Are you tired of paying for expensive sports drinks full of unnecessary food dyes and artificial flavoring? Try this recipe for 40 ounces of homemade natural sports drink:
Homemade Sports Drink Recipe
30 ounces of water
10 ounces of 100% fruit juice of your choice (see some options below)
3 tablespoons of sugar
1/4 rounded teaspoon of salt
Shake well to dissolve sugar and salt.
(The suggested ingredients for this recipe were shared with my running academy group by chiropractor and clinical nutritionist G. Douglas Andersen, DC, DACBSP, CCN. I researched several different juices for the recipe and compared them with commercial sports drinks below).
What type of juice should be used to make a homemade sports drink?
Any kind of 100% fruit juice works, but keep in mind that the calories and other nutritive values will vary by the type of juice (see sample information below — I am not a nutritionist but I did some research on various types of juices). I always prefer organic juice. You might have to play around with a mix of juices to get the right flavor, sugar, and salt balance for you. Some good choices:
Cherry juice: one study found that drinking cherry juice can reduce muscle soreness due to exercise. (Source: WebMD Juice Wars Slideshow)
Pomegranate juice: this juice has a high level of antioxidants. (Source: Mayo Clinic)
Pineapple, orange, lemon and lime juices (not from concentrate, and preferably fresh-squeezed). You might want to limit the lemon and lime juices to a small amount for flavoring and pair them with other juices. Lemons and limes have high acidity levels that can cause stomach upset.
Note that no matter which juice you choose, you always want to try out a sports drink first on several training runs and not on a planned long run or race!
Nutrition Information Per 20 Fluid Ounces of Sports Drink
I used 20 ounces of sports drink for this comparison because it is half the recipe and nearly fills most standard sports bottles (I prefer the 21-25 oz. CamelBak sports bottles (not an affiliate link)). It also compares well to the G2 powder pack which is mixed with 20 ounces of water.
Fruit juice (5 oz. juice in 20 oz. sports drink):
- Pomegranate: 85 calories, 20.6 g carbohydrates (20 g from sugars), 14 mg sodium, 336 mg potassium, 11 mg magnesium (USDA Nutrient Database entry for 5 oz. pomegranate juice)
- Cherry: 81 calories, 20 g carbohydrates (15 g from sugars), 12.5 mg sodium, 256 mg potassium (5 oz. Knudsen Organic Just Tart Cherry)
- Pineapple: 83 calories, 20 g carbohydrates (15.6 g from sugars), 3 mg sodium, 203 mg potassium, 19 mg magnesium (USDA Nutrient Database entry for 5 oz. canned pineapple juice, unsweetened)
- Orange juice, raw: 194 calories, 44.7 g carbohydrates (36.1 g from sugars), 4 mg sodium, 860 mg potassium, 47 mg magnesium (USDA Nutrient Database entry for 5 oz. raw orange juice) *** Note that orange juice is so high in sugar you could reduce the added table sugar if desired and adjust the calories/carbohydrates
Granulated sugar: 72 calories, 18.9 g carbohydrates (source: USDA Nutrient Database entry for 4.5 tsp. granulated sugar)
Table salt: 0 calories, approximately 98 mg sodium (source: USDA Nutrient Database entry for 1/8 tsp. table salt)
How does a homemade sports drink compare to other sports drinks like Gatorade G2 and Fluid?
Let’s compare homemade sports drink with pomegranate juice to Gatorade G2 Fruit Punch Powder for 20 oz. water and Fluid Performance Sports Drink Blueberry Pomegranate for 20 oz. water (When I buy sports drink I choose Fluid because it’s what has been offered on course for both of my full marathons and I make sure to train with what will be available during the race. I have also tried the G2 powder packs which are very convenient but I do not like the red dye). Of course, you could always adjust the homemade recipe above to approximate your favorite sports drink.
Calories per 20 ounces:
- Homemade pomegranate: 157 calories
- Homemade cherry: 153 calories
- Homemade orange: 266 calories (again, you could reduce the added granulated sugar to adjust this amount)
- G2: 130 calories
- Fluid: 167 calories
- Homemade pomegranate: 39.5 g
- Homemade cherry: 38.9 g
- Homemade orange: 63.6 g (less if you add less sugar)
- G2: 32 grams
- Fluid: 40g
Sodium per 20 ounces:
- Homemade pomegranate: 112 mg
- Homemade cherry: 110.5 mg
- Homemade orange: 102 mg
- G2: 230 mg
- Fluid: 334 mg
It is interesting to me that the homemade recipe is so much lower in sodium. Consider your needs and adjust the salt or supplement with salt tablets on your run. See the interesting Active.com article How Much Salt Do You Need While Running?
Potassium per 20 ounces:
- Homemade pomegranate: 336 mg
- Homemade cherry: 256 mg
- Homemade orange: 860 mg
- G2: 70 mg
- Fluid: 109 mg
Magnesium per 20 ounces:
- Homemade pomegranate: 11 mg magnesium
- Homemade cherry: NA
- Homemade orange: 47 mg
- G2: NA
- Fluid: 18 mg
Have you tried a version of this recipe? What do you think? It takes some experimentation to get the mix right for you. I like pineapple juice but plan to play around with other flavors to get the salt and sugar balance just right.
Do you have a favorite homemade sports drink recipe? Feel free to share your own recipe or link in the comments.
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