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Does Pickle Juice Increase Metabolism?

By: Andra Picincu | June 24, 2019

Pickles and fermented foods, in general, are well known for their beneficial effects on gut health. Some dieters even drink pickle juice for weight loss, saying that it’s a powerful metabolism booster due to its high vinegar content. Gym-goers, on the other hand, claim that pickle juice can speed up recovery after exercise and relieve muscle cramps. The question is: What’s true and what’s hype?

Are Pickles Good for You?

These fermented veggies are a healthy addition to sandwiches, salads, appetizers and meat dishes. Low in calories, they’re a perfect diet snack. One small spear has 4 calories and less than 1 gram of carbs, so it fits into any diet. Just make sure you stick with unsweetened pickled cucumbers, which contain no sugar.

Like sauerkraut, pickles are naturally high in probiotics, such as L. plantarum and L. brevis. These microorganisms balance the gut flora by increasing the levels of beneficial bacteria in the gastrointestinal tract. Mustard pickles and other fermented foods have a positive impact on the structure, function and diversity of your gut flora. Commercial pickles, though, are not fermented at all and contain lower levels of probiotics.

According to a September 2017 review featured in the journal Nutrientsprobiotics benefit people with diabetes, obesity and insulin resistance. These microbes ensure a proper balance between “good” gut bacteria and pathogens, such as Salmonella and E. Coli.

Some bacteria species produce B-complex vitamins, aid in nutrient absorption and boost immune function. The Nutrients review reported that, in clinical trials, probiotics were shown to reduce total fat mass, visceral fat mass, body mass index and waist circumference while improving blood pressure and cholesterol levels.

Considering these facts, it’s not surprising that a growing number of dieters are using pickle juice for weight loss. This liquid is low in calories and contains small amounts of probiotics. You can even purchase pickle juice fortified with zinc, potassium, vitamin C and other micronutrients that support athletic performance.

Pickle Juice and Weight Loss

Pickle juice is touted as a natural fat burner and metabolism booster,but few studies confirm these potential health benefits. The idea behind these claims is that acetic acid, a natural compound in vinegar (one of the main ingredients in pickle juice), supports weight loss and improves the body’s ability to burn fat.

Furthermore, vinegar may lower blood sugar levels and increase glucose uptake, leading to improved metabolic health. But what does the science say?

A clinical trial, one of the few studies linking vinegar to weight loss, published in the journal Bioscience, Biotechnology and Biochemistry in August 2009, suggests that vinegar may aid in weight loss.

As the researchers point out, acetic acid may reduce body fat mass and prevent metabolic syndrome. Obese subjects who drank a beverage containing varying doses of acetic acid experienced a decrease in body weight, body mass index, abdominal fat, waist circumference and serum triglyceride levels.

The scientists state that acetic acid inhibits lipogenesis, a metabolic process that promotes fat storage. It appears to be particularly effective against visceral fat — a major contributing factor to cardiac events, insulin resistance, inflammation and metabolic problems. Furthermore, vinegar intake didn’t cause any adverse effects.

To date, this is the only human study that confirms the relationship between vinegar and weight loss. Other studies and clinical trials have been conducted on mice, so their findings may not apply to humans.

However, vinegar may improve glycemic control, according to a May 2018 review in the Journal of Evidence-Based Integrative Medicine. After assessing several clinical trials, the researchers concluded that vinegar intake may slightly lower blood sugar levels and improve pancreatic insulin secretion. However, more research is needed to confirm these results.

Glycemic control and obesity are strongly connected. Obese and overweight individuals are at higher risk for insulin resistance, a major risk factor for diabetes. In fact, a staggering 90 percent of people with Type 2 diabetes are obese and overweight, as reported by the World Health Organization.

If you’re on the heavy side, take the steps needed to keep your blood sugar levels within a normal range. As the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health points out, nine in 10 causes of type 2 diabetes and pre-diabetes can be prevented through lifestyle changes.

Adequate blood glucose control is paramount. Pickle juice is high in vinegar and hence may help reduce your blood sugar levels, leading to a lower risk of diabetes and its complications.

Potential Benefits of Pickle Juice

As you see, there is little evidence about the relationship between pickle juice and weight loss. Furthermore, no studies confirm that pickle juice increases metabolism. However, this briny beverage has its perks. High in sodium, it can balance your fluid levels and prevent dehydration during or after long bouts of strenuous exercise.

One cup of pickle juice provides 1,150 milligrams of sodium — that’s half of the maximum daily recommended intake (2,300 milligrams). This nutrient helps maintain your fluid balance, preventing dehydration. For the record, most people get way too much sodium in their diet.

During heavy bouts of exercise, you may lose excessive water and sodium in your sweat. According to the Gatorade Sports Science Institute, low-sodium diets are not the best choice for athletes and individuals who engage in long-term aerobic exercise. When consumed during or after training, sodium increases thirst and helps your kidneys retain water, keeping you hydrated.

Dehydration is often the culprit behind muscle cramps, gallstones, constipation and kidney disease. The sodium in pickle juice may help prevent these side effects. The downside is that it can also increase blood pressure and fluid retention when consumed in excess.

Warnings

Pickle juice and pickles are high in sodium and can elevate your blood pressure.

If you’re an athlete or gym enthusiast, you may benefit from drinking pickle juice during or after exercise. However, there are better options available.

Coconut water, for example, is significantly lower in sodium and higher in calcium, potassium, magnesium, phosphorus and other trace minerals. In fact, it’s often used as a substitute for electrolyte beverages and other sports drinks.

Fermented foods, including pickles, have their place in a balanced diet. Rich in probiotics, they may improve digestion and help restore the gut flora. They also contain vitamins, minerals and antioxidants that support your health and well-being.

Pickle juice, on the other hand, is high in sodium and has little nutritional value. When consumed in excess, sodium can elevate blood pressure and cause your body to hold water. If you love this beverage, enjoy it in moderation. Taking a few sips every now and then is unlikely to affect your health.

Originally Published: https://www.hellomotherhood.com/does-pickle-juice-increase-metabolism-8725754.html

Should You Really Be Drinking Pickle Juice After a Workout? It sounds gross, but some people swear it helps with recovery.

By Isadora Baum | Aug 3, 2018

If you think of pickle juice as a beverage at all, it’s probably only as an alcohol chaser. But some people swear that there’s a good reason to chug the briny liquid at the bottom of your pickle jar: it can help reduce muscle cramps and expedite your post-workout recovery.

Does taking shots of warm pickle juice at the gym sound appetizing? Not really, nope. So we decided to call up a few experts and find out whether there’s any truth to the rumor.

What is actually in pickle juice?

First off, pickle juice is basically just salt. “Pickling is a method of preserving cucumbers in water and salt over time. The juice that remains is a mixture of water, salt and cucumber juice,” Natalie Rizzo, MS, RD told MensHealth.com.

How does pickle juice work for recovery?

“During intense activity (usually lasting longer than an hour) or working out in extremely hot conditions, an athlete will sweat a lot and lose electrolytes (sodium and potassium) in their sweat,” says Rizzo.

To not lose steam and to keep up performance, you need to replace those electrolytes and stay hydrated. So after, say, sweating it out during a brutal CrossFit circuit, you may want something with a salty kick.

Because it’s so salty, pickle juice contains a ton of sodium, as well as smaller amounts of postassium and magnesium, explains Elizabeth Ann Shaw, MS, RDN, CLT, CPT. Replenishing these electrolytes can perk you up when you’re feeling fatigued and rehydrate you quickly.

Are there any other benefits to drinking pickle juice?

There’s also some evidence

Beyond that, pickle juice may also help to improve digestion. “The pickling (aka fermenting) process creates live cultures (probiotics) in the juice, so the juice may be good for gut health,” Shaw says.

I’d rather not straight-up chug pickle juice. Are there any other ways to take it?

You can cook with pickle juice to benefit from its effects. Shaw recommends using one-third of a cup of pickle juice while browning meat: “Since my family is a big fan of the spicy pickles, I’ve found the liquid in the empty jar serves as an excellent flavor enhancer when I’m browning my lean turkey or pork for tacos and chili,” saysShaw. And because the flavor is so strong, there’s no need to add other herbs or seasonings.

You can also use pickle juice as a marinade for beef or pork. “Marinate a piece of meat with as much pickle juice as needed to coat the meat,” says Rizzo. Keep it in the fridge for 1-3 hours or so for it to sit. Shaw recommends using it to make tacos or Sloppy Joe-style sandwiches, or subbing in pickle juice for apple cider vinegar in this delicious short ribs recipe.

You can also use that pickle juice to make even more pickled veggies, such as shredded cabbage, carrots, or radishes, or as a way to make poached eggs, says Dana Angelo White, MS RD. . “Usually, you poach an egg in boiling water with 1 tablespoon of vinegar,” she says. Instead of the vinegar, use pickle juice. It gives the egg a savory, salty edge that will really wake you up in the AM.

And of course, if you’re really into pickles, you can also use pickle juice to make even more pickles: “Throw some sliced cucumbers into the pickle juice and marinate overnight. They will become pickles before you know it,” says Rizzo.

Isadora Baum Isadora Baum is a freelance writer, certified health coach, and author of 5-Minute Energy.

Originally Published: https://www.menshealth.com/health/a22550892/benefits-of-pickle-juice/

Get Pikl'ed

Pickle juice is a big dill for athletes. Here’s why they’re chugging it

By CINDY KRISCHER GOODMAN | SOUTH FLORIDA SUN SENTINEL | DEC 03, 2019

Runners at the Palm Beaches marathon next weekend will be greeted at the finish line with packets of pickle juice. St. Thomas Aquinas High School football players are handed pickle juice pouches when they come out of a game, to help them prepare to go back in.

But the question is: Is the pungent green liquid really a magic elixir?

Long touted as a natural, low-calorie alternative, to sugary sports drinks, pickle juice received recent endorsements from athletes such as professional hockey player Blake Coleman and American tennis player Frances Tiafoe, creating a buzz with claims that it stops muscles from cramping.

Michael Kahn, a Fort Lauderdale financial adviser and marathon runner, drinks a pouch of pickle juice before he sets out on his daily run. “This is such a high concentration of sodium that it gives me what I need for the next few hours of running,” he said.

The dill-flavored liquid that most pickle lovers toss out contains sodium and potassium, and people drink it to replace electrolytes lost when sweating. The strong smell and taste of pickle juice makes gulping it hard for some people to tolerate. But the appeal is that pickle juice is thought to hydrate the body faster and keep it that way longer than plain water.

Researchers have found another health benefit, too. Pickle juice may trigger a reflex in the mouth that sends a signal to the nerves to stop muscles from cramping. This reaction is why athletes are drinking pickle juice at the onset of a cramp.

“Pickle juice is sour, pungent, bitter, and those things may trigger a reflex that signals to relax the muscle,” says Marilyn Gordon, a registered dietitian, nutritionist and associate professor at Nova Southeastern University Patel College of Osteopathic Medicine. “That is a different way of looking at the ideology of muscle cramping. Rather than hydration, they are looking at it from a nervous system perspective.”

“Compared with Gatorade or other sports drinks, there’s little that supports pickle juice as any better,” Gordon says, “but if you talk to people subjectively, they will say it helps them.”

At the same time, pickle juice — in larger quantities — could actually be unhealthy for some people. The high sodium level could be dangerous for people with high blood pressure or on sodium-restrictive diets.

Kevin Miller, a professor in Central Michigan University’s Department of Athletic Training, has been studying the health benefits of pickle juice for more than a decade. Miller has completed nine research studies and still has questions he wants to explore about the effects of pickle juice on the body.

Miller’s studies found 2 to 3 shot glasses of pickle juice will make a cramp go away faster, but it won’t necessarily replace electrolytes quickly.

“What we still don’t know is whether it is an ingredient in pickle juice such as vinegar that triggers the reflex,” he said.

While research continues, Kahn, the runner, swears by the brine. A running back coach for the St. Thomas Aquinas football team, he has given pickle juice pouches to the trainers to help players with cramping.

“Some kids would cramp and they wouldn’t be able to go back in the game,” Kahn said. “This is one of the choices to give them and it works. There are powders or pills, but this seems more natural and gets to their muscles much quicker than other things.”

In South Florida, Jay Churba’s Get Pikl’ed brand is tapping into the trend, selling kosher dill pickle juice in soft pouches — just unscrew the plastic cap and sip. Churba says the pouches also can be frozen and eaten like a popsicle.

“It is a bit of an acquired taste,” Churba admits. But because people are increasingly concerned about what goes into their bodies, Churba believes his option to sugary sports drinks is gaining fans. “Gatorade is engineered; ours is made in a pickle factory, and we sift out the pickles and sediment.”

The secret ingredient, he says, is Bronx water. The cucumber is never added.

Claims about the benefit of pickle juice go beyond athletes. The vinegary liquid contains antioxidants and vitamins C and E. In addition, the vinegar found in pickle juice can help lower blood sugar levels and relieve stomach aches. Fermented pickles that soak up the brine have health benefits, too.

Churba launched Get Pikl’ed in December 2018 after seeing the rise in health and, of course, social uses.

In bars, an increasingly favored drink is a pickleback — a shot of whiskey chased by a shot of pickle brine. “By selling pouches, bartenders don’t have to kill a jar of pickles to get the same amount of juice,” Churba says.

The internet is full of recipes for how pickle brine can be used as a chaser with whiskey, in cocktails such as martinis, or to help alcohol-induced hangovers. Along with pouches, pickle juice now comes in cans, bottles and jugs.

And buying the whole jar is an option, too, pickles included.

Cindy Krischer Goodman can be reached at cgoodman@sunsentinel.com, 954-356-4661, Twitter and Instagram @cindykgoodman

Originally Published: https://www.sun-sentinel.com/health/fl-ne-pickle-juice-health-20191203-keqd2qlnmbfr3pwlrvtkyngx4q-story.html

Jay Ajayi

The unusual ‘sports drink’ and other tricks football players use to beat the heat during early-season games

John Roach | AccuWeather | Sep 24, 2019, 10:50 AM

The NFL is a notorious copycat league with each team “borrowing” whatever works from other teams. So it was no surprise to see the Philadelphia Eagles throw shade, of sorts, on its own players seated on the bench during Sunday’s game in Philly. As the players took a break, team staffers shielded them from the sun with what looked to be the closest thing handy.

Their opponent, the Detroit Lions, was one step ahead, already using canopies they’d brought with them to give their players a break from the sun. Temperatures in Philadelphia reached an in-game high of 88 degrees with an AccuWeather RealFeel® Temperature high of 90.

Lions staff members held the sideline canopies Sunday, something they did in 2018 when the team beat the unrelenting heat and the Miami Dolphins. “I felt a notable difference – as far as temperature-wise – when you were underneath them,” Detroit quarterback Matthew Stafford told The Detroit News.

It was a trick Lions coach Matt Patricia passed on to his friend, Patriots coach Bill Belichick, this summer and Belichick’s Patriots did the same thing against the Dolphins this season in Week 2. The Patriots won 43-0 in a game the coach and quarterback Tom Brady each considered the hottest game either could remember.

The effects of heat hit home for the NFL this summer when 32-year-old former NFL player Mitch Petrus died of heatstroke after working outside all day in 90-degree heat in Little Rock, Arkansas, where the AccuWeather RealFeel temperature hit 101 that day. The AccuWeather RealFeel Temperature Guide advises caution at that temperature, warning of the danger of dehydration, heatstroke, heat exhaustion and heat cramps if outside for extended periods, and especially while doing strenuous activities.

The NFL sent a video to all 32 teams this summer that reviewed best practices for treating exertional heatstroke. “It is imperative that medical personnel and coaching staffs quickly recognize [the signs of heatstroke] and initiate appropriate care,” said Dr. Douglas J. Casa, CEO of the Korey Stringer Institute (KSI), in a press release. KSI was founded after Stringer, a Pro Bowl lineman for Minnesota, died of heatstroke in August of 2001.

NFL teams have an array of options to beat the heat during training camps in the summer and even when high temperatures carry into September’s regular season games. Water, Gatorade, orange wedges, Pedialyte, salt pills, pickle juice, and intravenous fluids are among items used to varying degrees by NFL teams.

Wait, pickle juice?

That hydration trick perhaps was first used during the hottest NFL game in history, the 2000 season opener on Sept. 3 between the Eagles and the host Dallas Cowboys. It was 109 degrees at kickoff and Dallas lost a dozen players to heat cramps; the Eagles lost no one.

Eagles trainer Rick Burkholder credited Steve Condon, a college trainer who interned with the Eagles that summer, with the idea. Burkholder studied weather reports all week in advance of the Dallas game and had the team load up on water and sports drinks during practice. On Sunday, he doled out pickle juice, which subsequently was proven scientifically to be more beneficial than water.

“I was worried they might get sick drinking that stuff,” Eagles coach Andy Reid said at the time. “But a lot of them liked it, whatever that says about them.”

Former Eagles running back Jay Ajayi was spotted gulping pickle juice on the sideline while playing for Boise State University in 2014 and spoke about its benefits at the time: “It’s something that allowed me to stay in the games and kept me from cramping and it was very productive for me in seeing my games from 2013 to 2014 when I started using it.” Ajayi added that drinking pickle juice was a hydration strategy he planned to bring with him to the NFL.

Today’s precautions and preparations are a far cry from what football players did decades ago. “When I played high school football, it was taboo to drink water,” Alabama High School Athletic Association Executive Director Steve Savarese told AccuWeather. “We used to take salt pills, we didn’t drink water, and we wore long-sleeve shirts. I don’t know how we survived … Coaches today are much more educated and much better at what they do than years ago.”

So where might NFL’s copycats break out the pickle juice, Pedialyte or canopies this Sunday?

Three games played in potentially heat-impacted areas will take place under retractable domes that likely will be closed so that the air conditioning can do its thing: Tennessee at Atlanta, Carolina at Houston and Seattle at Arizona.

Three others could bring temperature-related troubles, with the Los Angeles Chargers at Miami at 1 p.m. ET, where AccuWeather forecasts a high of 86 with a RealFeel of 93. Cleveland will visit Baltimore at 1 p.m. ET, where the forecast calls for 85 degrees with a RealFeel of 90 and it will be very warm and humid. And Jacksonville will travel to Denver at 2:25 p.m. MT where it will be 81 with a RealFeel of 82.

Originally Published: https://sports.yahoo.com/pickle-juice-pedialyte-throwing-shade-145039354.html

Frances Tiafoe credited a victory in the Australian Open with drinking pickle juice

Pickle juice: Why athletes are turning to an unusual drink to boost performance

BBC Sport | January 22, 2019

When American tennis player Frances Tiafoe said pickle juice had helped him reach the quarter-finals of the Australian Open, plenty of people were a little taken aback/grossed out.

After all, who swigs the remnants of a jar of pickles to boost their sporting performance?

More people than you might think, actually.

Taking the Australian Open in isolation, two of the sport’s rising stars – Tiafoe, 21, and Russia’s Daniil Medvedev, 22 – have been spotted drinking it in Melbourne this week.

And widening the sample size a little, a photographer snapped Arsenal’s 22-year-old Uruguay midfielder Lucas Torreira drinking from a bottle labelled “pickle juice” in the Gunners’ 2-0 victory over Chelsea last weekend (although he did swiftly spit it out!).

Is this sport’s latest fad? And what is the science behind it all? BBC Sport finds out.

Tiafoe’s not-so-secret weapon

Unseeded Tiafoe was a surprise quarter-finalist in the Australian Open, and made further headlines with his choice of replenishment following that win over Bulgaria’s Grigor Dimitrov in the last 16.

Speaking about the gruelling four-set match, which lasted three hours and 39 minutes in the Melbourne heat, Tiafoe said: “I had the break, but started to feel my body.

“He played a good game to break me. After that, as you asked me, I was trying to stay alive. I was downing pickle juice, having that like Kool-Aid, just trying to get that done.

“I’m talking straight up: just downing it. It tasted terrible. I’m feeling terrible right now, man.”

The following day, Medvedev took time out from his match against Novak Djokovic to down some of the pungent fluid.

John Millman, the 2018 US Open quarter-finalist, was commentating on that match for television and was asked about the pickle juice.

“It helps the cramps,” said Millman. “There’s a lot of salt in it.”

When asked how it tasted, the Australian replied: “Terrible.”

It tastes bad… but does it actually work?

In a word: Yes.

Dr Mayur Ranchordas – a senior lecturer in sport nutrition and exercise metabolism at Sheffield Hallam University – has used the technique with professional cyclists and Premier League footballers.

And while, he says, the results are compelling, it is not necessarily for the reasons you might initially expect.

“Pickle juice contains sodium, potassium and vinegar and the obvious conclusion would be that it replaces sodium and salts lost when playing sport in a hot and humid environment like the Australian Open thus prevent cramping,” said Dr Ranchordas.

“However, how it really works is that it triggers a reflex in the mouth which sends a signal to stop muscles from cramping. That’s why it is drank at the onset of cramp.

“It stops cramping 40% faster than drinking water.”

Dr Ranchordas says it is particularly effective as a treatment for cramps in warmer conditions or when sporting occasions last longer than anticipated – be it a five-set tennis match or in extra time of a football game.

Just last month, India batsman Cheteshwar Pujara was shown grimacing on TV as he took the foul-tasting fluid on board during a marathon innings in oppressive heat in Adelaide.

What else is it good for?

The internet is full of stories of how pickle juice can cure alcohol-induced hangovers. One website even suggests pickle brine is the definitive hangover cure in some eastern European countries.

Throw in the fact it contains antioxidants, is said to help control blood sugar levels and boost gut health and you’re on to a winner next time you reach for a nice refreshing glass of the stuff.

And the craziest thing of all?

It is actually good for your breath, because it kills bacteria which breed in your mouth and create a stink.

Now you’re convinced, right?

Originally Published: https://www.bbc.com/sport/tennis/46961611

Staying on top of your nutrition will help offset the cramping process.

Muscle Cramps: Causes and Remedies Based on Latest Science

CTS Coach Corrine Malcolm lays down the latest science

When it comes to cramping, especially exercise-associated muscle cramping (EAMC) almost everyone has a story. A story about that one time, in that one race, where that one muscle seized. Exercise-associated muscle cramps are defined as painful spasms, and involuntary contractions of skeletal muscles that occur during or immediately post exercise. So, for the purpose of this article, that would exclude cramps that occur outside of the context of exercise, or that are caused by underlying medical conditions such as nocturnal cramps, hypo/hyperthyroidism, and central or peripheral nervous system diseases such as Parkinson’s disease.

Cramping is by no means a new topic in the endurance community, and because EAMC can be debilitating in a race scenario cramping remains a hot topic. There have been decades of research dedicated to trying to figure out how we cramp, why we cramp, and how to stop cramps once they start. Despite our long affair with EAMC, we are not much closer to fully understand their etiology. If anything, our new understanding of EAMC is that they are complicated and likely stem from multiple compounding factors that make any one treatment or preventative technique unlikely to work for everyone, every time.

The Old Theories About Cramping

The advancement that has happened over the past 5 to 10 years however, is a clear move away from the original “dehydration & electrolyte imbalance theory” and an increased focus on the “altered neuromuscular control theory”. Starting in the early 2000s, study after study appeared that looked at hydration status and blood-electrolyte concentrations in endurance athletes, and over and over again there was no significant difference in the hydration status or blood-electrolyte concentrations of athletes who cramped and athletes who did not cramp on race day. Moreover, if you think about it, dehydration and electrolyte imbalances are a system-wide issue, which should cause system-wide muscle cramping. However, EAMC is most commonly localized two one or two major muscle groups and frequently occurs unilaterally. What that means is that EAMC primarily occur in asymmetry (one calf cramps). However, if muscles are cramping bilaterally (both calves) or become generalized/full body cramping, this can be tied more closely to extreme dehydration or hyponatremia, or a more serious medical condition.

What this means is that although we should not completely eliminate dehydration or electrolyte imbalances entirely from the EAMC guidebook, there is likely more going on. Most likely, hydration and fueling problems act as one of the many players that work together to lead to EAMC.

The New Theories About Cramping

The newest theory knocking at the door is the altered neuromuscular control theory. The premise of this new theory is that EAMC is most closely linked to the tenuous relationship between your nervous system and muscles contractions. This theory suggests that EAMC are a combination of several factors coalescing in a perfect (terrible) storm, overexciting your alpha motor neuron, ultimately resulting in a cramp. The variables that are seemingly most important to causing this heightened fatigued state are: inadequate conditioning (particularly for heat or altitude), muscle damage, previous injury to both the cramping muscle or in the compensating muscle group, and certain medications like albuterol, conjugated estrogen, and statins. These variables can easily build off each other, snowballing into that cramp-prone state we’ve all seen happen on race day. These factors also explain why EAMC seem to been seen more frequently at hot races where muscles fatigue more quickly at the same work load, and why athletes with a history of previous cramping are most likely to experience cramping again. This also explains why we almost always see EAMC in races and not during training because we are placing a heavier demand on our muscles than we normally do.

What Happens When A Muscle Cramps

So how exactly do cramps happen and how do we try and treat them?

As mentioned above, cramping is the result of your alpha motor neuron becoming overexcited. Your alpha motor neurons are the largest neurons in your spinal chord and they directly innervate your muscle fibers, the stretch sensor, of your skeletal muscle. Their job is to send the message to your muscle to, “Contract! Contract! Contract!” We only move, pedal, kick, or stride when our alpha motor neurons work in perfect harmony with our Golgi Tendon Organs (GTOs). GTOs are the other half of the contraction-relaxation pattern our muscles rely on.

When alph motor neurons and GTOs are both functioning properly, the GTOs act as the inhibitor to muscle spindle contractions. Basically, your alpha motor neurons and muscle spindles are the active “Contract! Contract! Contract!!!” command and action, while the GTOs are the inhibition to the contraction and allow the muscle to relax. As our muscles fatigue, there is an increased firing from the muscle spindles to keep “Contracting-contracting-contracting!!!” while, at the same time, there is a decreased response from the muscle GTOs to relax. When both of these things happen, we get an over excited alpha motor neuron that causes the contraction to win out time and time again, resulting in a contraction that won’t stop or, as we’ve all experienced, a cramp.

What Muscles Are Prone To Cramping

Muscles that are most likely to experience EAMC are muscles that are contracting in a shortened position. This is particularly true of muscles that cross two joints including your muscles that make up your hamstrings, quadriceps, calves, your biceps brachii, and the long head of your triceps. EAMC are not limited to biarticulated muscles but they are the most common locations of cramping in runners, swimmers, and cyclists. Part of the reason for this is that when muscles have to contract in a shortened position, or through a small arc of movement, your GTOs produce less inhibition to the contraction than normal, due to altered muscle tensions. This can be made worse if you have an injury or an imbalance that causes you to decrease your normal range of motion.

The beauty of this knowledge is that one of the ways to stop EAMC once they’ve started is to stop and give your muscles the opportunity to lengthen. You can do this by stopping and passively stretching the muscle or by moving that muscle through its full range of motion. What you accomplish by doing this is creating a change in tension in the muscle, thereby increasing the GTOs’ inhibitory input to the alpha motor neuron and relaxing the muscle.

So why do people drink pickle juice?

Pickle juice appears to be more than folklore when it comes to stopping EAMC in their tracks. In a now famous 2010 study, researcher Kevin Miller and his colleagues brought pickle juice mainstream. For decades, athletic trainers and coaches had anecdotally been prescribing pickle juice, apple-cider vinegar, and mustard to treat EAMC, but there had been no concrete evidence as to why these various concoctions were stopping cramps. Playing into the electrolyte and dehydration theory, it was initially believed that the sodium in pickle juice was aiding in correcting an electrolyte balance in the cramping athletes. However, the result was happening so rapidly (30 seconds) it was deemed unlikely that the small amount of pickle juice ingested could possibly alter the athlete’s blood sodium concentrations in that short timeframe. What the scientific community began to conclude was that something in the pickle juice was abating the cramps via another mechanism. A new idea emerged that a neural reflex in the mouth, oropharynx, or esophagus could quickly disrupt the alpha motor neuron, stopping a cramp. This discovery has led to the development of several new anti-cramping products.

This new area of research (and the associated sports products) is based on stimulating transient receptor potential (TRP) channels. TRP channels are ion channels in the body that help mediate a variety of different sensations including pain, tastes, hot, cold, and pressure. Many TRP channels that help us differentiate temperatures are also activated by various molecules found in spices, such as capsaicin (chili peppers), menthol (mint), cinnamaldehye (cinnamon), shogaol (ginger), and allyl isothiocyanate (wasabi). Two channels of particular interest to researchers in this are the TRPA1 and TRPV1 channels that are found in our mouth, oropharynx, esophagus, and stomach. Given how fast the acetic acid in pickle-juice works to abate a cramp, it is very likely it stimulates TRP channels above the stomach, which makes this a particularly interesting way to address cramps once they start.

What this means is that strong sensory stimuli activated at these specific TRP channels, by a TRP agonist, or activators for each channel, like capsaicin, could potentially cause the alpha motor neurons to become less excited, which would in turn diminish or stave off a cramp (16). There are two possible scenarios being considered by researchers and companies cashing in on this new theory: 1) pre-ingestion of a TRP agonist might increase the threshold one has to reach in order to cramp, thereby keeping the individual out of a cramp prone state longer, and 2) ingestion of a TRP agonist at onset of a cramp will “trip” our electrical wiring, causing our muscle spindles and GTOs to work in harmony once again by decreasing the excitability of our alpha motor neurons.

What You Can Do About Cramping Today

So what does this mean for us right now? What the literature is currently telling us is that, although there is not yet strong evidence to support the idea that ingesting a TRP agonist pre-activity will successfully stave off a cramp, there is fairly strong evidence that ingesting a TRP agonist at the onset of cramping is likely to help abate the cramp and temporarily prevent subsequent cramps from occurring. I would add that at this time more research needs to be conducted on the most researched TRP agonist, HotShot, and other products containing TRP agonists like mustard, apple-cider vinegar, menthol etc. We are just at the beginning stages of understanding the complexities of TRP channels, the electrical component of EAMC, and their physiological intricacies.

So what can you do right now?

  • Experiment! Anecdote is not science. The brain is incredibly powerful, and placebos can have very real effects on physiological symptoms and performance. It doesn’t mean that something will not work, but the reliability of such methodologies remains unproven.
  • Train yourself specifically for the event you are undertaking. It’s thought that when the demand you put on your muscles does not match up with the training you’ve done, you are more susceptible to cramping, as evidenced by most cramp occurring during a race or event. This applies to athletes who go into events without acclimating to heat or altitude, who go faster than they train, and who fail to prepare for the types of terrain they will be competing on. Nothing can protect you from being underprepared for an event, not even the powerful miscalculation of our own limitations.
  • Work on form, mobility, and range of motion. Muscles most affected by EMAC are those that are confined to a small arc of motion, in a shortened state, and used repetitively. For runners, avoid heavy braking and focus on manipulating your stride length (in training for race day) so that you can maintain adequate hip and knee flexion and extension. For cyclists, make sure you’re seat position is high enough to allow for greater range of motion.
  • Fuel adequately. Glycogen depletion and inadequate fueling can lead to premature muscle fatigue and increase your risk of cramping.
  • Learn to recognize your body’s pre-cramping state and respond accordingly. Slowing down or stopping to stretch cramp-prone muscles could save you from that DNF, or from crawling into the next aid station.
  • Be reflective. Evaluate the training or race-day scenarios that may have brought you to your knees. What factors may have combined to lead to the over-fatigued state? For me personally it’s been a journey of rejiggering my biomechanics and imbalances.

By Corrine Malcolm, CTS Coach

Originally Published: https://roadbikeaction.com/muscle-cramps-causes-and-remedies-based-on-latest-science/

8 Benefits Of Pickle Juice That Will Make You Want To Drink Some ASAP

Goodbye, salt craving.

Aryelle Siclait Jun 2, 2019

Everyone loves a good pickle (my deepest condolences to the wayward taste buds out there that can’t appreciate them).

However, since pickles are the stars of the jar, too often the juice—you know the stuff responsible for turning your everyday cucumber into crunchy, sour goodness—gets tossed out and forgotten. But not today. Today, pickle juice will get the credit it so rightfully deserves.

After all, the simple liquid packs tons of benefits that nutritionists say you need to take advantage of as soon as the last pickle is gone. So yes, consider this your excuse to buy another jar of pickles, stat. You’re welcome.

1. It’s a next-level source of hydration.

“Pickle juice contains [sodium], potassium, and water, which are all important for hydration,” says Alyssa Lavy, RD. And while water usually does the trick, if you need replenishment after a super hard workout or long day in the sun, electrolytes (a blanket term for good-for-you minerals, including sodium and potassium) can help. And that’s where pickle juice’s all-in-one status comes in clutch.

Lavy says approximately one and a half to three ounces of pickle juice per day should suffice—whether you’re drinking the stuff straight or diluting it with water to tone down the flavor.

That said, pickle juice doesn’t skimp on the sodium—three ounces (or six tablespoons) has 690 mg. “So, you may want to limit your intake if you’re watching sodium in your diet or already eating a high-sodium diet.” (FYI, the FDA recommends consuming 2,300 milligrams a day.) Advertisement – Continue Reading Below

Here’s the rest of the pickle juice’s nutrient lineup, in a three-ounce serving, according to the USDA:

  • Calories: 15
  • Protein: 0 g
  • Fat: 0 g
  • Carbohydrates: 3 g
  • Sodium: 690 mg

2. It’s great for workout recovery.

Water is typically all you’ll need before and during a workout, but if you’re really going hard (like, athlete-level), you’ll need a few more of those aforementioned electrolytes. And pickle juice is THE recovery fluid for replenishing the electrolytes lost during a major sweat session. Plus, it can even help with post-workout muscle cramping.

3. It’s loaded with probiotics.

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Pickle juice is here to work magic on your gut. Okay, well not magic necessarily, but since pickles are fermented, Lavy says, they’re packing tons of probiotics.

That said, Lavy recommends keeping an eye on the labels of store-bought jars. Some “commercially-produced pickles are not likely to contain probiotics, due to processing.” That’s because, in order to extend their shelf-life, they’re manufactured using vinegar and heat, which typically destroys the gut-loving active cultures. So, keep an eye out for vinegar on the ingredients list, it might clue you in on whether those particular pickles are packing probiotics.

Or, if you’re really dedicated, you could just pickle your cucumbers right at home. (Just be sure to go for a classic pickling recipe that involves salt, water, and cucumbers—no vinegar.)

4. It will satisfy your salt craving.

If you find yourself reaching for a bag of chips or pretzels when that 3 p.m. hunger pang hits, Monica Auslander Moreno, RD, nutrition consultant for RSP Nutrition, says pickle juice might just be the nutrient-dense (and tasty) alternative you’re looking for. After all, it tastes just like the pickles that were once inside the jar.

5. It helps regulate blood sugar levels.

While pickle juice made with vinegar may not have probiotic benefits, it does come with its own perks. “Pickle juice may help regulate blood sugar levels,” says Kelli McGrane, RD for Lose It!. “Studies have shown that when consumed prior to a meal, individuals with type 2 diabetes had reduced blood sugar spikes.” And though the vinegar in pickle juice is largely responsible for improving the body’s response to insulin, I probably don’t need to convince you a shot of vinegar tastes a lot better when it’s masked by the sweet and sour flavors of a pickle.

6. It’s a source of vitamins and antioxidants.

Related Story This Restaurant Replaces Bread With Pickles

Pickle juice is a particularly good source of vitamins A and E. It also contains a trace amount of antioxidants, which help protect your body and its cells from harmful molecules. While other foods have higher concentrations of antioxidants (pickle juice shouldn’t be your go-to source), if you’re already drinking the stuff, know you’re reaping these benefits, too.

7. You can use it to pickle more veggies.

If you’re not planning on tossing a straw into your pickle jar, Moreno suggests using the brine to pickle other vegetables such as carrots, peppers, and beets.

8. It’s cost-effective.

Since pickle juice comes with the pickles you were planning to anyway, this probiotic-packed sports drink is super cost effective. Not to mention, it helps do your part to eliminate food waste. Win, win.

https://www.womenshealthmag.com/food/a27556128/pickle-juice-benefits/
Aryelle Siclait | Assistant Editor | Aryelle Siclait is an assistant editor at Women’s Health