When you think of sports drinks, you may automatically think of Gatorade or another popular brand filled with electrolytes and other supportive ingredients. Sports drinks are designed to rehydrate you as quickly as possible. However, many brand-name beverages on the market are packed with loads of sugar. While you may be hydrated and able to bounce back after rigorous fitness or athletic sports, the sugar can take a toll on your health. Instead of purchasing popular drinks, you can improve your health and diet by creating your own sports drinks from scratch.
Why are homemade sports drinks beneficial?
Homemade sports drinks don’t have artificial dyes or sugar. These ingredients can cause long-term health problems when imbibed regularly for years because they are harmful chemicals. You can also design your drink however you like because you are crafting it yourself. This is great for individuals with allergies and sensitivities that prevent them from drinking mainstream beverages. You can use all-natural sweetening agents, such as honey, stevia, and other healthy alternatives. If you add enough fruit to your drink, you won’t need any sugar because of the natural fructose.
Why are electrolytes important?
Electrolytes help your cells function when they fire off nerve endings in the heart and muscle tissue. They allow cells to maintain an electric voltage along cell membranes. These voltages travel along nerve cells as electrical impulses. Muscles use those impulses to contract and flex. Without electrolytes, the body’s muscles cannot move or function. The most important electrolytes in the body are potassium, sodium, calcium, chloride, magnesium, phosphate, sulfate, and bicarbonate.
Potassium helps maintain the water balance inside the body and helps to balance acidity in the body. Calcium helps to maintain nerve activity and muscle tissue and helps regulate blood clotting, heart rate, and cell function. Sodium attracts water and moves water molecules into the cells. Chloride works with sodium and improves its ability to move water. Magnesium helps with enzyme reactions inside cells. Phosphate helps the body’s muscles contract and the nerve cells to function. It also helps store energy, repair teeth and bones, and other mechanisms.
How Do I Know If I’m Low On Electrolytes?
When you have been working out for a long period of time, you may notice your energy levels dropping. However, it can be harder to tell if you are depleted of electrolytes unless you are extremely thirsty. Some ways you might lose electrolytes include, sweating profusely, diarrhea or vomiting, or bleeding excessively. Dehydration can also be caused by starvation and not drinking enough fluids. Medications that can cause dehydration include laxatives, diuretics, antibiotics, seizure medication, and steroids. Medical conditions that can cause dehydration include metabolic alkalosis and chronic respiratory problems. Alcohol intoxication is also known to cause dehydration.
Some symptoms that show that you’ve lost a lot of electrolytes include feeling lethargic, nauseated, and fatigued. In addition to dizziness, you may feel confused, irritable, and off-center. Headaches are also common, along with muscle weakness and cramping. You may also notice an irregular heartbeat or fast heart rate. Other symptoms of electrolyte depletion are convulsions, seizures, tingling sensations, numbness, and abdominal cramping. You may also experience vomiting, diarrhea, or constipation.
An electrolyte imbalance is called hyponatremia, which refers to low sodium levels. This can be caused by hormonal changes or kidney disease. It can also be caused by drinking too much water, which can deplete sodium. When sodium becomes too diluted, the body absorbs too much fluid and causes the cells to swell. Symptoms you might experience with hyponatremia are very similar to normal electrolyte imbalances. However, you’re more likely to experience a coma, headache, seizures, confusion, vomiting, and nausea. Restlessness, irritability, drowsiness, fatigue, loss of energy, muscle cramps or spasms, and weakness are also possible.
What Ingredients Are In Typical Sports Drinks?
Most sports drinks have carbohydrates in the form of sugar so that the muscle tissue has energy. Additionally, sodium is included in a small amount to help improve re-hydration. Sodium improves the fluid balance and can replace any salt lost due to heavy sweating.
Unfortunately, many sports drinks have extremely high levels of sugar and low-quality electrolytes. For those who have diabetes, it can be a problem if they drink a beverage with too much sugar. This can make it difficult for them to manage their glucose levels. Many sports drinks have excessively high levels of Vitamin B3 (niacin) or B6. When B3 and B6 levels are too high, they can cause gastrointestinal issues, liver toxicity, blurred vision, nerve damage, and skin rashes. Sports drinks can also cause weight gain because of the sugar and calories. The high sodium level can also put you at risk of high blood pressure with frequent use.
5 Homemade Sports Drink Ideas
Here are some fun and unique sports drinks that are not only beneficial to your body, but also delicious and easy to make:
Citrus Electrolyte Drink
Cut out the artificial junk in your sports drink by making an alternative. You can make a citrusy and flavorful drink using fruit juice packed with Vitamin C. In addition to being great at rehydrating athletes, citrus drinks are also a wonderful immune system booster.
For a citrus-flavored drink that has the electrolyte infusion power of Pedialyte, use these ingredients:
- ½ cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
- ½ cup fresh orange juice
- 4 drops of grapefruit essential oil or ¼ cup of grapefruit juice
- 2 cups of filtered water or raw coconut water
- 2 tablespoons of raw honey
- ⅛ teaspoon Himalayan pink salt
You can also try an alternative by switching out the orange juice with ¼ cup of lime juice to make lemon limeade.
Mojito Inspired Sports Drink
If you want a drink that is both cooling and refreshing, you can consider a mojito-inspired sports drink. Even if you’re not a fan of alcoholic beverages like mojitos, you may appreciate the zesty flavors of this cocktail mixture.
To make a cooling mojito-inspired drink, mix together the following ingredients:
- ½ cup lime juice
- 150 ml apple juice
- 330 ml filtered water
- 1 teaspoon honey or brown sugar
- 4 to 6 leaves of mint
- A pinch of sea salt
Chill the cocktail before drinking for the best cooling effect.
Lemon-Ginger Cooler Sports Drink
For a spicier and more warming drink, you can try a lemon-ginger cooler that also helps with digestion. This drink can be served as a hot tea or a chilled beverage. You will need a stove to make this drink.
To make your lemon-ginger cooler sports drink, you can use the following ingredients:
- A 2-inch piece of sliced fresh ginger
- 2 tablespoons of lemon juice
- Date syrup for flavor
- Optional 4-inch piece of cinnamon stick
- Optional mint for garnish
You must put 4 cups of water in a saucepan and add the ginger. Allow the water to boil, then add the lemon and cinnamon stick. Immediately take the pot off the heat and set it aside for 30 minutes. Add date syrup to sweeten the flavor. Refrigerate the mixed drink until its chilled. You can also reheat it and drink it as tea.
Watermelon Juice Sports Drink
For a delightful and lightly flavored drink packed with nutrients and electrolytes, you can make a homemade watermelon sports drink. This drink is easy to make and doesn’t require a lot of ingredients. It’s also family-friendly and loved by children.
To make a watermelon juice sports drink, you can mix the following ingredients in a blender:
- 3 to 4 large pieces of watermelon
- 5 to 6 ice cubes
- 1 tablespoon of lemon juice
- 1 tablespoon of honey
Place the ingredients in a blender to turn them into a smoothie. To keep it in slushie form, you must place it in the freezer and blend it again.
Sugar-Free Better-Ade Sports Drink
For an even healthier drink with no sugar added, you can make a better-ade sports drink that helps promote skin health. It only requires simple ingredients to make and is packed with flavor and electrolytes.
To create a sugar-free better ade drink, use the following ingredients:
- 1 cup of coconut water
- ½ cup of hibiscus tea
- A pinch of salt
- 1 tablespoon of lemon juice
To make the hibiscus tea, take a tea bag or 1 to 2 tablespoons of dry hibiscus petals and steep in 3 to 4 cups of water. For every 1 cup of coconut water, use a ½ cup of hibiscus tea, or add more to strengthen the flavor.
Improve Your Health With Homemade Sports Drinks
Instead of depending on Gatorade, Powerade, or other sports drinks that promise to give you energy, make your own right at home. Use these methods to make a drink that won’t make you peak and then crash because of all the sugar.