Gatorade, PowerAde, electrolyte pumped-up sports drinks…they’re good for you, right? You see athletes chugging down bottles of the neon-colored liquid in every ad and real life, surely they do something, and they do. They help you maintain your body’s balance of electrolytes during or after periods of heavier exercise. But when you look closer, you’re really just paying an outrageous price for glorified, brightly colored, sugar water. An overload of processed and refined sweetener (in the case of sports drinks, high-fructose corn syrup) is never a good thing. And while artificial flavors and colors don’t technically do much to your health, a part of me just shies away from the idea of ingesting things that are “fake.”
We’ve been led to believe by certain companies that we need an extra-special drink to recover from some sweat. First of all, there is a huge difference between athletes that work out hardcore for hours, and those dedicated to fifteen minute morning workout routines. Secondly, our bodies are smart, staying well hydrated and eating healthy is usually enough to maintain a balance of electrolytes. For those times that you do have a heavier workout though, make your own sports drink. It’s easy, quick, and naturally refreshing.
Why the ingredients: There isn’t much need to delve into why each ingredient is included. They all fall under the blanket statement of being a good source of electrolytes, tasty, or both.
You will need…
-1/4 cup of freshly squeezed lime juice -1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice -1 ½ to 2 cups fresh water, depending on how strong you want the flavor -1/8 teaspoon of sea salt -2 tablespoons natural sugar or honey, to taste
Toss everything into a food blender and blend until the honey is dissolved, or just use some elbow grease and blend it by hand. Pour yourself a tall glass, drop in a few ice cubes, and enjoy.
Bright ‘n Early Recipe
You will need…
-1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice -1/2 cup freshly squeezed orange juice -1 ½ to 2 cups of fresh water -1/8 teaspoon of sea salt -2 tablespoons natural sugar or honey, to taste
Same as above. You can halve or double the recipe as you need, and feel free to experiment with flavors. Keep in mind citrus fruits, especially orange, are a good source of electrolytes.
Sweet and Smooth-ie recipe
You will need…
-3 cups of coconut water -1 cup of strawberries -1 cup of fresh water -1 cup of ice -1/8 teaspoon of sea salt -2 tablespoons natural sugar or honey, to taste
Throw into you blender and let it run until everything is thoroughly mixed together and the mixture is smooth.
What are electrolytes, and why do we need them?
Here we are making a big fuss over electrolytes, but what are they really? And why do they matter? I could write a dense (at least) six page article on electrolytes, but I’ll spare you (unless you want togo to sleep, then I can send you a copy.) There are tons of electrolytes out there, but in our bodies they are basically calcium, sodium, potassium, magnesium chloride, hydrogen phosphate (a mineral) and hydrogen carbonate (a salt.) These electrolytes are vital for survival-not only could we not function if we didn’t have them, if we dilute them too much, it can lead to death by “water poisoning.” They regulate our nerve and muscle function, our hydration, the pH of our blood, rebuilding damaged tissue, and determining blood pressure. One example of their job would be in order for a muscle to contract-from your heart to the tiniest toe muscle- it needs the electrolytes calcium, sodium, and potassium. Too little and muscles become weak, too much and they over contract.
You’ll notice that these electrolytes can easily be provided by eating a balanced diet but humans will push their bodies, and during strenuous exercise you sweat, and when you sweat you’re losing electrolytes. There are also times that diet won’t suffice; many pregnant women find they need extra means of getting electrolytes, or when you’re ill. Regardless of why you’re drinking one though, try making your own first. It may not come with a fancy marketing scheme, but your body will thank you.
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