Ditch commercial sports drinks and make your own

I am not a fan of sports drinks.

For one, they’re not a frugal choice at all. Each of these bottles cost P40-60 and after a hard soccer match, my son can guzzle down one whole bottle in a single sitting. In a festival-type tournament, he plays 4-5 matches in a single day, so I can spend P300 a day just on the sweet stuff! Now, if it’s a tournament that my teen daughter also competes in, that amount can easily double: P600 per day for sports drinks alone!! That’s nuts.

But that’s not the worst part.  The worst part is reserved for what they actually are: basically non-carbonated soda. They’re full of sugar (almost as much as actual sodas), artificial flavors and colors, high-fructose corn syrup (HFCS) or even artificial sweeteners like sucralose, and not much else outside of the electrolytes they’re touted to provide the thirsty athlete.

But don’t take my word for it. Studies have vindicated my opinion on these drinks. Check out this article, as well as this one.

What I do instead is to come up with my own electrolyte drink that’s much better for my kids and for my wallet as well. I have two recipes, which are:

Recipe 1: raw wild honey, cucumber, lemon, salt

Recipe 1
2 tablespoons of raw wild honey
A few slices of organic cucumber
A few slices of lemon
1/4 to 1/2 teaspoons of rock salt, sea salt, or Himalayan pink salt
2 liters of water
Directions: The night before game day, mix all ingredients and allow to infuse overnight. The next morning, before leaving for the game, remove solid ingredients.

Lemon, cucumber, and salt will provide the electrolytes your athlete needs. Honey has been used as an energy booster by athletes since ancient times. However, as my son will be the first to tell you, this recipe can be prone to error, with too much of this ingredient or that ingredient and the concoction ends up unpalatable. Also, organic and locally made lemons are hard to come by, and so I have no choice but to get the expensive imported ones. Therefore, I’ve simplified things a bit with the second recipe:

Recipe 2
Calamansi juice concentrate (especially one with honey used as sweetener)
A few slices of organic cucumber
1/4 to 1/2 teaspoons of rock salt, sea salt, or Himalayan pink salt
2 liters of water
Directions: The night before game day, prepare calamansi juice, but only about 3/4 of the strength of package directions. Mix in the rest of the ingredients and allow to infuse overnight. The next morning, before leaving for the game, remove the solid ingredients.

Not only are these recipes easy to do, but they’re also easy on the wallet and could be brought on the road. In fact, just putting the salt into the water (1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon of salt for a 2-liter sports jug) will already go a long way towards replenishing your athlete’s much needed electrolyte stores, especially sodium which is the one most excreted through sweat. Furthermore, what’s cool about Recipe 2 is that if you need to replenish it in a pinch, you can make another batch right there on the venue (sans cucumber, since you have no more time to infuse it).

All set and ready to go!

For whole day practices and tournaments, my son brings a sports jug (2 liters) filled with water + salt solution and a 1.2 liter thermos filled with the DIY sports drink. His main beverage is the sports jug, with occasional drinks from the thermos, such as right after a match. By the end of the long, tough, and hopefully victorious day, both are gone.  For half-day events, the sports jug usually is enough.

Making your own sports drink is not only much more frugal, but much better for the athlete drinking it. You won’t deal with the artificial colors and sugars (not to mention the high prices) that the commercial stuff brings; but instead you will enjoy a tasty, nutritious electrolyte-replacing drink and the feeling of accomplishment that you get every time you make a DIY product. Try it, and feel free to suggest other DIY sports drink recipes. I’d love to see them.

Have a blessed day, fellow frugal Filipinos!

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