The ubiquitous “sports drink” phenomenon is baffling to me. I’m not sure at what point it became a requirement for anyone who sweats to drink a neon-colored electrolyte replacement. Look at any youth soccer/basketball/softball game. Parents are hauling in cases of Gatorade instead of water. Say what??? Let’s take a time out here.
Here is a fact about exercise and hydration: most of the time that most of us exercise, we are not exerting ourselves to the point of needing electrolyte replacement. Everyone is different, of course, and longer workouts where you are really pushing yourself are great candidates for electrolytes. Typically, though, the majority of us do not sweat so much in a 30 minute weight room session (or even a 60 minute Zumba class) that we need electrolytes, especially when they are combined with chemicals, neon colored dye and sugar. No matter what the commercials say.
Healthy hydration actually starts BEFORE you exercise, and it can make a big difference. If you have a big work out coming up or if you know, for example, you will be skiing all day, drink plenty of water in the day or so before and you will see the benefits. I’ve had to learn this the hard way–trust me, your body will thank you for starting out hydrated!
If you are exerting yourself to the maximum and water just won’t cut it, do your body a huge favor and stay away from most electrolyte “sports drinks.” Most of them are full of junk like high fructose corn syrup, sugar, and chemical dyes. If your body is starving for hydration, why would you feed it that? Here are two tips for you that I have discovered while training for our half marathon:
- Water is always good for you. Always.
- Making your own sports drink is easy, cheap and healthy.
Typically, we drink water on our runs under 10 miles. Anything over 10 miles and I bring one little water bottle and one little bottle of this awesome electrolyte replacement. It tastes better than packaged sports drinks, is very refreshing and uses all natural ingredients. It isn’t fancy, it isn’t brightly colored and it isn’t endorsed by athlete celebrities. But it is very good.
If you eliminate the salt and honey, this recipe would make a great flavored water drink for a hot day, for a post soccer game drink or a day when you are just sick of drinking water, but don’t need the extra sodium.
So stay hydrated–even in cold weather–and enjoy those winter workouts! But steer clear of the junk–treat your body like the wonderful machine it is!
Electrolyte Replacement Drink (makes 2 servings)
- 2 cups filtered water
- 2 large oranges (1/2 cup of juice)
- 2 lemons (1/4 cup juice)
- 2 tablespoons raw honey
- 1/2 teaspoon pink Himalayan or natural sea salt (not table salt)
- Put water, juice from the oranges and lemons, honey and salt in a blender.
- Blend for 30 seconds.
- Chill and drink as needed.
NOTE: You can replace the orange with another citrus fruit or even tart cherry juice.