Save Money With These 10 Homemade, Healthy Energy and Sports Drinks


As a runner, a lot of my spare time is spent logging miles and cooking healthy foods to fuel my activity. Beyond food, though, there's this whole world of beverages — and they can be quite expensive. But while basic water is important for hydration, the benefits of sports drinks shouldn't be overlooked with regard to energy, electrolyte balance, and vitamin content. (See also: Surprisingly Good and Bad Juices)

The good news: Energy drinks of many varieties can be mixed together in your kitchen using all natural ingredients. And, better yet, it's just as easy and money-saving as making homemade energy bars.

Here are some ideas to get you started.

1. Gatorade

There are many homemade Gatorade recipes on the web, but I like this mix for its simplicity. It enhances performance and energy with a mix of natural sugars (from 100% juice and honey) and also works on electrolyte balance with the addition of unrefined sea salt.

2. Vitamin Water

Why buy processed "vitamin water" when you can make your own at home? This vitamin B-boosting water uses rosemary (B1), lemon (B2), peach (B3), watermelon or pineapple (B6), and raspberries (B5) for its healthy flavor. Slice ingredients and place in a glass to infuse — and you only need to change the fruit every five days or so! (See also: Cheap Ways to Flavor Your Food)

3. Red Bull

Standard bottled Red Bull may give you energy, but it contains tons of sugar. So, if you need an intense energy burst, try this DIY alternative. Of course, that process is far too labor intensive and requires many exotic ingredients not found in the standard pantry. My suggestion? If you're finding you require an intense jolt every day, you might better look at the source of your exhaustion. Try drinking some cold water with lemon and then these 8 Energy-Boosting Techniques that don't include caffeine. Your wallet and waistline will thank you.

4. Chia Fresca

I first read of the benefits of chia seeds in the book "Born to Run" by Christopher McDougall. Chia Fresca is a great drink to have pre-workout, as the seeds will help hold hydration in the body and, therefore, aid with endurance. Just be forewarned that its gelatinous texture takes some getting used to.

5. Apple Cider Vinegar Drink

I've been drinking apple cider vinegar (ACV) for years — and with all its touted health benefits, I'll likely continue. My own energy drink recipe requires just 1 tablespoon ACV, 16-24 ounces cold water (depending how how diluted I want it), and 1 tablespoon maple syrup. Pour in a bottle, mix, and drink. Note: Be sure to buy raw apple cider vinegar for all the tasty vitamins and minerals.

6. Coconut Water

Although coconut water on its own is likely not any less expensive than that bottle of more processed energy drink, at least it's natural. I like to make mine last longer by first diluting it by half and then by adding a couple teaspoons of maple syrup or honey and a sprinkle of unrefined sea salt, just like in many of the recipes above. Note that coconut water is best used for hydration, not necessarily energy. It is also a good source of potassium, which might help with muscle cramping.

7. Coffee

Surprisingly enough, a simple, small cup of coffee might actually improve performance better than brightly colored energy drinks. However, the magic is in the timing and delivery of the caffeine — about an hour before your run. (See also: 5 Best Coffeemakers)

8. Herbal Tea Cooler

If you're not into coffee, you might consider this vibrant beverage, which boasts 135 mg caffeine plus good-for-you antioxidants. The "secret" is in the double bags of green tea and exotic Yerba mate, which can be found in most grocery stores in the natural foods section — and it's low in calories and sugar. (See also: Great Online Tea Merchants)

9. Eating Alternative

You can also get an effect similar to drinking Gatorade by consuming water, banana, and raisins during activity. Combined, this mix has just the right balance of water, natural sugars, and potassium to keep your body going long distances. (And it's cheap, too!)

10. Muscle Milk

Though not an energy drink, recovery aids are just as important to nourishing the body after activity. One of the best after-workout drinks is simple low-fat chocolate milk (and other foods with a similar ratio of carbs to protein). If you'd like to get fancier, try this homemade version of the popular favorite, Muscle Milk. It's sugar free, low carb, high fiber, high protein, and vegan.

What's your favorite homemade sports or energy drink? Please share a sip in comments!

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