Well, this post is a little different from me …a drink without booze. Ha! But it was time. Time to shed the crap “food” from our life. Time to take control. And time to stop with the continuous stream of chemical goop put through our systems. So here is my version of a totally healthy, hydrating sports drink, with the same sugar, calories, and electrolytes as popular sports drinks, that actually really truly is all natural.
Last weekend, I took several trash bags and raided my kitchen. I told my family I was instituting martial law over our food because I had had enough. Our meals have always been generally healthy, but there was enough unhealthy – chips, cereal, and such – that I realized it undid all the healthy we did do. So I purged it…
Over the coming months, I will share my tactics and our progress, including whole week meal plans for inexpensive, healthy eating. So far, the family are willing participants. A little reluctant, definitely chiding, but cooperative for the most part. I think that they think this is a phase and I’ll get over it. …ha. I won’t. This change needs to happen.
OK, so let’s start with this recipe, My-torade! Get it? Huh? Am I adorable or what with that name. …because Ima dork. …So, I lamented to you about the evils of Gatorade when I did my first Half Ironman, and Hammer Nutrition HEED worked for me that race. And the next. For my September Half Ironman, HEED will again be provided on course, so that is what I will use (it is much easier to go with what is provided in a race than to carry) …But I got to thinking that, at least in training – and maybe down the road in racing – why the hell can I not just make up my own and have it be so much better? After all, I am a scientist. And this is science.
A challenge. Yesss.
A coconut water-based, antioxidant-rich homemade sports drink. That is what I wanted. I specifically wanted coconut water because there is soooo much hydrating healthy going on there. I chose honey as my sweetener. ..cuz, duh. And I wanted citrus for the antioxidants, especially Vitamin C. When we exercise, we cause damage to our bodies, and it is in the subsequent repair and recovery that we get stronger. But damage also leads to inflammation and generation of free radicals. So I want my sports drink rich in antioxidants to help with that inflammation.
Lastly, I chose Himalayan sea salt as my salt source for all the mystery minerals and secrets of the universe that it possesses. Salt in a sports drink is crucial, especially when it is hot. I live in Florida and even at 5am right now, conditions are muggy awful. I do not sparkle when I exercise. I sweat like a beast.
[complete side-bar, but I googled for a better “sweat like a…” idiom, and found “sweat like Anthony Bourdain at Sandra Lee’s birthday party”. …thought that was pretty hilarious.]
But point beeeeeing that sweating during exercise obviously means salt loss which can lead to cramping. And other bad things. …So the salt matters. Like, a lot.
So, enter my first attempt: I whipped my first version up and hit the bike for a sweet ride. …Problem was I added a butt-load of salt and too much lemon and lime juices, and it was just all wrong. Not the water bottle of gold I hoped for. So here I am, before dawn, cycling 30 miles with salty coconut acid. …Uh-ggg.
…Pretty view though.
Okay, next attempt: I needed to cut the acid or I would have a hole in my stomach by the end. I needed to sweeten it just a touch more, naturally. And I needed to help the coconut water, for my taste. Tweak, tweak …went for a run and knocked out 7.5 miles with only My-torade. And it was a pretty great run, so I was on the right track – and pretty stoked about it too. A couple tries later, and I had the winner.
I LOVE this stuff. It is hydrating. It is what I want in a sports drink. I have now run miles with it. I have biked miles with it. I have biked then run miles with it. I have not cramped, I have not had an upset stomach. I did not get the poops. My-torade rocks. Comparing to other sports drinks – Same calories. Same amount of sugar. But all natural and awesome.
Look at all that potassium with My-torade! That is the coconut water talking right there. Potassium plays a crucial role in the transport of glucose to muscle cells, so we need that and we lose it when we exercise.
And look at the ingredients. Kinda clear, right? Gatorade is just processed sugar and other manufactured stuff. Glycerol of rosin is isolated from wood by the way. Seriously. It is added to keep oils in suspension. And yellow #6 has been banned in some counties, what the hell. HEED does better, but it has artificial sweetener. Xylitol may occur in nature, but the xylitol used on the industrial level is not natural. It is an artificially hydrogenated sugar alcohol, isolated from GMO corn. Oh, and toxic to dogs.
So, here it is kids. There is just no reason not to consume real food with real ingredients, even in a sports drink. And especially with Snapple products like Vita Coco that are so readily available. We have been eating (and drinking) nothing processed whatsoever (errr, mostly) for a week, and I am feeling benefits already. And it is showing in my workouts too – I am She-Ra right now and with a Half Ironman in 6 weeks, that feeling is feeling really sweet.
I cannot wait to tell you more about our full week eating plans, so I promise that will come soon!
- 1 cup coconut water, such as Vita Coco
- 1 cup spring water, such as Fiji water
- 2 Tbs orange juice
- juice of half a lemon
- juice of half a lime
- 1/2 Tbs local honey
- couple pinches Himalayan sea salt
- Combine the ingredients and refrigerate.
- Absolutely feel free to adjust the salt on this to your taste and nutritional need during exercise. Example, I may add less during colder weather when I sweat less.
- In addition to orange juice, I have made this with pineapple juice and fresh pink grapefruit juice. All have tasted great to me.
- If this is too acidic, cut some or all of the lemon juice first, then add more orange juice.
- For a vegan option, replace the honey with agave nectar.