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Homemade Electrolyte Drink Recipe (Stevia or Honey Sweetened)

When athletes are working out, they’re losing sweat and expending energy. The purpose of a “sports drink” is to replace that liquid as well as other necessary electrolytes and carbs to keep the athlete’s energy up as they continue to exert themselves (or recover). Even just being out in the heat can lead to dehydration, heat exhaustion, and heatstroke if you aren’t careful to replenish fluids and electrolytes.

homemade electrolyte drink

So often, these premade drinks they reach for are full of added ingredients, flavorings, and artificial sweeteners that I avoid! They can also be quite expensive when you buy them for every practice. This homemade electrolyte drink will help you save money while also eating foods that fuel you during a workout.

To develop a recipe for a natural electrolyte sports drink, I did my best to achieve the proper proportions of needed electrolytes as well as mimic the fun taste of the flavor of Gatorade that my husband enjoys. It irks me when he (a) spends $1+ a bottle on junk and (b) drinks the junk. I try to jump in when I know he’s going somewhere that he’ll want Gatorade and hand him our homemade electrolyte drink instead. Winking smile

I’m going to show you a lot of the math I did to figure out how to make a homemade electrolyte drink, so put your thinking caps on and I’ll grab my chalk. (I know, that dates me. I actually had a whiteboard when I taught but still think of chalkboards as the standard.) Then we’ll make our own version!

RELATED: Recover From A Concussion At Home

Is Gatorade Healthy?

Gatorade drinks (and any other electrolyte-replacing sports drink, as well as drinks designed to rehydrate and heal during a bout of diarrhea or childhood illnesses) contain five major components:

  1. water (for hydration, obviously)
  2. sugars (for energy/carbs)
  3. citric acid and sodium citrate (both preservatives, also sodium citrate in some forms has been shown to increase running performance1 – but it also chelates calcium, a necessary electrolyte that needs to be replaced!)
  4. sea salt (to replace the electrolyte sodium)
  5. monopotassium phosphate (the chosen form of potassium, another essential electrolyte)

Other than the preservatives (which wouldn’t be necessary in a homemade version), that seems alright. But then you consider the added artificial colors, flavors, and sweeteners in most electrolyte drinks and they don’t seem so healthy anymore.

Of course, dehydration which can lead to heat exhaustion and even heatstroke if you’re also getting overheated isn’t healthy either.

If we just take the important components of an electrolyte drink, we can easily make it at home without all the added nasties! Ready for some math to figure out the correct proportions of all the ingredients to balance electrolytes?

ingredients for homemade electrolyte drink

Make a Homemade Electrolyte Drink with Real Food

In fact, we can do one better and make an electrolyte drink with real food. We first look at the World Health Organization’s recipe for a rehydration drink2, which serves a very similar purpose for dehydrated individuals: replace electrolytes, give energy, hydrate the body.

It includes:

  • sodium chloride
  • trisodium citrate
  • potassium chloride
  • sugar/glucose
  • water

RELATED: The Best Watermelon Slushie Recipe (with NO ADDED SUGAR!) 

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How Much Sugar is in Gatorade?

We know white sugar is bad for us. We know high fructose corn syrup is worse. Why work out to keep your body healthy and then pour junk into it?

Regular Gatorade has a lot of sugar. Check this out:

  • Gatorade = 21 grams of sugars in 12 ounces (over 5 teaspoons sugar)
  • 64 ounces / 12 ounces = 5.33 (how many 12 ounce bottles fit in a half-gallon)
  • 21 grams of sugar x 5.33 = 112 grams of sugars in a half-gallon of Gatorade
  • 1 teaspoon sugar = 4 grams
  • 112 / 4 = 28
  • **28 teaspoons of sugar in a half-gallon Gatorade**

(I chose a half-gallon for comparison’s sake since that’s what this homemade sports drink recipe will make.)

The idea behind the sugar (carbohydrates) is to give energy to the athlete. I wonder how much athletes really need to keep their energy up though.

The World Health Organization’s (WHO) recommended rehydration recipes range from 6-8 teaspoons of sugar per liter (approximately 1.2-1.6 teaspoons per cup), or 13.5 grams anhydrous glucose per liter. Wikipedia lists it at 2 tablespoons (6 teaspoons) per quart, or 1.5 teaspoons per cup.

x 8 cups in a half-gallon = 9.6-12.8 teaspoons total sugar recommended per half-gallon

x 4 grams sugar in a teaspoon = 38.4-51.2 grams of sugar recommended per half-gallon rehydration electrolyte drink (according to what a dehydrated person needs to perk up)

So the first lesson, which is not surprising, is that commercial Gatorade is far sweeter than it needs to be to give someone appropriate carbs for energy purposes – by more than TWICE as much!

Homemade Electrolyte drink

The Best Sweetener for Homemade Electrolyte Drinks

To make a natural electrolyte replacement that is also good for athletes to replenish their energy in the form of carbohydrates, we’d want approximately 40-50 grams of sugar, which is 10-12 teaspoons (a scant 4 tablespoons) in a half-gallon.

I’d rather use honey, which is a much better carbohydrate energy source because honey contains different natural sugars – fructose (which makes up about 40%), glucose, maltose, and a very small amount of sucrose. Each of these sugars tends to be absorbed into the bloodstream at a slightly different rate instead of all at once.

Besides that, there are other benefits to honey, especially natural raw honey, that white sugar certainly does not share. It still increases your glycemic index, however, so for diabetics it is no better than sugar (or not enough to make a marked difference).

RELATED: Homemade drinks with the SodaStream!

To use honey, we do a little more math to figure out how much to use:

Honey = 16 grams of sugar in a tablespoon (about 5 1/3 grams per teaspoon vs 4 grams for sugar)

We want between 40-50 grams of sugars in our drink, a little lower for people who are just replacing sweat, I’d think, and higher for hardcore athletes in training (and maybe children). So that’s between 2-3 tablespoons of honey for a half-gallon.

RELATED: The Health Benefits of Sweating

That amount is a good “sweet” for some, but considering your average American is expecting double that, we can make up the sweet without extra unnecessary carbs with a little stevia.

Gatorade happens to have a “low calorie” version of the sports drink called G2. Guess how many carbs (sugars) it has? 40 grams per half-gallon, exactly what it should have. The remainder of the “sweet” is made up of Sucralose (Splenda) and acesulfame potassium, another artificial sweetener i.e. poison. We can do better than that!

homemade gatorade

Rehydrating with Electrolyte Drinks When Sick

For a diabetic or someone who only needs to replace electrolytes, not carbs, such as a more medicinal use like during a bout of diarrhea, you could totally skip the honey and double the stevia, more to taste if necessary. If you have the unrefined brown stevia concentrate like in the picture, you need at least double the stevia or a half teaspoon total for a half-gallon.

My husband thought that ratio was just perfect, although some may want a bit more. That’s the wonderful thing about sweetening beverages with stevia; you can always add a few drops to an individual serving or taste and improve the whole batch (can’t do that with muffins, for example).

For children who are ill, I might still keep the honey in, especially if you have raw honey, for its antibacterial, immune-boosting, and upper respiratory supporting properties and because kids need carbs for energy, even if they’re not expending as much because they are sick. Pedialyte does include the type of sugar called dextrose (refined corn sugars, ick), which is thought to be easily digested, improve the taste, and increase the absorption of water and sodium.3

RELATED: Avoiding dehydration in children.

Always check in with your healthcare practitioner to make sure you and your loved ones are getting the nutrients needed during illness.

How Many Electrolytes do We Need?

“Electrolytes are minerals that use electric charges in the body to produce reactions such as muscle contraction, nerve movement, and a regular heartbeat.”4

Let’s take them one at a time:

Salt / Sodium

  • Gatorade = 13.75 mg/ oz.
  • WHO rehydration recipe = ~77 mg / oz. + baking soda usually recommended in the same ratio I use (technically sodium is measured as an osmolarity of 245 mmol/L, my first chance to use high school chemistry in 15 years…and heck if I can remember how to figure molarity.)
  • Our recipe = ~75-80 milligrams/oz. from salt and 4.8 mg/oz. from baking soda

Baking soda is included because it’s a different kind of salt than table salt (sodium chloride) and our bodies need both kinds:

Strenuous exercise leads to the buildup of lactic acid with associated muscle pain and fatigue. The longer an athlete can delay lactic acid buildup, the better his performance, especially in situations that require endurance. That’s exactly what drinking baking soda does for athletes. Baking soda has been found to be effective in boosting multiple sprint performances by neutralizing lactic acid buildup, thereby delaying muscle pain and fatigue.5

A rough guide to the amount of salt is that the solution should taste no saltier than tears. The sports drink will taste too salty if your body doesn’t need the salt. When you are genuinely depleted, it should taste just right (I love that God made our bodies so well that they can teach us what we need!).

Too much baking soda – like massive amounts – can be dangerous for children, but it would be highly unlikely that someone could overdose on baking soda by drinking homemade electrolyte drinks.

Folks with high blood pressure need to be careful of sodium intake overall, so it might be a good idea to check with your doctor if you have that condition. “Lite salt” could be a safe substitute in a homemade recipe – but those with high blood pressure really should check with their doctor before drinking the commercial sports drinks, too, as they have a high sodium content as well. How many people drink Gatorade as a random “I’m thirsty” drink when they haven’t expended enough energy to need to replace electrolytes and sodium? It’s really not a good idea.

Potassium

  • Gatorade = 3.75 mg. / oz.
  • WHO rehydration recipe = might be up to 44 mg / oz. (Wiki says it uses 1.5 g/L; a liter is 4.22 cups = 33.76 ounces, 1.5 g / 33.76 ounces * 1000 = 44.43 mg / oz.)
  • Our recipe = just over 2 mg / oz. (lemon juice has 35 mg potassium per ounce; 35 x 4 oz. = 140 mg in a half gallon divided by 64 ounces = 2.18)
    • One could add 1/8-1/4 tsp. Morton “lite salt” which is potassium chloride if potassium feels more important. Some WHO rehydration recipes list 1/4 tsp. salt substitute per liter for potassium (so about a scant 1/2 tsp. for our half-gallon batch).
    • You could also add 1/2 tsp. of cream of tartar which is potassium bitartrate. 
  • If using orange juice, you’d have 3.5 mg. potassium/ounce (orange juice has 56 mg potassium per ounce)

Lemon juice even has enough potassium to treat kidney stones6 in place of potassium citrate, so I feel pretty confident that it can replace electrolytes. However, for serious rehydration, you couldn’t use enough lemon juice to equal the WHO recipe; that would make it so sour it would be undrinkable.

The orange juice version fares better on the potassium scale, but my husband really didn’t like that flavor (although my 8yo boy thought it was the bomb). It’s still not quite enough, so if potassium is a key factor for you, be sure to try the lite salt or cream of tartar. 

Another option I’ve seen is potassium citrate, which is in Kool-aid type powders.

Magnesium

This electrolyte seems largely unaddressed in Gatorade and most of the homemade recipes I’ve seen, including the WHO version. The Real Salt I buy does have trace elements of magnesium, so please be sure to use whole, unrefined salt when making this recipe and at least you’ll get a little magnesium, as well as calcium and 60 other trace minerals, including silica, which may contribute to overall bone health.7

Magnesium is a very important mineral for overall health, so if you happen to have some on hand as an oral supplement, I’d include a serving in this recipe.

If you want to include a magnesium powder in your recipe, I’d recommend this clean magnesium powder or this “Mag-Go” powder from Raise Them Well.

Calcium

I’m really not sure if the WHO recipe includes calcium or not, but the sodium citrate in Gatorade chelates (removes) calcium from the body, so that seems awfully counter-productive.

RELATED: Homemade “Smart” water recipe with vitamins and minerals!

Is there a Clean Pre-Made Electrolyte Drink?

For the exact proper balance of the 5 essential electrolytes needed to hydrate cells, sometimes you might not want to DIY. Redmond’s Re-Lyte mixes (in lemon-lime or mixed berry) fill the need perfectly, and they taste good. Some of my kids think they’re too salty, but that probably means their bodies need less salt. Mine needs a lot so I love the flavor!

Both flavors are sweetened with stevia leaf extract, the only zero-calorie sweetener I would even think of touching, and they even include coconut water powder with natural electrolyte balance.

For kids, I would still lean toward giving them the carbs in honey so that they are replenishing their energy. For us adults, we might not need that extra caloric energy! There are 50 20-ounce servings in each tub, so compare to more than 50 Gatorades since the volume on those bottles isn’t 20 ounces.

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homemade gatorade

Homemade Electrolyte Drink Recipe

  • Author: Katie Kimball
  • Prep Time: 10 mins
  • Total Time: 5 mins
  • Yield: 8 cups 1x
  • Category: Drink
  • Diet: Gluten Free

Ingredients

Scale


ship kroger


Instructions

  1. Mix the salt (Use the code kitchenstewardship for 15% off of your first purchase) and baking soda with water until dissolved. Some people heat the water to get it all perfectly dissolved; I just shake it up and call it good enough.
  2. Add the lemon juice, lime juice, and sweetener and shake well to combine. You may find that the honey is difficult to mix in; just keep trying, try a long knife to stir, and shake well before serving.
  3. Store refrigerated for up to a week.

Notes

I squeeze lime juice in bulk and freeze tablespoon-sized servings, then just add one cube to this mixture.

The larger amount of salt is closer to the WHO guidelines, but the 1/2 teaspoon is what tastes right. So adjust to taste and your level of need for electrolyte replacement versus just a yummy drink.

Another flavoring option is to use 1/2 c. orange juice and 2 Tbs. lemon juice in place of the lemon/lime mixture.


Nutrition

  • Serving Size: 1 cup
  • Calories: 36
  • Sugar: 9 g
  • Sodium: 195 mg
  • Fat: 0
  • Saturated Fat: 0
  • Unsaturated Fat: 0
  • Trans Fat: 0
  • Carbohydrates: 9 g
  • Fiber: 0
  • Protein: 0
  • Cholesterol: 0

Keywords: electrolyte, honey sweetened, hydration

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Notes for Making Homemade Gatorade:

  • If you do use real lemons, you should be aware of the chemicals sprayed on citrus after picking. Make sure you buy organic or at least wash them well before juicing!
  • You can make frozen concentrate cube (i.e. mix up with only about a 1/2 cup of water plus the other ingredients) and mix with a cup of water as it melts.
  • I use a bottled organic lemon juice with zero added ingredients. It’s delicious, and so much easier than juicing my own lemons (which would be a decently big chore if you were making this regularly). I don’t recommend most bottled lemon juice though – check the ingredients and you’ll see why.
  • You can use Beekeepers Naturals B.Chill Honey with CBD if you’re struggling to get back into a parasympathetic state after exercise and need help winding down.
  • Stevia drops, for me, came out to about 35-40 drops per quarter teaspoon, but my friend Adrienne at Whole New Mom gets 44 drops in a teaspoon…so you might want to try it yourself to see how many drops are in a teaspoon to help you divide into single servings if necessary.
  • I use NuNaturals stevia or Sweetleaf brands. Liquid stevia extract is less refined than the powder, although my husband prefers the powder.
Homemade electrolyte sports drink

More Workout Resources to Help You Fuel Your Body:

Have you ever made your own electrolyte drink? What is your favorite flavor?

Sources

  1. Oöpik, V., Saaremets, I., Medijainen, L., Karelson, K., Janson, T., & Timpmann, S. (2003). Effects of sodium citrate ingestion before exercise on endurance performance in well trained college runners. British journal of sports medicine, 37(6), 485–489. https://doi.org/10.1136/bjsm.37.6.485
  2. Oral rehydration therapy. (2020, April 18). Retrieved from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Oral_rehydration_therapy#Preparation
  3. Messina, H. (2019, December 24). What Ingredients Are in Pedialyte? Retrieved from https://healthfully.com/345895-what-ingredients-are-in-pedialyte.html
  4. Electrolytes in Lemons. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.livestrong.com/article/512753-electrolytes-in-lemons/
  5. Kalmus, S. (2019, December 24). Is Sodium Bad For You? Retrieved  from https://healthfully.com/518115-is-sodium-bad-for-you.html
  6. Aras, B., Kalfazade, N., Tuğcu, V., Kemahli, E., Ozbay, B., Polat, H., & Taşçi, A. I. (2008). Can lemon juice be an alternative to potassium citrate in the treatment of urinary calcium stones in patients with hypocitraturia? A prospective randomized study. Urological research, 36(6), 313–317. https://doi.org/10.1007/s00240-008-0152-6
  7. Jugdaohsingh R. (2007). Silicon and bone health. The journal of nutrition, health & aging, 11(2), 99–110. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2658806/

Unless otherwise credited, photos are owned by the author or used with a license from Canva or Deposit Photos.

68 thoughts on “Homemade Electrolyte Drink Recipe (Stevia or Honey Sweetened)”

  1. I’ve not yet made this recipe but a word of caution: The stevia plant is related to ragweed. I had an allergic reaction to a steva-containing substance and did a little (just a little research on the internet and found this out).

    1. Carolyn @ Kitchen Stewardship

      That’s good information to know! I’ll make a note of it on our post about stevia. Thank you!

    2. Hi there all!
      Good point about Stevia allergy…I found it best to always–especially when you are mixing essential minerals and vitamins into “shakes” or “drinks” to try just a sip (i.e., a mouthful) and after an hour, if you have no adverse reactions, it is likely safe for you to consume. Allergies and reactions are typically rare, especially with the above-mentioned ingredients. But better safe than sorry…and keep some kind of antihistamine (like Benadryl) on hand just in case.

      All that aside, I LOVE the recipe formula for the electrolyte! I used salt (table salt, iodized, was all I had on hand tonight), Cream of Tartar, baking soda, stevia powder from packets, and also added 1 tbsp of plain Cocoa Powder for Iron and extra trace elements. The chocolate made the drink taste like those chocolate drinks “Yoohoo” but a bit on the salty side 🙂

      I have carpal tunnel and 30 minutes after drinking two cups worth, the pain is much less. I prefer this recipe to taking OTC meds by FAR!

      Thank you for the great idea…one of my older boys plays football and we’re in the South where, today, it was 109 with the heat index. They take plenty of breaks but I am definitely going to give him some of this to take to practice to drink, before and afterwards. I know he’ll love it!

      Best Regards!
      Melissa

      1. Carolyn @ Kitchen Stewardship

        Interesting note about adding cocoa powder, I never would have thought to do that! Good note about the allergies as well, thanks!

  2. excellent article, Soooooooooooo much info, I got lost. it’s ok though I’m a kool-aid w/sugar drinker, I wonder how that stacks up, but it’s quick.

  3. I think cream of tartar is high in potassium. I dont think you’d need to add much for the benefit. It may be worth looking into.

  4. I have used this recipe as a substitute for Gatorade when doing a colonoscopy prep. Since the prep requires fasting with clear liquids only for a period of time, I use honey rather than Stevia.

    I went looking for a homemade recipe because I have no sweet tooth, I’m a diabetic, and I react to artificial sweeteners and some of the “junk” in pre-mixed sports drinks.

    I love that you have explained the chemistry and provided the math. I chose your recipe over others for just that reason.

    My care team was impressed, too. It never occurred to them that they would have a patient intolerant of the options listed in their routine prep options. Their eyes lit up when I said they could have my hard copy (I’ve got this recipe bookmarked at home).

    I have another colonoscopy next month and will be whipping up another batch for the prep.

    Thank you.

    1. Carolyn @ Kitchen Stewardship

      That’s great, thanks for sharing Meg! I’m so glad this recipe was helpful for you!

  5. I’m so glad that there is a healthy substitute for Gatorade that’s easy to make! My family usually drinks kefir and kombucha instead, but it takes a lot of time to make.

  6. I need a recipe for dry only replacement like citric acid powder or similar to substitute lemon or orange juice. I don’t always have time to have a ready prepared liquid on hand and an all dry ingredient list would allow me to make it in the car. I am a bee keeper and sweat copiously. Without replacements I get the worst cramps imaginable. Any help you can offer would be appreciated. Thank you.

    1. Carolyn @ Kitchen Stewardship

      Hi Noel, Not having tried it, I’m not 100% sure how it would go, but I’m sure you could make this powdered! 1 teaspoon of citric acid is the equivalent acidity of 1/2 cup lemon juice. So your recipe would be 1/2 tsp salt, 1/4 tsp baking soda, 1 tsp citric acid, 1/8 tsp powdered stevia, or if you wanted the carbs then 1/4 cup sucanat or sugar. That would be 8 servings, so a scant 1/4 tsp per serving with stevia or a little more than 1.5 tsp with sugar. You could add a flavored magnesium powder like Natural Calm or MagGo to flavor it. Those usually contain stevia as well so make sure you leave out the sweetener. Hope that helps! Let us know how it goes if you try it! I think I might try it this week and see how it works!

        1. Have the ingredients together for the dry recipe. This recipe is for 8 servings. How much water to mix per serving? Thank you.

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  8. Kevin Hulburt

    Hi,

    Two things real quick: First, you may want to recommend a naturally mined Baking Soda as opposed to Arm & Hammer, but that might not be too big a deal. Second, the reason for the high sugar content in gatorade (in addition to being sold to an American, sugar-addicted culture) is that it was created for athletes working at a high caloric output level. The amount in this recipe is good for someone who is out in the sun, sweating, and needs rehydration and electrolytes, but sports drinks were create to supply high levels of simple sugars for athletes mid- and post-workout. That said, honey is still a great simple sugar (maple syrup too), just add more. No need for Stevia at that point either.

  9. Remember, that Maltose is NOT good for you, and is found in so many things, like Beverages / Beer, Cereal, Pasta, Potatoes and in many processed products which have been sweetened etc… When it hits the Small Intestines, it is nothing but Glucose!!! Maltose is also at a horrible 105 on the Glycemic Index!!!

    Fructose is not good on your Liver!!!

    Even though Natural, it doesn’t mean it is healthy for you, it all matters on amounts! Just like people should learn, that just because you’re an Athlete, you do NOT NEED CARBS, like most people keep making a believe of! It is much smarter to run your body on Fats, as it is the slowest released Energy, and doesn’t mess with your body, where as Carbs is the foundation of all known Folk-Diseases (Conditions), all preventable, and in most cases, also reversable, which also counts for Diabetes, Cancer, Artheritis, Asthma etc…

  10. Hello, I can’t thank you enough for a safer recipe for an electrolyte drink. My 60 year old husband came home from the hospital a couple days ago after having almost died. Unknowing to us, his prostrate had become enlarged and triggered several events which ended in over stage 5 renal failure. He suffered heat exhaustion–possibly from his brief walks with our dogs–although our home is air-conditioned. He was also severely dehydrated, although he felt that he was drinking enough and drank when he was thirsty.

    I am worried about him staying hydrated, as I don’t believe he is drinking enough with the heat and humidity as he continues to take our wee dogs for short walks in our very sunny yard. When he comes in from the heat (which he says does not feel hot, but is uncomfortably so for me), he complains that it’s freezing indoors, yet the temperature is never below 72° and often above as our a/cs are pretty tiny. When he comes in, he has no perspiration whatsoever. I am hoping that the added electrolytes will help.

    However, I wanted to know if the honey is okay for diabetics. His sugar is in a good place and he doesn’t often need medication.

    I feel that the electrolytes will do him good, but I cannot bring myself to give him Gatorade with such iffy ingredients. As it is, we have had much illness because of our ignorance regarding artificial sweeteners and other nasty additives. It is mind-blowing and eye-opening how unhealthy so many products are sold in the grocery store, and we need to research every one for its efficacy and safety. So much for the protection of the FDA.

    Thanks very much for your kindness and time in responding to my inquiry, Katie. It is greatly appreciated. I have a good feeling about your electrolyte drink recipe. Many blessings to you and yours,

    MizzMagee

    1. Hello dear!
      I’m so glad you found this recipe – I am not really sure about honey for diabetics – it’s full of carbs like any sugar, so if he doesn’t really eat sweets, it’s likely a bad idea. BUT you can totally use stevia for the taste and add the electrolytes and the lemon juice. I hope he loves it – he’s lucky to have such a diligent wife!! 🙂 Katie

  11. Ok I have a concern now as I have received new news that lemon juice weakens tooth enamel faster than soda by a large margin. Can I just use Raw honey , Salt , Baking Soda, And water?

      1. Thank You! I know it was a crazy thing to ask for but my dentist kids did this project to see which drink was worse on teeth. Turned out lemon juice was top then Gatorade, then Mountain dew. I will try the cherry juice that sounds good. My favorite drink was lemon water. Maybe the baking soda neutralizes lemon juice. Lemon oil was also suggested. At any rate thank for your reply.

        Oh another thing. I recently went on a hike and used the recipe. The was the hottest week in my state up to the mid 90’s is there a limit to how hot the drink gets before it goes bad?

        1. Hi Frank – crazy experiment! It makes me worry now about regularly using lemon juice in my water kefir, yikes! As for how long it will keep, I would think your nose would know. My guess is that a daytime hike, no overnight, would be fine no matter what, but of course the heat of the day could impact it.

  12. I have always been a “Gatorade” or “Powerade” drinker whenever I get sick, the weather get hot, when I used to play sports when I was younger, when I am able to exercise, and also sometimes when I go hunting. I had weight loss surgery in Late September 2013 and had back surgery in late April 2016. After my back heals up I plan on exercising to help get down to my weight lose goals! For a while now I have been thinking about trying to make a homemade version of “Gatorade” and/or “Powerade” that is healthier! Plus it is getting a lot harder to find my favorite flavor, Strawberry!!

    I also used to be a BIG Time Kool-aid drinker! My favorite summer time drink! But then I started drinking more soda! Then my favorite kool-aid flavors got harder and harder to find!

    My questions are:

    1)What Flavors can you make this in?

    2) What other “additives” can someone add for additional health benefits? Such as minerals, vitamins, antioxidants, etc?

    3) What other sweeteners can we use besides honey, sugar, and stevia?

    Thanks. I look forward to your reply! Keep up the great work!!

    1. Hi Matthew – great goals!! I’m sure you could make about any flavor (infuse with real strawberries!) but I haven’t played around with it at all, so I have no idea how they’d all work. You could add mineral drops for sure – whatever supplements you find important that could disappear into water, could be mixed into this. And as for sweeteners, I’ve only tried the 3 you mentioned. Let me know if you figure out any awesome flavors! 🙂 Katie

      1. Thanks Katie! I looked at a Gatorade bottle and it did NOT use High Fructose Corn Syrup but instead uses Sugar! At least the one I looked at! lol Then I compared it to the bottle of Powerade which uses High Fructose Corn Syrup. The Powerade adds more vitamins Vitamin B3, Vitamin B6, and Vitamin B12. Also Powerade includes a better mix of Electrolytes over Gatorade.

        So I just might experiment with a small batch to see what tastes good and then make a larger batch.

  13. Katie; I’ve had epilepsy, hypoglycemia, restless leg syndrome for almost 50 years; I’ve developed acid reflux and an enlarged prostate gland in the last 15-20 years. I am on so much epileptic medicine and meds for the minor ailments it eats electrolytes out of my body. I was prescribed Propel (made by Gatorade) approx. 10-15 years ago by my Neurologist and have been drinking a diluted amount every day since. No Gatorade; too much sugar for hypoglycemia. Considering sugar your recipe too much for me also; honey will nail me too. And there is too much of an acidic amount of citrus juices also; because of acid reflux. I’m just trying for once to get a home-made drink of some kind to replace Propel; even though Propel has done a superb job, both bottled and packet types for many years.
    Will you please consider and hopefully answer? Jimmy

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  15. Hi Katie,

    Great recipe! I’m an avid runner, and normally don’t use Gatorade because it’s way too full of sugar and has too many excess ingredients. I actually switched to a sustained electrolyte release pill and drink only water when I work out. It’s pretty awesome because I just have to take one pill and I’m good for 4-6 hours of exertion/recovery. I cramp less and I feel better.

    Here’s the site for ReplaceSR, the electrolyte tablet I use:

    http://electrolytereplacementtablets.com/

    Have you heard of this, and what do you think?

  16. Definitely making this to cope with severe migraine on my non fasting days (I’m on the 5:2 diet). So thank you so much for posting the recipe. Quick question on that for you. The ingredients say: ¼ c. honey OR ¼ tsp. clear liquid stevia OR ⅛ tsp. powdered stevia extract 1/4 cup honey OR 1/4 teasp stevia do you really mean “or”, or did you mean “and”? Thanks so much! MJ in Nova Scotia

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  18. Lynda Kirkness

    Thanks so much for doing all the math and science. I am not active right now. Severe sciatica, lower back pain. Malnourished. Major dehydration. This is why I am on your site…. And also with all of the sites to search we both know it is our awesome heavenly father that brought me here. Thanks so much for accepting His calling for your life.

    Lynda in BC Canada

  19. Hi Katie,
    I’m glad I found your site! I WAS drinking the fruit punch Gatorade thinking it was good for me. I really don’t like the original flavor. But with your recipe do you think pineapple juice would work instead of lemon or lime?

    1. Hi Jonah,
      Good for you to be ready to make the switch! I haven’t tried other juices, but canned pineapple juice should be just great, I would imagine – you’ll want to test out quantities most likely – it might be less concentrated of a flavor than lemon juice, so you may end up with a bit more juice and might be able to use less sweetener since you won’t be combating the sour of lemon. I bet a bit of coconut milk would be delicious to make that version very tropical! Have fun with it – just make a 1/4 or 1/2 batch to experiment until you love it. 🙂 Katie

  20. I was looking for a replacement after I was sick yesterday.
    However, it has been proven that chocolate milk is a far better post-workout drink than Gatorade.

  21. Wow, this is really well researched! I use a mix of coconut water, apple juice, local spring water, and real sea salt for my sports drink recipe! I like the idea of the baking soda for added calcium, but does it make it taste bad, I wonder?

      1. Baking soda has no calcium. It is sodium bi carbonate. Also baking soda does not survive stomach acid (HCl). It turns to Sodium Chloride (salt) and Carbon dioxide in the stomach, so using baking soda instead of salt NaCl) only reduces the amount of chloride being consumed.

  22. Is agave a good sweetener rather than honey? Is stevia healthy I guess I mean natural like honey and agave?

  23. The World Health Organization (WHO) Oral Rehydration Solution (ORS) is intended for fluid replacement in people with diarrhea and limited access to healthcare and intravenous fluids. Diarrhea-induced dehydration has a different electrolyte composition than sweat loss. Water is best for 1-2 hours of heavy sweating for individuals who are healthy enough to choose to exercise at that level. Please see attached medical info.
    http://www.acsm.org/docs/brochures/selecting-and-effectively-using-hydration-for-fitness.pdf

  24. Pingback: Fructose Malabsorption Recipes: Homemade Sports Drink |

  25. I think you might have a conversion error in the Potassium section. The second bullet point reads:

    “WHO rehydration recipe = might be up to 18.75 mg / oz. (Wiki says it uses 1.5 g/L; if we estimate a liter at 5 cups = 80 ounces, 1.5 g / 80 ounces * 1000 = 18.75 mg / oz.)”

    There are 3.79 liters per gallon, and 16 cups per gallon. So 16 cups/1 gal * 1 gal/3.79 liters = 4.22 cups per liter. Then it looks like you multiplied by 16 ounces per cup, whereas it should be 8 ounces per cup. So, 1 liter = 4.22 cups = 33.76 ounces. Thus, 1.5 g / 33.76 oz * 1000 mg/g = 44.43 mg/oz.

    Your recipe looks good, by the way! Seeing this reminded me a little of the Gookinaid that I often run into (no pun intended) at orienteering meets. My usual go-to “energy drink” involves a liter of water with a little sea salt (1/4 tsp?) and some chia seeds (2/3 – 1 tsp) mixed in. I worked a farming job this summer that involved working outside for 6-9 hours a day, and I made sure to always have this mixture in one of my three water bottles.

    Jonathan

  26. Forgive me, Katie, I’m having difficulty deciphering your recommendation on the recipe to make the frozen concentrate cube: “You can freeze the drink, then add a few cubes to a glass of the full stuff or use a frozen concentrate cube (i.e. not only about a 1/2 cup of water with the other ingredients) and mix with a cup of water as it melts.”
    Great ideas! Thank you for being the test kitchen!

    1. Andrea,
      Oops! Sorry about that – an errant “not” in there – to make a concentrate, just leave out most of the liquid, in other words: “ONLY about 1/2 cup of water with the other ingredients.” Thanks for pointing that out – going to fix it now! 🙂 Katie

  27. Katie, this is impressively researched. Well done!

    But there’s a topic left unaddressed: when are sports drinks necessary? In my experience as a runner and cyclist, almost never. Sure, if I’m running more than 10 miles/pedaling a couple hours in the heat of summer, something along those lines can be helpful. But most of the time, plain old water does just fine, sometimes with some sort of salty snack.

    I do use a homemade sports-drink equivalent on occasion. But I turn to a traditional food: switchel, also known as ginger water or haying water. It was taken out into the fields when farmers were doing heavy work in the summer heat. I don’t have a recipe handy, but it’s water with sugar/honey (I usually use sorghum syrup instead), cider vinegar, powdered ginger, and salt. Goes down smooth and refreshes.

    1. Sharon,
      Very good point – and you’re right, although I wonder how this might be different for kids. Do they have higher energy needs? I’d love to try switchel, which I had heard of before but completely forgot about, but a lot of folks were worried when I mentioned I was working on this recipe that it would include ACV. Although I don’t mind it at all, I think you’d find many who disagree with you that it “goes down smooth.” 😉 Katie

      1. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, “pediatric athletes can benefit from using sports drinks that contain carbohydrates, protein, or electrolytes; however, for the average child engaged in routine physical activity, the use of sports drinks in place of water on the sports field or in the school lunchroom is generally unnecessary.”
        https://pediatrics.aappublications.org/content/pediatrics/127/6/1182.full.pdf

        I daresay most kids don’t fit into the “prolonged, vigorous sports participation or other intense physical activity” category that would warrant needing extra electrolytes.

    1. Hi Debbie,
      We don’t currently have any retailers in the States but we do sell online and ship there almost daily. If you go to our website you’re able to order the product directly from us. Thank you for your interest and please let me know if you have any other questions.

      Best regards,
      Mark Y.
      Co-founder

  28. Oh my gosh, I absolutely love this, Katie! My kids constantly pester me about that blue, anti-freeze looking liquid in a bottle. Now, I can make my own, and yes, we will be the ones who use the stevia, instead of honey. Blessings to you~Kim

  29. This is great information, thanks! I’m curious if you can substitute pure maple syrup for the honey, since it’s got a low glycemic index.

    1. Looking forward to making this up for husband and his cycling buddies rather than the commercial mix (complete with aspartame) they’ve been buying in bulk. Timely recipe thanks!

      re: glycemic index – Maple syrup (according to current Uni Sydney GI index) has “glycemic index of 54, where honey has index of 35-64 (with pure floral honeys appearing to have lower GI). Straight fructose has GI of 19.”

      I’m guessing that maple syrup and honey probably have differing GI rates depending on where the bees/trees are making it so might be different where you are too? Adding acid (lemon/lime juice) will slow the absorption of sugars anyway so the GI will be lower overall by that.
      Maybe mix half/half maple and honey to cover your bases 🙂

    2. Lynda,
      Both honey and maple syrup will impact the taste – so it really depends on what your drinkers will enjoy and actually drink, you know? If they’re really working out hard and don’t have diabetes, GI is less of a concern (esp. compared to aspartame!). 🙂 Katie

      1. Good to know, thank you! (and thank you Kathryn too) I was under the impression maple syrup had a significantly lower GI. I’m hypoglycemic, so I guess I better get my info straight, huh? 🙂

  30. I’m planning on making ‘laborade’ for my next birth (not til February – hopefully a second homebirth!) and I’m guessing it’s a similar recipe, though I haven’t looked closely at them. I don’t know if my brother drinks Gatorade since he lives overseas, but I need to make sure he knows all this stuff since he’s into sports! He’ll appreciate the science too 🙂

  31. I didn’t do any of the math, but got my husband off nasty sports drinks a long time ago. I brew hibiscus tea (nice red color!). I then add honey and coconut sugar for a wide range of different sugars/carbohydrates and a sprinkle in some real sea salt. I don’t even measure, just kind of eyeball it. He loves it and it’s a zillion times better for him! Plus, hibiscus has some wonderful healing properties – lowering blood pressure is one of them!

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