When it comes to losing weight, people are ready to try most anything as long as it promises to help them fit into that dress or pair of pants that hangs at the back of the closet waiting for them to fit into one day. Pickle juice for weight loss is one of the newest weight loss hacks that seems to be circulating the internet right now. But does drinking pickle juice for weight loss actually work or is it just another fake hack? Read on to find out.
What Is Pickle Juice?
Pickle juice is the salty, vinegar-rich liquid that pickles are immersed in while in a jar. This liquid is often leftover after one is done consuming the such pickles. According to the New York Food Museum, this practice of preserving pickles can be traced back to Tigris Valley, India in 2030 BC, where natives used salt and water to help preserve their cucumbers for a long time.
Today, some vinegar is often added to this solution.
What Are Some Pickle Juice Benefits?
Here are some reasons why you should consider saving and drinking that pickle juice instead of throwing it out like most do.
It’s A Great Leftover Ingredient
It may not seem like it but leftover pickle juice can be used for multiple purposes – other than drinking. According to Serious Eats, not only can you reuse it in more pickling experiments, but this juice can also be used in the making of salad dressing, deviled eggs, sauces and dressings, as a marinade for your meats, in alcoholic drinks, and much more (2).
It May Help Relieve Muscle Cramps
According to an older study published in the journal of Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise, downing some pickle juice can help relieve muscle cramps in seconds. Researchers theorized that the gag reflex brought about by the juice helps stop the muscle cramping (10).
It’s Good For Your Gut Health
Like many other fermented foods like yogurt, kimchi, sauerkraut and miso, pickle and pickle juice contain probiotics that may be great for your gut health. According to WebMD, this juice specifically has large amounts of the bacterium lactobacillus which may help break down food, absorb nutrients in this food and fight off any bad bacteria/organisms that might cause diseases (9). For this probiotic benefit, look for unpasteurized pickle juice.
It Is Full Of Electrolytes
Electrolytes are essential minerals that are vital to many key functions in the body such as hydration and muscle contractions. Without enough electrolytes in the body you can experience terrible symptoms such as unexplained fatigue, muscle cramps, nausea, headaches, blood pressure changes and much more.
Pickle juice is said to be high in the electrolytes sodium and potassium – which are easily lost through sweat whenever you work out. Drinking this juice after working out not only helps replenish these lost electrolytes but that could also help prevent any muscle cramps from your workout – something that is especially important for athletes (1, 5).
Might Help With Blood Sugar Regulation
This is more thanks to the vinegar in the juice than anything else. According to a study published in The Journal of Diabetes Research in 2015, vinegar consumption may increase glucose uptake by cells, which could help prevent blood sugar spikes and dips in people with Type 2 diabetes (12). Talk to your doctor before drinking pickle juice for this reason – it’s high sodium content may outweigh any possible benefit from the vinegar, especially if you also hae high blood pressure.
Can Drinking Pickle Juice Help You Lose Weight?
Not really. Despite all the above-mentioned potential benefits of this drink, pickle juice will not help you lose weight. The theory of pickle juice and apple cider vinegar for weight loss, perhaps comes from the recent use of vinegar for weight loss by many on social media. While some studies show that ACV might help with weight loss – especially in regards to satiety – other studies disagree with these findings (6, 3).
ACV aside, we must remember that pickle juice is usually very high in sodium – which while fine in small amounts, can be incredibly detrimental in large quantities. Too much salt in the diet has been linked to long term effects such as enlarged headaches, heart failure, high blood pressure, kidney disease, and stroke (7).
Long term side effects aside, too much salt in pickle juice may also cause water retention and bloating. For people who suffer from stomach ulcers, attempting to use pickle juice for weight loss is also not recommended as the acidity of the liquid can aggravate your ulcers causing pain and discomfort.
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What Is The Pickle Diet?
Like the ramen diet, military diet, kimchi diet, etc. the pickle diet is another popularized fad weight loss diet that promises to help you lose weight by only eating one type of food for a week – or even up to 30 days at most.
This diet is said to have first begun in the 1900s where a newspaper article encouraged women everywhere to only eat pickles to help them remain ‘stylish and elegant’. Not only were these claims absolutely not backed by science, but consuming nothing but pickles is not only not stylish or elegant, but will most likely land you in a hospital.
Remember that while pickles may be low in calories, eating one type of food for an extended period of time is not healthy for you for the following reasons
- We all need to consume a balanced diet to survive – even weight loss calls for a balanced diet of carbs, protein, and healthy fats. Pickles do not have any protein or healthy fats and only have very little carbs
- Too low in calories – We all know that the quickest tip to weight loss is to eat at a calorie deficit. But, if you eat too few calories per day, your body goes into starvation mode where instead of losing fat, it holds on to it as it thinks that you might be dying. Which means that you’ll just starve yourself and not end up losing any weight.
- Too high in sodium – Salt is an essential part of the pickling/brining process. Not only can consuming too much salt on your daily diet contribute to high blood pressure, but for people already dealing with hypertension, a pickle diet could be life threatening.
P.S. Variations of the pickle diet such as the egg and pickle or the spam and pickle diet are still not good weight loss meal plans. On one hand, while eggs are a great source of healthy fats and protein, excessive egg consumption can provide too much dietary cholesterol (4). Spam is also not healthy for you. This is a form of processed meat that is very high in fat, calories and sodium and low in important nutrients, such as protein, vitamins and minerals (8). No restrictive diets which cut out entire food groups are a good idea, unless it is for medical, religious, or ethical reasons.
Why Am I Craving Pickle Juice?
If pickles and pickle juice are things that you enjoy from time to time and are craving them because you haven’t had them in a while, then there’s most likely nothing wrong with you. However, if you’ve noticed that you are constantly craving salty foods and drinks more than usual (or more than what you’d consider normal to you) then you might want to take note for the following reasons
- Salt addiction – Like sugar, some people theorize that salt can be “addictive.” According to Forbes, a study done at the Florey Institute of Neuroscience and Mental Health found that some brain pathways can make you crave salt which over time creates a tolerance that has you consuming more and more salt (11).
- Pregnancy – It is common for pregnant women to crave all sorts of things. In relation to pickles and pickle juice specifically, it could be as a way to curb the incessant nausea and morning sickness that bothers them in the first trimester – if not throughout the pregnancy.
- Dehydration or an Electrolyte imbalance – When we sweat, we lose sodium and potassium through the sweat. Sweating a lot also leads to dehydration. Pickle juice is high in these two electrolytes and thus why you might crave it when you are dehydrated.
- Addison’s disease – Also known as adrenal insufficiency, this is a rare condition where the adrenal glands, located just above the kidneys, produce too little cortisol and, often, too little aldosterone. These two hormones are important for the control of salt and other fluids in the body. When you don’t have enough of these hormones your body may fail to retain salt which in turn leads you to crave salt – which is in abundance in pickle juice.
How Much Pickle Juice Should You Drink To Lose Weight?
None. Pickle juice should not be your choice of drink for weight loss. It is too high in sodium which can cause water retention and bloating. If you’d like to use it for its other possible but not necessarily proven health benefits, however, you can drink some but only in small quantities – about a 1 ounce shot a day.
The best drink for weight loss is simply water. It keeps you hydrated, will support your metabolism and promotes satiety which prevents overeating.
The Bottom Line
Despite what people online may say, using pickle juice for weight loss is a terrible idea. To lose weight you should always be burning more calories than you are consuming. Pickle juice doesn’t burn calories and its high sodium quantities might cause you harm in the long run. To lose weight effectively, watch your portions, calories, move more and pick up some weights.
This article is intended for general informational purposes only and does not address individual circumstances. It is not a substitute for professional advice or help and should not be relied on to make decisions of any kind. Any action you take upon the information presented in this article is strictly at your own risk and responsibility!
- A Compositional Analysis of a Common Acetic Acid Solution With Practical Implications for Ingestion (2003, ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)
- A Gazillion Ways to Use Leftover Pickle Juice (2018, seriouseats.com)
- Apple cider vinegar diet: Does it really work? (2020, health.harvard.edu)
- Eating too many eggs can still be risky, but most people don’t have to give them up entirely, experts say (2021, washingtonpost.com)
- Electrolyte and Plasma Changes After Ingestion of Pickle Juice, Water, and a Common Carbohydrate-Electrolyte Solution (2009, ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)
- Influence of the tolerability of vinegar as an oral source of short-chain fatty acids on appetite control and food intake (2014, pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)
- Is too much salt harmful? Yes (2020, ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)
- Luncheon meat, pork with ham, minced, canned, includes Spam (Hormel) (2019, fdc.nal.usda.gov)
- Probiotic Species in the Modulation of Gut Microbiota: An Overview (2018, ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)
- Reflex Inhibition of Electrically Induced Muscle Cramps in Hypohydrated Humans (2010, journals.lww.com)
- The Science Behind Everyone’s New Obsession With Pickle Juice (2018, forbes.com)
- Vinegar Consumption Increases Insulin-Stimulated Glucose Uptake by the Forearm Muscle in Humans with Type 2 Diabetes (2015, hindawi.com)