Make These All-Natural Sports Drinks, Win the Super Bowl, Be An Olympian

May  2, 2017

In many parts of the world, it's about to be hot (or hotter)—and that means every activity will feel like a sporting event.

Forget stadiums and sprints. The walk from your car to your office building (or from the subway stop to the nearest bodega) will make you break into a sweat, and schlepping around with groceries will make you feel like a professional weightlifter.

A photo of me after my last workout:

Before you fuel a drive, fuel your body.

A post shared by Gatorade (@gatorade) on

It's times like these that I fantasize about throwing back my head and pouring icy-cold Gatorade into my mouth from a half-foot above, letting electric blue rivers stream out the sides of my face (because I am an athletic animal in this fantasy). From that first sip of Fruit Punch after a high school 5K, to gulps of lukewarm Lemon Lime on Saturday mornings in college*, the muted sweetness of Gatorade has always been a sign that help is on its way—that I'm replenishing my body with what's been stolen from it.

*If I'm being honest with you, I was hungover maybe one time in college. But for the sake of this article, let's pretend.

But even though I'd gladly replace 100% of my water intake with Gatorade, or Powerade, or Vitamin Water, I know I must not (imagine the pile-up of expensive plastic bottles). Luckily, it's easy to recreate the benefits of Gatorade with ingredients you already have at home (essentially, you'll dilute fruit juice and mix in salt).

From left to right: maple sports drink, homemade sports drink, and "Greaterade." Photo by Bobbi Lin

In The Sports Nutrition Guidebook, Nancy Clark, registered dietician and Team Nutritionist for the Boston Red Sox (her other clients include Olympic athletes), shares her formula for DIY drinks that offer the same nutritional make-up as commercial bottles. (If we're getting technical, it's 50 to 70 calories and 110 milligrams of sodium per 8 ounces/240 milliliters of liquid—or 1/4 teaspoon salt per quart of liquid.)

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Keep these guidelines in mind as you create the drink that tastes best to you. And if you are a real-life athlete, Clark advises you test out your formula during a casual workout before relying on it for race day.

Homemade Sports Drink

The sweetest recipe of the group, this drink tastes most like a commercial sports drink. Feel free to experiment with the juice of your preference.

  • 1/4 cup (50 grams) sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 cup (60 milliliters) hot water
  • 1/4 cup (60 milliliters) fruit juice (like orange, cranberry, or pomegranate)
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 3 1/2 cups (840 milliliters) cold water

Dissolve the sugar and salt in the hot water. Add the juice and remaining water. Chill.

Maple Sports Drink

Clark recommends this drink for those who have trouble stomaching acidic drinks during or after a workout. Of the three recipes featured here, it's the most subtle of the bunch.

  • 3 3/4 cups (900 milliliters) cold water
  • 1/4 cup (60 milliliters) cold maple syrup
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt

Mix all ingredients together and shake well.

Ahhhhhhhhhh. (The sound of refreshment, not the sound of screaming.) Photo by Bobbi Lin


In 2016, the Golden State Warriors replaced Gatorade with "bottles of water sprinkled with Himalayan rock salt". Chef John of the blog Food Wishes was inspired to create his own homemade version, which he dubbed "Greaterade."

  • 8 cups fresh cold water, divided
  • 3 tablespoons honey, maple syrup, or agave syrup
  • 1/2 teaspoon fine Himalayan pink salt or sea salt
  • 1 pinch cayenne (optional)
  • 3/4 cup freshly squeezed orange juice
  • 2 lemons, juiced
  • 2 limes, juiced

Pour 1 cup of water into a large pot and add honey, salt, and cayenne, if using. Place the pot over low heat and whisk until ingredients have dissolved. Remove from heat, let cool, and add the juices. Pour in the remaining 7 cups of water and chill.

refreshment awaits

What do you drink to quench your thirst, whether you're working out or walking around the farmers market? Tell us in the comments below.

See what other Food52 readers are saying.

  • HalfPint
  • ninastrauss
  • Dan
  • Fatimah Steele
    Fatimah Steele
  • Amanda Sims
    Amanda Sims
I used to work at Food52. I'm probably the person who picked all of the cookie dough out of the cookie dough ice cream.


HalfPint May 2, 2017
I've always made a very simple 'sports' drink using fruit juice. Just add 1/4 tsp of sea salt to 1 liter/quart of 1:1 juice/water. No extra sugar needed since there's plenty in the juice. No fancy salt either. Only sea salt. If you have to limit your sodium, use Morton Lite. You can go all water and use a packet of unsweetened Kool-Aid and add some honey to sweeten.
ninastrauss May 2, 2017
Faux Gatorade
1/4 c. sugar, 1/4 t. salt, 1/4 c. OJ , 1/4 c. hot water, 2 T lemon juice,
3 1/2 c. cold water. in quart pitcher, dissolve sugar + salt in hot water. add remaining ingredients and the cold water.
i have been making this for years and looks like the same recipe as "homemade sports drink" but just some additional information is that it has 50 calories and 110 mg sodium for 8 oz.
Dan May 2, 2017
Great recipes. I've actually been making sports drinks at home lately. I sweat heavily when working out, and I do 60-100 mile bike rides regularly in the mid-Atlantic heat, so the electrolytes are key for me. I usually skip the salt in the sports drinks because I have salty snacks during rides, but I do add to my drinks a fair amount of potassium gluconate (a supplement powder available online) or potassium chloride ("No-Salt", a salt substitute). Potassium supplementation can cause an upset stomach in some people, though I haven't had any issues. I'm not adding huge amounts.
Fatimah S. May 2, 2017
this is awesome!
Amanda S. May 2, 2017