The Surprising Post-Workout Snack That Your Sweaty, Dehydrated Self Needs
Ray Bass is the associate movement and wellness editor at mindbodygreen and a NASM-Certified Personal Trainer. She holds a degree in creative writing from the University of Pennsylvania, with honors in nonfiction.
While working out can be invigorating, it can also be draining in more ways than one. Besides using up your energy, a strenuous workout (read: a sweaty workout) can leave our bodies depleted of essential nutrients. No good deed goes unpunished, right?
Whenever we sweat, our bodies lose electrolytes—and if those electrolytes aren't replaced, we could experience some unsavory side effects.
So how do we refill our stores? Well, there are plenty of options, but my favorite (doctor-approved!) way to replenish my body after a workout is to eat pickles.
You heard me—pickles. Here's why they're the ultimate post-workout snack (in addition to protein, obviously).
Why you should eat pickles post-workout.
Even though our sweat usually tastes like salt, it's not the only vital nutrient we're sweating out when we...sweat it out.
According to Jaime Schehr, N.D., R.D., "The electrolytes we lose most significantly through sweat are sodium and chloride, but we also lose potassium, magnesium, calcium, and zinc through sweat, just in lesser amounts."
And if you're sitting there wondering if you should make a conscious effort to refill your electrolytes and salts after a workout, Schehr says absolutely.
"If we want to avoid symptoms such as fatigue, muscle cramps, dizziness, possible nausea, and make sure our body isn't out of balance for our next workout, we need to replenish our electrolytes."
That's where pickles come in. Besides being one of the more delicious (and inexpensive) parts of life, pickles are packed with a lot of minerals—sodium, potassium, iron, manganese, and calcium, to name a few. Not to mention, they're salty, crunchy, and oh-so-hydrating.
"Pickles are an excellent post-workout snack," notes Schehr. "Not only are they full of salt and minerals, but cucumbers are a hydration powerhouse. They will help your body recover its electrolyte balance faster than drinking water alone."
If you're not into pickles, that's fine (weird, but fine). For the pickle-passers among us, Schehr recommends taking electrolyte tablets or powders, drinking coconut water, or using liquid mineral drops in your water. She cautions, however, that pickles aren't a meal replacement, nor are they the only food you should be eating post-workout. As she's told us before, protein is the end-all-be-all of post-workout fuel—and it should be consumed within the first hour after your workout.
"Don't forget your protein, though," Schehr told mbg. "It may not be as mineral-laden as pickles—beyond its iron and zinc content—but it's necessary to repair and grow muscle and shouldn't be skimped on post-workout."
Ray Bass is the associate movement and wellness editor at mindbodygreen and a NASM-Certified Personal Trainer. She holds a degree in creative writing from the University of Pennsylvania, with honors in nonfiction. A runner, yogi, boxer, and cycling devotee, Bass searches for the hardest workouts in New York (and the best ways to recover from them). She's debunked myths about protein, posture, and the plant-based diet, and has covered everything from the best yoga poses for chronic pain to the future of fitness, recovery, and America's obsession with the Whole30 diet.