'better than gatorade' lemon hydrator
2 cups water
Juice from 2 lemons
¼ teaspoon Himalayan salt
2 tbsp raw honey (can sub with maple syrup)
1. In a small saucepan, combine the water, lemon juice and sea salt. Gently warm on medium heat to begin dissolving the salt. Be careful not to bring the solution to a boil, as you don’t want to over-heat the lemon juice and evaporate the vitamin C.
2. Once the salt is dissolved, remove the pan from the heat and add the honey. Stir continuously until the honey has completely combined. Allow the mixture to fully cool before transferring to a jar or pitcher. The drink will keep in the fridge for up to a week.
I grew up on Gatorade and Powerade in the summer. It was just something that we had at the lake for those days when we went to the beach or spent a lot of time playing around outside. But truthfully, I think we drank it for the sugary taste more than anything else.
‘Electrolytes’ wasn’t a word that meant anything to me until I got older and started to study nutrition. Once I started to learn about what electrolytes actually are, what they do and why they are so important, I started to understand why these sports drinks make sense. The science behind fluid balance in the body can get a little complicated. But to break it down simply for you, when we sweat, we lose fluids as well as electrolytes like sodium and potassium. We need sodium and potassium to help maintain the balance of fluids and solids between our blood and our cells. It’s a delicate balance that the body always has to maintain. We also need these electrolytes to ensure that our muscles can continue to function. This is why it’s so important when working out in a hot environment to replace more than just your fluids. In certain situations, plain water isn’t enough to replace the fluid balance that has been disrupted after intense sweating.
As I continued my nutrition studies in holistic nutrition, I adopted a more natural way of eating and I became highly aware of the impact of ingredients in packaged foods. From a science background, I understood the importance of sports drinks and why they are needed. However, from a holistic perspective I could not get on board with the “natural and artificial flavours.” These flavourings (even the 'natural' ones) could mean literally anything that’s been cooked up in a lab to resemble a flavour. I’m sure I don’t have to mention that the flavour of “Cool Blue” is not something that is found in nature.
I also don’t love the addition of sodium citrate and monopotassium phosphate. To be fair, these are the electrolytes we are looking for, but it’s in a different form than the sodium and potassium we find in our food. Sea salt, for example, is naturally derived from seawater and is made up of sodium and chloride. Sodium citrate has a different chemical formula altogether, as it is derived from citric acid, and is also not found in nature.
The neon blues, reds, yellows and oranges that practically glow from inside the bottles of Gatorade and Powerade are another big problem. Food colourings have been linked to health concerns for adults but particularly for children as well. It’s best to avoid these colourful chemicals altogether. And for the record, these colours serve no purpose other than to make the drink look appealing.
So what’s a science-minded, holistic nutritionist to do when I know these sports drinks serve a purpose but I can’t in my right mind recommend them to anyone? Come up with my own recipe of course!
If you break down these sports drinks into what makes them beneficial we have: sugar to help replace the glycogen stores in the muscles that get used during exercise, and electrolytes like sodium and potassium to maintain proper fluid balance. It’s easy enough to duplicate using natural ingredients, which is what I’ve done. Honey provides the carbohydrates and the sea salt and lemon provides the electrolytes.
It also tastes really good!
It’s great to keep this recipe in mind for when you need more than just water. It takes no time to make and it’s likely that you’ll already have the ingredients that you need in your kitchen!
If you want to learn more about proper recovery for exercise, be sure to check out my blog post here to learn more!