Thursday, March 8, 2007

Sports Drink Recipes and Homemade Gels

I read an article from the online version of TIME Magazine about how to prevent dehydration from various diseases. The article was called "A Simple Solution" and the recipe was: "a large pinch of salt and a fistful of sugar dissolved in a jug of clean water, the simplest recipe for oral rehydration solution." This is what most "sports drinks" are based on.

Further research on the Internet brought up a few modifications to make the drink more palatable.


  • 2 cups prepared caffeine-free lemon tea
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 pinch salt
  • 1/4 cup orange juice


  1. Dissolve the sugar and salt in the hot tea. Cool.
  2. Blend the tea and orange juice in a blender or shaker. Drink cold for best taste.
Here is an interesting article from: Cycling Performance Tips


For many years it was believed that a 2.5% concentration (glucose or glucose polymer molecules) was the maximum that could be tolerated without delaying gastric emptying and producing nausea. However a recent study of cyclists demonstrated normal gastric emptying with 6 to 8% solutions, and nausea occurred only when concentrations were pushed above 11%. The old standbys - fruit juices and cola drinks - have a sugar concentration of around 10% (a typical carbonated drink will contain 38 grams of sugar per 12 ounces with 140 Calories). Although sports drinks supplemented with glucose polymers can provide more Calories per quart at the target 10 - 11% concentration, studies have failed to demonstrate a performance advantage of complex carbohydrate drinks over those compoced of simple sugars if the same total Calories were ingested. The advantage of the polymers is the absence of a sweet taste and nauseating properties of high concentration glucose drinks, which can be a barrier to maintaining an adequate fluid intake.

Many people enjoy their own homemade versions of commercial sports drinks. The basic recipe is not complicated and homemade sports drinks can provide all of the same benefits when mixed properly. Gatorade (tm) is formulated to give the following per 8oz serving:
  • 14grams Carbohydrate (5.9%)
  • 110 mg Sodium
  • 30mg Potassium
  • 52 Calories
Alternatives to this commercial product can be made using one of the following recipes:

Recipe #1

  • 10 tbs. sugar (5/8 cups or 120 grams)
  • .75 tsp Morton Lite salt (4.2 grams)
  • 1 package of unsweetened Kool-Aid mix for flavor
  • Water to make 2 liters
Nutrition Information (per 8 ounces). The recipe will give a total of 124 grams of solute which in 2 liters water gives a total of 6.2% concentration.
  • 14.2 grams carbohydrate (6%)
  • 53 calories
  • 103 mg Sodium
  • 121 mg Potassium
You'll notice that the amount of potassium is quite a bit higher than Gatorade, but the rest is pretty close. As excess potassium is eliminated from the body by the kidneys, and some experts feel a high potassium helps to minimize muscle cramps - and hypertension if taken long term - this is not necessarily bad. However, if you wanted to reduce the potassium to the level of a Gatorade product, another option would be to use 1/2 tsp. each of regular salt and the Morton Lite Salt. This would change the composition to:
  • 104mg sodium
  • 40mg potassium

Recipe #2 (if you wanted to reduce the amount of potassium, or simply didn't want to buy some Morton Lite Salt)

  • 1/2 cup orange juice
  • 9 tbs. Sugar
  • 3/8 tsp Salt
  • Water to 2 liters
Nutrition Information (per 8 ounces):
  • 14.4 grams carb (6.1%)
  • 104 mg sodium
  • 28.4 mg Potassium
(you could substitute 2 tbs. of lemon juice for the orange juice and it would come out the same - or at least close).

Recipe #3 (using cups and quarts)

  • 4 tablespoons sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 cup boiling water
  • 1/4 cup orange juice (not concentrate) or 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 3-3/4 cups cold water

    • 1. In the bottom of a pitcher, dissolve the sugar and salt in the hot water.
    • 2. Add the juice and the remaining water; chill.

  • Yield: 1 quart
Nutrition Information (per 8 ounces):
  • Calories - 50
  • carbohydrate 12 grams
  • sodium 110 milligrams
  • potassium 30 milligrams

Recipe #4 (if you prefer an all fructose drink)

  • 125 mL (1/2 c) orange juice (or other sugar-containing beverage)
  • 125 mL (1/2 c) water
  • 0.25 mL (pinch) salt
Nutrition Information (per 8 ounces):
  • Calories - 59
  • carbohydrates 14 grams
  • sodium - 118 mg

Recipe #5 Lemon-orange sports drink

  • 1 caffeine-free lemon tea bag
  • Water
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 4 tablespoons orange juice
    • Bring 16 ounces of water to a boil.
    • Steep lemon tea bag.
    • Dissolve sugar and salt in the tea and let cool.
    • Combine the tea and orange juice and chill.
Nutrition Information (per 8 ounces):
  • Calories - 60
  • carbohydrates - 15g
  • sodium -130mg
How about something more "natural" than refined sugar? Some recipes called for maple syrup, sugar cane juice or honey. Sylvia Ellis, one of the members of the Southern Cal Walkers, says: "I find the juice of baby Thai coconuts gives you more nutrients you can ever ask for and it's kind to your body." Makes me think if the mashed bananas with honey my mother used to give me as a baby would make for a great energy gel.

Here is an interesting article about honey, but it is biased--check the copyright at the end of the piece.

Honey and Exercise
Honey Aids Athletic Performance

Studies at the University of Memphis Exercise and Sports Nutrition Laboratory found that honey may be one of the most effective forms of carbohydrate to ingest just prior to exercise. Honey eaten before exercise is digested easily and released into the system at a steady rate for use by the body.

During Exercise – Research has shown that using honey as a carbohydrate source while exercising significantly improved performance during endurance cycling trials. This small study found that honey produced a statistically significant reduction in the time to finish the time trial and a significant increase in the athletes’ average power when compared to a placebo. In these trials, honey performed as well as glucose, the most common carbohydrate supplement.

Post-Exercise – Research has also shown that honey may be an optimal source of carbohydrate to ingest along with post-workout protein supplements. In addition to promoting muscle recuperation and glycogen restoration, honey-protein combination sustain favorable blood sugar concentrations after training that would help promote recovery.

Honey Sports Beverages

These beverages closely resemble the nutritional value of currently available bottled sports beverages but with a higher level of potassium.

Honey Orange Thirst Quencher - Makes eight 8 oz. servings

1/2 cup honey
1/2 teaspoon lite salt
2 cups orange juice
5-1/2 cups water

Directions: Combine ingredients. Using lukewarm water will aid in dissolving honey. Then cool.

Nutritional information per 8 oz. serving:
Calories 75 Sugar 19g. Sodium 77mg.
Carbohydrate 21g. Potassium 85mg.

Honey Lemon Thirst Quencher - Makes slightly more than eight 8 oz. servings

1/2 cup honey
1/2 teaspoon lite salt
1/4 cup lemon juice
7-1/2 cups water

Directions: Combine ingredients. Using lukewarm water will aid in dissolving honey. Then cool.

Nutritional information per 8 oz. serving:
Calories 60 Sugar 16g. Sodium 72mg.
Carbohydrate 17g. Potassium 85mg.

Flavored Honey Thirst Quencher - Makes eight 8 oz. servings

1/2 cup honey
1/2 teaspoon lite salt
1 package unsweetened soft drink mix (similar to Kool-Aid® packets)
7-1/2 cups water

Directions: Combine ingredients. Using lukewarm water will aid in dissolving honey. Then cool.

Nutritional information per 8 oz. serving:
Calories 60 Sugar 16g. Sodium 77mg.
Carbohydrate 17g. Potassium 85mg.

Honey Usage Tips

Don’t forget when planning your training that honey is a source of carbohydrates, providing energy, sweet flavor, as well as vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. And all at just 64 calories and 17 grams of carbohydrates per tablespoon. Combining honey with other healthful foods can add to your total nutrition and give you an energy boost. Try these tips to fuel your diet with the sweet goodness of honey:

Looking for a substitute for energy gels? Try packets of honey or honey sticks.

One of the most important things to remember when you’re on the go is to stay hydrated. A squeeze of honey in your bottle is an easy substitute for sports drinks.

Whether you are active or not, it’s important to start the day with a healthy breakfast. Honey can be spread on a bagel or toast, drizzled over hot cereal or fruit or added to a fruit smoothie.

Snack time is a great time to add an extra serving of fruit and vegetables to your diet. Try mixing together peanut butter and honey or honey and light cream cheese as a dip for fresh fruits or vegetables.

© Copyright 2002 The National Honey Board