This homemade sports drink is an easy, affordable way to fuel your sports training or event. It has a very mild flavor and is clear – making it a great option for those that don’t like the sweet taste of commercial brands and don’t want to worry about stains.
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Have you ever been in the middle of an event, knowing you need fuel but couldn’t bear the thought of swallowing something sweet? If so, you’re not alone.
Many athletes find it difficult to tolerate the sweet flavors of engineered sports foods and sports drinks, especially during longer distance endurance events. Though drinking plain water might be tempting, water is not always enough. I share more about that in my post on when to choose a sports drink versus plain water.
Making a DIY sports drink is an easy solution.
Homemade sports drink are an easiest and affordable ways to get the fluid, carbohydrates and sodium needed during long distance or high-intensity activity. They can also be used to top off glycogen stores prior to exercise, or as a way to recovery after activity. The key is to make it with the right concentration of ingredients.
Why Is The Percentage Of Carbohydrate In A Sports Drink So Important?
Made right, a homemade sports drink is a great way to fuel and refuel your muscles. Making it wrong, however, can result in some serious side effects or complications. Research has shown that drinking a sports drink containing more than 6-7% carbohydrates (~14-17 grams per 8 ounce serving), will decrease the rate of gastric emptying and fluid absorption. That’s why it’s important to add just the right amount of sugar or sweetener when making your homemade sports drink.
How Much Sodium Should You Add To A Sports Drink?
Sodium is the main electrolyte lost in sweat, so adding it to your homemade sports drink helps to replace some of those losses. It also improves the taste, helps to promote rehydration and helps to reduce the risk of muscle cramps and hyponatremia – a condition that occurs when the concentration of sodium in the blood is low.
There is no perfect amount of sodium to add to your sports drink. Some athletes are very salty sweaters and may need more, while other need just enough to replace typical losses. The sodium content of commercial sports drinks can vary widely. For example, the popular sports drink brand Gatorade contain ~270 mg of sodium per 20 ounce bottle. I typically suggest adding between 1/12 and 1/8 of a tsp, per 20 ounce serving.
How To Make A Homemade Sports Drink
The homemade sports drink recipe I am sharing here is clear with very little flavor. That makes it a great option if you don’t like the sweet taste of most commercially sports drinks. It’s also great for athletes that have to drink quickly between innings or that squirt their drink through a face mask. If you spill a clear option while drinking, you don’t have to worry about a bright red or colored stain getting on your uniform.
To make this homemade sports drink, you’ll need water, sugar, honey, lemon juice and salt. The combination of sugar and honey provides the 6-7% carbohydrate solution you want in a sports drink. I also use 1/8 of a tsp of salt in this recipe. That amount is slightly higher than many commercial brands, and great if you are a salty sweater. If you’re not, you can reduce the sodium to 1/12 of a tsp. That will result in ~190 mg of sodium in this 20-ounce serving.
Start by heating 1 cup of water in the microwave or stove top. Heating the water first helps the sugar and salt to dissolve quickly. Once heated, pour it into a pitcher and stir in the honey, sugar and salt until dissolved. Then, you can add the remaining water and lemon juice. Stir well, then transfer to a 20-ounce bottle to chill. Once you are ready to leave, your sports drink will be cold and ready for you to take with you.
If traditional sports drinks are not for you, try this homemade replacement instead. I share more homemade sports drink recipes in my book, Fueling Young Athletes.
DIY Homemade Sports Drink
- 20 ounces Water
- 2 tsp Lemon Juice
- 4 tsp Sugar, White
- 1 tbsp Honey
- 1/8 tsp Salt
- Heat one cup of water in the microwave, then add it to a pitcher.
- Add the honey, sugar and salt until dissolved, then add the remaining water and lemon juice
- Pour into a 20-ounce bottle and chill until ready-to-drink
- Recipe Makes: 1 Sports Drink
- Servings Per Container: 1 (20 ounces)
- Nutritional Information (per 20 ounces): 140 calories, 34 g carbohydrates, 33 g sugar, 0 g protein, 0 g fat, 320 mg sodium, 11 mg potassium.