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Yes, You Can Make Your Own Sports Drink

Save money and have fun in the kitchen with these DIY sport drinks that are easy and tasty—and most importantly, perfect for boosting performance.


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Over the past several years, the market for sports drink mixes marketed to athletes has mushroomed. Generally, that’s a good thing, as it gives you more options to choose what works best for you. And, sure, a prepackaged sports drink mix is convenient. But you wanna know the truth? If you can spare a bit of time before lacing up your shoes or hopping on the saddle, you can easily craft your own effective sports drink using nothing more than a few simple ingredients. This is certainly an idea that will appeal to athletes who are looking for an au naturel approach to fueling any big effort and want to know—beyond a shadow of a doubt—exactly what is going into their bottles.

Consider these homemade sports drink shake-and-go recipes your own personal rocket fuel that will energize your workouts and save you hard-earned cash.

RELATED: How to Choose the Best Sports Drink for Triathlon

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Powdered Mix Recipes

The Basic Mix

2 tablespoons superfine sugar*

1 teaspoon lemon zest

1/8 teaspoon fine sea salt

2 cups water

Place all the ingredients together in a water bottle and shake well. You may need to shake the bottle each time you want to take a swig to redistribute the lemon zest.

*Somewhere between granulated and powdered is superfine sugar (sometimes called caster sugar). It has smaller granules than regular white sugar so it dissolves in water better. It won’t be helpful if all the energy sinks to the bottom of your bottle. You can also try making your own superfine sugar by running 1 cup of regular sugar in a food processor until the granules are finer.

Nutrition (entire drink): 96 calories, 0 g protein, 24 g carbs, 0 g fat, 288 mg sodium

Why it works: This bare-bones combination gives you the necessary fast-digesting carbs to help you keep up the pace and enough sodium to prevent too drastic of a drop in levels when working up a sweat. In a study published in the American Journal of Physiology-Endocrinology and Metabolism, a sucrose drink, which is the carbohydrate that makes up superfine sugar, was able to help preserve liver glycogen levels in cyclists and also increase whole-body carbohydrate utilization during exercise. The mix is designed to provide a concentration of carbohydrates (5%) when mixed with water that encourages excellent intestinal absorption to more quickly give your working muscles the energy they need and to also lessen the risk for stomach woes that can come from higher concentration drinks.

A sodium level of about 100-110mg per 8 ounces enhances the taste, facilitates absorption, and maintains bodily fluids. If you want a more expansive electrolyte profile, you can mix in a zero-sugar electrolyte powder such as Ultima or CURE that provides items like magnesium and potassium. Just make note of the sodium levels in these products as you may need to scale back how much salt you are adding to the original mix. Fail to do so and you risk sipping on an unappetizing salt lick.

Adding in lemon zest provides a nice pop of fresh flavor and helps mask any saltiness.

Pro tip: For 3 cups of water to fill a larger water bottle, use 3 tablespoons of sugar and an additional 1/16 teaspoon salt.

Iced Tea

1 3/4 tablespoons Lipton lemon iced tea powder mix

1/8 teaspoon fine sea salt

2 cups water

Place all the ingredients together in a water bottle and shake well. You may need to shake the bottle each time you want to take a swig to redistribute the ingredients.

Nutrition (entire drink): 108 calories, 0 g protein, 27 g carbs, 0 g fat, 288 mg sodium

Why it works: Using a readily available iced tea powder as the backbone of a sports drink mix can make any workout taste like a bright, sunny day. The cane sugar in these products will get into your system quickly for a hit of energy when you need it the most. Again, we are providing a concentration of carbs that will expedite absorption into the bloodstream to help side-step any stomach woes when you are charging hard.

 

Limey Coconut

1 1/2 tablespoons 100% coconut water powder, such as Wilderness Poets

2 teaspoons fresh lime juice

1/8 teaspoon fine sea salt

2 cups water

Place all the ingredients together in a water bottle and shake well.

Nutrition (entire drink): 105 calories, 0 g protein, 28 g carbs, 0 g fat, 299 mg sodium

Why it works: The naturally occurring simple sugars in coconut water are a great option for powering your workouts and making them taste a bit more tropical. It’s also a natural source of potassium. Coconut water powder is just a concentrated version of what you get from coconut water. The citrus adds a slight zing that will keep your taste buds happy.

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DIY Boosts

Upsell your own sports drink mixes with any of these custom add-ins.

2 teaspoon freeze-dried fruit powder such as acai or elderberry

1 teaspoon grated fresh ginger

1 teaspoon orange zest

1/2 teaspoon matcha tea powder

Photo: Getty Images
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Fluid Blend Recipes

Beyond powdered mixes, you can also easily make fluid sports drinks that will give any bottle of Gatorade some stiff competition.

The fast-working carbs in these drinks can help keep your blood sugar from taking a nosedive (a big player in the dreaded bonk) and their sodium works to maintain fluid balance and muscle function when out for the long haul. And each recipe comes minus the artificial coloring and the cloying sweetness that befalls many commercial options.

These liquid sports drink hacks make enough to fill a 24-ounce water bottle, so go ahead and scale up the ingredients if you want to top up multiple bottles. They can be made a day or two in advance if kept chilled.

Aloha

2 cups water

1 cup pineapple juice

1 tablespoon fresh lime juice

1/8 + 1/16 teaspoon fine sea salt

Place all of the ingredients in a large water bottle and shake well to combine. Or mix the ingredients in a large glass jar or juice jug and divide among smaller bottles.

Nutrition (entire drink): 136 calories, 1 g protein, 33g carbs, 0 g fat, 441mg sodium

Maple Orange

2 cups water

1 cup orange juice

2 tablespoons maple syrup

1/8 + 1/16 teaspoon fine sea salt

Place all of the ingredients in a large water bottle and shake well to combine. Or mix the ingredients in a large glass jar or juice jug and divide among smaller bottles.

Nutrition (entire drink): 214 calories, 2g protein, 52g carbs, 0 g fat, 442 mg sodium

Ciderade

1 3/4 cups water

1 1/4 cups apple cider

1/4 teaspoon cinnamon

1/8 teaspoon + 1/6 teaspoon fine sea salt

Place all of the ingredients in a large water bottle and shake well to combine.Or mix the ingredients in a large glass jar or juice jug and divide among smaller bottles.

Nutrition per bottle (entire drink): 150 calories, 0 g protein, 39g carbs, 0 g fat; 467mg sodium

RELATED: Triathlete’s Complete Guide to Nutrition and Fueling