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Editor’s note — This post was posted in 2012, but with the wave of warm weather comes the need for hydration, and that wave is certainly a-comin’ on through. This method for making your own sports drink is both effective in the body and cheap on the wallet (but we never said anything about the best taste).

While researching sports-nutrition materials for a different article, I ran across this recipe for making your own sports drink. The recipe comes from a reputable source (WebMD.com) and has been reviewed by several registered nutritionists and doctors, so I pass this along with high confidence that it won’t poison you, and that it will actually perform nearly as well as the corporate formulation peddled by Gatorade (a Pepsi Cola product) and Powerade (a product of Coca Cola).

To a quart of water, add:

  •  1/2 teaspoon of baking soda (sodium bicarbonate)
  •  1/2  teaspoon of salt (or 1/4 teaspoon of potassium-based Salt Lite)
  •   3 to 4 tablespoons of sugar

The directions with this recipe warn that this mixture is for folks over 12 and that you should stick closely to the quantities listed. Some of this is CYA at work. Leaving the sugar out of the concoction, for example, is not going to harm you if don’t want a sugared drink but 1) do want to replace the electrolytes you’re sweating away and 2) do want your body to absorb more of the water you’re drinking (electrolytes help your absorb more water).

Sticking to the baking soda and salt quantities listed, however, is probably a good idea. Also, if you leave the sugars out, you’ll want to keep muscles fueled during a long outing by eating the energy foods (mainly carbohydrates) that your companions have so thoughtfully brought along for you.

After testing several quarts of this recipe, I’m going to advise that you should leave the sugar in and that you might even add a little lemon juice or a touch of non-sweetened Kool Aid powder. That’s because the non-sweetened concoction requires an acquired taste. With sweetener, the drink isn’t half bad — in the way that Gatorade isn’t half bad. Without sweetener, the taste is just east of hideous.

What’s completely great about this homebrew is the cost–like a nickle a quart. Furthermore there’s no wasted resources and no wasted landfill space consumed by yet another galling plastic bottle.

Previously posted July 11, 2012.

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