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healthy sports drinks? - The Original Live Journal Runners Club
healthy sports drinks?
So I'm looking for a healthy alternative to the usual sports drinks.  I want something that will give me the electrolytes or whatever else one needs after and during long runs, without a million calories and also without fake chemical sugars like sucralose.   I don't care if it tastes disgusting.  

I've looked at most of the supermarket brands and they usually have artificial sweeteners and colors and everything else.  It's just frustrating because I'm so careful day to day with eating healthy (I'm vegan, and I avoid heavily processed food/drink) and I don't want to make sports drinks, which I will consume so often, the exception to my healthy diet.  Last summer I just used water even on long runs (didn't use energy gels either), but I wasn't as focused on improving endurance/performance as I am hoping to be this season, and I had a hard time running more than an hour and 45 mins without more energy in some form.

Ideas?  Thanks.
39 miles | run a mile
brokenheather From: brokenheather Date: March 3rd, 2009 05:22 pm (UTC) (Link)
I do SmartWater or the Trader Joes version. It's just electrolyte water. It seems to do the trick for me (most sports drinks make me nauseated - I don't usually take in that much sugar, so it's a shock to my system).

virtualannette From: virtualannette Date: March 3rd, 2009 05:26 pm (UTC) (Link)
Oh cool.. I didn't know Trader Joe's had that! I'll check it out. Thanks :o)
eisarie03 From: eisarie03 Date: March 3rd, 2009 05:34 pm (UTC) (Link)
SmartWater is available almost everywhere. I get it for 1.00 a liter at Target/.
eisarie03 From: eisarie03 Date: March 3rd, 2009 05:37 pm (UTC) (Link)
For a more complete answer, I use Clif ShotBloks (organic) for carb intake during runs along with regular or sometimes smart water, depending on if I need the extra electrolytes (aka during super hot/sweaty runs)
phrassie From: phrassie Date: March 3rd, 2009 05:23 pm (UTC) (Link)
You can add some salt to your water for electrolytes and carry fruit for some added energy. I also like honey sticks because they are easy to carry and a good source of energy but those are non-vegan in some books.
virtualannette From: virtualannette Date: March 3rd, 2009 05:27 pm (UTC) (Link)
Wow so you don't even really need sports drinks. Hmm.. I'll look into this. It seems a lot cheaper than having to buy bottled stuff all of the time. Thanks!
phrassie From: phrassie Date: March 3rd, 2009 05:29 pm (UTC) (Link)
Totally. Sports drinks are handy but meh...I've never really gotten into them.
bozotkutya From: bozotkutya Date: March 3rd, 2009 06:01 pm (UTC) (Link)
I second this! I like home-made green tea(or black or red or whatever)with our own honey and lemon juice and a pinch of salt. Works fine, cheap, organic, tastes good.
insanitycase From: insanitycase Date: March 3rd, 2009 06:35 pm (UTC) (Link)
I do the same thing, except I use organic cane sugar because I've never developed a taste for honey.
bozotkutya From: bozotkutya Date: March 3rd, 2009 07:11 pm (UTC) (Link)
:) We are beekepers, so...
ava_bee From: ava_bee Date: March 4th, 2009 02:11 am (UTC) (Link)
How cool! I'm jealous.
bozotkutya From: bozotkutya Date: March 4th, 2009 09:31 am (UTC) (Link)
:D Beekeeping is easy and not even expensive or anything. You can keep just one or two small hives in the backyard if you want. They require just a few hours of work a year, really.
bozotkutya From: bozotkutya Date: March 4th, 2009 09:33 am (UTC) (Link)
Let me add, that's not our profession, just a hobby. It's hard to make a living purely out of those little bugs... :D
alizz From: alizz Date: March 3rd, 2009 07:01 pm (UTC) (Link)
So is tea good for the electrolytes and all? Because I usually drink a green tea after exercising (plus water).
bozotkutya From: bozotkutya Date: March 3rd, 2009 07:16 pm (UTC) (Link)
I'm no scientist or elite athlete, but this has been working well for me. The added honey and salt also count. I prefer South African Rooibos tea.
_gatecrasher_ From: _gatecrasher_ Date: March 3rd, 2009 05:24 pm (UTC) (Link)
I was in the same boat after training for my first marathon and PACKING on weight from Gatorade. Blech.

Then I found NUUN. I believe their website is www.nuun.com. They are effervescent tablets that come in a tube for around $6. Drop a tablet into 24oz of water and you've got yourself a sports drink with all of the necessary electrolytes and salts, without any artificial sweetners or sugar, no colors added or anthing like that. They are flavored naturally and are only 20 calories for an entire bottle.
virtualannette From: virtualannette Date: March 3rd, 2009 05:30 pm (UTC) (Link)
Thanks so much. Price is an issue for me too, and I like the idea of dissolving something in regular water (easier to store in my small apartment). I'll check into these.
reoracer From: reoracer Date: March 3rd, 2009 05:25 pm (UTC) (Link)
I've used Ultima for about the last 5 years, you might look into it. It's Vegan friendly, and contains no artificial colors, flavors, or sweeteners (it uses Stevia), no MSG, and no caffeine. It's also gluten free. Electrolytes it contains include sodium, magnesium, chloride, potassium, and calcium. It's not horribly expensive and it even tastes good (my faves are the orange and the berry)! You can find it online (sorry, I don't have a weblink, you'll have to search), at most major race expos, and honestly, I bought mine by the case off ebay for a steal...

I have a lot of food allergies, and this one is the only thing I have found that works for me. I've run 25+ marathons and ultras with it, and will swear by my Ultima...

Good luck!
virtualannette From: virtualannette Date: March 3rd, 2009 05:29 pm (UTC) (Link)
Thanks, this is really helpful! I like that it's cheap.
reoracer From: reoracer Date: March 3rd, 2009 05:34 pm (UTC) (Link)
Got the website for ya, ultimareplenisher.com ... This comes in powder form in canisters and packets. I got the packets, which are easy to carry with me to races. I even keep an extra packet in my waist bag to remix another bottle later in longer races.

Hope you find something that works.
katie_keysburg From: katie_keysburg Date: March 3rd, 2009 05:28 pm (UTC) (Link)
electrolytes = fancy name for salts, sodium and potassium in particular. You can find potassium chloride around or you can eat fruits and veggies.

Basically you can get the same effect by eating a banana and maybe a little salt mid-run. I think most runners have issues with solid food mid-run, which is why they go for the overpriced packaged crap. If you have this problem, try juice or honey and some salt mid run.
shayenne From: shayenne Date: March 3rd, 2009 05:31 pm (UTC) (Link)
You can dilute orange juice half and half with water, and add a half a teaspoon of salt. Tastes not too bad, and gives you most of what you need, certainly the sodium and potassium.
virtualannette From: virtualannette Date: March 3rd, 2009 05:36 pm (UTC) (Link)
Wow, that's easy. Thanks.
moodyduck From: moodyduck Date: March 3rd, 2009 05:45 pm (UTC) (Link)
I drink tomato juice after runs for salt and potassium. I haven't tried it while running. Watered down it might work, but I have no idea how nasty that would taste!
futurebird From: futurebird Date: March 3rd, 2009 05:54 pm (UTC) (Link)
Frankly I don't think sports drinks are much better than kool-aid.

I just drink water and eat gumi bears.
futurebird From: futurebird Date: March 3rd, 2009 05:58 pm (UTC) (Link)
Oh I don't have issues with salt I tend to eat too much of it, so I see no real reason to add extra.

I eat tons of fruit during the day and get the rest that way.

While running I need 2 things:

1) Water (For medium and long runs)
2) Calories (for longer runs)

On runs of less than 5 miles I don't even need water, I just drink a glass when I get home.

The body is made to run don't over complicate it!
owl_eyes_4ever From: owl_eyes_4ever Date: March 3rd, 2009 07:08 pm (UTC) (Link)
You mentioned gummy bears, which reminded me of this:
totally off-topic but I had to share. :D
t__m__i From: t__m__i Date: March 3rd, 2009 06:13 pm (UTC) (Link)
(as another vegan) I use Torq drink + gels on occasion, but tbh when not worrying about speed or race prep I have been known to just pootle along with water and a squeezy bottle of golden syrup (maple syrup flavoured yum yum).
Or just take money and make the route go past various newsagents/shops where I can pick up a carton of Ribena & a flapjack.
Also Vegetarian Sport Nutrition by Enette Larson-Meyer has a mix-yer-own sport drink recipe in it - bit of juice bit of water bit of salt iirc.
tar_miriel From: tar_miriel Date: March 3rd, 2009 06:22 pm (UTC) (Link)
Don't be so quick to knock carb-bearing sports drinks, the best of them are based on long-chain complex sugars, malto-dextrose, you can make your own (cheaper) with brownrice syrup. Delivering carbs while training is not a bad thing and I prefer it for the majority of my runs over 4-5 miles (which is the vast majority of my runs). I also burn more energy per mile than most runners so that's always a factor for me. I favor Cytomax, I get good results with it and for better or worse I believe their claims about aiding lactate metabolism.

When you don't want carbs or when you need more electrolytes than are available in whatever you're drinking, Enduralytes from Hammer or Ultima or Nuun are all good choices, Enduralytes are pretty cost-effective.

For really long distances, carb intake is absolutely necessary, you can't go more than 90 minutes or so is the max for most people before they run out of their glycogen reserves.

The things I want no part of are the mass-market 'energy drinks' based on caffeine and / or HFCS.
futurebird From: futurebird Date: March 3rd, 2009 06:31 pm (UTC) (Link)

For really long distances, carb intake is absolutely necessary, you can't go more than 90 minutes or so is the max for most people before they run out of their glycogen reserves.

Really? I do 90 min runs all the time and eat and drink nothing. I only need calories if it's over 120 min or so. and then not that much.
katie_keysburg From: katie_keysburg Date: March 3rd, 2009 06:46 pm (UTC) (Link)
Its highly variable and you can train yourself to go longer. It kind of depends how much pain you're willing to suffer. I've done a 2.5 hr run with nothing, although it wasn't fun.

brianrunner, in particular, is a fan of train-without-aid. If you think about it, it can really give you a boost to train without it and then use such things during a race. Your body is used to doing without, so its like "hey, bonus!"
virtualannette From: virtualannette Date: March 3rd, 2009 06:45 pm (UTC) (Link)
Hm, so the carbs come from the sugar? I guess I didn't know this. I just didn't want to be slugging down a bunch of sugar for nothing.
aka_lusi From: aka_lusi Date: March 3rd, 2009 07:18 pm (UTC) (Link)
Google "oral rehydration salt recipe" or some such thing and you'll get some easy, cheap ways to rehydrate. I used this stuff when I was dehydrated due to sickness, not the same thing, but still useful. Example:

1 level teaspoon of salt
8 level teaspoons of sugar
1 litre of clean drinking water or cooled boiled water

Also, Emergen-C has an energy/rehydration thing if you want something better tasting.
clmcormick From: clmcormick Date: March 3rd, 2009 07:42 pm (UTC) (Link)
I train with whatever liquid refreshment is being offered on the course of the race I'm training for. Marine Corps Marathon used PowerAde so that's what I trained with. I think this year's marathon I'm training for is using Gatorade so I'll use that.

Not a wise move to train with one thing and race with another.
jules_perox From: jules_perox Date: March 3rd, 2009 07:45 pm (UTC) (Link)
I have a drinnks recipe..I like it, seems to work..

500ml sports bottle...
approx 150ml of fruit juice (i like the berry types better than orange)
Top up with water.
2 tsps of sugar
hefty pinch of salt

sarahnucci From: sarahnucci Date: March 3rd, 2009 10:41 pm (UTC) (Link)
I love Camelback Elixer - I just found it at Sports Authority as well as on base. I don't like the orange flavor, but the lemon-lime is pretty good - and it's only about 10 calories per serving (which is a full camelback bottle of 24 oz). It's a bit bubbly but it's light enough that I drink it on my run and still gives me all the electrolyte stuff I need.
erinbear0923 From: erinbear0923 Date: March 3rd, 2009 11:54 pm (UTC) (Link)
This was a great post, I learned a lot. Thanks to those that commented.
woodspryte From: woodspryte Date: March 4th, 2009 01:26 am (UTC) (Link)
My body revolts with almost all sport drinks. I have 2 I can tolerate - nuun - which is priced pretty nicely and a drink called Gleukos.
porktruck From: porktruck Date: March 4th, 2009 04:22 am (UTC) (Link)
I remember reading about that guy who escaped from Cuba to Miami on a surfboard. It sounded like a more brutal ordeal than any run I could ever envision going on. He carried a bottle filled with water, lemons, salt, and sugar. I'd look into some sort of concoction like that.
39 miles | run a mile