It’s important to stay hydrated and replete in minerals all year round… whether you’re enjoying the height of summer sports and hiking, fall football season, or even snow sports in the wintertime! Here are two electrolyte-rich sports drink recipes to help your family refuel with real food.
I am rethinking sports nutrition these days…
My conclusion? As a recreational athlete, it is possible to fuel and hydrate using real, unprocessed foods.
In part one of this three-part series, I discussed how my children playing sports set me on a path to find foods to truly nourish their bodies after exertion instead of relying on highly processed, packaged snacks and drinks. In part three, I share three nutrient-dense snack bar recipes for refueling after hard work or play!
And in part two (today’s post), I present you with two sports drinks recipes so you can hydrate your recreational family using real food!
Why Sports Drinks Are Unhealthy & What To Choose Instead
Our society completely overhypes the need for processed, synthetic, dyed, plastic-bottled drinks to be used during bouts of physical exertion. There is no magic sports drink.
Well, wait. There is one: water! God gave us water for a reason. Unless we are exercising hard for an hour or more, are contending with beyond-normal weather conditions, or have medical conditions that require electrolyte replacement, water should be more than adequate.
There are those times of excess exertion. But frankly, there are other times we come inside from an easy thirty minute run and just want something more than water.
Take the case of our sporty children. Even after three sprint-distance swim events, they understandably crave a refreshing beyond-water drink while sitting in the extremely humid, hot mid-Atlantic sun, watching their teammates swim.
What should, or can, we drink if we aren’t going to gulp down a purchased sports drink? An appropriate question would thus be…
What’s in an electrolyte drink? Are electrolytes needed?
Homemade sports drinks typically contain…
- a source of glucose for energy
- a bit of salt (for sodium) as well as magnesium (best form) and potassium (best form) for electrolyte replacement
- a tasty flavor
- a whole lot of water!
Really, it’s that simple. You can make it yourself, store it easily, bring it to recreational events, and feel good about what your family drinks.
Here are two delicious and simple homemade electrolyte drink recipes. The first uses herbal tea as the base, and the second uses coconut water.
Do you have any favorite sports drink recipes? I’d love to hear your ideas in the comments below!
Mint and Lemon Infused Tea-based Sports Drink
Think about your favorite decaffeinated, herbal tea. We love Red Rooibos Tea. If you simply add some real food sweetener of choice (like raw honey, unheated) and a pinch or two of unrefined sea salt, you have yourself the beginnings of a wonderfully healthy, refreshing sports drink. Our opinion is that it tastes much better than what you buy at the store!
- herbal tea leaves preferably loose leaves, of your choice
- 4 to 6 tablespoons raw honey
- handful fresh mint or other herb
- 1/4 teaspoon magnesium chloride powder or your desired amount (optional)
- 1/8 teaspoon potassium chloride powder or your desired amount (optional)
- 2 to 3 lemons
- 1 teaspoon sea salt
Make just under a gallon of herbal tea of your choice.
When the tea is cooled (not quite to room temperature), add the raw honey and stir until dissolved.
Also add your mint (or other herb) leaves.
Here, some people may choose to add magnesium and potassium powder to add a bit more electrolyte (however, you could also add these into individual serving size bottles of this drink, right before the sports event).
Next, slice lemons into half circles or small circles.
When the tea is cooled to room temperature, add the lemons, squeezing slightly when placing in the tea.
Pour in salt and stir.
Let sit for a few hours while the mint and lemon infuse mildly into your tea.
Now you're ready with a sports drink!
Coconut Lemon/Lime Sports Drink
Coconut is a wonderful base for a real food sports drink. It naturally contains potassium, vitamins, enzymes and amino acids, so does not necessitate adding additional electrolytes beyond sea salt. Here's more information about the benefits of coconut water, plus how to ferment it.
- 1 14- ounce can full fat coconut milk
- 1/4 teaspoon sea salt
- 1 teaspoon to 1 tablespoon raw honey
- 3 tablespoons lemon juice juice from 2 lemons or use 2 limes or one of each
- 1 quart distilled water
As canned coconut milk sits on your shelf, it often separates into thick cream (on the top) and a lighter, thin, watery-looking milk on the bottom.
If you do not find this to be the case, place a can in the refrigerator overnight and the separation should occur.
Gently scoop out the cream and place in a container for future use (I use this coconut cream in a curry dish, or to whip up as whipped cream for dessert).
Measure out about 1/4 cup of the watery coconut milk left in the can. (If using homemade coconut milk, use the thinnest, least grainy portion of your milk.)
Place in a quart-sized container.
Add the salt, honey and citrus juices.
Finally, add enough water to fill the final product to about an inch below the top.
If you're about to head out the door -- add a couple handfuls of ice cubes to make it cold and keep it fresh.
If not, place in the refrigerator.
Shake up product before drinking.
It is refreshing and healthy, yum!
What If You Don't Have Time?
If you don't have time to make your own sports drinks, you can always buy containers of pure young coconut water at health food stores and store it in your pantry for an emergency. Pour this into a quart-size container (acting as the coconut milk AND the water in my above recipe), and simply add the salt, honey and lemon/lime. Find brand recommendations and buying guide for coconut water here.
Another option is to have powdered coconut water on hand, hydrate as per the directions, then add the other ingredients listed here. If you're really pinched for time, a container of pure young coconut water all by itself is still much healthier than many traditional sports drinks sold at the store.
You see, ladies and gentlemen, it is possible to keep hydrated during sports and recreation using real foods!
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Thanks for the great ideas and recommendations! With (home)school and P.E. beginning, I’m excited to try the coconut lemon/lime mix to help beat this incredible SoCal heat wave we’ve got going on right now! An hour *sitting in the shade* of this and I’m ready for something other than water! 😉 Will let you know how it turns out!
PS – Beautiful photos, by the way!
Thanks for your comments, Bethany. It’s nice to hear from you! I hope your experimenting with the coconut lemon/lime drink goes well. Let me know!
Thanks, Jenna! Can’t wait to try this at soccer!
You’re welcome! Let me know how your children like it! God bless, Jenna
The coconut/lime one was great – the kids loved it! I have plans to make 2 batches next time, one for drinking and one for popsicles! Maybe even making the “concentrate” and freezing in ice-cube trays to be added to water bottles later for quick out-the-door moments. Lots of possibilities here… thanks for the inspiration!
Oh, and I love your idea of saving the thinker cream for whipped cream topping! I think it would also be excellent added to pureed soups instead of heavy whip cream (once it cools down a bit more). 🙂
I’m glad you tried the coconut/lime recipe. Thanks for sharing your experience with it and your idea for making and freezing the concentrate. Love it! Take care and God bless, Jenna
Tracey Black says
I make my own electrolyte drink for my kids too. It’s just fresh orange and lemon juice with a pinch of salt, a bit of raw honey and 2 cups of water. Super easy and keeps my little ones hydrated.
Hi Tracey, Nice to hear from you. I like the simplicity of your recipe. I do use the lemon and lime juices a lot, but I also like your suggestion of orange juice. I will keep that in mind as we approach summer swim team in a few months. Thanks for your input. God bless! Jenna
I’m trying to find a electrolyte drink recipe for my brother who works outside. He doesn’t like anything thats too sweet. Does your recipe taste real sweet if so can I add less honey? Also can you use pre made tea like (1 gal) Arizona Green Tea and just add the electrolytes? He drinks a lot of this tea. Thank you
Jenna Ettlich says
Hi Maureen, Yes – I would just add honey “to taste.” If he doesn’t like any sweetener in his tea, you don’t necessarily need it. I personally would buy loose leaf, organic green tea. Perhaps make a gallon of it (store it in the frig), and use that as the base of his electrolyte drink, instead of pre-made Arizona Green Tea. The organic option will provide more antioxidants, and will be a more “pure” product. Hope this helps! Jenna 🙂
Hello, This is a late post bc I just found your site. Which is very helpful!! And I appreciate the research. I tried the link for the cal/pot/mag capsules and the page is not available. Can you tell me the brand you used ,please? Thanks