Ask any endurance athlete his beef with sports nutrition products and he'll tell you they tend to be sickly sweet. Citrusy drinks, chocolate goo, and fruity beans are tolerable for the first dozen miles but can turn revolting in the final stretch—just when you need energy to power through the finish line.
For your next race or intense training session, try an ancient fueling method: pickles. Legend has it that Julius Caesar fed them to his troops for increased strength and determination, and modern medicine affirms that pickles' sodium acts to replenish the electrolytes lost through sweat during vigorous exercise, says Sarah Koszyk, R.D.N., a Sand Francisco-based sports nutritionist and distance runner.
Pickle juice, studies have shown, can also prevent muscle cramping. "The acidity of the vinegar cues the brain to tell the muscles to stop contracting and relax," Koszyk explains. Mustard may have the same anti-cramping effect, she adds. While that puts a Chicago-style dog this close to race fuel, we don't recommend it.