What is your home-made sports drink and why those ingredients?
August 23, 2012 1:50 PM   Subscribe

What is your go-to recipe for home-made gatorade-type sport drink?

I've found that drinking gatorade 1) is helpful for me when riding my bike in summer here in Austin and 2) dumps lots of food coloring into me and 3) is fairly expensive if I drink it daily, bought from grocery store, or ESP bought from a corner store -- whoa!

I've found that they now make a formulation (called G2) that has half the sugar (I was glad to find out that they use cane sugar, and not hfcs, in all gatorade products) that 'regular' gatorade has. Best price I've found on that at wallyworld, ten bucks shipped for enough powder to make six gallons. Okay, great, so now it doesn't have as much sugar anymore, and it's not too expensive anymore, and I can mix it how I want to, put in more salt, orange and/or lime juice, whatever.

Still, there are artificial colors in it, and who knows what else. Plus wallyworld only ships the G2 stuff in two flavors, blah blah blah, I've got big problems, right?

Do you mix the stuff yourself, have you found a simple, inexpensive mix of ingredients that covers the same ground that gatorade does but without the downsides? I've looked some online and found mostly people using koolaid, which has the same problems and really isn't that much less cost from buying the G2 powder at the price I found. And/or do you know of another place that ships more of the G2 flavors at that same price, or close to it -- Amazon prices are right at twice the price of walmart.

I have a blender and willing to hack up bananas or what-have-you, I don't want to have to buy organic Peruvian wart-of-newt juice or Himalayan yak milk, I don't need a project, just don't want to be dehydrated.

Any help appreciated -- thx!
posted by dancestoblue to Food & Drink (29 answers total) 19 users marked this as a favorite
No one says you have to drink the gatorade full strength.

Get a bottle of gatorade, pour half into an empty bottle, top off with water. You instantly have half the sugar and save half the price. You can also mix flavors, add your own stuff, whatever.

I went on a camping trip with a class several years ago, and our professor got us all hooked on gatorade powder. The water we'd bring out on our digs would sit and bake in the sun in a 7 gallon cooler all day, and in order to combat the gross hot plastic flavor, he'd dump a couple scoops of gatorade powder (nowhere near enough to hit full strength) into the community jug.
posted by phunniemee at 1:57 PM on August 23, 2012 [1 favorite]

Best answer: I do a lot of bike touring and I don't drink Gatorade full strength, I either water it down or I buy the powder and mix it half strength. I also will do this with juice (watered down grape juice is great for bike riding). If you hate the flavors, I recommend trying to track down the elusive Cucumber-Lime (try Hispanic stores).
posted by bradbane at 2:06 PM on August 23, 2012 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Does it have to be a drink, or is food acceptable? Because a ripe tomato, cut in half and sprinkled with salt, is perfect on a hot, sweaty day. It hits exactly the same cravings as Gatorade.
posted by Faint of Butt at 2:07 PM on August 23, 2012 [1 favorite]

I recommend trying to track down the elusive Cucumber-Lime (try Hispanic stores).

So, I live in a super-Mexican neighborhood, and we have two flavors of latino gatorade: Limon Pepino (the cucumber one) and Sandia Citrus. Limon Pepino is good, but Sandia Citrus is awesome.

I only recently discovered these...the previous 26 years and 7 months of my life (save for those 11 days of camping) were spent hating gatorade.
posted by phunniemee at 2:10 PM on August 23, 2012 [6 favorites]

Response by poster: No one says you have to drink the gatorade full strength.

Get a bottle of gatorade, pour half into an empty bottle, top off with water. You instantly have half the sugar and save half the price. You can also mix flavors, add your own stuff, whatever.

I know about this part of it, and buying the powder gives me a way to mix it however I want. But in this question I'm mostly looking for 1) any simple home-made recipes to cut dyes out and perhaps cut cost and/or 2) another vendor where I can get G2 in more flavors @ wallyworld price.

Does it have to be a drink, or is food acceptable? Because a ripe tomato, cut in half and sprinkled with salt,
Looking for drinks here in this question, but as soon as I post this response I'm headed for the kitchen for that tomato you just put into my mind, with salt and pepper, mmmm...
posted by dancestoblue at 2:10 PM on August 23, 2012

I found this online, look forward to hearing more suggestions.

this one looks pretty basic:

The Lip Twister - tart and sweet

1/4 cup of lemon juice
1/4 cup of lime juice
1 teaspoon of salt
1 whole squeezed orange (or one frozen can of orange juice)
1 liter of water
posted by abirdinthehand at 2:13 PM on August 23, 2012

Switchel. Traditional field-workers' drink, made from water, cider vinegar, molasses, honey, and ginger. Add some salt, and you have a very palatable and effective Gatorade substitute. Plenty of recipes on the web.
posted by bricoleur at 2:14 PM on August 23, 2012 [13 favorites]

Have you tried SPORTea? The website is slightly annoying, but it's super delicious. You should be able to find it at places like Whole Foods.
posted by Madamina at 2:15 PM on August 23, 2012

Pickle juice will accomplish about the same thing as gatorade, chemically speaking, with less sugar. Fewer choice in flavors, though.
posted by phunniemee at 2:18 PM on August 23, 2012 [1 favorite]

Water. I also like Lemon Barely water when I've been sweating a lot, it's a very old style drink you can get a cordial/concentrate which you dilute but home made is better in my opinion.

Also nice over ice with gin.
posted by wwax at 2:23 PM on August 23, 2012 [2 favorites]

Best answer: Your search term is electrolyte powder. DIY versions.
posted by travelwithcats at 2:42 PM on August 23, 2012 [3 favorites]

All you really need is a teaspoon of sugar and teaspoon of salt per Nalgene size bottle. I usually drink this every other bottle when I'm backpacking or hiking.
posted by Grandysaur at 3:02 PM on August 23, 2012 [1 favorite]

A splash of concentrated juice/cordial with a pinch of salt does the trick for me. Some energy (sugar from the juice) and something to aid with rehydration (salt) is pretty much all you need - I put it in a water bottle and shake to mix. This does exactly what Gatorade does, it's available in a tremendous range of flavours, is easily mixable, and cheap!
posted by lumiere at 3:25 PM on August 23, 2012 [1 favorite]

Half oj, half water, couple shakes of salt
posted by Fig at 3:30 PM on August 23, 2012 [1 favorite]

People have given you great advice. I was looking into this myself and found that one of the things that gave the gatorade the sort of tang I wasn't getting from the things I made myself was an extra citric acid punch. Don't go crazy with it, but you might find it adds a little something that you weren't getting otherwise. My recipe is: big thing of water, lemon or lime juice, some maple syrup and not very much salt. I am switchel-curious but have never tried it.
posted by jessamyn at 3:37 PM on August 23, 2012 [3 favorites]

I came here to say the same as Grandysaur — I used to backpack quite a lot, and take part in a lot of relatively intensive sporting things, and practically everybody I ran into just added a little bit of salt and sugar to their water. They'd also usually carry a banana for some potassium (which is the other electrolyte you need when you're going hard for a long time).
posted by General Malaise at 3:43 PM on August 23, 2012

Gatorade has too much sugar, and an incomplete electrolyte profile. It is really something you drink for enjoyment, not to nourish your body. Find some electrolyte powder - one brand I've used is Hammer nutrition.
posted by victory_laser at 3:46 PM on August 23, 2012 [1 favorite]

Nimbi Pani! This is what I drank in India when it was hot and I was pouring out sweat. Basically, water, sugar, salt and fresh-squeezed lime juice. You can also make variations bu adding mint, cucumber, ginger, berries, etc.
posted by quince at 5:23 PM on August 23, 2012

Response by poster: Okay, so I took some stuff I had here already -- tossed in a cup and a half of orange juice, give or take, a lime including the pulp out of it, a banana gone brown, a teaspoon of sea salt, one bag of stevia sweetener.

I gave it all a good spin in the blender, topped it off with water to about a half gallon total, it's in the fridge now.

It tastes like shit so I'm assuming it's good for me and stuff, all healthy and whatnot.

I'm going on a pretty good bike ride in just a bit, gonna hammer it out, take a bottle of this garbage, iced down, in my pack. I'll give a report later, if I don't die from it.
posted by dancestoblue at 5:31 PM on August 23, 2012 [3 favorites]

Best answer: I can't help you with a home made recipe, but as I recall the HEB on south congress has a decent selection of powdered gatorade if you want to check out some other flavor options.
posted by raccoon409 at 5:59 PM on August 23, 2012

Best answer: A banana is going to be good for you taste-wise and potassium-wise as a banana but smoothies tend not to travel so well. I'd suggest keeping a raw banana for eating and having your energy drink be as clear as possible so it doesn't separate while you're cycling.
posted by jessamyn at 6:06 PM on August 23, 2012 [1 favorite]

I think adding a banana to your drink was where you went wrong. You could also muddle the pulp from the orange/lime with the sugar and salt then strain so that your final product is smooth. But banana flavoured water is not sounding tasty at all.
posted by saradarlin at 6:34 PM on August 23, 2012 [1 favorite]

I like Alacer's Electro Mix packets, made by the same people who make Emergen-c. (Linking to Vitacost because they have the best prices I have found.) I'm not sure if it's less expensive than Gatorade, but it's sugar free and tastes good. It says to mix with a liter of water but I usually mix it in a glass.
posted by apricot at 6:59 PM on August 23, 2012

Since you say specifically that this is for bicycling, and you want less sugar, I'll mention that many cyclists use only a pinch of sugar for flavor and get the bulk of their calories from maltodextrin instead.

Maltodextrin is a medium-chain carbohydrate with lower glycemic index and relative sweetness than glucose. The lower glycemic index means it digests more slowly and steadily so you don't spike and then crash. The lower relative sweetness means it doesn't leave that sickly sweet taste in your mouth. (It does add a certain "body" to the water, though I find that rather pleasant.) You can put like 300 calories' worth into a single bottle and it'll taste fine.

You can order maltodextrin online as a nutritional supplement, but it's cheaper from industrial baking supply places.
posted by d. z. wang at 7:50 PM on August 23, 2012 [2 favorites]

When I'm sick or hungover, I make my own gatorade type stuff.

Big glass of water, 4ish/6ish big spoonfulls of sugar (i'm sure less is fine), and half a pinch of salt. Lemon/lime/orange juice to taste/as available.
posted by colin_l at 8:27 PM on August 23, 2012 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Okay, so I didn't die from the stuff. And with a bit more stevia, and iced down, it actually doesn't taste bad, either, or at least not that bad. I'm not going to cancel the order for gatorade from wallyworld or anything, but I'm not going to toss this down the disposal, either.

I can't yet report on good or bad on this stuff; while I was in the kitchen, getting the stuff in the bottle and iced, I noticed/remembered a burrito I'd tossed in the toaster oven earlier then forgot. Stupidly, I ate the thing, right before the ride, instead of tossing it into the pack, riding hungry, eating it when I met my friends.

Suffer suffer suffer -- I pushed it but had to stop and rest and breathe like four or five times, nothing to do with the juice that I know of but rather the damn burrito....
posted by dancestoblue at 11:33 PM on August 23, 2012

I once owned a book called Nancy Clark's Sports Nutrition Guidebook that had pretty decent recipes in it. I never tried her recipe for homemade sports drink, but here it is:

1/4 cup sugar
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 cup hot water
1/4 cup orange juice (not from concentrate) plus 2 tbsp lemon juice
3 1/2 cups cold water

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

Makes 1 quart

Her book has notes for how to vary the recipe and make different flavors. You can find the page on Google Books by doing a search of the book for "homemade sports drink."
posted by crLLC at 11:41 AM on August 24, 2012 [1 favorite]

Switchel, as mentioned above. It's been my go-to drink all summer. My recipe is just the cider vinegar, honey, and ginger.
posted by Stewriffic at 12:00 PM on August 25, 2012

Response by poster: Okay, so here's what I've settled upon thus far: Buy the G2 gatorade powder (1/2 the sugar of regular gatorade) and mix it full strength, put it into the fridge to cool it. Put tablespoon of frozen OJ into the bottom of stainless bottle, and squeeze a small lime in it, and put just a small shade of sea salt and an even smaller shade of salt substitute (I bought nu-salt but there's a zillion different brands; I've read lots online about using both salt and salt substitute to get the electrolytes you need/want), then pretty much fill the bottle with ice, then pour in the mixed gatorade. As the ice melts it thins out the gatorade, it actually tastes pretty good and it seems to cure what ails when I'm out on the bike in the heat. I like it, I'm pretty happy with what I've come up with thus far. And yeah, I don't eat fruit before I head out but I do stuff some into my bag, it's ever so much better. And this works out well for me in that I can't really have orange juice mixed in the fridge because I'll drink every drop of it, but frozen I'm able to leave it alone and just only use what I need in the sport drink.

So thanx everybody, for the good inputs.
posted by dancestoblue at 7:00 PM on September 5, 2012

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