Sports drinks are big business these days. Once only popular with athletes, sports drinks have become more mainstream. But are sports drinks necessary, and if so, is there a DIY way to get the benefits of sports drinks without taking a hit to your wallet?
Traditional sports drinks provide easy-to-digest carbohydrates to help fuel athletes for longer-duration exercises. They also help replace electrolytes that are lost in sweat.
And while sports drinks certainly aren’t necessary for those who don’t exercise, they’re tastier than water and lower in sugar than sodas.
Stocking up on electrolyte-rich sports drinks isn’t cheap, so it might be handy for you to know how to make your own. You can save money and create your own flavors. Just follow the recipe below!
Sports drinks are made to a specific concentration to provide a balance of carbohydrates for fuel and sodium and other electrolytes to maintain hydration levels. This is so you can digest them as easily and quickly as possible.
Experiment with flavors (for example, try using lime instead of lemon or choose your favorite juice). The recipe may also need some tweaking based on your own needs:
- Adding too much sugar can cause stomach distress during exercise for those with a sensitive gastrointestinal (GI) tract.
- Adding too little sugar can lower the amount of carbohydrates you get before, during, or after your workout. This can affect your performance and ability to refuel.
- Finally, although you don’t lose a lot of potassium or calcium in sweat, they’re still important electrolytes to replenish.
This recipe uses a mix of coconut water and regular water to provide a more varied flavor and to add some potassium and calcium. Feel free to use only water if you prefer, but you may need to add electrolytes, like salt and a powdered calcium-magnesium supplement, for proper refueling.
For weight loss after an athletic event or exercise, aim to drink 16 to 24 ounces (2 to 3 cups) of a rehydration fluid per pound of weight lost, to properly rehydrate.
Since sports nutrition is individualized, athletes and those who have exercised longer than two hours, are wearing heavy sweaters, or exercising in hot climates may need to increase the sodium amount given below.
This recipe provides a 6 percent carbohydrate solution with 0.6 grams (g) of sodium per liter, which are both within general sports-nutrition rehydration guidelines.
Yield: 32 ounces (4 cups, or approximately 1 liter)
Serving size: 8 ounces (1 cup)
- 1/4 tsp. salt
- 1/4 cup pomegranate juice
- 1/4 cup lemon juice
- 1 1/2 cups unsweetened coconut water
- 2 cups cold water
- Additional options: sweetener, powdered magnesium and/or calcium, depending on needs
Directions: Put all ingredients in a bowl and whisk. Pour into a container, chill, and serve!