Take a look at the most popular endurance sports drinks, and you’ll notice a surprising similarity in ingredients.
There are carbohydrates (usually in the form of sugar), sodium, potassium and sometimes a touch of protein.
You’ll notice something else — these drinks are expensive.
It can cost $1.75 or more to fill one 24-ounce water bottle, and you have to drink a bottle an hour to keep up a good flow of nutrients and liquid while you work out.
There’s an easy way around the expense: making your own endurance drink. It may not have all the bells and whistles of the top brands, but it should be more than enough for a long ride or run into the mountains.
The base for a good endurance drink is carbohydrates. Most manufacturers use sugar, which releases its energy quickly and is followed by the dreaded sugar crash.
Hammer Nutrition, one of the top makers of endurance sports drinks, uses a complex carbohydrate called maltodextrin that gradually releases energy. You can buy it in 50- pound sacks from bulk-food and supplement suppliers.
Next come the electrolytes. Morton Lite Salt contains a mix of potassium and sodium.
The last ingredient is Kool-Aid and sugar to add a light taste and a few extra calories.
The final mix tastes slightly tart because of the Kool-Aid. If you like, you can just leave out the Kool-Aid for a more neutral taste. Don’t expect the mixture to taste like a commercial sports drink, which typically has much more sugar added.
Here’s my recipe to make about 2.2 pounds of powder, for 17 24-ounce water bottles.
900 grams maltodextrin
80 grams sugar
2 packs Kool-Aid
5 grams Morton Lite Salt
5 grams regular salt
Mix ingredients in a container with an airtight lid. Using a digital scale, measure ingredients, use two 29-gram scoops for each water bottle for a total of about 200 calories/bottle. Cost: about 10 cents/24-ounce water bottle.