In the past, we’ve always recommended good-old-fashioned water as the best way to stay hydrated throughout the day or during a workout. Of course we also realize that sometimes you want a little extra kick, not to mention some additional vitamins and electrolytes your body can use to keep firing on all cylinders. More and more, athletes are passing on the traditional bottled sports drinks in favor of more natural alternatives, skipping the artificial flavors (and neon coloring) along the way.
Here are three (and a half) easy ways to do exactly that.
Try coconut water. In some circles, coconut water is being passed around as the latest superdrink — a high-potassium, low-sodium way to replace electrolytes and improve performance. Realistically, it’s probably more on par with plain water in terms of hydration benefits, but if you like the taste and feel good about drinking it, by all means give it a try. It’s a little pricy to be downing all day long, but makes a good post-workout treat or warm-up drink to mix things up a little.
DIY brewing. About as easily as you’d make a pitcher of iced tea, you can brew up your own Gator/Power-ade replacement, avoiding the high sugar content and hard-to-pronounce ingredients. Here’s a quick, natural recipe that starts with water, green tea, coconut water, or another base and adds salt for electrolytes and fruit for flavor. This is one you can adjust for large or small quantities depending on what you need.
Quick mix. For a faster, simpler version of the brewing approach above, you can actually just mix up a bottle, chill in the fridge, and be ready for action. There are some good instructions over at LIVESTRONG.com that pretty much require you to mix and drink.
Even quicker mix. Okay, this one barely counts as a sports drink, but it’s perfect if you’re in a hurry and water just isn’t doing it for you on a given day. Try just slicing up (or dropping in whole) a few pieces of your favorite fresh summer fruit into your water bottle to add some flavor and vitamins. It’s an unbelievably easy way to add some variety to your hydration without worrying too much about it.