Wednesday, April 27, 2011
Homemade Electrolyte Drink: Low-cost & Sugar-free
After a couple of years of experimenting, I've come up with a thirst-quenching recipe for a low-cost, sugar-free electrolyte drink. I no longer need to buy sugary, unnatural Gatorade mix that comes in plastic containers or expensive Ultima Replenisher, which is also sold in plastic tubs. My drink costs less than 5 cents a serving (Gatorade costs 15 cents/serving and Ultima costs 33 cents/serving) and its ingredients come in minimal packaging, so there is minimal waste.
One 8oz serving of my drink has about 307 mg Potassium, 111 mg Sodium, and 342 mg Stevia. (One 8oz serving of Gatorade has 25 mg Potassium and 90 mg Sodium, while an 8oz serving of Ultima has 75 mg Potassium and 25 mg Sodium.)
The drink is made in two steps. First, make a Powder Mix by combining Potassium Chloride (KCl), "Real" Sea Salt (NaCl), and Stevia Leaf Powder. Potassium Chloride is commonly used as a sodium-free salt replacement and can be purchased at your local health food store. "Real" brand Sea Salt is a red-tinted sea salt that provides the electrolyte sodium as well as a plethora of trace minerals. Stevia leaves are used as a natural sugar substitute and are "30 to 300 times sweeter than sugar."
To make 19 servings of Electrolyte Powder Mix, you will need:
2 Teaspoons Potassium Chloride
1 Teaspoon "Real" Sea Salt
6 1/2 Teaspoons Stevia
Store this mixture in an air-tight container. When you're ready to make an an 8 oz electrolyte drink, combine:
8 oz water
1/2 Teaspoon Powder Mix
Splash of lemon or lime juice
Shake these ingredients together in a water bottle and it's ready to drink! The lemon or lime juice is added for flavoring and the amount can vary to your liking. The citrus is important for balancing out the soapy taste of the Powder Mix. In addition, the lemon and lime add some Vitamin C and citric acid. Be careful not to add to much lemon juice because it may cause acid reflux during exercise (I know this from experience- yuck).
For those of you unfamiliar with the components of most electrolyte drinks, potassium and sodium are elements that function as electrolytes in the body. Electrolytes are needed in both active and inactive people and are necessary to maintain fluid balance inside and outside of the body's cells. It is especially important that athletes consume an electrolyte replacement drink because electrolytes are lost during exercise. Most electrolyte drinks like Gatorade have sugar added for both taste and calories. My drink, however, contains stevia, which has few calories and is added strictly for a sweetness effect. Some athletes argue that it is important to have simple carbohydrates during exercise and I agree with this to an extent, but I made this recipe knowing that I would also be drinking it before and after exercise. I often like to hydrate and replenish my electrolytes before bed, but not a get a sugar rush. Also, Gatorade is a high-calorie drink and should only be consumed by athletes that need the extra calories. Many inactive folks drink Gatorade for it's electrolytes and for it's thirst-quenching effect, but the sugar is unnecessary and can lead to obesity.
This recipe is a great solution for those who are sick of paying top-dollar for an electrolyte drink and for those who choose not to consume artificial flavorings, dyes, and processed sugars. Also, this electrolyte drink actually works! Both Mark and I have fewer muscle cramps and dehydration headaches when drinking this homemade electrolyte drink during and after exercise. If you try this recipe or have a similar recipe of your own, I'd really appreciate your feedback.