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Alternatives to Gatorade: Replacing Electrolytes and Rehydration

Updated on January 6, 2012


Contemporary humans have become increasingly health conscious. Exercise is an important part of many people’s lives. Whichever way a person decides to exercise their body, hydration remains a key component of any exercise regimen. The theories of hydration and electrolyte replacement are probably too numerous to count and the science behind each theory will prove to have its own advantages and disadvantages. Enter Gatorade.

The purpose of this article is not to dispute or endorse any particular hydration theory. I am in no qualified position to analyze and postulate my own theory of hydration. In fact, each person’s body is so unique that one system will work for someone and not work very well for someone else. I have chosen to take a look at Gatorade because it is probably the most popular sports/hydration option available. The science behind Gatorade is probably sound and the general theory is discussed here or in simpler terms here. Or the the short synopsis: By consuming Gatorade, trace amounts of electrolytes, along with water, are replaced during physical activity. The body doesn’t handle a “one for one” replacement of electrolytes very well during such activity which is why athletes don't take salt pills anymore. The body usually already has enough electrolytes stored to replace any that are used during exercise.

The remainder of this article will list the ingredients in an 8oz. serving of regular Gatorade, list alternative sources of these ingredients, and offer some examples of recipes to make your own hydration drink. Whether you are interested in cost savings, a healthier alternative, or just more control of your diet, this article will provide helpful information.



Ingredients in Gatorade


“Active” ingredients that affect hydration:

Water: 8oz. approximately

Sucrose Syrup, Glucose-fructose syrup (sugar): 14 grams (one teaspoon of granulated white sugar is close to 4 grams)

Sodium chloride, sodium citrate (salt/sodium): 110 milligrams or .11 grams or .0275 teaspoons

Monopotassium phosphate (potassium): 30 milligrams or .03 grams or .0075 teaspoons


“Inactive” ingredients

Citric acid

Various natural flavors

Red 40 (depending on flavor)

Blue 1 (depending on flavor)



Alternative Sources of “Active” Ingredients


Water: faucet, bottled water, drinking fountain

Sugar: Household sugar, fruits, chewing gum, candy

Sodium: table salt, salted potato chips, salted nuts, beef jerky etc.

Potassium: Banana, potato, fruits, fish, potassium chloride (dietary supplement at health food store)

A great website to use in determining the nutritional value of raw foods and basically any food in general is http://nutritiondata.self.com/. I will use this site, simple math and a bit of estimation for the alternative examples to Gatorade.



Recipes


Kool-Aid Gatorade

Ingredients:

One packet of Kool-Aid

Water – 2 quarts or 64 ounces

Sugar – 24 teaspoons or 8 Tablespoons

Salt (sodium salt) – ¼ teaspoon

Potassium Chloride (salt substitute) – 1/8 teaspoon

Potassium Chloride can be found at the health food store - Example , Example 2

Directions:

Mix the ingredients together in a pitcher and enjoy

Cost per 8 oz: about twenty cents


The Juice is Loose

Ingredients:

Your Favorite Juice - 8oz

Salt - 1 tiny pinch

Salt Substitute (salt substitute with potassium) - 1 tiny pinch

Directions:

-Mix juice with the tiny pinches of salt

-Stir

-enjoy


Banana Slamma

Ingredients:

Tap Water – 8oz

Banana – 1 Tablespoon mashed

Sugar – 3 teaspoons

Table Salt – 1 tiny pinch or .0275 teaspoon or 11/400 teaspoon or .11 grams

Directions:

-Add all ingredients into a watertight bottle

-Shake vigorously

-Drink

Cost: maybe thirty cents


Raspberry Renegade

Ingredients:

Tap Water – 8 oz

Raspberries – 1/6 cup (10-15 raspberries)

Sugar – 3 teaspoons

Table Salt – 1 tiny pinch or .0275 teaspoon or 11/400 teaspoon or .11 grams

Directions:

-Add all ingredients to a blender

-Blend

-Put in a cup

-drink

Cost: maybe fifty cents


Potato Pop

Ingredients:

Tap Water – 8 oz

Mashed potato – 1 tablespoon

Sugar – 3 teaspoons

Table Salt – 1 tiny pinch or .0275 teaspoon or 11/400 teaspoon or .11 grams

Lemon juice- one teaspoon


Directions:

-Add all ingredients into a watertight bottle

-Shake vigorously

-Drink

Cost: maybe twenty five cents


Fuel Gel

Mashed potato – 1 tablespoon

or

Mashed avocado – 1 tablespoon

Sugar – 3 teaspoons

Table Salt – 1 tiny pinch or .0275 teaspoon or 11/400 teaspoon or .11 grams

Lemon juice – a few drops to taste



Comments on the Above Recipes

In addition to the above recipes being comparatively similar to regular Gatorade, the also provide trace nutrients such as vitamins A,C, E, K, and B. Also, the recipes contain some unprocessed forms of carbohydrate. The recipes contain trace minerals as well.

The sugar can be replaced with any form of sugar in a similar amount or left out entirely. It is debatable and probably only determinable on a body by body basis whether the sugar will be beneficial during a workout.


My Sarcastic Analogies

I often hammer on Gatorade as I do many consumer products (bottled water) which I feel are total scams designed to make a lot of money. But that being said, in a capitalist society we have the freedom to choose how we spend our money, and many people will try to get that money from us. Even though I feel that Gatorade is a scam, the science is generally sound. With a bit of research and creativity, you can get the same benefits and save a ton of money.

I sometimes say that you could get the same nutritional value in a bottle of Gatorade by eating a few potato chips and sticking your face in a mud puddle; or by eating a piece of hard candy, taking a decent bite of a banana, licking a salt block and drinking a glass of water. All of those examples aren’t too far from the truth.

I would like to say that I will never buy Gatorade again but when I’m on the road, I’m thirsty and I want a refreshing beverage and grab a bottle of water, I’ll look at the Gatorade and say, “Well, somehow this water and this Gatorade cost about the same. I might as well get me a little electrolyte action.”

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