Drinking enough pure clean water is one of the most important things we can do for overall health. For times of exercise and exertion, a homemade natural sports drink recipe can also be helpful.
Plain water can get boring after a while and it doesn’t contain high levels of electrolytes lost during exercise. It is helpful to add electrolytes and minerals to help rehydration after times of high-intensity exercise or lots of sweating.
Why Not Regular Sports Drinks?
Before you stop by the store for a Gatorade on the way to the game, try making your own natural version! It is easy, just as fast, and a lot healthier.
Regular sports drinks contain ingredients like:
Water, sucrose syrup, glucose-fructose syrup, citric acid, natural grape flavor with other natural flavors, salt, sodium citrate, monopotassium phosphate, red 40, Blue 1.
They also typically have fruit-like flavors but labels that say “contain no fruit.”
I’m all for re-hydrating, but are the monopotassium phosphate, mystery “natural flavors” and artificial dyes really necessary?
Around here, for times when more than just water is needed for hydration (softball games, triathlons, labor, etc.), we make our own version, which I prefer… never much liked Gatorade or Powerade myself anyway.
Natural Electrolyte Sports Drink Recipe
Coconut water is one of the simplest sports drink alternatives and can be used as is.
Apparently, coconut water is similar in structure to the fluid used in IV rehydration. For this reason, it was used during the Pacific War as an IV electrolyte replacement. Use it alone or add a teaspoon of fresh lime juice for flavor.
Coconut water contains more potassium than sports drinks, and more natural sources of sodium. A lot of athletes swear by it these days, and I had it on hand during my last couple of labors.
The only downside to coconut water is the price. If you want an inexpensive (yet still healthy and tasty) alternative, this recipe is the next best thing.
Natural Homemade Sports Drink Recipe
You can make this recipe a variety of ways and the ratios are the most important part. The base is any healthy liquid of choice and some good options are:
- Herbal teas
- Green tea
- Coconut Water
- Plain water
- Some people like these new Bai drinks as a base as well
To turn the basic liquid into a sports drink, add some or all of these ingredients:
- Salt– A high quality salt adds sodium and other minerals
- Calcium or Magnesium– Adding a high quality calcium magnesium powder helps replenish minerals (I like this one)
- Juice– Optional but adds sweetness and natural sugars if needed during exercise
- Natural Flavors– I’m not talking about the more pleasant sounding name for the not-so-nice additive MSG. Add natural flavors in the form of fresh ginger, fresh herbs or even natural flavored stevia extracts
Electrolyte Drink Recipe: Basic Ingredients
Here’s the basic recipe and ratios I use, but you can customize to your personal taste preferences:
- 1 quart of liquid (options: green tea, herbal teas, coconut water, plain water, etc)
- ⅛-1/4 tsp high quality salt (or more if needed)
- 1 teaspoon calcium magnesium powder
- ¼ cup or more of juice (optional)- Can use grape, apple, lemon, lime, pineapple, etc
- 1-2 TBSP sweetener (optional)- can use honey, stevia, etc. I suggest brewing stevia leaf into the base liquid for the most natural option.
- Brew tea if using or slightly warm base liquid
- Add sea salt and calcium magnesium to mix.
- Add juice and sweetener if using and mix or shake well.
- Cool and store in fridge until ready to use.
- Will last up to four days in fridge, but I prefer to make as needed.
Can make half a batch or less if needed.
Another easy alternative is just mixing Vitamin C powder with water and a little juice, though this can be a little acidic during high intensity exercise!
Do We Really Need Electrolytes?
The sports drink industry is massive! I often see kids playing 4-year-old soccer sucking down bottles and packages of brightly colored sports drinks. This begs the question- do we really need electrolytes every time we exercise?
There is a tremendous difference between someone who exercises for the health benefits and an elite athlete. High level athletes burn through a lot of liquid, electrolytes, and blood sugar during their training and competitions.
As casual athletes or weekend warriors, most of the rest of us probably don’t.
In a perfect world, we would be able to obtain enough nutrients from diet alone and wouldn’t need any supplements or added drinks like this.
The question of if electrolytes and sports drinks are really needed varies by individual. In many cases, pure water may be just as good of an option. It’s certainly better than neon sports drinks with high fructose corn syrup!
What’s your favorite sports drink? Ever made your own?