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Here’s Why You Should Make a Homemade Sports Drink, According to a Nutritionist

Whether you’re getting your sweat on at an all-day pickleball tournament or worried about your kids being dehydrated after a stomach bug, a sports drink may be your best recovery solution. Better yet, make this easy homemade sports drink with better-for-you ingredients that’s more affordable than store-bought options and super easy to make. Here’s everything you need to know about making your own sports drink at home.  

When You Need a Sports Drink 

You already know water is an essential part of the human body. In most situations, adults and kids can stay hydrated by regularly drinking water and eating fruits and veggies (something we’re all working on, including me). But do you know what happens when your body doesn’t have enough? When we participate in intense exercise, lose fluids during sickness, or sweat a lot, our bodies may lose too much water and we can experience dehydration. These symptoms include dry mouth, low energy, muscle cramps, dizziness, headaches, or decreased urination, and may be your body’s way of telling you it needs help rehydrating.  

And sometimes water alone doesn’t cut it if you’ve lost too many electrolytes during sweating or sickness. Electrolytes refer to a group of minerals including sodium, chloride, potassium, calcium, and magnesium, that help your body balance the amount of water in it and help your muscles and nerves work properly. In these situations, an electrolyte drink may be the best way to stay hydrated. So, the next time your kids have back-to-back soccer games or the stomach bug hits your family consider whether a sports drink should be part of your recovery plan.  

Why Make Your Own Sports Drink? 

There is no shortage of electrolyte waters and sports drinks on grocery shelves. But these options can get expensive and may contain artificial ingredients, like sweeteners and colors, and other ingredients adults and kids should be mindful of, like caffeine. A homemade sports beverage allows you to control what you and your kids are drinking and create a flavor the whole family enjoys with just some simple ingredients—many of which you already have at home. 

How to Make Your Own Sports Drink 

You can get the full recipe for our Homemade Sports Drink [name/link tk]. Start with the main ingredient—a simple liquid base. Plain water works great as an inexpensive start to a sports drink, but you can swap that out with coconut water for some additional minerals. Next, add pomegranate or tart cherry juice for plant nutrients, like antioxidants, which may help reduce inflammation. Plus, the juice tastes delicious and if you’re trying to make a homemade rehydration drink for kids (or adults) it better taste good! Some research also suggests tart cherry juice can help reduce muscle soreness after intense exercise. Then add lemon juice which helps create a more balanced flavor, a little vitamin C, and aids digestion.   

Next, add salt which may seem strange, but it’s essential to the beverage and the key to rehydration since sodium is an electrolyte. Finally, add some sweetness with maple syrup for some sweetness. It also provides minerals, like calcium and potassium. Bonus: the calories from maple syrup and juice may be helpful in situations of energy loss, like long periods of activity or sickness. 

 Friendly reminders—check with your kids’ pediatrician if you’re concerned about dehydration and how to help them rehydrate. If you’re taking medications, check with your pharmacist to make sure your juice choice doesn’t interact with their effects. 

Sarah Glunz, MS, CNS, LDN has been a nutritionist for over 15 years and does her best to sip on water and snack on fruits and veggies while working at Savory, playing outdoor sports with her family (not intensely enough to need a sports drink), and living her best mid-life. 

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