Homemade Natural Sports Drink

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About 8 months ago, DIY Natural community member Peggy shared her recipe for homemade Gatorade with us. I kept telling myself I would try this out, but it slowly sunk further down in my email inbox.

Even after I had a pregnant friend request I make her some homemade Gatorade when everything else sounded repulsive to her, I still didn’t do it. (I could have gained major friend points for following through on this and helping out a thirsty, desperate, pregnant woman, but I let the opportunity pass. Nuts!)

I didn’t even dig the recipe out in preparation for our 2 day, 31-mile hike, on a “most difficult”-rated trail in the mountains.

Nor did I think to make it when I was sick in bed for 4 days, though I felt like a raisin I was so dehydrated.

What do you know, I worked up a tiny little sweat doing yard work and cleaning house the other day, and it finally prompted me to venture down Electrolyte Lane.

I decided to dig out Peggy’s recipe and conduct the greatest homemade sports drink experiment my kitchen has ever known. (It hasn’t known any, but this was a great first.) It left me waddling to bed with a belly full of liquid, sloshing with each step. What can I say, there was a lot of taste testing to be done.

Tackling the recipe

My original goal was to experiment with sweeteners like raw honey and maple syrup. I made 3 different batches, and the honey-sweetened drink was the clear winner. I ended up making a second-place batch with organic cane sugar, and a losing batch with maple syrup. The maple syrup ruined the refreshing aspect of this thirst-quenching drink by making it taste heavy. (Matt actually made a face and called it “horrible.”)

I would have made more test batches had I not run out of fresh citrus fruit juice; besides, it was past my bedtime. That said, I’m very pleased with the first place Gatorade knock-off adapted from Peggy’s original recipe. (Makes me want to go help a friend move rearrange my furniture, or run walk briskly around the neighborhood so I can have an excuse to keep drinking it.)

If you want to try this winning recipe with honey, be sure to procure the best local raw honey you can find. If it’s not raw, it’s refined and pasteurized, and no better than white table sugar. All the nutrients are gone and sometimes high fructose corn syrup is added during processing.

Unlike commercial sports drinks, this homemade version contains no artificial colors or artificial sweeteners! (I laughed out loud when I read Gatorade’s explanation for adding artificial colors.)

All-Natural Lemon Lime Sports Drink

Homemade Sports Drink 1



Juice lemon and lime, straining out any seeds (and pulp if you wish). Add all ingredients to a container with a tight-fitting lid and shake well until honey and salt are dissolved. Chill in the refrigerator. Makes about 1 quart.

Homemade Sports Drink 2

Other notes…

  • Everyone’s tastebuds are different, so feel free to add more or less of any ingredient to make the perfect formula for your tastes.
  • Use whichever natural sweetener you prefer. If using cane sugar, 3-4 teaspoons should be sufficient in the above recipe. I didn’t test out any other sweeteners (and I’m not recommending maple syrup) so you’ll have to conduct a little taste test of your own to determine the right amounts.
  • Natural sea salt and honey contain electrolytes, sugar does not. The salt replaces sodium lost through sweat and helps the body rehydrate faster by aiding the body in quicker absorption of fluids.
  • The honey dissolved quickly, but a granulated sweetener may need to be dissolved in a bit of heated water.
  • Feel free to use all lemons or all limes.
  • I made a batch of orange sports drink with the juice of 2 oranges, same amount of water and salt, and 4 teaspoons of organic cane sugar (Honey could be substituted, probably ¼ cup.) Side note: This drink was also good, but I was kind of bummed because I thought this wouldn’t need any sweetener. The salt taste came through strongly, and I ended up adding a little sugar at a time until I liked the flavor. Your tastebuds might require less.
  • Since this sports drink doesn’t contain preservatives, the shelf life is not as long as commercial sports drinks. Refrigerate and drink within a few days.
  • If you’re looking for a good raw honey source, check Farmer’s Markets, local roadside stands, or do a search for “raw honey” under your zipcode on LocalHarvest.com.

Ready to sweat or get sick

Just think, if you have citrus fruit trees in your yard, you can make truckloads of this stuff and share with all your sweaty friends. Or pregnant friends.

I’m just glad I finally got around to testing out a sports drink recipe in time for the scorching summer heat. Now I can rehydrate and replenish electrolytes with this simple and delicious recipe.


About Betsy Jabs

Betsy holds a bachelor's degree in Psychology and a Master's degree in Counseling, and for nearly a decade worked as an elementary counselor. In 2011 she left her counseling career to pursue healthy living. She loves using DIY Natural as a way to educate people to depend on themselves to nourish their bodies and live happier healthier lives. Connect with Betsy on Facebookand Twitter.

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  1. Dawn says

    Thanks for all of the great recipes and ideas you and Matt share! I wanted to let you know I tried the sports drink and although my husband and I liked it, the kids don’t -yet. Then I totally forgot about it until I had a UTI and needed diluted cranberry juice. This recipe worked better than anything else at relieving those pesky symptoms. Last week my daughter had leg cramps. Guess what helped! Now my husband is sick with a cold, and he asked for more of that “homemade gatorade.” Thanks so much for sharing with us. I look forward to learning more natural ways.

  2. BlogShag says

    I would suggest agave nectar instead. Tastes better, doesn’t crystallize or get thick, easier to work with.

    • Betsy Jabs says

      Definitely! For an effective electrolyte drink you’ll want to research which fruit juices will provide potassium, magnesium, and calcium.

  3. Trevor Coleman says

    The “All Natural Lemon-Lime” photo shows Sea-Salt as the source of sodium and mentions that sodium helps in the absorption of fluid and replaces what’s lost through perspiration. This is dangerously false!!! Hence, we have people dying of dehydration at sea! Regular salt does exactly what you describe, but SEA SALT DOES NOT.

    • Patrick Mitchell says

      The chemical makeup of sea salt and table salt are the same; the major difference is the taste. People die of dehydration at sea because they consume an excess of sea water introducing a hypertonic solution to a their circulation, which in turn pulls water from the cells. A 1/4tsp in a quart of water is a very low salinity and will help with electrolyte replenishment after physical activity. To get near sea water salinity you would need around 7tsps of salt to the quart (Seawater has a salinity of 3.5%)

  4. Marissa says

    Made a test batch for my wary, “if it’s not commercially made it can’t be good” husband. He LOVES it, and just had me make a second batch for his softball game tomorrow! Jabs family, you have done the impossible!

  5. Rachelle says

    My dear,

    I am reading all of the comments, and I guess I am the only thinking that this lemonade tasted way to salty, sorry. I had to throw it away. Cant understand what happened,

    • Betsy Jabs says

      You can add more sweetener/fruit juice/water if the salt is too strong for you. Remember it’s not lemonade, but sports drink, which serves the purpose of replacing electrolytes (in the form of salt) lost from sweat and speeding the body’s absorption of liquids for faster hydration.

      Sorry it didn’t work out for you!

  6. Nadya says

    Hi. This brought back memories. I grew up drinking homemade gatorade. My mom would never buy gatorade for us. She always made it without sugar. Of course as a teen we didn’t think it was good but now I see why she did it. But for a post work out we do need a percentage of carbs so using honey or agave would be great. Thanks I love your recipies. I use the clothes detergent recipe and love it. I will never go back to buying factory made detergent. I tried out the dishwasher detergent and could not get it to work. My dishes were alway dirty. Bummer.

  7. Lisa Johnson, Y'Ambassador says

    I’d also like to plug my friend and fellow conspirator for health, Susan Alexander, who has just launched her new Vermont specialty beverage, Switchel! It is hands-down, absolutely the most delicious and thirst-quenching drink I’ve ever had. It’s just going to start getting out in some stores here in Vermont. Can’t be soon enough for me. Nothing comes close.
    Thanks! I love your work!

  8. Brenda says

    I am of the personal opinion that gatorade tastes horrible (like watered down koolaid), so hopefully this would taste better. I’m not a huge lemonade fan either but, like Heather above, I like the idea of something different to drink than water that’s also good for them. I think we’ll give it a try, thanks for being brave guinea pigs! ;p

  9. Heather says

    Thanks for the recipe! This is just in time for the insane heat (& drought!) we’ve been experiencing in Indiana. I know my kiddos will be thrilled to drink something other than the water I’ve been shoving in their faces nonstop. Hehe. 🙂

  10. Stephanie says

    WOW! I just made your homemade gator aid and boy is it delightful! So refreshing! As I read the recipe, I knew I had everything in my kitchen. I jumped right up to try it out and I must say, I’m impressed. I’m not usually a blogger and am fairly new to this site. However. This stuff was so good I had to blog about it. P.S. I can’t wait for my son to come in from skateboarding and try this. :))

  11. Melody says

    Isn’t this just lemonade with a pinch of salt in it? We always sweetened ours with honey and yeah this seams like the exact same thing just with salt. I had no idea when we switched from sugar to raw honey we went from lemonade to Gatorade.

    • Betsy Jabs says

      Natural sea salt and honey contain electrolytes, sugar does not. The salt replaces sodium lost through sweat and helps the body rehydrate faster by aiding the body in quicker absorption of fluids.

  12. jill says

    Have you tried it with Stevia? Due to prediabeties etc. no other sweetners are allowed per the doc. Honey actually has a higher sugar count then Agave & that isn’t allowed either. Stevia can be expensive but you use about 1/10th that you would other sweetners & it doesn’t raise your blood sugar.

  13. Dee says

    Wow I love this recipes and your website……….. I have made your soap powder, and fabric softener (another Youtube video) and dishwasher detergent, they all work great, towels are white white now instead of pale yellow (live with a well) I add some Lemondae powder to the dishwasher and my glasses shine bright, I am now going to tackle dehydration, using a electric dehydrator and oxygen sensors.(amazon) would love to see you and Matt do this same thing,also canning of all types of foods. I retired from Nursing after 30 yrs and my retirement was not what I was promised so I have to live by my best means,gardening in buckets..etc Need all the help we can get many others out there in the same boat.Thanks Dee for all your hard work appreciate everything you both do.

    • Betsy Jabs says

      Very cool Dee…sounds like you’re tackling LOTS of great natural projects! We have been wanting to experiment with dehydrating for a while now, just have to find more space in my tiny kitchen and save up our money for one. 🙂

  14. mary knight says

    Oranges are high in potassium; lemons are low in potassium. It seems as if an electrolyte drink should include generous potassium. Lemon water has many benefits, but potassium is not a biggie. I don’t know about limes.

    • Betsy Jabs says

      The natural sea salt in this recipe also contains potassium, and the honey also contains electrolytes in the form of acids and minerals.

      • Patrick Mitchell says

        Sea Salt has a low concentration of Potassium (1.1%) and a high amount of sodium (30%). I do use lemons but I use Morton’s Lite Salt which has a 10% concentration of potassium. I also use “Honey Stinger” honey as the sweetener which includes more electrolytes and B Vitamins. I am a cycling endurance athlete and replace massive amounts of water and electrolytes on long (4-6 hour) hot rides so my situation may be different but I thought I would share.

        • Elizabeth says

          Betsy, your recipe is a blessing! Seeing the good news (in Patrick’s comment) that Morton’s Lite Salt has more potassium than Sea Salt, I’m left wondering if Morton’s Lite Salt has a lesser amount of sodium than Sea Salt? I like both Patrick’s and Betsy’s recipe. My husband looses a lot of sweat at work and also in the garden when he gets home. He could really use this natural drink rather than tea sweetened with table sugar.(ugh!) I can often get him to switch to better alternative foods if it tastes great. Thanks guys! Any other great tasting drink ideas (that is almost as inexpensive as black tea and table sugar) would be greatly appreciated!

          • Patrick Mitchell says

            Elizabeth, yes the Mortons has less sodium than the sea salt. 1g of sea salt has 468mg of sodium while 1.4g of Mortons has 260mg of sodium. If you don’t have lemons or limes then use OJ or other citrus juice.

  15. Lisa Quenon says

    Hi! I make my own electrolyte drink as well. I use quite a bit more lemon/lime and also include as much of the white part as possible and a bit of the skin (not too much or else it’s bitter). These supply excellent added nutrients. I use sea salt and filtered water. I heat ever so slightly to dissolve the salt thoroughly and then blend. It is actually not a long process. I make huge pitcher-fulls at a time and drink it all day long. I do not add sweetener of any kind because I’ve grown accustomed to drinking it without sweetener. This mixture gets me through many long hot Texas summer days…and I am outside a lot doing a lot of walking around town. Seems to work and saves a lot of money (and I’m not ingesting anything artificial). Kudos to you guys for including this sort of alternative!

    • Betsy Jabs says

      It’s good to know you’ve become accustomed to drinking it without sweetener. Maybe I’ll be able to put a little less in mine in the future.