that you have figured out what was going on with you and that it was as easy as potassium. I am continually fascinated by how seemingly small changes contribute to how we feel in such big big ways!


    • leighahall
      Jan 07, 2013 @ 19:31:45

      Welcome Meg! Do not be ashamed of googling naked bikram or Bikram Yoga Habenero Pepper Butt! Those are awesome ways to find me. 🙂 It’s so cool to meet another academic yogi. I put Propel in my water during class. I am addicted to the cherry limeade, but an EmergenC packet during the day is a great idea. Thanks!

      It is interesting how these little tweaks we do in terms of nutrition can have such a big impact on our bodies and practice.


  4. Simmm
    Jan 07, 2013 @ 17:30:13

    I like pomegranate for potassium. And I love love love pomegranate-blueberry juice (POM brand) with sparkling water (I prefer San Pellegrino for the minerals). It’s sparkly and yummy and better for you than soda 🙂


    • leighahall
      Jan 07, 2013 @ 19:32:40

      Ohhhhh that is such a yummy sounding idea! Thanks Simmm. Will look for it the next time I go to the store. I love hearing about everyone’s favorite things. Have you had a class with my Katie since she moved back to Michigan?


  5. LeighAHall (@LeighAHall)
    Dec 30, 2014 @ 16:20:39

    Potassium & Coke: Who Knew? http://t.co/fUxqsZqDOo #bikramyoga #yogaholicsmag


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