Sports drinks are awesome. They have electrolytes and sugar and quench that thirst. Gatorade's pioneered the field and is now everywhere, but why pay them a ton for what is just salty sugary water with artificial flavoring?
So stop dropping all that money on the glorified bottled water and make some on your own! You could end up paying up to 90% less.
While this isn't a perfect Gatorade recipe that will taste exactly like Gatorade since matching their artificial flavors is impossible, it will be just as effective.
Did I mention that this stuff has electrolytes? Oh, man, does it ever have electrolytes.
If you want to skip to the recipe, go here.
Step 1: Why to Do It
Buying a pre-made sports drink is practically the same thing as buying bottled water since a sports drink is mostly water with some sugar and a tiny bit of other stuff added.
Let's do a quick breakdown of why you shouldn't do this:
- You can get perfectly good water from the tap. The stuff you get in the store is just coming from someone else's tap anyway.
- If your tap water tastes bad, get a filter. It'll pay for itself, trust me.
- It takes a lot of gas to move all that heavy fluid around the country. More waste and more emissions.
- Even if you don't care about the wasting of fuel and the extra emissions, do you really want to pay for it?
By the way, you aren't drinking bottled water either, right? There's just no good reason for doing that unless you're too lazy to chill water by either putting it in the fridge or adding ice and that would just be sad.
Step 2: What's in a Sports Drink
The basic breakdown of a sports drink is easy. In fact, Gatorade puts all the information you need on its nutrition label so let's look at that.
The 14 grams of sugar makes sure that the total make-up of the liquid is 6% carbohydrates. Gatorade claims that this is the optimal level to enhance the water being absorbed into your body.
To get the sodium and potassium, that's easy. Sodium comes from any salt (sodium chloride) you drop in water. As for the potassium, just look for a "lite" salt like Morton's Lite and you'll find it there.
For the flavoring, we're going to go the easy route here and simply use a Kool-Aid packet. It's cheap, comes in many flavors, and is the fastest route to getting a similar experience to commercial sports drinks. We're never going to be able to match the flavors of a commercial product, but it's close enough.
Step 3: Doing the Math
Since we're using a Kool-Aid packet for the flavoring and one packet is meant for 2 quarts (64 oz.) of liquid we'll be making 2 quarts of sports drink. You could cut the dry ingredients in half for 1 quart batches, but if you're going as far as making your own sports drink you'll likely be able to put away 2 quarts pretty quickly. You will probably want to make a double batch or more in the future.
So let's go back to the original numbers from Gatorade and convert them to a 2 quart batch.
Since white sugar weighs about 190 grams per cup, we'll just use one heaping 1/2 cup of sugar and call it a day. If you're super picky, use a scale or add a heaping tablespoon to 1/2 cup of sugar.
Next is the sodium and potassium. If we add 1/4 teaspoon of the Morton Lite salt to 1/4 teaspoon of the sea salt we get:
This is 50% more potassium than Gatorade has, but, hey, more electrolytes! Also, this is for a 2 quart mixture so when we go back to the original serving size we get:
Since the recommended daily amount for an adult is 2,000mg of potassium a day this will work just fine.
Now, let's make some sports drink!
Step 4: Final Recipe
OK, here's the recipe:
1 Kool-Aid packet
1/4 tsp Morton Lite salt
1/4 tsp sea salt
heaping 1/2 cup sugar
2 quarts water
Throw it all together and stir. Chill it and prepare to guzzle it down when you're sweating a ton from sports or working outside on a hot day.
Step 5: Cost Savings
Now that you've seen the recipe, here's the cost breakdown:
Kool-Aid packet - 25 cents
Morton Lite salt - 1 cent
sea salt - 1 cent
sugar - 15 cents (based on 5 lb package)
Total for 2 quarts: 42 cents!
But remember that that is for 8 servings so that's about 5 cents per 8 oz. serving.
Gatorade has a few different bottle sizes, but one common one is the 32 oz. size that often retails for $1.99. We just made it ourselves for 21 cents.
Even compared to the Gatorade powder we still come out ahead. In my local grocery store I can get a plastic container with enough powder to make 32 servings for $4.99. If we want to make the powder on our own it would cost $1.68.
And for all of you who aren't losing those precious electrolytes through exercise, there's an even cheaper option: water. You don't need a sports drink to drive, walk around, or work on a computer all day. You also don't need all the sugar in these drinks either. So unless you really need that optimal 6% of carbohydrates that Gatorade insists improves your hydration, just fill up a glass of water and drink it up.
Step 6: More Recipes
1 scoop = 31 grams, a bit more that an ounce.
3 scoops of MALTODEXTRIN
1 scoop of SUCROSE (table sugar)
1 scoop of WHEY PROTEIN POWDER (optional)
.75 teaspoon LITE SALT
1 package of KOOLAID, mango flavored
Use about 2 scoops of the final mix to a quart or liter or water bottle--they're all about the same amount.
Maltodextrin is a complex and easily digested sugar derived from corn. It is hard to find I usually buy bulk quantity from Ebay every year or 2.
Mango Kool-Aid is sold in stores that cater to Hispanics. For taste, they put some ascorbic acid(vitamin C) in it too, who knows? maybe that's good too.
There is a theory out there that some protein in the mix adds to to the bodies utilization of the drink. Studies have had mixed results. Available from Trader Joe's and other places. Be wary of substituting Soy protein. People like the idea of soy protein because it is not an animal product. That does not automatically mean its better for you, in fact, there is some evidence to the contrary.
3 cups maltodextrin
1 cup Dextrose
1/2 cup Whey Protein
1 tsp lite salt
1 pack Koolaid, any flavor.
Mix 1/2 cup of mix per 750ml water bottle.
The lite salt is a must to prevent cramping if endurance mountain biking. My mix matches up with Hammer Nutritions Sustained Energy. This stuff works Awsome. I used to use sugar too, but was getting a sugar crash off it. This stuff has no crash and if consumed 1 bottle per hour can keep me riding moderately hard for at least 7 hours.