I’ll let you in on a secret: I’m not a fan of pickle juice, but as a runner, I drink it anyway. Pickle juice benefits runners in several ways, including keeping them hydrated, reducing cramps, and improving their energy levels post-workout. Let’s explore this a little further and give you all of the facts.
Why Do Runners Drink Pickle Juice? The Science Behind the Madness!
Most people strive to reduce their salt intake. But many runners have the opposite problem—they need to increase how much sodium they consume since they lose so much when sweating.
It just so happens that pickle juice contains lots of salt. It also has potassium, which, combined with sodium, are the key ingredients in electrolyte drinks like Gatorade.
The sodium and potassium that runners can get from drinking pickle juice are important because they help balance the fluids and electrolytes in the body. Unlike plain water, which runs through your system quickly, sodium and potassium help retain water.
Furthermore, studies show that pickle juice can eliminate muscle cramps within 35 seconds after drinking it. Researchers believe this is due to the vinegar in pickle juice blocking the neurological signal that kickstarts a muscle cramp.
Benefits of Pickle Juice for Runners
Unlike some runner performance tools that target a specific area, pickle juice can work wonders on a runner’s body in multiple ways. So, don’t be surprised if you start plugging your nose and downing some pickle juice as part of your running routine.
The advantages you can experience by drinking pickle juice as a runner include:
- Reduced chance of muscle cramps
- Improved hydration
- Improved energy
- It gets you over a hangover
I hope none of you are drinking excessive alcohol before a long run. But if the situation calls for it, you’ll need to time your pickle juice consumption before you go to bed so that it can help your body deter dehydration while you sleep.
Here’s what else you need to know if you do go running after a night of drinking.
Timing Pickle Juice Consumption
Runners know that the quality of their fitness depends, in part, on timing the consumption of their protein shakes, creatine, and other supplements. So, now that you know the answer to “Why do runners drink pickle juice?” it’s time to assess when to drink pickle juice for optimal performance.
Pickle Juice for Cramps
Given the study we cited earlier, you can drink pickle juice when you feel a cramp. You can then expect it to subside as quickly as 35 seconds.
Drinking pickle juice before a cramp even occurs might help you reduce its risk, given pickle juice’s vinegar concentration.
Pickle Juice for Hydration
If you’re a long-distance runner, you could benefit from increased hydration by drinking pickle juice during your run. You’ll need to experiment with the right timing, but if you don’t know where to start, I recommend trying the two-hour mark.
The good news is that you don’t have to drink tons of pickle juice to feel the benefits of hydration.
Dehydration can present in many ways, including ‘runners headache.’ Check out our article for what causes a headache after running.
Pickle Juice for Energy
Your body uses glucose for energy during a run, which your body converts from carbohydrates. So naturally, you may feel that you have lower energy levels after a long run until you eat some food.
But instead of making a be-line to carbs, try drinking some pickle juice with them. The vinegar in pickle juice may help increase carbohydrate absorption, giving back the energy you had (and hopefully more!) before your run.
When It’s Bad To Drink Pickle Juice
If you’re not a pickle fan, then anytime might seem like a bad time to drink its juice. I sympathize, and you might be onto something given its off-putting taste.
If you already suffer from high blood pressure, it’s best to pass on the pickle juice until you speak with your doctor. That’s because the high sodium in pickle juice can worsen this issue.
High sodium can also cause swelling and bloating. So, drinking pickle juice might fuel the fire if you have a preexisting condition involving inflammation.
You also need to take care with the quantity of pickle juice you drink. If you consume a lot, you could fall victim to digestive distress like gas and stomach pain—issues you certainly don’t want to experience mid-run.
If you’re still trying to decide if pickle juice is the right fit for you, it’s best to speak with your doctor or personal trainer. You may also need to cut back on your intake of electrolyte drinks to make room for the excess sodium and potassium from pickle juice in your diet.