Think you need artificially colored and flavored sports drinks to fuel your workout? Try some of these natural sports drink alternatives instead!
The first thing that you have to ask yourself is whether you really even need a sports drink. I researched a piece for How Stuff Works on the origins of sports drinks, and one thing I discovered is that a lot of folks are drinking these beverages that don’t really need them. If you’re working out for less than 45 minutes, chances are you aren’t losing enough electrolytes to need all of that sugar and salt (unless it’s very hot out). Plain old water is often the best drink for post-workout recovery, but when you’re working out longer or in extreme heat, why buy a processed bottle of artificial ingredients when you can make your own natural sports drink alternatives instead?
Related Reading: 10 Healthy Summer Drink Recipes
A couple of weeks ago I started a half-marathon training program, and it’s been fun to work towards distance running again. I love hitting the road and seeing how far I can push myself. What I don’t love quite as much is how deeply thirsty I get on my long runs. It feels like I can’t drink enough water, and that’s where sports drinks have their place.
Related Reading: Distance Running: Meditation in Motion
The idea behind sports drinks is basically to replace what you’ve lost through sweat in an intense workout. That means they include a combination of fluids, sugar, salt and electrolytes. There are lots of ways that you can get those things in a drink, and I’ve found some yummy and creative recipes, including one that I developed myself.
Next time you’re planning an endurance workout, try one of these natural sports drink alternatives!
1. Watermelon Coconut Water
Coconut water on its own is actually a great natural sports drink, but not everyone is crazy for coconut water. I am one of those people, but I was determined to get the coconut water benefits from a tastier concoction somehow. After reading that watermelon is a good post-workout snack, I decided to combine the two. The results were delicious, refreshing, and helped me bounce back after some very long runs.
2. Apple Cider Vinegar Sports Drink
Is there anything apple cider vinegar can’t do? You can use it for everything from cooking and cleaning to washing your hair, and it turns out it’s a great addition to a natural sports drink recipe. Rachel at Eat Drink Better recommends this drink for winter workouts – she says that it has a warming quality – but I’ve used it in both cold and warm weather with great results.
3. Basic Lemon Sports Drink
Want to keep it simple? This recipe is for a super basic sports drink featuring lemon juice and lemon zest, for a citrusy pick-me-up. You can make a single serving, like the recipe suggests, or whip up a pitcher to keep in the fridge if you’re planning to do several endurance training workouts throughout the week.
4. Celery, Apple, Lemon Sports Drink + Bonus Recipes
Did I say five? I meant eight natural sports drink recipes, because this next resource has four delicious recipes that you can make yourself! One of the drinks requires a juicer, but if you don’t have a juicer you can toss a chopped celery stalk in the blender with apple and lemon juice and blend, blend, blend to work around that. It might have a bit more texture than straight up juice, but this way you don’t lose that healthy fiber from the celery. That’s just one of the four recipes over at Fooducate!
5. Sports Drink Shell Recipe
A “shell recipe” is one that gives you amounts for broader ingredient categories instead of specific ingredients. So, for example, instead of “coconut water” it might give a list of base liquids, and instead of “maple syrup,” a shell recipe would call for something like “liquid sweetener of choice.” A shell recipe allows you to build your own recipe using what you like or what you have on hand, and Welness Mama has a great shell recipe for making natural sports drink alternatives!
Have you developed any homemade, natural sports drink alternatives that you like? Tell us about your workout recovery favorites in the comments!