Homemade Sports Drink

Sports drinks like Gatorade (tm) can be very useful for longer runs and races. Unfortunately, they are also very expensive. I've found a couple of ways of making sports drinks that are effective and cheap. The ideas for the recipe, like most good running ideas, first came to me from The Dead Runners' Society.

Gatorade (tm) has worked hard to come up with what they feel is a good balance of carbohydrates and electrolytes for extended physical activity. Most researchers agree that the optimal concentration of carbohydrates in a sports drink is about 6%. This concentration actually allows the water to be absorbed more quickly in the body than plain water alone. I don't think we need to use sports drinks. I don't use them unless I'm doing a run that going to be over 90 minutes long. However, for long runs, the water, electrolytes, and carbohyrdates help a lot.

Gatorade has a formulation that gives the following for an 8oz serving:
14grams Carbohydrate (5.9%)
110 mg Sodium
30mg Potassium
52 calories

Assuming that is a pretty good formula, we can get close by using one of the following recipes:

Recipe #1

10 tbs. sugar (5/8 cups or 120 grams)
.75 tsp Morton Lite salt (4.2 grams)
1 package of unsweetened Coolade mix for flavor
Water to make 2 liters

The recipe will give a total of 124 grams of solute which in 2 liters water gives a total of 6.2% concentration. For an 8 oz serving this gives:
14.2 grams carbohydrate (6%)
53 calories
103 mg Sodium
121 mg Potassium

You'll notice that the amount of potassium is quite a bit higher than Gatorade, but the rest is pretty close. If you wanted to reduce the potassium, another option would be to use 1/2 tsp. each of regular salt and the Morton Lite Salt. This would change it to:
104mg sodium
40mg potassium

Recipe #2

If you wanted to reduce the amount of potassium, or simply didn't want to buy some Morton Lite Salt, here is another option.

1/2 cup orange juice
9 tbs. Sugar
3/8 tsp Salt
Water to 2 liters

This gives, per an 8 oz serving:
14.4 grams carb (6.1%)
104 mg sodium
28.4 mg Potassium

I believe that you could substitute 2 tbs. of lemon juice for the orange juice and it would come out the same (or at least close).

Remember, the exact proportions aren't as important as just using it for your long runs.


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David S. Hays, O.D.,dhays@davidhays.net