Traditional sports drinks—because they are often filled with artificial flavors, colors and sweeteners—have fallen out of favor. But there is still a place and time for electrolyte-packed refreshments, especially during those long cardiovascular-based exercises where a considerable amount of sweat is lost. Turn the page for easy-to-make sports drinks that offer much more than replenishing with water. Have fun and mix and match to suit your specific palate and workout.
Coconut water + filtered water—With a ratio of three to one (three cups coconut water to one cup water), building a base with coconut water provides many essential electrolytes lost during exercise—including potassium, sodium and magnesium. These essential minerals help with muscle contraction as well as overall cardiovascular efficiency. Coconut water also provides natural sugars for a carbohydrate boost.
Steeped tea—While it’s not as naturally rich in electrolytes as coconut water, a mixture of tea and water can give your sports drink a great flavor and possibly a hit of caffeine, if you choose to go with something like a flavored green tea. The important thing with tea is to make it weaker than if you were just drinking it straight.
Watermelon—This fun summer fruit actually packs a nutrient punch. The highlights include being a good source of lycopene, antioxidants, vitamin C, vitamin A and potassium.
Citrus fruits—Lime, lemon, orange, and grapefruit are known for providing a large shot of vitamin C, but they also add folate, potassium and a range of phytochemicals to the mix.
Tart cherry—A recent darling of the sports performance world, tart cherry juice (unsweetened) is thought to fight inflammation in a major way while providing a dose of powerful antioxidants.
Beet juice—A popular choice for cyclists and other endurance athletes, beets have been shown to improve blood flow and cardiovascular health in general.
Raw honey—Good for quickly booting energy levels, raw honey purchased from a local source can also help combat allergy issues, which helps those who do their cardio outside.
Maple syrup—More than a good source of calories and easily used carbohydrates, this natural sweetener is packed with antioxidants as well as minerals like magnesium and iron.
Sea salt—While you only use about ¼ teaspoon, this may be the most important ingredient as it can actually combat dehydration and provide other minerals. But careful not to overdo it. Also, avoid regular table salt because it’s often highly processed.
3 cups coconut water (or tea)
1 cup filtered water
½ cup fruit juice add-in of choice
1–2 tablespoons sweetener of choice
¼ teaspoon sea salt