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Recipes for Homemade Sports Drinks

By Dr. Lorraine Williams, aka TrackMom

Sports Drinks Many parents of athletes ask ,”With prices on everything going up how do I provide quality sports drinks on a budget?”

I have written many times in the past about Homemade Sports Drinks. I frequently receive requests for these recipes, here are a couple of quick and easy recipes. Over the course of a year, you can save hundreds of dollars on sports drinks. (an average bottle of 16oz Gatorade can be almost $1.00 each.)

Sports drinks like Gatorade ™ can be very useful for longer runs and races. Unfortunately, they are also very expensive and full of High Fructose Corn Syrup (Gatorade no longer contains HFCS as I learned in my recent trip to the Gatorade HQ). I’ve found a couple of ways of making sports drinks that are effective and cheap. The ideas for the recipe, like most good running ideas, first came to me from The Dead Runners’ Society.

Gatorade ™ has worked hard to come up with what they feel is a good balance of carbohydrates and electrolytes for extended physical activity – it is actually the most researched sports drink on the market. Most researchers agree that the optimal concentration of carbohydrates in a sports drink is about 6%. This concentration actually allows the water to be absorbed more quickly in the body than plain water alone.

Gatorade has a formulation that gives the following for an 8oz serving:

  • 14grams Carbohydrate (5.9%)
  • 110 mg Sodium
  • 30mg Potassium
  • 52 calories

Assuming that is a pretty good formula, we can get close by using one of the following recipes:

Homemade Sports Drink Recipe #1

  • 10 tbs. sugar (5/8 cups or 120 grams)
  • .75 tsp Sea salt (4.2 grams) or Morton’s lite
  • 1 package of unsweetened Koolade mix for flavor
  • Water to make 2 liters

The recipe will give a total of 124 grams of solute which in 2 liters water gives a total of 6.2% concentration. For an 8 oz serving this gives:

  • 14.2 grams carbohydrate (6%)
  • 53 calories
  • 103 mg Sodium
  • 121 mg Potassium

You’ll notice that the amount of potassium is quite a bit higher than Gatorade, but the rest is pretty close. If you wanted to reduce the potassium, another option would be to use 1/2 tsp. each of regular sea salt and the Morton Lite Salt. This would change it to:

  • 104mg sodium
  • 40mg potassium

Homemade Sports Drink Recipe #2

If you wanted to reduce the amount of potassium, or simply didn’t want to buy some Morton Lite Salt, here is another option.

  • 1/2 cup orange juice
  • 9 tbs. Sugar
  • 3/8 tsp Salt
  • Water to 2 liters


Categories : Nutrition



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Interesting set of concoctions. Have you actually created any of these yourself and drank them?


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I just made Recipe #1, and it tastes fine. I’ve been wondering, though, which ingredient is the source of potassium?


Yesterday I did #2, but using lemons instead of oranges. It tastes great, you should try!
Today, I did it with tangerines… not so good… well… it´s… strange 🙂

Next time, it´ll be lemon again 🙂


Let’s start with the math: At our local Wal-Mart SuperCenter 32oz Powerade sells for 88 cents & Gatorade $1.00 with 128oz (one gallon) Gatorade $3.78. The powdered form of Gatorade makes 20 quarts and sells for $8.48 or 42.4 cents per quart and 84.8 per 2 liter or 2 quarts. I made my own sports drink following Recipe #1 with Kool-Aid brand Berry Blue; excellent. I never knew sodium chloride (salt) & potassium chloride (sodium-free salt) was what gave sports drink that “taste”. However, the math for doing it yourself may surprise readers. Kool-Aid brand packets are 16 cents each at Wal-Mart SuperCenter. A five pound bag of sugar Wal-Mart GV brand is $2.82; Domino Brand is $4.12. Ten tablespoons of sugar is 1/2 cup. A five pound bag of sugar holds approximately 18.5 cups; 1/2 cup being 1/37th of a bag of sugar or 7.6 cents (GV) and 11.1 cents (Domino). Morton’s Lite Salt is $1.28 and is an 11 oz. container that has 222 servings per 1/4 teaspoon – 0.6 cents per serving or for the first recipe 1.8 cents. From this point on I’m rounding numbers up for easier comparison. Per two quarts or two liters it costs 85 cents if you buy Gatorade powder and it costs onbly 26 cents (GV sugar) and 30 cents (Domino brand sugar) or a savings of 70 percent (GV) and 65 percent (Domino). You can pay 88 cents and $1.00 or you can pay between 26 and 30 cents if you DIY. Personally, I own an Omega auger-style juicer in which I juice (raw) apples, oranges, grapefruits, etc; apples for their sugar and I add that to Kool-Aid; however I primarily use sugar-free products and enhance them with fresh juice. As for the B vitamins; I take my Gummy vitamins everyday and had they made them when I was a kid I’d tore them up then too.


A correction….Near the bottom of my post I said “You can pay 88 cents and $1.00 or you can pay between 26 and 30 cents if you DIY.” Double these numbers; $1.76 and $2.00. What cost 26 and 30 cents is for 2 quarts/2 liters of DIY sports drink; not one quart/one liter. The percentage in savings applies to the powdered form of Gatorade which by itself will save consumers at least 50 percent if you opt for it and not the ready to drink products in bottles.


If your going to use refined white sugar and Koolaid with artificial dyes and preservatives why not just save your self the trouble and buy Gator Aid? The main reason Gator Aid is unhealthy is because of the sugars and dyes and preservatives in the first place. Oh right, It save money.


but, is refined white sugar better than corn suyrup? i mean, im really asking cause i dont know. is there a less refined sugar you could use? i dont care so much for the sweet sports drinks, just that it have a decent flavor..

The Depressed Doormat
April 18th, 2011 at 4:25 pm

@Ryan Jenkins
White sugar is not better than corn syrup. However, if I remember my middle school biology/chemistry, sugar, aka sucrose, is a disaccharide. For a better “sports drink” look for a Monosaccharide.

If I recall correctly, it is easier to break down and hence provides energy faster than a di or poly. But if you have a gripe against sugar at all, then a sports drink is perhaps not the best idea anyway.

If you want a effective sports drink for longer durations of aerobic exercise, such as running or bicycling, I would bet something like a medical dextrose will provide far superior results than sugar or corn syrup.

P.S. I am not a doctor. Not even close.

Doctor Director Captain Sir
July 28th, 2011 at 3:45 pm

@The Depressed Doormat:

Close! You do remember your biochem correctly; monosaccharides are broken down faster than di- or polysaccharides. However, you got your benefits confused.

Monosaccharides are indeed broken down quickly and cause a huge spike in your blood sugar. Unfortunately, this “sugar high” will only last a short while and will be followed by a crash. Also known as simple sugars, monosaccharides are found in candy, etc, and are not a good long term energy source.

Di- or preferably polysaccharides take more time to break down, providing more energy over the long term without causing massive spikes in blood sugar. Polysaccharides are the best, and are what are found in fruit and other sources of natural sugar.

So basically,

monosaccharides = snorting pixie sticks

polysaccharides = extreme awesome fuel


This looks awesome. I can’t wait to try these recipes. Thank you 🙂


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