Pickle Juice Is An Underrated Hydration Powerhouse

When you're feeling a tad parched on a sunny day or dehydrated after a sweaty workout (or even just nursing a hangover), it's usually a sports drink like Gatorade, an electrolyte-infused bottle of water, or a fruit juice that you turn to for an instant boost of hydration. There are even readily available over-the-counter hydration tablets that you could pop into a glass of water to do the job! What people seldom look at, however, is that jar of pickles filled with salty, puckery, electrolyte-packed liquid sitting somewhere in a kitchen corner.

Pickle juice may have long shrugged off its misconception of being a pointless liquid that needs to be chucked down the drain, but the usefulness of saving that tangy juice is limited to little beyond its power-packed flavor. In reality, pickle juice has plenty more to offer: It has impressive health benefits which include hydrating properties. The same thing that gives pickle juice its salty, tangy flavor, aka sodium, is what makes it a hydration powerhouse too.

Dehydration after a strenuous workout occurs because your body loses electrolytes like sodium and potassium when you sweat. Drinking something that is packed with these lost electrolytes helps to hydrate your body again. Pickle juice not only has considerable amounts of sodium in it, but it also has traces of potassium which are both essential electrolytes for hydration.

Pickle juice packs quite the punch

The sodium and potassium present in pickle juice makes it excellent for hydration — much like sports drinks — but it has an edge over the latter. Sports drinks are notoriously high in sugar; a 28-fl oz bottle of Gatorade's Thirst Quencher, for example, contains 160mg of sodium and 50mg of potassium, but that comes with 48g of sugar, which is well over the daily recommended sugar intake by more than a few teaspoons. On the flip side, a 2.5-fl oz shot of The Pickle Juice Company's briney liquid has 470mg of sodium with no fat, no carbohydrates, and no sugar, which is the case for many types of pickle juice, making it a very underrated hydration powerhouse.

Hydration aside, pickle juice also has other benefits. A study conducted on ten men found that drinking a small amount of pickle juice — roughly one-third of a cup — helped to relieve muscle cramps better than the same amount of water could (via Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise). This is why pickle juice is a favorite amongst athletes, including tennis player Frances Tiafoe and ice hockey winger Blake Coleman, who are known to gulp the juice in between games to fend off muscle cramps.

Pickle juice also contains antioxidants like vitamins C and E that can improve the immune system. Furthermore, the vinegar present in pickle juice comes with its own set of benefits: It can help people lose weight, regulate blood sugar, and boost the growth of good bacteria in the stomach, which improves gut health.

How much pickle juice should you drink?

Now that it's clear that pickle juice may truly be liquid gold — not simply for its flavor, but for its hydrating properties and health benefits too — it's important to know how much of it to drink. Unlike sports drinks, juices, and water, pickle juice can't exactly be chugged by the jar. Considering the fact that three ounces of pickle juice contain approximately 690mg of sodium, a shot of pickle juice is likely plenty. Ideally, you only really need somewhere between one and a half to three ounces of pickle juice in a day — which is to say, you need to sip on no more than three to six tablespoons of the electrolyte-packed liquid.

Additionally, while pickles and their juicy liquid have long been underestimated players in the world of cocktails, a pickle juice cocktail or a pickleback isn't exactly ideal when you're looking for a hydration boost. The best way to drink pickle juice for hydration is to drink it as-is. If its sour and salty taste is not to your liking, you can always dilute the juice in a glass of water. The only thing to beware of is that although pickle juice is a very potent hydration drink, its high level of sodium may not be for everyone, especially those who follow a low-sodium diet or who already have a high intake of sodium from other sources. As long as you watch the sodium, all you need is a spoonful of pickle juice for quick hydration.