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Healthy Homemade Gatorade Alternatives (All-Natural!)

Replenishing electrolytes is really important, in everyday living but especially before and after intense exercise. But what is the best choice? You might think Gatorade, as it is heavily marketed as the best way for athletes to rehydrate. Yes, gatorade has electrolytes, but it also has a lot of added sugar, artificial dyes and artificial flavors.

hand holding glass jar with orange electrolyte dirink

Guess what? You can make your own healthy gatorade alternatives at home. These alternatives are cheap, they taste great, and they will replenish the minerals that your body needs to rehydrate. 

Just Say No to Gatorade

bottle of red gatorade

Gatorade has been a popular sports drink for athletes and active individuals for decades. It’s theoretically designed to help restore electrolyte balance and provide quick hydration, which is especially important during intense workouts or hot weather. Ok, so what’s so bad about gatorade? Let’s look at the ingredients in a bottle of Gatorade Thirst Quencher “Red Punch” flavor:

Water, Sugar, Dextrose, Citric Acid, Natural Flavor, Salt, Sodium Citrate, Monopotassium Phosphate, Modified Food Starch, Red 40, Glycerol Ester of Rosin, Caramel Color. 

Artificial colors, sugar, preservatives, and a few mystery ingredients. In my opinion there are several simple, healthier alternatives that you can make at home. As a side note, a 28 oz bottle of gatorade is listed as 2 1/2 servings… so if you consume the whole bottle you are taking in a whopping 48 grams of sugar! 

What are electrolytes?

Electrolytes are essential minerals in the body that carry an electric charge. They play a crucial role in maintaining various physiological functions by helping regulate the balance of fluids in and around cells, conducting nerve impulses, and facilitating muscle contractions. These charged particles are critical for overall health and are involved in several vital processes within the body.

The primary electrolytes found in the human body include:

  1. Sodium (Na+): Sodium is crucial for maintaining fluid balance, nerve function, and muscle contractions. It helps regulate blood pressure and plays a role in the absorption of other nutrients, such as glucose and amino acids.
  2. Potassium (K+): Potassium is essential for maintaining proper heart rhythm, nerve function, and muscle contractions. Potassium helps balance the levels of sodium in the body.
  3. Calcium (Ca2+): Calcium is integral for building and maintaining strong bones and teeth. Calcium is involved in muscle contractions, blood clotting, and cell signaling.
  4. Magnesium (Mg2+): Magnesium is essential for numerous biochemical reactions in the body, including energy production, muscle function, and the synthesis of DNA and proteins.
  5. Chloride (Cl-): Chloride, often associated with sodium, helps maintain fluid balance, aids in digestion, and plays a role in the body’s pH balance.

When the body loses electrolytes, it can lead to imbalances that affect overall health and wellbeing. 

Should I be Drinking Gatorade or a Gatorade Alternative? 

I don’t think anyone should be drinking Gatorade. BUT, the answer to the second question is probably. Our bodies are made up of around 60% water, and water plays a vital role in various bodily functions, including regulating temperature, aiding digestion, transporting nutrients, and removing waste products. When we sweat, we lose not only water but also essential minerals, such as sodium, potassium, calcium, and magnesium. Just to give you an idea, here are some of the minerals you lose in an hour of exercise (through sweat):

  • 1,200 mg sodium
  • 1,725 mg chloride
  • 140 mg potassium
  • 40 mg calcium
  • 8-10 mg magnesium
Women and men working out in a gym, holding a high plank

You also lose amounts of iron, copper, zinc, iodine, selenium and chromium. Replenishing electrolytes is essential to maintaining proper bodily function. I think it’s important for everyone to replenish electrolytes throughout the day, but especially if you are in the sun, sweating, working out or sick. 

There has actually been some research that just plain water isn’t the best source of rehydrating. Some suggest that you should be adding high quality salt to any water that you drink. I’m undecided on that one, but the concept is fascinating. Living a healthy lifestyle and eating a balanced diet will also help to avoid an electrolyte imbalance. 

Benefits of Drinking Electrolytes 

Drinking a gatorade alternative has several benefits for your overall health. These benefits include: 

  1. Preventing an electrolyte imbalance
  2. Promoting hydration
  3. Preventing muscle cramps
  4. Balancing fluids inside of your body, helping to prevent swelling and inflammation
  5. Regulating blood pressure levels
Young woman working out outside, wearing headphones and drinking out of a water bottle

What about electrolyte tablets or powders? 

I still think the best way to replenish electrolytes is from nature, but there are a few healthy alternatives to gatorade in the form of electrolyte powders or tablets. Ideally, if you are using an electrolyte drink mix choose one with minimal processing, and free of artificial flavors or ingredients. 

Here are a few that are decent:

  1. Essentia Water: This is a type of alkaline water at’s also infused with small amounts of electrolytes. Essentia water is free of sugar, carbs and additives.
  2. Ultima Replenisher Electrolyte Drink Mix — Contains no sugar, is calorie-free, and supplies you with potassium, sodium and magnesium.
  3. Nuun Sport Electrolyte Hydration Tablets — Only has 15 calories per serving, 1 gram of sugar and is sweetened with stevia.
  4. Hydrant Electrolyte Powder Rapid Hydration Mix — Contains 4 grams of sugar per serving and 25 calories and provides a good dose of potassium, sodium, magnesium and even zinc for immune support.

Healthy Alternatives to Gatorade

Ok, so what are the alternatives? There are healthier versions on the market, but I believe that the best things for our bodies always come from nature. Real food. I have a recipe for homemade healthy gatorade below, but there are also a few quick and easy alternatives to commercial sports drinks that don’t require a recipe. Here are some of nature’s best sources of electrolytes:

1. Coconut Water

Nature’s electrolyte-rich gift, coconut water is a great option to rehydrate after a workout. It contains natural sugars and essential electrolytes without the artificial ingredients found in many commercial sports drinks. You can drink coconut water straight from the coconut or find it packaged in cartons at most grocery stores. If you do purchase from the grocery store, make sure to read the ingredient label for any artificial ingredients or added sugar. 

coconut cut open next to a glass of coconut water on a wooden table

2. Raw Cow’s Milk

Raw milk is pure, whole, and unprocessed. It makes a great alternative to gatorade because it contains all the essential electrolytes – potassium, sodium, magnesium, calcium and chloride. It’s a great all around recovery drink because it’s also high in protein, carbohydrates, healthy fats and vitamins. We are big raw milk fans over here! Mix your raw milk with some chocolate collagen protein powder for a delicious chocolate milk recovery drink. 

3. Watermelon Juice:

Watermelon water is not only delicious but also a great source of hydration. It’s over 90% water, making it an excellent choice for rehydrating. Blend fresh watermelon chunks and strain the juice to remove any pulp. This homemade watermelon juice is rich in vitamins and minerals, and its natural sweetness is an added bonus. I would probably add a small amount of salt to really rehydrate efficiently. 

two glasses of fresh watermelon juice  in front of a cut watermelon.

4. Green Tea with Honey

Green tea is known for its antioxidants and health benefits. Brew a cup of green tea and let it cool. Add a small amount of raw honey for natural sweetness and a boost of energy. Green tea contains catechins, which may aid in recovery and overall health, making it a great alternative to sugary sports drinks.

Real Food Alternatives to Gatorade

If you prefer to eat your electrolytes, here are a few foods that can help you maintain proper hydration and electrolyte balance:

  1. Bananas: Bananas are a great source of potassium, which is a key electrolyte for muscle function and fluid balance. They’re convenient to eat and can be added to smoothies or consumed as a quick snack.
  2. Oranges: Oranges and other citrus fruits are rich in potassium and also contain some calcium and magnesium. Additionally, their high water content helps with hydration. Bonus vitamin C content! 
  3. Spinach: This leafy green is packed with magnesium, which is essential for muscle and nerve function. Spinach is easy to incorporate into salads or smoothies.
  4. Avocado: Avocado is not only a source of healthy fats but also contains potassium and magnesium, making it a great addition to your electrolyte-rich diet.

Homemade Electrolyte Drink: A Healthy Alternative to Gatorade

Gatorade may be a popular sports drink, but it’s really not the best option if you want to avoid artificial ingredients, food dyes, and excessive sugar. Homemade gatorade is so quick and easy to make! You will only need 3 natural ingredients which are available at most grocery stores.

top view of glass jar and orange electrolyte drink inside. plants out of focus in foreground

Ingredients list for homemade gatorade:

  • 1/2 Cup Fruit juice (not from concentrate). My preference here is orange juice as citrus juices are rich in potassium, and also have calcium and magnesium. Other options would be lemon juice, lime juice, tart cherry juice or any other not from concentrate juice. Mix up your flavors for some variety! 
  • 1/4 Tsp Salt. When choosing salt, opt for an unrefined mineral salt, or sea salt. My favorite salt is redmonds real salt. 
  • 1/2 Cup Coconut Water. Read your labels and make sure it’s pure coconut water with no added sugar.  I like the organic Thrive Market Brand. 
  • 1/2 Cup – 1 Cup Filtered Water (optional). Depends on how strong / watered down you like it.  

The idea here is to combine electrolytes (from nature) and natural sweetener. You could also mix it up and use a citrus juice mixed with a little raw honey and salt for the same effect. 

1 Serving of this homemade electrolyte drink provides approximately:

  • 480 mg potassium
  • 7 mg magnesium
  • 20 mg vitamin C
  • 75 mg calcium
  • 530 mg sodium
close up view of top of glass with fresh orange juice

Instructions for Homemade Gatorade Alternative

This electrolyte replacement drink will only take a minute or two to mix up. You could also make a big batch and store it in the fridge to always have some one hand. 

  1. Combine all ingredients
  2. Stir the mixture until the salt is dissolved completely.
  3. Refrigerate and enjoy! 
homemade gatorade in a glass with orange slices on the countertop

Healthy Homemade Gatorade Alternative (All Natural)

This healthy, homemade gatorade alternative is made from natural ingredients! Let's replenish your electrolytes and fuel your next workout.
Print Recipe
Prep Time:1 minute
Total Time:1 minute

Equipment

  • 1 Drinking glass
  • 1 Spoon

Ingredients

  • 1/2 Cup Fruit Juice My preference is orange juice (not from concentrate)
  • 1/2 Cup Pure coconut water
  • 1/4 tsp Unrefined mineral salt or sea salt
  • 1/2 – 1 Cup Filtered Water optional depending on how concentrated you like your electrolyte drink

Instructions

  • Combine all ingredients in a drinking glass
  • Stir to combine, until the salt is dissolved
  • Enjoy!

Notes

You could substitute any fruit juice for the orange juice. Tart cherry would be delicious, or another citrus fruit are good options. 
Course: Drinks
Cuisine: American
Keyword: drinks, electrolyte drink, hydrate
Servings: 1 serving

Conclusion

Staying hydrated is essential for our overall health, and finding a healthy alternative to Gatorade is a smart choice for those looking to avoid excess sugar and artificial ingredients. This homemade version is a better option to not only provide the necessary electrolytes but also offer additional nutrients found right in nature! 

Did you try this recipe? What are some of your favorite post workout drinks? 

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