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Gatorade probably tastes better than another type of “sports drink” meant to hydrate the body and replenish electrolytes after physical activity. It isn’t unheard of for athletes to turn to an unlikely source for their game day and post-game recovery needs. But drinking pickle juice doesn’t sound like the tastiest method of replenishing the body after sweating it out. Of course, I’ve heard of marathoners drinking pickle juice, but to drink this salty concoction every game day sounds pretty gross to me—but science says it’s pretty effective.

However, the practice of drinking pickle juice isn’t new. In fact, it’s been used for decades and even got some attention back in 2000 when Eagles trainer, Rick Burkholder, credited it as the secret weapon that helped the team beat the Cowboys in Texas Stadium. Now science is starting to prove that pickle juice actually is good at reducing mild dehydration and related cramps. In fact, in a recent study, participants drank pickle juice and felt better within 85 seconds—twice as fast than when they drank sports drinks or water.

According to scientists, pickle juice is a good source of sodium (to replenish that lost in sweat) and electrolytes, and can even help the body retain water. Some professional athletes like Jason Witten even endorsed a pickle juice product called Pickle Juice Sport in 2006. But don’t expect to see pickle juice on your local stores’ shelves next to Gatorade anytime soon though (well maybe—stores like HEB are apparently stocking Pickle Juice Sport). Instead, if you want to rely on this natural source to relieve your cramps and help you stay hydrated, grab a jar of pickles and play like the pros.

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