Drinking enough clean water is one of the best things we can do for ourselves- and something I talk to clients about every single day. In most cases, water alone is wonderful. For times of exercise and exertion where sweat causes mineral loss, a homemade natural electrolyte drink recipe can also be helpful.
Plain water doesn’t contain high levels of electrolytes. The body loses a lot of minerals during exercise. It can be helpful to add electrolytes and minerals to help rehydration.
Why Not Gatorade?
Well, let’s take a look at what is in an energy drink. Regular sports drinks like Gatorade and Powerade 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.
I’m all for re-hydrating, but are the monopotassium phosphate, mystery “natural flavors,” and artificial dyes really necessary?
When we think about it, it seems logical that consuming candy, drinks, or foods with added petroleum based colorings not found in nature might be problematic, but the problem is just that… often we don’t stop and think about it.
Think artificial dyes are a harmless or a minor ingredient? Consider this…
- Artificial food dyes have been linked to behavioral problems, various types of cancers and other problems (1)
- The European Union requires foods with food dyes to come with a warning label and has banned many of the dyes still used in the US
- Many people come in contact with food dyes without even realizing it in toothpastes, crackers, pickles, yogurt, potato chips, pastas and other foods that would not be obvious sources of dyes
There are seven artificial food dyes approved for use in foods in the US. The most commonly used dyes are Red 40, Yellow 5, and Yellow 6, which make up 90%+ of the market.
These dyes are created synthetically in several ways. Some dyes are created by burning coal tar and others are derived from petroleum byproducts like tartrazine and erythrosine.
The Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) released a 68-page report detailing the potential of artificial food dyes to contribute to hyperactivity in children, increase cancer risk and lead to other health problems. You can read the full PDF document here.
Research suggests that some children may be susceptible to even tiny amounts of artificial dyes but that a significant number of children were affected by amounts over 35 mg per day. Recent research from Purdue University showed the amount of dyes in common foods was much higher than expected and that one bowl of brightly colored cereal or some candy and macaroni and cheese was enough to break the 35mg threshold.
In fact, it was estimated that many children are consuming 3-4 times the 35mg amount per day. 😦
Natural Sports Electrolyte Drink Ingredients
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. It makes a pretty good natural electrolyte drink on its own or with a splash of lime.
Coconut water contains more potassium than sports drinks and more natural sources of sodium. A lot of athletes swear by it these days.
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.
You can make this recipe a variety of ways, but the ratios are the most important part. The base is any healthy liquid of choice and some good options are:
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
- 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
- LMNT – I’m a big fan of these flavored salt packets that replace vital electrolytes lost from sweating. In fact, they work amazing on their own with just water.
Electrolyte Drink Recipe
Here’s the basic recipe and ratios I use, but you can customize to your personal taste preferences:
- 1 quart liquid such as green tea herbal teas, coconut water, or plain water
- 1/8 -1/4 tsp Himalayan salt
- 1 tsp calcium magnesium powder
- ¼ cup or more 100% juice optional
- 1-2 TBSP sweetener such as honey or stevia optional
- Brew tea if using, or slightly warm base liquid.
- Add sea salt and calcium magnesium and mix.
- If using, add juice and sweetener and mix or shake well.
- Cool and store in refrigerator until ready to use.
- Will last up to four days in refrigerator.
When I’m not at home to make this, I carry pre-made electrolyte packets. I like the brand LMNT (the citrus sea salt is my favorite).