The other day I was going for an afternoon run and forgot to notice that it was 90ΒΊ until I was three miles away from home and suddenly found myself totally dehydrated with no water sources in sight. It was on the dizzying walk back home (I survived, by the way) that I envisioned these all-natural homemade sports drinks…

Homemade Sports Drinks

Sports drinks are great in the sense that they provide water + sodium + carbs (which are all depleted during exercise). The problem is that 1) the carbs come from high fructose corn syrup, 2) they have too much of this bad sugar, and 3) there are tons of weird chemical ingredients and colorings. Hmm.

Let’s solve those problems, shall we? Each of these four homemade sports drink ideas follow a similar pattern: they start with about 3 cups of water, followed by 2+ tablespoons of maple syrup to give you some quick calories to sustain the workout, and then 1/4 teaspoon of salt to replace the sodium lost during sweating. Finally, each is flavored differently with various real-food ingredients to create delicious combos. Feel free to use this water + salt + maple syrup template as a base to experiment with your own flavor ideas as well.

Coconut Punch

SportsDrink Coconut

This one is absolutely delicious. We start out with a little coconut water, mash in some berries and pineapple, and then let them steep in the water to create an amazing flavor. It’s a little different than the others, however: we’re replacing half of the water with coconut water to add a great taste and even more electrolytes. We’re also using less maple syrup as a result of the sugar in the coconut water. You could make this substitution with any of the others as well, but I think the taste of coconut works best here.

You will need: 1.5 cups of coconut water, 1.5 cups of water, 1/4 cup pineapple, 1/4 cup berries (raspberries or strawberries), 1/4 teaspoon salt, 1 tablespoon maple syrup, and 1 cup of ice (optional).

1. Add the berries and pineapple to a large mason jar…

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2. Mash the fruit with anything you have on hand (I used a pestle… or is it a mortar??)…

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3. Add about 1/4 teaspoon of salt. This is approximately 500 mg, which is a good amount before, after, or during a strenuous workout…

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4. Pour in the coconut water (fresh young coconuts are completely different than the rubbery-tasting stale stuff you get in boxes). You can also add 1 tablespoon of maple syrup if you’ll need the extra calories…

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5. Add ice and give the drink a final stir…

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6. You can serve as is, or refrigerate for a while to allow the flavors to steep into the water. Then, either drink directly from the jar (fruit and all), or strain with a kitchen strainer and add to a sports bottle.

Mint Refresher

SportsDrink Mint

What could be better after those long runs in the blazing afternoon sun than a cold glass of citrus, cucumber, and mint water? I designed this one as the perfect replenisher after tough workouts in the heat. Make it right before you leave and stick it in the fridge for an hour or two to let the flavors steep together.

You will need: 3 cups of water, 1 orange (sliced), 1/3 cup cucumber (sliced), 4-5 mint leaves, 1/4 teaspoon salt, 2+ tablespoons maple syrup, and 1 cup of ice (optional).

  1. Add the tea, orange slices, cucumber slices, mint, salt, and maple syrup to a large mason jar.
  2. Pour in about 3 cups of water and stir.
  3. Refrigerate for at least an hour to let the ingredients flavor the water.
  4. Strain out the ingredients using any kitchen strainer and transfer to another glass or sports bottle. Optionally, add a little ice to cool this drink even further.

Peach Tea

SportsDrink Tea

Last summer, I shared a recipe for cold-brewed green tea and talked about how cold-brewing results in smoother flavors and way more antioxidants. That’s what we’re doing here: taking high-quality tea, mixing it with peaches, and letting it brew in the refrigerator for several hours. The caffeine in the tea is a proven performance enhancer, making this one perfect to drink before or during a run.

You will need: 3 cups of water, 1 tablespoon loose oolong or green tea (or 3 teabags), 1 peach (sliced), 1/4 teaspoon salt, and 2+ tablespoons maple syrup.

  1. Add the tea, peach slices, maple syrup, and salt to a large mason jar.
  2. Pour in about 3 cups of water and stir.
  3. Refrigerate for at least 3 hours to allow the tea to fully brew and the peaches to impart their wonderful flavor.
  4. Strain out the tea and peaches using any kitchen strainer and transfer to another glass or sports bottle.

Chia Fresca

SportsDrink Chia

Chia fresca is the only of these sports drinks to possess magical properties… You see, the Tarahumara tribe of Mexico use this drink (along with pinole – see my recipe for that here) to run 50-100 miles at a time. Down a glass of this one before you step outside and you’ll keep going for hours. πŸ™‚

You will need: 3 cups of water, 2 tablespoons chia seeds, 1 lime (sliced), 1/4 teaspoon salt, 2+ tablespoons maple syrup.

  1. Add the chia seeds, lime slices, maple syrup, and salt to a large mason jar.
  2. Pour in about 3 cups of water and stir.
  3. Stick in the refrigerator for at least an hour, allowing the chia seeds to absorb some of the water and become more gel-like.
  4. Drink directly from the mason jar. These gelled chia seeds are super beneficial. There’s a reason the Tarahumara drink them – research suggests that eating chia seeds that have been soaked in water helps your body manage its hydration better.