Will Pickle Juice Really Become the Next Sports Drink for Exercisers?

By , SparkPeople Blogger
Early last week my colleague and dailySpark.com editor Stepfanie Romine, sent me an idea for a blog about using pickle juice as a electrolyte replacement source for exercisers . She actually stumbled across the idea from one of the comments left on her blog from a Spark member regarding the use of energy gels and supplements.

My first thought was--FOR REAL? In my almost 4 years of running I have come across a number of electrolyte replacement sources in my time--everything from Gatorade and PowerAde to Pedialyte, salt tablets, even pretzels, but I have never heard of anyone using pickle juice to rehydrate or replace electrolytes with. But it makes sense.

As we run, or for that matter exercise, our body loses large amounts of water along with electrolytes--potassium, magnesium, calcium, and especially sodium. It has been documented that some people can lose as much as 3,000 mg of sodium per hour in high temperatures while performing heavy duty training. For this reason the need to replace the electrolytes, especially sodium, becomes imperative as they help our body to retain fluid which helps maintain a higher blood volume. Electrolytes also play a major role in maintaining nerve and muscle function.

While Gatorade and PowerAde have been the standard in the industry for some time now, according to an article written in Boston Globe in June 2009, many athletes are now turning to pickle juice, sauerkraut juice and even mustard to raise their sodium levels. Note that by increasing your sodium levels during exercise you are also increasing your thirst; subsequently a drop in sodium levels can bring a drop in thirst.

But does the average athlete really benefit from a greater sodium intake? If you are one prone to heavy sweating. you exercise in the heat or for a long period of time in warm temperatures you will want to consider using something more than water to rehydrate with. As to how much sodium one needs will vary, but according to running expert Matt Fitzgerald's answer to How much salt do you need running? " there's no measurable benefit associated with consuming extra salt" so as with everything else, moderation is key.

So if you feel you need the extra boost from a sodium based drink and you are tired of the same ol' Gatorade and Powerade, consider mixing up some pickle juice with water and carry a bottle with you, but make sure you pack water as well. The added sodium, as mentioned earlier, will increase your rate of thirst.

Have you heard of drinking pickle juice, or for that matter sauerkraut juice, as a source for replacing lost sodium? If not, would you consider giving up your Gatorade or PowerAde for pickle juice?

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I would, I have, I love pickle juice.. beet juice... saurkraut juice.... Bragg's Natural Apple Cider Vinegar. They all help. I also use Celtic Sea Salt or Himalayan salts - they are a natural blends of salts already in their optimal ratios (magnesiums, calciums, sodiums etc)... read the info like on www dot watercures dot com etc. They make great electrolyte replacers. Gateraide etc has too much artificial coloring and fake sweeteners - I do better making my own with water, diluted fruit juices or Bragg's NACV, stevia for sweetener, and sea salt or himalayan salt etc. Much tastier and faster and cheaper and better for me! even let a peppermint teabag soak in the mix for extra flavor and healthy benefits. Report
When my grandson was 3 or 4, we had bought a large jar of pickles from Costco and when there were just a couple left, he sat on his skateboard in the drive way and drank the juice right out of the jar. The neighbors started calling him Mr. Pickles. Report
I love dill pickle juice... and when I drink it, I often find that I drink at least 4-6 oz at a time, almost compulsively. That it replaces electrolytes never occurred to me; I just know that sometimes my body seems to need it. Report
My husband swears by it. He cramps rather easily and it seems to help, so what can I say. I took a pill last night with it (by accident). You can imagine my surprise when I thought I was drinking Gatorade and got pickle juiced instead. Report
Ugh. I would never use it, as I find pickles repulsive. However, I have seen it used for years. I belong to a medieval recreation group, and the fighters (think European medieval martial arts) have been downing pickle juice after battles for as long as I have been a member (which is about 15 years). Report
The Philadelphia Eagles famous drank it during a very hot September game against the Dallas Cowboys a few years ago. Report
Wouldn't vinegar do the same thing as that is the main ingridient in pickles juice, saurkraut juice and mustard? Report
We think so at Bobs Pickle Pops. We were invited by the American Diabetes Association to hand out our 2oz serving size of pickle pops to the cyclists in the San Antonio to Austin Tour De Cure. The cyclists love them. Report
One of the volunteers in our marathon training program provides crackers with peanut butter and dill pickles out on the course--delicious. I used to drink pickle juice when I was a kid, and still do once in a while after a run. In fact, many of us have bought pickles and peanut butter just so we can recreate the snack when we're not training. But it's only good if you like pickles. Report
i've learned the value of dill pickle juice late in my 'drinking career'. i was extremely hung over, my dad told me to drink some dill pickle juice. i did, fell asleep for a 1/2 hour, and woke up perfectly fine!
he said the family doctor used to use this method if he got called to the hospital from a wedding/party. he said the pickle juice soaked up the sugar in the alcohol.
i've also heard of coaches in the south making their football teams drink pickle juice during the heat wave a couple years ago. it kept their teams from fainting when all the other teams were dropping from the heat. Report
My daughter always loved dill pickles. When sick, and not able to keep any other food down, she was able to eat pickles, keep them down, and dramatically improved. On hot summer days, she craved pickles even more, and we obliged, buying those monster size jars of pickles from Sam's Club! Report
I love pickles, but to drink the juice is gross! Report
Isn't pickle juice mainly vinegar? or vinegar and salt? with perhaps a trace of dill or whatever flavoring you might have added? Why not just drink vinegar?

I seriously dislike pickles, so I'd never do this. However, I've read that chocolate milk is just as effective at hydration as the commercial electrolyte drinks (gatorade, powerade, etc). Sounds much more delicious to me! And none of the scary unpronounceable chemicals you see in the Xades. (Quick, someone jump in and complain about high calories in chocolate milk - as long as you point out that Xades have lots of calories as well...) Report
I used to really like dill pickles and ate a lot of them and would even drink some of the juice. I still eat them some but not like when I was younger. My children and grandchildren like dill pickles. I never knew there could be benifits from eating them or drinking the juice. Report
This brings back memories of my son in JR. High. He would eat a giant pickle before he ran in track. If he wanted a pickle to help him run faster, I wasn't going to tell him otherwise...Now, to find out that it might have actually kept him hydrated is funny. I will pass this on to him. Report
Wasn't it Napoleon who offered pickle juice to his troops as a way to keep them hydrated? Report
I use to drink pickle juice when I was younger. I craved it after a workout. I just thought I was weird. Now I know why. I drink SmartWater now to get my electrolytes. Report
I'd drink pickle juice as electrolyte replacement. I'd prefer it over the sweet drinks, actually. Sounds like an old fashioned remedy that a lot of people acknowledge but hasn't gone mainstream, like Crown Royal and honey as a cough syrup. I wouldn't drink sauerkraut juice, although I do like to strain the liquid out and eat it right out of the jar as a snack... one of my quirks... Report
DENMOM1 I love to garden. During the summer I lose a lot of water
11/3/2009 through perspiration. When I come inside I start drinking
7:11:10 AM lots of fluids but I found that I craved sweet pickle juice
and it really works! Report
My son Is on the high school football team, and the coach has recommended pickle juice, the only problem was that he drank the whole jar................. Report
I love pickles but would never have thought this would work. Report
My grandfather always drank pickle juice - he said it put hair on your chest. I really never wanted hair on my chest, so I've always refrained. A good kosher dill, however, I will enjoy. Report
My Grandmother used to make haymakerís ginger water in the summer when we were working in the fields. The main benefit of ginger water, is the ingredients are easy on the stomach. One can drink it without getting sick. It quenches your thirst better than anything else on a hot summer day, and costs next to nothing to prepare.

It is a refreshing, electrolyte drink, originated in the 1600s in the West Indies. There are many different recipes.

Go to my spark page for my grandma's recipe, and more.
I hadn't heard of pickle juice as an electrolyte replacement source before this but as a bartender it's one of those weird "old bar hag's" remedies that my mentor told me about as a remedy for hiccups! I was seriously skeptical the first time this info was presented to me but it works every time in less than a minute most times! Just a quarter shot in our glassware, (half an ounce) does the trick! (Although, as some mentioned here, just eating the whole pickle will work too if you don't wanna shoot the juice! LOL) Report
Sounds like someone wants us to buy more pickles. Even if it works, it's impractical. I'm active but not an endurance athlete. Water works just fine for me. Report
I LOVE pickle juice, have since I was a kid! But only the one that contains NO vinegar. Report
I can't stand pickles! It all but a phobia LOL. My friends use to taunt me with them. Report
In everything that I've read I've never heard of drinking pickle juice. A good Sparkfriend sent me some information about fueling and electrolyte replacement. After doing much research I've gone to using Hammer Nutrition's electrolyte replacements. They contain more than just sodium chloride to keep your entire electrolytes in check. Report
I love sweet pickle juice and sliced dill pickle juice. Not that I can drink huge amounts but its really good and something I have on hand and don't have to go out to buy. Report
Pickle juice - just to drink? Don't think so for me, but I'd take a couple swallows of black olive juice. Report
Pickle juice might be okay -- just very strong. But the very idea of sauerkraut juice makes me gag. Report
I certainly hope not! I make home made pickles every year and they are loaded with sodium. What a
great way to increase your blood pressure!
Erin Report
There is no way I could even consider that - pickles and their juice make me ill!! Report
I use to drink pickle juice and green olive juice as a kid, lol Report
I never drink any of those electrolyte replacement drinks, but I have always loved pickle juice. I used to beg my mother as a child to buy jars of pickles and I would drink the juice after they were all gone. Who Knew? Report
I can see drinking pickle juice once you're home for a quick sodium replacement, but the idea of drinking it during exertion is gastrointestinal disaster waiting to happen. Um, there's a reason why sodium's a major ingredient in many OTC enemas, folks. All that salt, combined with the vinegar... [cringe]. Report
I love pickles and I do actually drink pickle juice if I've gotten super sweaty. I don't like gatorade or other power drinks. Water and pickle juice are super yummy! Report
This kinda affirms my theory. I HATE pickles, always have. Over the summer I started craving them to the point I actually bought a jar. When I popped open that baby I ate several in a row. Trust me there is no way I'm pregnant.
I've also been plagued with leg cramps off and on for years. I told my Dr that I wasn't walking as much as he wanted due to leg cramping. Well he ran a test and found that I was pretty much depleted in magnesium. He ordered me to take supplements at almost 4 times the max dose - I was that low. Within days the cramping stopped and so has the pickle cravings and back to the thought of eating them nauseates me. Report
Humph, I've known for over 20 years that we lose more potassium in our perspiration than sodium. So this is a very strange notion, except for hardcore athletes, such as frequent marathon runners and ultramarathoners. Report
In a heartbeat. I've always loved pickles. When I ate them as a regular snack growing up I was always thin. After I got 'too big' to snack on pickles and picked up other snacks I began to gain weight. I never put these two together since about that time I also had children. (I blame it on them 8^)) I've heard that adding straight vinegar helps you metabolise faster by balancing your digestive juices so that you lose weight and I've used pickle juice for this, especially when I feel bloated after a big meal. This makes sense too, using the sodium to balance your electrolytes and help you drink more water. Great blog, great idea! Thanks. Report

Who's gonna eat all the leftover pickles?
Since cucumbers are almost completely water, anyway, it would seem to me you'd get the same benefit from eating the tasty, crunchy, satisfying pickles as a workout snack. Report
I grew up fighting my family members for the pickle juice so this just proves that we aren't nuts!!

LOL. Report
I've never heard of drinking it for health reasons. More often, when you drink a little pickle juice and others see it, they think you're weird. But it is rather tasty. Report
my hubby makes fun of me because if u look in the fridge the pickle jar has only pickle and NO juice lol.i love pickle juice ive been drinking it for years, its also good for kidney infections. well good to know i was doing something good for me all along Report
I have not heard of this before. On a hot day it might be worth a try. Thanks for the article. Report
Yep, my husband drinks it in the summer after mowing or a long bike ride, not for me though. Report
Ive learned that there are two people in this world: People that have or would drink pickle juice and then there are people would never ever think of drinking it. I love pickle juice and green olive juice. I also sweat a whole lot when working in the yard and exercising. Maybe I should think about adding this as a supplement to my exercise. Report
I've never heard of pickle juice or sauerkraut for this, but coconut water (from green coconuts) is wonderful for rehydration. It's an isotonic solution that's nearly identical to blood plasma. It's got more potassium than a banana, and it's got tons of electolytes. You can get it at most grocery stores in cans or bottles. Report
Pickle juice? Seriously? I used to drink pickle juice when I was younger. In fact, I am learning that a lot of things I did when I was younger seem to apply now. I guess whoever wrote the book about "Everything I know I learned in Kindergarten", really hit the nail on the head. Report
I stick to water and some fruit or a sandwich to get my energy en sodium back. Here in the Netherlands there is talk about that people eat too much salt/sodium (even when you eat 'normal'), increasing healthrisks. So I'd be carefull with what you punt into your mouth. There is sodium in a lot of 'normal' food. Drinking pickel juice - to my opinion - is not one of them. Report
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