Pickle juice. It doesn’t sound like something you’d want to drink ever, let alone every day as part of an exercise regime. However, that is exactly what a cohort of fitness buffs are on to at the moment, and they claim that the benefits are so good, you should try it too.
The wellness world went wild for celery juice earlier this year, with a range of celebrities endorsing its benefits from Miranda Kerr to Goop-founder Gwyneth Paltrow. However, after a string of bad press, celebs like Jessica Alba openly slating it and worrying studies (one of which even revealed that celery juice can increase your risk of skin cancer), the celery juice trend has been somewhat shelved.
This has left plenty of room for pickle juice to make an entrance – but can the fad really catch on?
What is Pickle Juice?
First of all, no, it’s not the brine that you can normally buy pickles in.
Secondly, there’s the actual juice of a pickle, and then there’s Australian company ‘Pickle Juice’.
‘Pickle Juice’ sell a 100% natural, purpose built isotonic sports drink that they describe as, “a vinegar base mixed with triple filtered water containing no sugar, no caffeine and has added vitamins C and E plus zinc, potassium and sodium.”
If you’re wondering where the pickle comes in, it doesn’t. The beverage contains all the same properties as pickle juice and the flavour of the drink comes from the addition of 100% natural dill oil – which is what gives it the pickle taste and why the company call their 75ml shots ‘pickle juice’.
What are the benefits of drinking Pickle Juice?
Tennis stars at the Australian Open have reportedly been seen sipping it and various AFL and NRL clubs are also using pickle juice, thanks to the claims that it can help prevent cramping and because it contains electrolytes which we all know are good for hydration and muscle function.
“Pickle Juice will both prevent cramping or act as a cure to stop the cramp once it has occurred,” Pickle Juice Australia say on their website.
How does it work?
“Researchers have found there are neural receptors located at the back of the throat which send the cramp message to the muscles,” Pickle Juice explains on their website. “When the active ingredient in Pickle Juice (the vinegar base) comes into contact with these receptors it switches off the cramp message and the spasm will cease almost instantaneously.”
This is based on a study by Professor Martin Schwellnus, Professor of Sport and Exercise Medicine at the University of Pretoria.
A study by Dr Kevin Miller at the Central Michigan University also supports the argument that pickle juice can help alleviate muscle cramps, however leading dietitian Susie Burrell warns that while pickle juice may work for pro-athletes, it’s not necessarily something that a regular gym-goer should be taking shots of before weekly workouts.
“Nutritionally pickle juice is relatively high in mineral salts and low in calories and as such is used by a number of sports dietitians and sports scientists as an alternative to sports drinks to help relieve muscle cramps,” Susie explains.
“There is some evidence to support their use in this way but it is not conclusive.
“Drinking pickle juice might be worth a try for those who cramp regularly or train a high intensity regularly to see if it does help recovery but for a general recreational athlete it probably will not do much.
“Health wise there could be some gut and blood glucose benefits but likely small and probably not really worth the effort unless you love pickles and don’t mind drinking the juice!”
So, is pickle juice just another fad?
The founders of Pickle Juice Australia would, of course, argue against the idea that this is just another wellness fad, doomed to disappear like celery juice and other fads before it.
“Pickle Juice and its benefits have been understood for years by elite athletes, especially in the USA. We are just now taking this ‘secret ingredient’ to the broader market of weekend warriors and to those who suffer the agonising inconvenience of muscle cramps,” Pickle Juice say on their website.
However, the jury is still out on this one. Only time and further scientific study will tell if this is really a health and fitness trend with longevity.
As for Susie’s verdict? “I wouldn’t be going out and buying it unless I was an elite level footy player and found it helped my recovery.”
As advised by the pickle juice founders, always seek a doctor’s advice if you are unsure whether or not Pickle Juice may be detrimental to your health before drinking it.