I would say that sport’s drinks like Gatorade, Propel, and Powerade are some of the most controversial products when it comes to hydration. You have the people who are firmly in the water-is-the-only-hydration-you-need camp and then you have others who are firmly in the you-need-to-replenish-your-electrolytes-after-activity camp. Then you have those in the murky middle ground who believe sometimes you need sports drinks and sometimes you don’t. It can be very confusing.
I am somewhere in the murky middle ground. It all depends on the activity you’ve been doing and how long you’ve been active for. The vast majority of us don’t do enough work or exercise that will require anything other than water to rehydrate. There is no need for a Gatorade after a 20-minute workout or to hand out sports drinks after a kids soccer game. There are a few instances where you do need to replenish your electrolyte levels with something other than just water.
People who run/train for marathons, triathlons, Ironman competitions, or any other grueling endurance sport are probably going to need something more than just water. That is because they are asking their bodies to work at full capacity for a long period of time. Anything more than a 90-minute workout session is going to probably warrant a little extra attention to your hydration levels.
Now, here is my other sticking point: I think that commercially sold sports drinks are NOT the way to replenish your fluids and electrolytes. They’re full of sugar and other ingredients that actually make you thirstier than you were before. How else would they sell their product? If one drink made rehydrated you, you wouldn’t need another. Plus you’re getting way more calories than you need from a drink.
Lucky for you, it’s easy to make your own sports drink that will rehydrate you as well as replenish your electrolyte levels without the calories, sugar, or any other possible weird ingredients. You can make these in advance of a tough workout or activity and have them ready to go when you’re done. You can play with the levels of citrus and natural sweetener to suit your tastes.
You can play with the levels of citrus and natural sweetener to suit your tastes and if you don’t want or can’t find coconut water, regular water works just as well. And yes, I know there is salt in here and you’re going to tell me that is ridiculous because we all know that salt makes you thirstier. Yes, BUT, you also need the proper amount of sodium levels in your body to rehydrate and absorb minerals like potassium. If you’ve been sweating like crazy, then you have been losing a lot of sodium as well and need to replenish those stores. So don’t skip the salt (and make sure you use sea salt NOT regular table salt), it won’t make you thirstier and you won’t be choking down a salty drink.
- 1 cup coconut water or regular water (make sure it’s just plain coconut water, no added sugars)
- 1-2 tsp fresh lemon juice
- 1-2 tsp fresh lime juice
- 1 tsp honey or maple syrup (less or more to suit your taste)
- pinch of sea salt
- Put everything into a blender and blend for a few seconds. Taste and adjust things as needed.
Keep this drink stored in the fridge up to 2 days before you need it. You can also double or triple this recipe to make sure that you have enough on hand for when it’s needed.