Quick and easy DIY electrolyte drinks

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!

Categories: Nutrition

2 replies »

  1. Hi Tim, Could you please expand on this line please.” For example, electrolytes such as Magnesium and Potassium are often touted as essential, but these aren’t actually lost through sweat, and therefore don’t need to be replaced in your fluids.”

    While they may not be lost trough sweat, they are consumed, are they not, especially on a long ride, where cramps often kick in. So in that light, wouldn’t a drink that contains Magnesium/ Potassium be more beneficial that one that does not? Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for a banana before, on and after the ride, but sometimes that’s just not achievable. Being a bit older now, I do notice the tendency to cramp and so far have sought out electolyte drinks that had mag/pot to aid. Am I wasting my pensioner dollar?


    • Hi Jonathan! Sorry for any confusion my lack of clarification may have caused!
      You’re completely right! Magnesium plays an essential role in energy production, if you’re interested, it’s required for ATP synthesis. However, a number of studies have come out recently which cast doubt on the usefulness of electrolyte, especially micronutrients, replacement for activities less than 90 minutes, basically because your bodies normal stores are enough to compensate! In general, if you’re looking to increase your magnesium, I would just up your intake of green leafy vegetables, especially if you’re looking to save money! However, if you feel you are cramping more than normal, definitely see your GP and dietician, so you can get a personalised solution!
      Stay safe out there!


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