A few winters ago, I found out the hard way how important it is to recover the electrolytes lost after a workout. I started to feel dizzy every day until one day I almost couldn’t stand up. That wouldn’t have been that scary by itself. If it wasn’t that I had a brain aneurysm in my 30s. Now, anytime I have headaches or some sort of dizziness, everyone around me freaks out.
It took me a whole day at the emergency room, a head CAT Scan, a consultation with the head of the Neurology Department at Yale Hospital, and another with my family doctor, to figure out that what was causing the dizziness was something which I should have known better.
I had just moved from Chicago, where you can’t exercise outdoors during the freezing winter, to Connecticut, where for me, winter felt very mild, so I changed my gym routine to an outdoor workout year round.
You probably know that when you sweat during exercise, not only do you lose water but also electrolytes. Don’t get me wrong. I’d always known that… but I made the assumption that during my new winter workout while running outside under cold conditions, I wouldn’t be losing that much water or electrolytes, so I didn’t take any of my usual sports drinks. After a few days running on the cold weather, I started feeling dizzy.
After figuring out that what was causing the dizziness was the low levels of electrolytes, I started to take my sports drink every time after exercising, no matter how warm or cold it was. And I immediately began feeling better again.
Do You Really Need a Sport Drink?
Now, let me explore the “sports drinks” topic a bit more with you.
Depending on how much you exercise and your diet, you may need to just replace the water lost, or you may need to replace some of the electrolytes too. You may even need to replace your blood glucose levels unless you’re trying to lose weight.
If you are trying to lose weight, it is best that you don’t add any source of energy in the form of simple sugars, like honey, fruit juices or simply sugar, unless your glucose levels get really low. You can learn why you should stay away from simple sugars after your workout here .
After my own experience, I always recommend replacing electrolytes after a workout. These are specific minerals in your body such as sodium, potassium, calcium and magnesium, and they have that name because they carry an electrical charge.
They help your muscles contract and move fluids around your body, to generate the energy required during the workout.
Energy is impossible without these electrolytes. They are excreted from your body through sweat but replenished once again with food. You don’t get electrolytes just by drinking water but you do from the right sports drink.
Does Any Sport Drink Work?
The problem is that a lot of the commercial sports drinks have other ingredients in them which aren’t as good for your body, like artificial flavors, colors, and sweeteners and often too much sugar.
I am a fan of Arbonne’s Fizz Sticks, which contain all I need and much more, including antioxidants and my beloved vitamins B6 and B12. Plus, they are all natural. They come in different flavors and are very convenient as they come in sticks, as the name indicates. This makes it very easy to bring them with you anywhere. They also contain green tea, which helps when your energy levels are low. I always have them in my purse, my kids have them in their ballet and sports bags, and I take them with me whenever I travel, not only so that I have them when I exercise but also when I feel my energy running low. You can learn more about the fizz sticks here.
Now, when I run out of fizz sticks or I forget them, I have 2 great recipes that have become my favorites for homemade sports drinks, which I think you’ll find useful.
My 2 Favorite Sports Drinks Recipes
1. Coconut Water Electrolyte Drink
Coconut water is particularly good after exercising due to its high potassium count. In fact, it has about ten times as much potassium as a similarly sized sports drink. Potassium is great for helping your muscles recover after your workout.
Coconut water also contains sodium, which is the electrolyte that is most excreted while you sweat. However, its potency as an electrolyte can cause your blood pressure to increase, so you need to take that fact into consideration.
Potassium helps to regulate the fluid and electrolyte balance in your body, which can counter the negative effects of the sodium.
- 1 quart of coconut water.
- ¼ tsp of salt.
- 1 tsp of calcium magnesium powder.
It’s really that simple as far as the ingredients go. If you want to enhance the flavor a little bit you could add some sweetener like stevia or fruit juice.
If you’re going for juice though make sure that it’s %100 juice fruit to avoid extra added sugar other than the one in the fruit or any other unwanted additives.
The first thing you need to do is warm up the coconut water. Don’t go crazy with this, it only needs to be slightly warm.
Add the salt and the magnesium powder into the mix and then give it a good mixing until it’s well and truly blended.
Then you can add the sweetener or juice if you’re using that and then shake it into the mixture as well.
Let it cool down for about 30 minutes and then store it in the refrigerator. You can keep it for up to four days.
If you are not used to coconut products, they have many health benefits which you can find out a bit more about that here, and so it’s a good idea to try to incorporate them into your diet in different ways.
2. All Natural Sports Drink
Lemon is great to use to amp up the flavor of your sports drink while also providing you with beneficial electrolytes.
Being a citrus fruit, is very high in citric acid and the primary electrolytes you’ll find here are the aforementioned potassium, and also magnesium and calcium, which help your muscles and your bones re-strengthen after your workout.
I like to add green tea because it contains catechins, which on top of being a powerful antioxidant, also helps reduce muscle damage caused by exercise.
If you can’t stay away from the sweet taste or you need to return your blood glucose levels to their normal state, you can also add some honey to your sports drink.
- 32oz of green tea.
- ¼ tsp of salt.
- 1 cup of water.
- 2 tbsp of lemon juice.
- 2 tbsp of honey.
Really, really, simple one to make here. As you can see there are very few ingredients and this won’t take long at all.
Very straightforward method. Heat up the cup of water and then add in the salt and the honey and allow them to dissolve.
Pour in the lemon juice, give it a bit of a stir and then you should be good to go with this tasty sports drink.
You can store this one in the fridge for up to two weeks, but because it’s easy to make, you can just mix up a fresh batch before every workout.
Depending on your own personal taste, you can do a little bit of experimentation here with ingredients and flavoring.
The main goal is to make sure that you are getting as many benefits out of these home-made drinks as you would out of the commercial brand sports drinks without all of that extra, nasty stuff of course.
Here’s to a healthy workout!
Over to You!
What's Your Favorite Sports Drink?
I'd love to hear other options!