Secret weapon of athletes: Pickle juice!

Every athlete - be they football hero or SCA knight - knows the value of pickles and pickle juice as a "secret weapon" to balance electrolytes during intense exercise, especially in hot weather. Now a new study from Brigham Young University validates the folk remedy.

The study proved that subjects who drank pickle juice after exercising had faster relief from cramps brought on by mild dehydration. The practice is popular in American football leagues.

"Pickle juice is a natural source of sodium as well as other electrolytes," says (Tampa Bay) Buccaneers team nutritionist Kevin Luhrs, who does not use pickle juice for his players, but knows that it is popular in the league. "Sodium is a component of sweat. The rationale is that sodium from the pickle juice helps replace sodium losses from sweat and even helps retain water in the body."