For decades, Gatorade has been athletes’ go-to sports drink. The beverage was first designed in 1965 by a team of researchers for football players at the University of Florida to replenish the carbohydrates players lost.
It also made up for the water and electrolytes the Gators sweat out while competing. With approximately 65% of the market share in the U.S. sports drink category, there’s no denying Gatorade’s staying power.
While water is the most logical form of hydration, sports drinks help replenish electrolytes like sodium and potassium, which are essential for several body functions such as nerve and muscle function and managing heart rhythm. Gatorade and similar sports drinks are typically what come to mind when hitting the court, but there are other hydration products you should consider.
Pickle Juice: More than Brine
Like pickleball, pickle juice is growing in popularity. A briny, vinegar-rich liquid, pickle juice is high in probiotics, sodium, and other minerals.
But now there’s no need to snag an entire jar of pickles just for the liquid elixir. Pickle Juice Sport, in fact, is an organic endurance beverage and is available in convenient shot-size bottles, making it a preferred alternative to the brine in a jar.
Its health benefits are tied to the electrolytes and antioxidants in the liquid, which help athletes recover after exercise. It’s also a go-to hydration product during competition.
“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. Mayur Ranchordas, a senior lecturer in sport nutrition and exercise metabolism at Sheffield Hallam University.
“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.”
It should come as no surprise that players in other racket sports, including tennis, drink pickle juice during matches. American tennis player Frances Tiafoe admitted he swigged the special stuff during the 2019 Australian Open to deal with the rigors of a four-set match.
While the taste turns some people off — Tiafoe added that it “tasted terrible” — it’s a quick-acting formula for combatting cramps, a common issue among pickleball players.
For pickleballers, especially the pros, anything that helps with cramping will be trustworthy — even if the taste vs. hydration dilemma puts them in a pickle.
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