the taste space

Homemade Sports Drink

Posted in Drinks by janet @ the taste space on July 27, 2010


As I train to cycle a double imperial century bike ride in September, I have been reading more about proper nutrition during exercise.

It is no secret that one must stay hydrated during long workouts and to keep fuelled with carbohydrate-rich snacks. There are many ways to replenish water and sugar – from sports drinks, gels, energy bars, fruit, etc – and I have begun to investigate the various options. It is always best to experiment during your training, not during your event. Of course, though, I am experimenting with creating these options in my own kitchen.

Beware: I am also in the medical field, so as I wrote this post, I realized it quickly became quite academic. There is science to this which is why I tried to link to the pubmed resources I reference. ;)


The benefits of remaining hydrated are obvious: your performance will be impaired if you are dehydrated by even 1-2%. It is therefore recommended to replenish the water you lose as sweat throughout your workout. The American College of Sports Medicine suggests drinking 500 mL of fluid 1-2 hours before you begin and then to replace as necessary with cold drinks throughout your workout. However, a 1:1 replacement of lost body weight is likely to overestimate your water needs and lead to hyperhydration. It is best to figure out your needs during training, based on the type of exercise, weather, level of training, etc, but aiming to replace 50-80% of the change in your body weight pre- and post-exercise is less likely to induce the ill-effects of drinking too much water. You may not feel thirsty during exercise (think fight or flight responses) and studies consistently show athletes do not adequately replace water. I am likely totally guilty of that and it is worse during long, hot rides.

Sports drinks are very popular because compared to water, they replace fluid, electrolyte and carbohydrate losses. Sodium and potassium are important to replace during prolonged exercise and they confer additional benefits like augmenting glucose and water absorption in the small intestine. A sports drink with 4-8% of carbohydrates is recommended as concentrations higher than that, as found in fruit juices and soft drinks,  may delay gastric-emptying.  In addition to the science behind sports drinks, a flavoured drink tastes better and encourages you to drink more. I can attest to that!

Most of the commercial sports drinks (Gatorade, Powerade, etc) contain 6% carbohydrate, ~100 mg sodium and ~30 mg potassium in each cup but also taste artificial and are sweetened with high fructose corn syrup. There is one benefit of commerical sports drinks, though, and that’s that they are fairly ubiquitous. I try to pack fairly light during long rides and this way you could buy drinks enroute and recycle the containers afterwards.

I was on a quest to find my own homemade sports drink and really like the one found in Nancy Clark’s Sports Nutrition Guidebook. It is not too sweet and tastes great. It is also ridiculously easy to make and much cheaper than the commerical drinks. The recipe has also been posted here and here with other drink recipes.  I’d love to hear about your own recipes for sports drinks.

With lemon or orange as its key flavour, this is my submission to this week’s Weekend Herb Blogging hosted by Laurie at Mediterranean Cooking in Alaska.

Homemade Sports Drink (Homemade Gatorade)

4 tbsp sugar
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 cup boiling water
1/4 cup orange and/or 2 tbsp lemon juice (around half a lemon)
3 3/4 cups cold water

1. Dissolve the sugar and salt in the hot water.

2. Add the juices and remaining water. Chill until needed.

Makes 1L.

Per 1 cup:
50 calories, 12g carbs, 110 mg sodium, 30mg potassium

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10 Responses

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  1. Rob said, on July 28, 2010 at 7:35 AM

    Is that Ziki I see there examining that pitcher of Janet’s Homemade Sports Drink? I hope he didn’t need to be banished to the basement again!

    • Saveur said, on July 28, 2010 at 8:08 AM

      Actually, that was Nuki looking in to see what was happening. No banishment required.

  2. Laurie Constantino said, on August 3, 2010 at 4:34 AM

    I love the idea of homemade sports drink! Thanks for sending this to WHB.

  3. [...] with water bottles filled with homemade sports drink, energy date bars (cocoa fudge and gingerbread recipes to come!) and some hummus for lunch, Rob and [...]

  4. [...] cycling last weekend. With the long distances, I prefer to eat more liquid-based foods (ie, soup! homemade sports drink! smoothies!) and this hit the spot. It was light on my stomach and jammed full of vegetables and [...]

  5. [...] cycling. Never wanting to run out of glycogen stores during long rides (aka bonk), snacking on homemade sports drinks and energy bars are a fun way to fuel a long [...]

  6. […] 5. The controversial science of sports drinks. Why not just make your own? […]

  7. Gabby @ the veggie nook said, on May 14, 2013 at 9:06 AM

    Oh so glad you linked to this! This was before I discovered you but I love the idea of a homemade sports drink :)

  8. […] had encountered the dreaded bonk. This year, I am ramping my snacks and calories. I am drinking my homemade sports drink. Even for these “short” beginner […]


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