You’ve heard of downing a sports drink during or after a workout — you know the ones; they’re colorful and chock-full of electrolytes and are designed to pump those back into your system after you’ve sweated them out. As it turns out, pickle juice may be an alternative. Is this really a thing people do? Apparently, yes, and here’s why it’s piquing the interest of athletes and sweaty people everywhere.
Exercise & electrolytes
When you work out, you gradually experience fluid and electrolyte loss. You’re sweating it all out, in other words, and it’s normal. But if these substances are not replaced, it can lead to dehydration, which is not any fun at all and if severe enough can be a medical emergency.
The good news is people who sweat generally become thirsty and drink water, but some who exercise on the regular choose sports drinks to replenish electrolytes as well as the good ol’ H2O. In fact, your small intestine can absorb fluid better if you’re also taking in glucose and sodium, which results in quicker rehydration and improved overall health.
However, some are looking to their pickle jars and even swear by it as a post-workout routine. Why is that? Well, it’s all in the brine.
What exactly is pickle brine?
The traditional pickles we know and love start their journey as cucumbers, which are then packed in something called pickle brine. (Technically, any fruit or vegetable can be pickled, but the ones we typically think of first are the cucumber variety.) The brine solution is generally composed of salts, sugars and vinegar (although recipes vary), and these ingredients are what can make it ideal as a workout drink.
Caleb Backe is a health and wellness expert for Maple Holistics, and he tells SheKnows that while most of us simply dump out the remnants in the pickle jar after we’ve finished off each delicious slice, there may be some good stuff to be had after the pickles are all gone.
“In fact, the brine solution is actually loaded with antioxidants and nutrients,” he says. “Although it may sound odd, drinking the flavorful green juice may be one of the best post-workout snacks.”
He notes that pickle juice can help refuel the body’s potassium and sodium reserves as well as other electrolytes, which is, of course, what your body needs. He explains that while pickle juice isn’t necessarily high in either sodium or potassium, it’s unique in how fast and effectively it can transport its nutrients.
And there is an added bonus: Aside from aiding the body with fluid retention, the high levels of sodium also help prevent muscle cramps, he explains.
If you’re not into drinking pickle leftovers, there is actually a product that has been developed with this very idea in mind — it’s called Pickle Juice (so you don’t have to ask for “pickle brine” at your grocery store). “Pickle Juice is the only all-natural, purpose-built sports drink proven to fight muscle cramps at the neurological source,” said Filip Keuppens, vice president of global sales and marketing for The Pickle Juice Company. “It contains up to 14 times the electrolytes found in other common sports drinks without the sugar or additives.”
Next stop: The grocery store
A study out of department of health, nutrition and exercise sciences at North Dakota State University has indeed shown a connection between decreased muscle cramping and pickle brine ingestion, which makes the suggestion of pickle juice as a sports drink that much more valid. So, it’s up to you whether you’re up for downing some pickle juice instead of that sweet sports drink, but we have to say, it looks like it may be the real deal after all.