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.


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.

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Is Pickle Juice Good for You?

The idea of a sugar-free sports drink sounds great—but first, let’s look at the science.

By Sam Silverman May 17, 2019

Pickles are a household staple and can be found in the depths of many refrigerators. The juicy spears typically accompany your burger and fries to add some salty zest to your meal. But you may have never wondered about the nutritional benefits of this crunchy snack—or the salty juice it’s cured in.

Recently, though, pickle juice has been touted as a nutritional superfood and a low-calorie sports drink. You can even buy it by the bottle—sans pickles. Nutritional information varies by brand and recipe, but most pickle juice contains less than 20 calories (and zero grams of fat) per 3.5-ounce serving.

However, pickle juice is also high in sodium: A 3.5-ounce serving can contain roughly 500 mg of sodium, if not more. That’s a large slice of the recommended daily intake (2300 mg) for the mineral.

Sodium can be a benefit to some people and in some circumstances, but it can also contribute to high blood pressure and other health problems. For that reason, it should be consumed in moderation, Megan Roosevelt, RDN and founder of, tells Health. “You may want skip pickle juice if you’re following a low sodium diet, have a history of gout, or previous negative experience drinking pickle juice,” she says.

Besides being a salty and savory treat, pickle juice may also have health benefits. Here are five reasons it just might be good for you.

Athletic performance

Pickle juice has been called a natural Gatorade, and it’s been utilized by athletes looking to cut down on sugary sports drinks. It is true that athletes might benefit from pickle juice because of its high sodium content, Cynthia Sass, RD, Health contributing nutrition editor, tells Health.

When you sweat, you lose fluid and electrolytes—including sodium. “Pickle juice can be a very good source of sodium, and some athletes like the taste,” Sass says. But the flavor can be intense, she adds, and since people will probably drink a small amount of pickle juice at a time, it should not be your only method of hydration to replace electrolytes.

Muscle cramps

A 2010 study from North Dakota State University found that muscle cramps could be resolved in a minute and a half with 1.5 oz of pickle juice for every 100 pounds of body weight. The researchers couldn’t say for sure why pickle juice had this effect on cramping, but they hypothesized that it triggered a reflex in the mouth that sent a signal to the nerves.

It’s also not clear what component of pickle juice is responsible for this potential benefit. “Some research supports the idea that the vinegar in pickle juice may help with cramping, rather than its sodium content,” Sass says, “but it hasn’t been well studied.”


Pickles are very high in sodium, which can be great for increasing hydration before and after a workout. According to Sass, water is attracted to sodium—so when you replace the sodium lost via sweat, you retain more water as a result.

Relief from stomach aches

Pickle juice could be a natural remedy for stomach pain. “The vinegar in pickle juice may be beneficial for reducing bloating and boosting levels of good bacteria in the digestive tract,” Sass says. This is because some stomach pain is caused by low acidity, which the addition of vinegar can restore.

Hangover helper

Pickle juice might also be the answer to your hangover needs. “The main component of pickle juice that may support a hangover is the water and sodium, which help restore electrolytes and bring your body back to balance,” says Roosevelt.

Of course, not over-indulging in the first place is always the best way to avoid feeling sick the next morning. But if you do find yourself under the weather after a night of too many drinks, a sip from the pickle jar may help you feel better faster.

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Why Every Athlete Should Have Pickle Juice

By Kelli Jennings For

Muscle cramps can bring even the strongest athlete to his or her knees. And while, there are a number of theories as to what causes cramps—including hydration, bike fit, form and electrolytes—they seem to happen more in races than in training.

Despite the lack of answers as to why cramps occur, a number of remedies have cropped up in recent years. Some of them are probably already in your pantry.

The Research

Research, as far back as several decades ago and as recently as 2013, suggests pickle juice relieves cramps. In the 2013 study, cramps lasted about 49 seconds less when participants drank pickle juice rather than water.

The first assumption is that fluids and sodium are anti-cramping agents.  However, other studies have concluded that the plasma volume and plasma concentrations of sodium remain unchanged after pickle juice consumption, leading researchers to believe something else is causing the cessation of the cramps.

Most experts think it’s the vinegar.

It’s believed that the vinegar triggers a reflex that alerts our brains to tell our muscles to stop contracting and relax, and the muscle cramping is reduced as soon as the vinegar touches receptors in the mouth.

Bring a small amount of pickle juice with you on your next training session (2 ounces is usually enough) or try the Pickle Juice Sports Drink.

Mustard contains vinegar in smaller, but potentially effective amounts as well. However, it has not been as well studied as pickle juice. Packets of yellow and honey mustard are portable on the trail or road, and often easier to consume than pickle juice. Mustard has up to 100 milligrams of sodium per packet and also contains turmeric, which is helpful for muscle soreness and inflammation.

Beyond the cramps, pickle juice and mustard provide other benefits for athletes:

Sodium: Adequate intake can improve hydration and reduce cramping, at least in practice. Just 1 tablespoon of mustard has 200 milligrams sodium and 2 ounces pickle juice has more than 400 milligrams sodium. Just 2 ounces of the pickle juice sports drink has about 225 milligrams sodium.

Glycogen Replenishment: Vinegar, which is chemically known as acetic acid, can provide the acetyl group. This is a fundamental building block for the Krebs Cycle and helps to metabolize carbohydrates and fat to produce energy and ATP for cells. 

If you’re prone to cramps bring a bottle of pickle juice or packet of mustard to your next training session or race. Consume them at the first sign of cramps and you might be able to keep training or racing and full speed.

Kelli Jennings, RD and sports nutritionist, is the owner of Apex Nutrition, LLC.

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