All Natural Sports Drinks

All Natural Sports DrinkThat neon bottle of chemicals may not be the best thing to rehydrate with after all.

Did you know that the first batch of a popular brand of sports drinks was nothing more than water, salt, sugar and lemon juice?  So how did that simple combination of naturally occurring ingredients turn into a bright neon bottle you see lining store shelves?  Marketing.

The simple idea to provide the body with enhanced water has become big business.  In 2012, the sports drink segment saw $5.6 billion in sales.  The growth of the industry has led to many changes to the product since that first batch back in 1965.  The recipes have changed to increase production sizes, ease transportation, and of course better flavors and colors to draw you back for more.

There actually is some scientific studies that show why sports drinks can be good for you.

Better Than Water?

Sustained Energy

Sports drinks typically contain between 4% to 8% carbohydrates because they are an easily absorbed source of energy.  The carbs provide the body with additional energy to perform longer than just drinking water alone.

Replace Electrolytes

Electrolytes are essential salts that our bodies need to function at a cellular level.  Salts are comprised of sodium and potassium, which help regulate the balance of water in the cells, blood pressure, muscle control, and nerve functions.  These are burnt off during physical activity and must be replaced through food or drink.


For some reason, when the body is dehydrated we don’t always seek out water.  By having an enjoyable taste, sports drinks increase the likelihood you will choose them when you are thirsty. .

What’s the Problem?


Sucrose (table sugar) and dextrose are often high on the ingredients list of sports drinks indicating that it is a large component of the beverage.  For an 20oz bottle of Gatorade Cool Blue, there are 34g of sugar.  That’s about 8.5 teaspoons of sugar per bottle!

Natural Flavors

The FDA Code of Federal Regulations is as follows:

“The term natural flavor or natural flavoring means the essential oil, oleoresin, essence or extractive, protein hydrolysate, distillate, or any product of roasting, heating or enzymolysis, which contains the flavoring constituents derived from a spice, fruit or fruit juice, vegetable or vegetable juice, edible yeast, herb, bark, bud, root, leaf or similar plant material, meat, seafood, poultry, eggs, dairy products, or fermentation products thereof, whose significant function in food is flavoring rather than nutritional.”

So pretty much whatever they want, without having to label it.

Artificial Flavors

The FDA Code of Federal Regulations is as follows:

“The term artificial flavor or artificial flavoring means substance, the function of which is to impart flavor, which is not derived from a spice, fruit or fruit juice, vegetable or vegetable juice, edible yeast, herb, bark, bud, root, leaf or similar plant material, meat, fish, poultry, eggs, dairy products, or fermentation products thereof.”

Again, pretty much whatever companies want to create in a lab for flavor that does NOT come from a natural source.

Artificial Coloring

Red 40, Blue 1, and Yellow 5 are just a few of the common food dyes used to make our sports drinks more attractive, but they are all derived from petroleum.  They have also been linked to a number of long-term health issues and hyperactivity in children.

Brominated Vegetable Oil

This substance, banned from human consumption in Europe and Japan, is used to keep the dye and flavor additives suspended and clear.  It has been linked to a number of negative reactions such as skin rashes, acne, and thyroid disease.

Ester of Rosin

An alternative to brominated vegetable oil, ester of rosin is used to keep solutions stable for long shelf-life without emulsifying and settling. 

All Natural Alternatives

Sodium Foods

Salt is lost through sweat during exercise.  Some sodium is necessary to replenish the balance of salt and water in the cells.  All salts are not created equal though.  Sea salt or rock salt have natural minerals and electrolytes.  Table salt is made in a lab and does not have electrolytes. Seaweed is another good source of high ionic sodium.

Potassium Foods

Potassium supports cellular and heart functions.  It is critical to replenish potassium levels after exercise with healthy sources like bananas, seaweeds, cantaloupe, apricots, prunes, raisins, coconut, avocados, or sweet potato.

Magnesium Foods

Magnesium helps muscle contraction, nerve function, enzyme activation, and bone development. After strenuous exercise, your body may need to replenish it’s magnesium levels with green vegetables, whole grains, nuts, peanut butter, dried beans, and lentils.

All Natural Sport Drink Recipes

Natural Sunshine

Rehydrate Cooler

Long Run Smoothie

Muscle Building Smoothie

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