Re-hydrate with Electrolytes: Healthy Alternatives to Sports Drinks

Make sure to rehydrate your body after workouts to prevent dehydration!

It's super important to stay hydrated all year long, but particularly in the warmer months!

Running and other workouts can leave you dehydrated, and while it may seem logical to have a sports drink to re-hydrate, many of them (if not all of them) are filled with artificial ingredients, and tons of sugar. While they do provide important electrolytes, they still are not the best choice when it comes to hydration, especially after racing, or training. There are better options, but before we talk about those let’s first understand what it takes to stay hydrated in the first place.

What to Drink and When
Start your day, every day with at least 2, 8 oz glasses of water. It’s best to have one soon after you wake up and you want to continue to drink during the day, and not just at meals. If you are thirsty, you’re already dehydrated so be sure you have a cool water bottle you don’t mind having around and sip from it throughout the day. Just remember that it is possible to over hydrate and drink too much water, this condition is called a hyponatraemic state and it can be fatal. As a general rule, consume about 8, 8 oz glasses of water every day.

Electrolyte Basics
What is an electrolyte anyway? It’s what motivates us to purchase and consume sports drinks filled with artificial colors, sugars and unnecessary calories but why exactly do we need them? Electrolytes are substances that contain free ions making them electrically conductive, and physiologically the primary ions of electrolytes include sodium, potassium, calcium, magnesium, chloride, hydrogen phosphate, and hydrogen carbonate. These gradients are important to a variety of body processes including hydration, blood pH, and are critical to proper nerve and muscle function. Without the proper balance of these electrolytes muscle weakness, and/or sever muscle contractions can occur along with other medical emergencies.(1)

Post-Workout Hydration and Replacing Lost Electrolytes
Electrolyte drinks which contain sodium, potassium and other key nutrients help replenish your body’s lost water, and electrolyte levels after intense exercise. When your body is dehydrated you can experience a variety of health problems. But if you don’t want to consume sports drinks what else is there?

Watch this short video for the low-down on Sports Drinks:

Regular sports drinks contain: Water, sucrose syrup, glucose-fructose syrup, citric acid, natural grape flavor with other natural flavors, salt, sodium citrate, monopotassium phosphate, red 40, Blue 1. This is taken straight from the Grape flavored Gatorade bottle. Are you up for some re-hydrating alternatives? Check these out!

Natural Hydration Tabs- The leader in portable hydration, these tabs are an ideal, and convenient way to help keep you hydrated. Learn more about nuun electrolyte enhanced drink tabs at their website here.

Coconut Water Pure coconut water made with natural fruit purees, and it naturally contains five essential electrolytes, plus more potassium than a banana! With no added sugar and no fat, it’s the most natural way to rehydrate and replenish lost nutrients.

Emergen-C- Make water into a sports drink instantly to replenish, and rehydrate. The regular Emergen-C contains electrolytes, but they also make an Electro Mix formula that has zero calories, is naturally flavored, and sweetened with Stevia. Get your Free Sample HERE. 

Fruit Juices- Try orange juice, lemon juice, and apple juice.

Sports Drink Recipe

4 cups water
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/4 cup raw honey
1/4 cup freshly squeezed of lemon juice
1/2 cup dark cherry juice (no added sugar)
1/2 cup orange juice (freshly squeezed if available)

Directions: Pour 1/2 cup of the distilled water in a saucepan and heat to boiling, remove from heat, add honey and salt and stir until dissolved. Add the remaining ingredients to a 1/2 gallon pitcher, pour in water with honey and salt, stir and refrigerate. Drink before, during and after long runs of 3 or more miles.

For more drink recipes click on these DIY recipes for all natural drinks that contain hydrating electrolytes, Orange Sports Drink and Coconut Water.

References: Electrolyte

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  1. this Sports Drink Recipe looks easy to make and very promising. I'll make sure I try it next time i go for a run. My questions is, do I have to drink it fast after i run or can i take it with mew. If it stays in the open for a while does it change structure or lose some of its values?

  2. You failed to mention that electrolytes is basically table salt and the majority of Americans get plenty in their diet. Why continue to promote Gatorade's media hype about their importance? The independent research that is out there does not support the inclusion of anything other than water unless working out for more than 2 hours.

    1. And you fail to understand that electrolytes are not only sodium chloride (table salt), they are also potassium, magnesium, bicarbonate, phosphate, and sulfate. Getting electrolytes used to be easy because these minerals could be found in water, but now water has to be purified, and electrolytes must be found elsewhere. It is not healthy to only get two out of ten electrolytes from table salt in your diet. Gatorade is not a healthy alternative, but other electrolyte drinks may be applicable.

    2. This article did not promote Gatorade at all. Simply mentioning it and showing it’s ingredients is not promoting it or pushing it on anyone. There is plenty of info out there that suggests alot or too much water can be a bad thing. Too much water and you dilute and water down the electrolytes already in your body. Nobody anywhere is recommending just water for babies or children and so there must be a good reason for that.

  3. Glad to have found this. I haven't had sugar or high fructose corn syrup in 4 months and I don't want to go back on it. The Drs say I HAVE TO drink Gatorade or Powerade for my colonoscopy. Besides it being BAD for you, Sugar is highly addictive and I don't want even a little taste of it to hit my tongue and possibly create a desire in me to eat that crap again. lol My friends think I'm going a little too far with my opinion and that ONE DAY on Gatorade isn't gonna kill me. lol. In the long haul…… it could. I've lost 45 lbs. I'd like to KEEP it off.

  4. how much coconut water do I have to drink a day? I was drinking smart water all day and I felt a lot better but it is way to expensive so I am looking into other options

    1. Angle, Coconut water is especially good when you're doing high intensity workouts and running for extended periods of time. It's so much better than those
      sugary drinks. Coconut water can be expensive if you're drinking more than a few glasses per day.

      1. But how much a day? You failed to mention thst fact. Unless it was previously stated than my apologies I only skimmed throught this article

        1. That really depends on how active you are. I would recommend drinking primarily water and having in addition 1 (8 ounce) glass of water with electrolytes. I prefer coconut water without added sugar.

    1. Sylvia, That’s a question for your doctor. Please consult with your doctor if you’ve lost too much weight.

  5. Melissa before I drank Gatorade when I would play basketball in hot and humid temperatures I would drink and drink and drink water and still feel thirsty I could ring out my shirt from the sweat It’s the electrolytes that rehydrate. Gatorade does have sugar in it but the body does digest it better while working out. Unfortunately I’ve seen parents give it to kids to drink with there meals . It would be nice if there was a simple natural electrolyte drink on the market

  6. When I go to work, I break out in a sweat within the first half hour. I also walk an average of a mile for each hour I’m there. Three times a week for months now I’ve done some serious “resistance training” by pulling 1 ton of product a mile within the store. Someone got me started on Powerade, and I’ve just realized how much sugar is in it…per serving. Resent blood work says my sugar is too high. So, Thank you for the recipe, and recommending coconut water. I will give them both a try!

  7. Fruit juices contain Sorbitol which can be bad for your stomach causing diarrhea… I need an alternative to the normal artificial sweeteners

    1. Coconut water is my #1 choice to re-hydrate after a run or workout. Look for brands without added sweeteners. Coconut water is naturally sweet and has loads of potassium. 🙂

  8. I need extra hydration every day. I drink Core water but it doesn’t help like Gatorade does but it is ruining my teeth with the citric acid and sugars. I am Allergic to Coconut ?. What am I to do? Thanks

    1. There are many unflavored waters on the market with added electrolytes. One of my favorite waters is Essentia.

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