Sport and electrolyte drinks, such as those made by Gatorade and Powerade, are a huge business, with sports drinks being a 6.9 billion dollar market in the US in 2012, with that number expected to grow to 9.3 billion dollars by 2017. For reference, that’s more than the GDP of Tajikistan. With numbers like that, you’d expect the product to be a complex mixture that is near impossible to reproduce at home, but it’s actually very quick and easy to make your own electrolyte solution at home with just a couple of common pantry ingredients.
Staying hydrated whilst on the bike is essential
At their core, energy drinks are made up of three things: water, sugar, and salt. Any additional vitamins or minerals added beyond this is just marketing fluff, designed to sell their drink. For example, electrolytes such as Magnesium and Potassium are often touted as essential, and they are! They both play essential roles in energy production, but unless you’re riding for longer than 90 minutes, or training for a competitive event, studies seem to suggest that you really don’t to be replacing them, as long as your normal dietary intake is adequate, so make sure you’re eating plenty of green leafy vegetables!
Making your own energy drinks is super easy, and you have the benefit of being able to customise the flavours, sugars and electrolytes to your liking.
To make a basic energy drink, all you need is:
- 1L warm water
- 1.2g salt (¼ tsp)
- 80g sugar
As easy as making a cup of coffee!
Simply combine these together and stir until dissolved, and there you have it, an energy drink which will be just as effective as store bought energy drinks. However, if you don’t want your energy drinks to taste terrible, try this variation:
- 900mL warm water
- 100mL cordial (or use the dilution ratio your cordial brand recommends)
- A pinch of salt
- 14g sugar
The decreased amounts of sugar and salt compensate for the amounts that are already in the cordial, so this second recipe gives the same electrolytes and carbs as the first recipe, with the added bonus of a flavour you actually enjoy. You may not be able to replicate the exact flavours of your favourite pre-made drinks, but using cordial will give you a great range of flavours to try.
You only need energy drinks if you’re on the bike for more than two hours, and both of these recipes can be made within a few minutes. You might still prefer the flavours or powder form of some of the store bought options, but this is an easy, cheap way to make your own sports drink, which means more money to spend on your bike!