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Sports Drink Alternatives

Back a few weeks ago, I wrote a post on "3 Things You Need to Know About Drinking Water" and I thought I would piggyback that post with one on sports drink alternatives.

How many of you consume sports drinks like Gatorade or PowerAde?

Do you know that there is science behind why these drinks were created for exercise? Research shows that for athletes who are participating in physical activity, they should consume 500ml of water 30g of carbohydrates, and 15g of protein every hour of exercise. For endurance athletes performing for more than 2.5 hours, they should increase their carbohydrate intake to 60-90g per hour. Research shows that instead of carb loading, athletes should be consuming carbohydrates during exercise to help regulate their blood sugar and energy levels. This provides the carbohydrates when they are needed and most sports drinks also help replenish the electrolytes that are being lost as well.

So, before you grab for a bottle of Gatorade or PowerAde, I would strongly urge you to reconsider your choice!

Although these drinks can help provide you with the right nutrients needed during exercise, they are also filled with some unwanted ingredients as well. The main components of these sports drinks are high fructose corn syrup, sucrose syrup, and citric acid. As we have become more aware over the years, fructose corn syrup is a cheap sweetener and preservative.

There are many reasons why we should be avoiding high fructose corn syrup and Miller (2013) highlights a great point in his article when he states that, “high fructose intake in the form of added sugars is significantly and independently associated with higher blood pressure levels in the U.S. adult population with no previous history of hypertension”.

Another thought to take into consideration is the sucrose syrup is also a common sweetener ingredient but is known to cause tooth decay and has no true nutritional value. Also, citric acid is a common preservative used in sports drinks that can lead to dental erosion when it is consumed regularly. Lastly, many sports drinks like Gatorade include food dye.

Overall, the consumption of most commercialized sports drinks like Gatorade is not ideal because it has poor unnatural ingredients.

Instead of consuming these popular sports drinks, athletes should consider making their own workout beverages! In Nancy Clark’s Sports Nutrition Guidebook she gives two great recipes that can be made at home….

Recipe #1


  • ¼ cup sugar

  • ¼ tsp salt

  • ¼ cup hot water

  • ¼ cup of orange juice plus 2 tbsp lemon or lime juice

  • 3 ½ cups of cold water

  1. In the bottom of a pitcher, dissolve the sugar and salt in the hot water.

  2. Add the juice and remaining water; chill.

  3. Quench that thirst!

Recipe #2


  • 3 ¾ cup of cold water

  • ¼ cup pure maple syrup

  • ¼ tsp of salt

  1. Mix all ingredients together in a 1-quart (1L) bottle.

  2. Shake well and enjoy!

Another favorite of mine is Coconut Chia! Coconut water is naturally hydrating, contains easily digestable carbohydrates, and contains more potassium than 4 bananas! Ounce for ounce, if you do a side by side comparison of Coconut water and Gatorade this is what it looks like:

Not only is the coconut water lower in calories, it also contains less sugar (and it is natural sugar), and far more potassium than Gatorade. Just be careful because many commercial coconut waters like to add sugar or fruit juice to the coconut water!

This recipe also contains chia seeds which also contain many benefits. Here are a few:

  • they are rich in Omega-3 fatty acids

  • they do not need to be ground to be absorbed by the body

  • They help with hydration due to their ability to absorb up to 9-10 times their weight in water

  • They also contain fiber, protein, calcium, magnesium, copper, iron, and zinc among other nutrients (*Oh she glows)

Coconut Chia Recipe


  • 2 cups coconut water

  • 1.5 tbsp chia seeds

  • 1/2 tbsp fresh lemon or lime juice, or to taste

  • Sweetener to taste

  1. Add chia and coconut water to a leak proof bottle and shake well to combine. Let it sit for about 10 minutes to allow the chia seeds to sell.

  2. Add lime or lemon juice and sweetener if wanted. Shake again and enjoy! The chia seeds will sink to the bottom as the bottle sits, so just give the bottle a shake before you drink.

What is your favorite way to stay hydrated during exercise??

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