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Homemade Sports Drink

Homemade Sports Drink

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While this lemon-lime hydrator may still be on the market, it sure was a favorite to us as kids. Whether or not it gave us...

While this lemon-lime hydrator may still be on the market, it sure was a favorite to us as kids. Whether or not it gave us more energy is still up to question, but one thing is for sure; kids back then and even now couldn't get enough of the green stuff. Here's how to make your own version of the drink for less dough, courtesy of One Good Thing by Jilee.


  • 1/2 Cup orange juice
  • 1/2 Cup granulated sugar
  • 1/4 Teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 Tablespoon lemon juice
  • water

How to make your own Sports Drinks

Sports drinks such as Gatorade and Powerade are the most popular source of fuel during workouts. They not only aid in hydration, but provide carbohydrates for energy and electrolytes (primarily potassium and sodium) to replace losses in sweat. For endurance athletes and training sessions lasting longer than 60 minutes, these drinks can definitely come in handy. However, there are some cons that could come with guzzling drinks like Gatorade during each training session. For one, the second ingredient in Gatorade is sugar (right after water). It contains over five teaspoons of added sugar! It also contains several additives, artificial colors and flavorings (depending on the flavor). The newer "G2" low-calorie series is lower calorie because they replaced some of the sugar with artificial sweeteners (sucralose/splenda and acesulfame K). I highly recommend athletes avoid artificial sweeteners during workouts as they could lead to GI distress, bloating, upset stomach, headache, etc. Try these two simple recipes for a healthier, cleaner sports drink!

In this chart, I have compared the nutrient content of my homemade sports drink recipes (found below) to Gatorade. The carbohydrate source in my drinks (Citrus and Watermelon) is natural sugar from fruit, potassium from coconut water, and sodium from a pinch of sea salt.

Citrus Sports Drink

juice from 3-4 oranges (should yield approximately 3/4 cup freshly squeezed orange juice)

juice from 1/2 a fresh lemon

6 oz. (3/4 cup) coconut water

pinch of sea salt (or approximately 1/16 tsp)

Combine all ingredients in glass and enjoy! This drink refrigerates well throughout the day, just make sure to stir before drinking. **If you are in a time crunch/unable to juice your own fruit, use freshly squeezed orange juice & lemon juice from store (only ingredient should be: orange juice…no added sugar!)

Watermelon is rich in citrulline, an amino acid that research has shown helps to reduce muscle soreness in athletes after intense workouts. This recipe combines the powerful antioxidants and nutrient content of watermelon, with electrolytes from coconut water and salt for a "natural" sports drink excellent pre, during, and post-workout.

Watermelon Sports Drink

1 cup fresh watermelon (chopped)

juice squeezed from half of a lime

pinch of sea salt (or approximately 1/16 tsp)

Combine all ingredients together in blender. Enjoy immediately after making.

Is Gatorade Healthy?

Gatorade drinks (and any other electrolyte-replacing sports drink, as well as drinks designed to rehydrate and heal during a bout of diarrhea or childhood illnesses) contain five major components:

  1. water (for hydration, obviously)
  2. sugars (for energy/carbs)
  3. citric acid and sodium citrate (both preservatives, also sodium citrate in some forms has been shown to increase running performance 1 – but it also chelates calcium, a necessary electrolyte that needs to be replaced!) (to replace the electrolyte sodium)
  4. monopotassium phosphate (the chosen form of potassium, another essential electrolyte)

Other than the preservatives (which wouldn’t be necessary in a homemade version), that seems alright. But then you consider the added artificial colors, flavors, and sweeteners in most electrolyte drinks and they don’t seem so healthy anymore.

Of course, dehydration which can lead to heat exhaustion and even heatstroke if you’re also getting overheated isn’t healthy either.

If we just take the important components of an electrolyte drink, we can easily make it at home without all the added nasties! Ready for some math to figure out the correct proportions of all the ingredients to balance electrolytes?

Option 1: Cheap and Easy Sports Drink

100ml squash / cordial (not ‘reduced sugar’ variety)
400ml water
A pinch of salt
4tsp sugar (optional)
Directions: Mix together and store in the fridge to chilll

The key to making this one work is that you want to find a squash that’s not described as ‘reduced sugar’ or ‘no added sugar’ or else it won’t contain the carbs that sports drinks typically provide.

In the above example, we used a ‘hi-juice’ squash / cordial, which contains a relatively large amount of natural fruit juice, but you can use cheaper alternatives. The above bottle would make make ten 500ml servings when diluted and each serving works out at about a tenth of the price of branded sports drinks.

Even with a relatively sugary squash, it only provides a total of around 7g of sugar for a 500ml drink, much lower than the 30-35g of sugar that are in a Lucozade or Gatorade of the same size. If you think you’re missing out, you can add the extra sugar (about 4 teaspoons) and dissolve it in, but very few people will need any additional sugar for exercise lasting under 1 hour. If you are going to dissolve extra sugar in, you’ll find it easier if you’re using warm water.

How much fluid do I need after exercise?

According to the American College of Sports Medicine, you need at least 1 1/2 to 3 cups of fluid for every hour you exercise. If you’re doing longer workouts or exercising in hot weather, it’s a good idea to weigh yourself before and after your workout to see how much fluid you need to replace. Drink 2 to 3 cups of fluid after exercise for every pound of weight you lost.

[ctt template=𔄧″ link=”bcna9″ via=”yes” ]How much fluid do you need post-workout? Get 1.5 – 3 cups/hour of exercise @80twentyrule[/ctt]

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When Should You Replenish Electrolytes?

When athletes perform extreme workouts, they threaten their bodies' ability to balance and regulate electrolytes. That's why, despite sports drinks' neon color and high sugar content, they do have a time and a place for people losing electrolytes in extreme conditions.

But of course, not every workout requires a sports drink for adequate replenishment. Food contains electrolytes, and the average athlete can more than adequately meet his or her electrolyte and hydration needs simply by drinking water and eating a meal. But as the interest in marathons, ultra marathons and triathlons grows, so does the need for sports drink consumption.

Individual needs for when to replace water with a sports drink will vary. As a September 2015 paper in the British Journal of Sports Medicine suggests, different individuals sweat and lose electrolytes at different rates. A person's acclimation to heat and humidity, along with their speed, body weight and even their genes all influence their sweat rate.

A good rule of thumb is to consider drinking a sports drink for continuous endurance activities lasting longer than one hour. Engaging in exercise for prolonged periods may result in dehydration and sodium losses from sweat. While it may be tempting to use water for hydration, the sodium in sports drinks provides much-needed salt to the depleted athlete. Basically, if you're exercising continuously and hard enough to sweat for more than an hour, a sports drink is probably a good idea.

For those looking for a more natural solution to sports drinks, it is possible to combine real food sources of electrolytes to create homemade options:

How to make a homemade sports drink?

To adequately hydrate you need 3 things: carbs, sodium and fluids!

We all know fluids are key for hydration but many parents (and people in general) are unsure about carbs and sugars (especially in a beverage) and thus trying to reduce them in the diet.

Which is another reason why I’m super excited to share this homemade sports drink recipe made with Florida Orange Juice with you.

So while balance is key… it’s important to also understand that carbohydrates actually aid in hydration. For every 1 gram of carbohydrate, 3 grams of water are attached and stored in the muscle.

Adding carbs to a sports drink not only provides quick energy, blood sugar stabilization and a performance boost, they help the body to hold on to fluid reducing the risk of excess sweat loss and dehydration.

How to make your own energy drink

So what are the ingredients you need to make a sports drink?

Simply sugar, salt and water. The sugar prevents a decrease in performance caused by a drop in blood sugar, the fluid helps stave off dehydration, and the salt helps absorb and retain the fluid.

How to make an energy drink using table sugar

Making your own sports drinks will save you a fortune and there are two main ways to tackle this. These will make up 1-litre of sports drink. The first involves taking 60–80g of table sugar, adding half a teaspoon of table salt, adding no-added-sugar cordial and topping up with water.

If you add less than 60g of sugar it might not be enough to prevent the drop in blood glucose. If you add more than 80g of table sugar you’ll start to delay fluid absorption. This means the fluid takes longer to get to where it needs to be — the blood and the muscles — and will not be as effective at staving off dehydration.

More than 80g of table sugar also increases the likelihood of stomach upsets, particularly if you are running soon afterwards.

How to make an energy drink using fruit sugar

A second option is to use fruit juice. Again assuming you are making 1-litre of sports drink, add 400—600ml of the fruit juice to a 1-litre bottle and dilute with water, adding half a teaspoon of table salt.

The advantage of this method is the type of sugars found in fruit juice — mainly glucose and fructose — which are the most easily absorbed mixture of sugars.

This will lead to more of the sugar being used as fuel, increased fluid absorption and give a better performance compared to a glucose-only drink.

And what’s better than a homemade natural electrolyte drink with just 5 ingredients?!

But first, let me fill ya in on why it’s important – a sports drink is going to have three important things in there for you:

1) Fluid to keep you hydrated.

I think in the running community we hear so much about over hydration (hyponatremia) that sometimes we get nervous about how much to drink. While hyponatremia is scary and serious, the reality is that far more runners suffer from dehydration in warm weather.

The key is to follow your body’s signals of thirst (craving fluid, dry mouth) versus over drinking (sloshing, feeling nauseous). If you’re curious to see if you’re hydrating right, weight yourself before and after a long workout. If you’ve lost between 1-2% of your body weight, you’re probably spot on. If you’ve lost 3% or more, focus a bit more on hydration next time.

2) Electrolytes to replenish those lost in sweat.

When it comes to electrolytes, I really only get concerned about sodium. For those doing ultras and the long course tris, there might also be a little emphasis on potassium. But generally, you just want to make sure that you’re taking in sodium during exercise lasting longer than an hour. If it’s really hot and you’re doing an intense workout, it might even be beneficial for under an hour.

(Completely anecdotal, but I was teaching dance classes two years ago in the dead of summer – high 90’s every day. I was getting the worst headaches afterward but as soon as I started drinking a little sports drink out there, I didn’t have any problems with them anymore).

3) Carbohydrate (sugar) to fuel your muscles.

Your body runs off both carbohydrate and fat during exercise. You store carbohydrate in your muscles, but only a very limited amount compared to the amount of fat you store. Unfortunately you can’t just switch over completely to fat, so when you’re exercising for longer than an hour taking in some carbohydrate through food or drink helps to prolong that stored energy in the muscles.

[Tweet “This DIY sports drink is a great option for any athlete!”]

3 Homemade Sport Drink Recipes

Here’s a little secret about me. I chat about the benefits of sports drink often (Re: What Athletes Need To Know About Electrolytes & 5 Hydration Mistakes You May Be Making), but I really don’t like them. When I first started running, I knew sports drinks were beneficial for longer distances, so I attempted to incorporate them into my nutrition plan. But, they gave me a stomach ache and were much too sweet for my taste. I even tried the lower-calorie and lower-sugar varieties, but I just didn’t enjoy them. Eventually, I forced myself to use a mixture of sports drinks, gummies and water during races.

But recently, I started thinking about the components of a sports drink and a light bulb went off! “These might be really easy to make at home!” And alas, they are! I created this video to show you how, including 3 different flavor variations. Each recipe has 4 ingredients or less, and you will find the recipes in the video description and also on this handy infographic (scroll down to see it). Pin it for later, and let me know if you try this for yourself!


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