Once you become familiar with the tactics used by sports-drink
formulators to keep you swilling, you'll likely be disgusted.
The Key To Their
Success: Salt, And Lots Of It.
or other authority figure harp on the need to
drink enough water to stave off dehydration during exercise. They're
correct about it being a major concern, because athletes often fail to
drink enough water and sometimes pass our or die.
So sports-drink formulators have come up with an ingenious way to get
you to drink more (supposedly for your safety, but equally because it
means you buy more of their product). All they need to do is add lots
When salt is added to a drink, people consume a lot more of it. The
formulators note this increased intake of liquid as the reason they add
so much salt. It sounds like they're virtuously fighting against
Yet if we stop to think a moment, we realize how this idea will quickly
lead us to a dangerous dead end. What does salt do? It dehydrates us.
People quickly die if they drink too much salt water from the ocean.
What do they die of? Dehydration. Despite drinking it with tons of
water, the salt is so dehydrating that they die.
So yes, salt makes us thirsty and we do drink more after consuming it,
but we do so at the cost of dehydrating ourselves, the very thing
drinking liquid is supposed to fight off. Consuming salt always
means a net loss in hydration.
You can learn more about the dangers of consuming salt here
the importance of staying hydrated here
We do require sodium to continue to function at our best, but not
nearly the level provided by commercial sports drinks.
Not Enough Sugar:
What food satisfies hunger better than any other? Simple sugars.
Formulators found athletes drank less of a sports drink (hurting their
bottom line, and possibly causing dehydration) when they were sweet, so
they went with tasteless complex carbohydrates instead.
And so they came upon their formula - brilliantly mixing salt water
that doesn't quench your thirst and complex carbohydrates that won't
satisfy your hunger. And why does it sell so well? Because of how well
it doesn't satisfy our needs. You have to keep coming back for more,
but more is never enough. It's brilliant, really.
Choose A Homemade Sports
Anyone with a good
can whip up a homemade sports drink far superior to
anything made in a factory. How? Raw fruits, raw vegetables, and water.
The fruit supplies you with the electrolyte potassium and the simple
sugars you need to restore blood
sugar and glycogen. The vegetable gives you the modest amount of sodium
you need along with other important minerals. The water hydrates,
without the attached impairment of carrying tons of dehydrating salt.
Why A Homemade Sports Drink
Works So Well
- Fruit digests extremely quickly, and glucose sugars
from fruit will start to enter your blood steam just minutes after they
hit the stomach. Compared to the uptake time of complex carbohydrates,
it's night and day.
- Vegetables, such as celery, supply you with sodium
that easy to digest. This amount is very modest compared to the salt
found in most food and commercial sports drinks, and will not dehydrate
- Fruit will satisfy your hunger but won't won't sit in
your stomach in a cramp-causing lump for long periods of time.
The Best Fruit and
Vegetables For Your Homemade Sports Drink
You can choose whatever fruits and vegetables you like. I suggest you
don't blend more than one type of fruit with one type of
vegetable for the sake of easy digestion and proper
In the vegetable category, I like celery the best because of its high
sodium content and quick digestion. You may have success with various
high-electrolyte leafy greens such as lettuce and spinach, however.
You'll want fruit that are fairly high in calories. The banana is
usually a good choice, but don't feel like you have to limit yourself.
I've used several dozen varieties of fruit successfully.
It's important that your fruit is properly ripened. Bananas, for
instance, are not ready to be eaten before they are spotted with brown.
Eating them while still green means they're still more starch than
sugar, and indigestion and gas may result during a sporting event,
which won't be fun.
How Much Water To Blend With Your Homemade Sports Drink
The major variation from one homemade sports drink to another will be
the thickness. Cramping is a major concern when eating too much bulk,
so you want to make sure you blend in enough water to suit the
Generally, endurance sports such as sprinting or long-distance running
pose the greatest chance of cramping, and you'll want the most water
added to blends for these events.
If your activity does not require a ton of fast movement, such as
weight lifting, you can afford to drink thicker sports drinks that
So what's the best water to fruit ratio? It will vary greatly depending
on the water content of the fruit.
For instance, I add no water to my watermelon-celery blend because
watermelon is over 90 percent water, and it doesn't need it.
If you're running, a maximum of two medium bananas for every quart of
water is probably a good starting place. If you won't be very active,
you can make your drink much thicker.
Everyone's digestive system is at a different state of robustness, and
experimentation will help you find the best combination for your
homemade sports drink.
started training for my first marathon
in 2008, I tried lots of different fruit and vegetable varieties.
First I started off with bananas, but probably due to my old affliction
to handle them well. The majority of raw food
athletes I know rely on these as a homemade sports drink staple, so I
don't want to put you off to them.
The problem made me look elsewhere for solutions, however. The one I
settled on for my marathon was celery and watermelon, and I went
through three water bottles full of the mixture doing the race. It kept
me extremely energetic and caused no cramping.
Since then, I've discovered that creating soak water from dried and
semi-dried fruit is a good way to eliminate the chance of cramps
because little fiber gets in. Basically, I soak dates or raisins in
water overnight. The next morning I pour the water into my blender to
add in the celery. This mixture I put in my water bottle. Most of the
dried fruit stays behind, and I usually blend this into a post-activity
If you're not running, you probably don't need to leave out the fruit
pulp. A thick mixture of whole dates, water, and celery recently kept
me fueled during a 5-hour strenuous river kayaking trip. I was really
impressed at how full of energy I remained despite paddling almost
continuously. Everything digested very well.
Your Homemade Sports Drink: Following Up