Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Home brew: sports drinks

Home brew: sports drinks

I recently completed an epic journey by bicycle called the climate ride; it was a 300 mile voyage that went from New York to DC to raise awareness about the environment, climate change and to advocate bicycles. Basically the coolest thing I have done to date, hands down.

Naturally, to prep for such a trek, I did a bit of training. When you're exercising for long periods of time (anything over an hour), it may be wise to consider a sports drink to replace simple sugars and electrolytes. If you're exercising for under an hour, plain water is sufficient for most occasions. If you're slurping gatorade during your 20 minutes of cardio, it is unlikely you created a calorie deficit (ie you're drinking what you burn).

Initially, I was purchasing sports drinks, but to be honest, I didn't really like the flavor all that much and I really didn't like the idea of buying all of those plastic bottles that were shipped from who-know-where (even though I was careful to recycle them).

What is a green dietitian to do? Make her own!

What is a sports drink? Mainly water, but it also includes simple sugars to help fuel your muscles as well as electrolytes to help your body absorb the water and to maintain muscle function. Some sports drinks contain caffeine, some don't.

Homemade Sports Drink
  • 1-2 cold brew tea bags (available in decaf, if preferred)
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1 dash potassium-based salt alternative*
  • 3 tablespoons sugar (or less; 3 tablespoons is the same level as gatorade)
  • lemon juice to taste
  1.  Fill your water bottle almost full with water and add your tea bags and allow to "brew" for a few minutes until desired strength is reached
  2. Add sugar, salt, potassium and lemon juice and shake well. Add ice to fill water bottle, or more water. Enjoy!
You probably know bananas are a rich source of potassium (422 mg per medium banana), but here are a few more. For reference, adults need 4700 mg potassium/day.

Description of Food Item
Portion Size
mg of Potassium
Tomato products, canned, paste, without salt added
1 cup
Beans, white, mature seeds, canned
1 cup
Dates, deglet nor
1 cup
Tomato products, canned, puree, without salt added
1 cup
Raisins, seedless
1 cup
Potato, baked, flesh and skin, without salt
1 potato
Snacks, trail mix, tropical
1 cup
Soybeans, green, cooked, boiled, drained, without salt
1 cup
Squash, winter, all varieties, cooked, baked, without salt
1 cup
Plantains, raw
1 medium
Spinach, cooked, boiled, drained, without salt
1 cup
Sweet potato, canned, vacuum pack
1 cup
Beans, baked, canned, with pork and tomato sauce
1 cup
Buckwheat flour, whole-groat
1 cup

This information comes from USDA National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference, Release 24

*Potassium based salt alternatives aren't for everyone; if you don't have adequate kidney function, take certain medications or have any other health conditions, please speak with your doctor or make an appointment with a registered dietitian before using this (or any) sports drink

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