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I am looking for a more natural electrolyte drink than Gatorade. Lately I have been squeezing lemon juice into a water bottle and mixing with water. Is there anything you suggest either adding to this drink or even a completely different drink you can suggest?
– Brian W.
Hello Brian. Kudos on making your own drink. To mimic a prepared carbohydrate electrolyte solution, you’ll need a source of energy (sugar). I’d recommend adding one tablespoon of agave syrup per 16 fl. oz. of your drink. Alternatively, you can replace a half-cup of water with orange juice or coconut water*. To improve the electrolytes, I’d suggest adding a couple shakes of salt (sodium chloride). With the fruit juices you shouldn’t need to add more potassium. Taste and cost preference for ingredients is up to you.
You may find oral rehydration solution recipes online, but keep in mind that they are targeted at reversing dehydration (due to vomiting & diarrhea) instead of preventing it, as they are saltier and less sweet. During exercise, people tend to drink cooler, slightly sweet beverages.
*I don’t recommend 100% coconut water as a sports beverage. A recently released study1 indicated no benefit to coconut water over regular water for hydration or time trial performance for a small group of men, consistent with a previous similar study2 on rehydration following exercise:
- Coconut Water Does Not Improve Markers of Hydration During Sub-maximal Exercise and Performance in a Subsequent Time Trial Compared with Water Alone. Peart DJ, Hensby A, Shaw MP. International Journal of Sport Nutrition and Exercise Metabolism. 2017 Jun; 27(3):179-184.
- Comparison of coconut water and a carbohydrate-electrolyte sport drink on measures of hydration and physical performance in exercise-trained men. Kalman DS, Feldman S, Krieger DR, Bloomer RJ. Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition. 2012 Jan 18; 9(1):1.
– Debbie J., MS, RD
This article should not replace any exercise program or restrictions, any dietary supplements or restrictions, or any other medical recommendations from your primary care physician. Before starting any exercise program or diet, make sure it is approved by your doctor.
Some questions have been edited for length and/or clarity.