It’s the heat of the summer, mid July, temperatures are soaring everywhere, sports camps are in full swing, marathons are happening, and sweat is flying. A common pick-me-up during these summer activities are sports drinks.
The isles of grocery stores are littered with neon colored, sugar-laden beverages promising to provide all of the nutrients needed to replenish your body. It is no lie, electrolytes are important in hydrating your body, just as important as water itself. When you look a little closer, you are really just paying an outrageous price for glorified, brightly colored sugar water. Let’s take a closer look into the ingredients in a regular grape-flavored Gatorade;
Water, sucrose syrup, glucose-fructose syrup, citric acid, natural grape flavor with other natural flavors, salt, sodium citrate, monopotassium phosphate, red 40, Blue 1.
Now I’m all for re-hydrating, but are the monopotassium phosphate, mystery “natural flavors” and artificial dyes really necessary? The good news is just recently Gatorade announced that it was removing brominated vegetable oil (BVO), which is a patented as a flame retardant, from their products. The other leading sports drink have failed to do so (1). The bad news, they have replaced this nasty ingredient with another, sucrose acetate isobutyrate. Critics are unconvinced that the new chemical is any better. Here is one underlying study showing risks involved in animals (2).
If that isn’t bad enough, processed sports drinks contain multiple food dyes providing the neon colors that have their own laundry list of problems including cancers, and hyperactivity (3). And the kicker, a 32 ounce Gatorade has a staggering 14 teaspoons of sugar. Count it out sometime, 14 teaspoons is a heaping pile.
The bottom line, we’ve been lead to believe that we need an extra-special drink to recover from some sweat. First of all, we need to note that there is a huge difference between athletes who work out for hours at a time versus those who are only moving for 15 minutes or so sporadically. Secondly, our bodies are smart. Staying well hydrated and eating healthy is usually enough to maintain a proper balance of electrolytes.
So how do we do this in a healthy way? There are times when you will need some replenishment and a hydrating, healthy beverage to consume. It’s easy, quick and naturally refreshing. Next time skip the processed sports drink and give this a whirl.
Here’s the scoop on some of the essential ingredients in a sports drink for replenishing lost electrolytes:
1. The base: Green Tea, Water, Coconut Water
Green tea is full of flavonoids. In fact, many studies have found an association between consuming green tea and a reduced risk for several cancers. Not to name the numerous other health benefits we will talk about in a coming post. Coconut water contains 13 times more potassium, an electrolyte needed for proper cell function, than Gatorade. Plus it has twice the amount of sodium (4).
2. Raw (Local) Honey:
Honey helps provide energy needed to repair and replenish the body. It also keeps blood sugar levels in check keeping cortisol at bay. Plus, it provides its own important sources of nutrients to the body. The darker the honey, the better it is.
3. Sea Salt:
Salt is full of electrolytes and minerals providing essential nutrients to the body. It plays an important role of balancing the stress hormones during exercise and has been found to reduce blood cortisol levels and therefore help to suppress the damaging effects of cortisol induced through exercise (5).
4. Fruit Juice:
Providing some antioxidants and energy to replenish your body, the main reason for this ingredient is flavor. Just because it’s healthy doesn’t mean it has to be bland.
Whether you are drinking Gatorade, Powerade, Vitamin Water or any other drink made to “replenish electrolytes”, take a look at the ingredients and you’ll find that the list of ingredients and “scientific formulas” used to create these chemical concoctions are not necessary. This simple to make homemade sports drink will replenish everything your body needs.
- 1 Quart Green Tea
- 2 Tbsp Honey
- ½ Cup Pomegranate Juice
- ¼ tsp Sea Salt
- Dissolve honey in warm tea
- Add remaining ingredients and stir to combine
- Pour over ice or chill prior to serving.