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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Whew ! That is too much sodium for me.. I'll not consider. Report
I love pickle juice (dill, not sweet) and cut back on it for awhile due to sodium concerns. But, I'm now on a medication that depletes my sodium and doc told me to get more sodium so I drink it freely, as well as black olive juice when I eat black olives. It's also helpful for constipation (maybe that's TMI, but it's true!). Report
I drank pickle juice as a child and up into early adulthood, but after being diagnosed with high blood pressure I cut it out of my diet along with other salty foods. Report
WoHoo! I love pickle juice... in fact I always sipped on it after I mowed the lawn... it seemed to make me feel a wee bit better....... of course I chugged my water..... Report
Gross! Report
I have actually used both quite successfully for stomach aches and leg cramps. Report
Not for me, thanks! Just the thought makes me a little ill. I also don't drink gatorade or other sports drinks, either. I find that a few pretzels do the trick and are quite tasty as well! Report
Wonder if olive juice would work as well.

I don't like Gatorade because the sugar content upsets my stomach. I add lemon and a little salt to my water for sodium, Vit C, and flavor. I'm not very good about drinking or eating during a race walk session, though. Report
it's a little weird for me, I think.... little weird. Report
I actually like the taste of pickle juice, better than I do the commercial electrolyte replacements. I get horrendous leg cramps because of the various illnesses and conditions I have, and my grandmother recommended it as a remedy. Particularly with the home canned ones, it stops the cramping dead in its tracks. Report
Some of my friends have used this method while doing the Athens to Atlanta in-line road skate (87 miles). Another friend was in a coma for 3 days becuase he didn't have enough sodium while doing this event. As a checkpoint volunteer this year we had salty snacks like chips, peanut butter & jelly, nutella on club crackers, beef jerky and a canister of Morton's lite salt with potassium. When your excersing HARD and your body craves something, if you can stomach it, eat it or drink it (chocolate milk - even beer). Report
Since I am OTD, I had another use for dill pickle juice. Since there was a soup salad line in our company cafeteria, I had them put some pickle juice on my salad instead of the full fat dressings that were the only game in town back in the olden days. Report
Sorry, but if I NEEDED electrolyte drinks, pickle juice would NOT EVER be an alternative! MUCH as I love pickles....thanks but no thanks! Report
I love the taste of pickle juice, but usually avoid it because I know it's high in sodium. It's great to know that there actually a time when my body can use that! I'll be trying this trick - sounds like a refreshing electrolyte replacement.

I live in Texas too, and haven't heard of the pickle-juice sno-cones, but I may have to give that a try! Report
Um, are we talking dill pickle juice or sweet pickle juice? I cannot imagine drinking either. Sounds totally disgusting to me. Report
Nope, don't think it will be on my list of drinks. Interesting though! Report
To each their own. I love to eat dill pickles on a hot summer day but I cannot quite immagine drinking the juice. Report
It works! When I was a high schooler in Miami we took ballet classes in an outdoor theater. The teacher told the tired ones about eating a big fat pickle before class. He said it would take care of what ailed us (fatigue) and it worked !! Report
I love pickle juice and have all my life. Here in Texas we have pickle juice snow cones in the summer...they are wonderful! Report
I never heard of pickle juice for sodium, but no thanks. We all usually get enough salt, especially in packaged foods and I don't need any more puffy eyes . Report
I love this! I have always had a taste for both pickle and sauerkraut juice, which my husband finds disturbing. It will be funny to tell him there are actually benefits from it! :) Ha, I think I'll suggest it next time he gets leg cramps, hee hee! Report
Pickle juice would be ok but not sauerkraut juice. Report
I always do this on vacation. Every year I take the same trip to a big festival in PA, and every year we get lots of pickles for the trip. The first four days or so, after we spend hours in the hot sun digging ditches and sumps, setting up big medieval pavillions, and doing lots of heavy lifting, the first thing we get out is lots of water and some of the pickles. Can't live without it. I even started having pickles or pickle juice after my run on the hottest days there. You can tell when you need it, because pickle juice will taste like some miracle nectar when your body needs what is in it.

We also have swigs of it after hours of singing (which is half of what we're there to do), as it seems to do the trick on a worn out voice box. Report
My husband has been doing this for years. He used to work in construction and during the summer months he would SWEAT! He'd drink pickle juice to help get salt back into his system. Either that or V8 with salt added.
He says he used to drink pickle juice when he was sick as well. Personally I can't imagine drinking anything "stronger" than 7up when I'm sick. Report
It truly doesn't sound all that great....too salty. But love sauerkraut so maybe could just eat some of that too. However, it was interesting to read that SMCBELLE indicated that she was told to drink it for leg cramps. I have been having them horribly lately so may just try that. Report
I am crazy about pickle juice in ice water. But I am on a low sodium diet and I guess I don't sweat enough to drink pickle juice. Makes my mouth water thinking about it. Report
I get horrible leg cramps at night and my doctor told me to drink pickle juice. It worked! Report
this sounds so bizarre but i love pickles so maybe i will give it a shot! i haven't gotten into the whole refueling aspect of running but i'm starting to learn more and this does make sense. definitely don't think i'll be giving sauerkraut juice a try any time soon! ick. Report
ew! lol NO thankyou!! Report
I play softball during the late spring - early fall months. The sport drinks at these complexes and parks are very expenses like $2 - $2.50 for a regular size bottle. Most will not allow you to bring in your own drinks. So it has become very common to see players who are crapping drinking pickle juice and eating mustard pakages. Report
I virtually stopped eating the pickles I love many years ago because of all the additives. Maybe I should read the labels again. Have they improved? Don't they still add alum to pickles? Know that additives are concentrated in the juice, so you're eating more of them than the label says you eat in a serving of pickle. Report
I am ALWAYS asking my neighbors to save their left over pickle juice for me. I make a cold vegetarian beet soup for the summer that is absolutely wonderful. During the winter, I use use short ribs and make a hot beet soup. Both of these use pickle juice, the cold version more than the hot borszt. (beet soup) Very yummy!! Report
As John McEnroe used to say, YOU CANNOT BE SERIOUS. Report
I don't know if I could do pickle juice, not a big fan of pickles, but I wonder if olive juice would have a similar effect! I love olive juice and that has lots of salt too! Report
pickle juice isn't for everyone.. in my house pickle juice was always a favorite for me but just a sip or so. my kids also liked it . But in my brothers house their kids HATED pickle juice and it was used as a great deterrent if they lied or swore they got a spoonful of pickle juice in their mouth. No harm but it sure worked as a deterrent. Much better then soap... yuck!!! Report
The origins of Gatorade actually came from pickle juice. The players were using pickle juice for hydration and someone used this as the basis to develop what we now know as Gatorade. Report
This cracks me up! Every now and then, I drink a small amount of pickle juice after finishing a jar. It's delicious! And here I thought I was the only one.... :D Report
I'll admit that I have not heard of this practice, but it doesn't surprize me. Pickle juice is a good source of sodium because of the brine. Still, I don't know if I'd had to chug pickle juice after a run. Some how it strikes me as just too much sodium.

I could see using pickle juice after a marathon. People would have very depleted electrolytes. However, I can't see using this for shorter runs. It strikes me as a temporary gimic. Might work for some people, but I can't see it working for everyone.

I have ALWAYS loved the entire jar of pickle juice. I never knew it could be considered "healthy". I have got to send this to my often grossed-out wife. Report
When I was in camp, I used to drink pickle juice just to gross everybody out. Now that I think of it, I'm sure that it helped me get through the summer because I was being pretty active. I like the taste of pickle juice but as a refresher after a hard workout? I dunno... sounds intriguing. Report
I'll pass, thank you. However, I love pickles so everything would be fine if it turned out that pickles themselves proved sufficient. Report
I'd not heard of this before. It makes a lot of sense though, especially the sweet pickles like bread & butter or icicle pickles. My Mom always kept leftover pickling juice to use as seasoning in some dishes she made, especially dressings for potato salad or coleslaw. If it's sufficiently diluted, I would think it wouldn't be anymore salty than the commercial recovery drinks.
As for the sauerkraut, since learning to make my own fermented kraut and kimchi, I wouldn't waste leftover juice on a recovery drink. The cultured juices are great starter for the next batch and there is not a lot like in jarred or bagged varieties.
Absolutely I would give up the commercial stuff for this, since I already don't care for the extra stuff in them such as the artificial colors and other unpronouncables. I rarely need recovery drinks though. I tend to keep them around for dehydration due to illnesses. Report
I like pickles but drinking the juice does nothing for me, but thanks for the article; was interesting! I'll stick to drinking water!!! Report
I do not run for health reasons and I am restricted on my sodium intake. But this sounds good for the younger generation. I do like pickle juice. Report
For the past 10 years I have run the concession stand at our city baseball park. One of our biggest sellers is frozen pickle juice. Players, coaches, and fans swear by it in the summer heat. Report
Yes, I would drink either of them. I love pickle juice. I used to drink it on ice when I was a youngster. I would go to the picture show and order a pickle juice. I loved it and still do. Report
i knew i loved pickle juice for a reason!! Report
Oooooh - who knew something so good could be so good for you?
I drank pickle juice ONCE as a kid and promptly vomited. I cannot imagine how this could be good for you. I think I'll stick with water and the occasional G2 also. Fun article though. Report
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