Natural alternative to Sports drinks?

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03/01/2010 at 13:45

Hi there!

I'm doing the Lon Marathon in April and training is going well! Just one thing I was looking for advice on was the sports drinks. Does anybody know if there is a natural alternative to the refuelling sports drinks and sports gels? Or...can you successfully make up your own one (salts, sugars etc)? I have tried doing a bit of internet searching bu can't seem to find much!

If I can't find suitable alternatives, I will have the gels etc, but my reason for wanting an alternative is that I am very anti the artificial sweeteners (aspartame mainly) Personal opinion, so please don't shoot me down! Just wondered if anyone had advice....?

Thanks, Alison x

03/01/2010 at 14:10
Watered down fruit juice and salt works for me.
03/01/2010 at 14:20
Thanks for your reply! How much salt?
03/01/2010 at 15:57

I put a good pinch of salt into "1.5 glasses water, 1.5 glasses orange juice".  very scientific

 If you're happy to buy non-aspartame, then try Taut - it's everything free and way less sugary than Lucozade.  Available in the supermarket (well I've found it in Waitrose and Sainsbury, haven't tried Asda or Tesco).

(I have no connection to Taut, just like it...when I remember to buy it!)

03/01/2010 at 16:05
Another fan of watered down fruit juice with a pinch of salt.  That's pretty much all that Taut is anyway.
03/01/2010 at 19:34
Yeah, just a good pinch will do the trick.
03/01/2010 at 19:49

The general recipe is 50% fruit juice, 50% water with a pinch of salt.  However, some recent research said the salt has no effect unitl you stop exercising so you might as well take it then.  If you like the tast of it and have a juicer why not juice a stick of celery instead of adding table salt - much better for you!

06/01/2010 at 15:09
Thank you so much for all your replies! Most helpful!!
06/01/2010 at 21:26
You could try the WHO home made oral rehydration salts (ORS) recipe, basically:

1 litre water
1 level tsp salt
8 level tsps sugar

Not a great taste, admittedly, but well balanced.
06/01/2010 at 21:33

I can't take aspartame, makes me feel very dizzy.

 This is what it says about Aspartame in the Bill Statham guide to food additives "prepared from phenylalanine and aspartic acid; breaks down to methanol then formaldehyde inthe body". 

nasty stuff.  On the gel side, could you add gelatine or agar agar etc to the mix?

07/01/2010 at 07:56
joybird wrote

 This is what it says about Aspartame in the Bill Statham guide to food additives "prepared from phenylalanine and aspartic acid; breaks down to methanol then formaldehyde inthe body". 

nasty stuff.  On the gel side, could you add gelatine or agar agar etc to the mix?

Hi Joybird! This is exactly my reasons for not wanting to have anything with aspartame in it...have been on this mission for some years now and really didn't want to have to have it if I could avoid it....so I am so grateful for all these responses of alternatives!

I have ordered some Taut drinks and will def try all the above recommendations too!

Thanks Ian for the rehydration formula too!

XXX

07/01/2010 at 09:37
Joybird, please could you tell me why aspartame breaking down into methanol then formaldehyde is a bad thing or why it makes aspartame "nasty stuff"?
07/01/2010 at 18:16
Hi M.ister W,  I used the guide to food additives published by Bill Stathamin 2007, who evaluates aspartame as "hazardous", and lists recorded potential bad effects. 
07/01/2010 at 18:26
Quite right too joybird. Steer clear of chemical cocktails. The body will normally make what chemicals it requires and in the appropriate amounts. 
07/01/2010 at 22:00

Wow someone else who thinks the same as me I got laughed out of a running shop for asking such a thing!

 I ran Dublin Marathon back in Oct and trained with diluted fruit juice - up to 20 mies was fine but during the marathon i felt like i needed something to keep me going but didnt want to risk having one of the gels they were giving out as I'd not had one before.(Permission to think I am really dumb now....) I did also bring an Organic Flapjack but was later told that my body would have taken ages to release the energy from that! But it's all so complicated...who would've thought you'd need a science degree to understand long distance running

 Am really getting into this now so if anyone knows what your body actually needs during running then please reply!? Is juice and a pinch of salt enough to get you round a marathon or could I do a better time if I drank all these chemicals!? Ta muchly x

07/01/2010 at 22:16
My vague memories of organic chemistry at A level is that any derivative of phenol is pretty damn nasty stuff.   Formaldehyde being used by Damien Hirst to pickle cows and Methanol is sheer brute alcohol.  Water, sugar, salt ..... good stuff.
07/01/2010 at 22:26

Perhaps I'm being thick, but why do sports drinks/gels have sweetener in them anyway?  Isn't the idea to take in carbohydrate in the form of sugar/glucose when on runs?  And isn't that sweet enough?

Puzzled...

07/01/2010 at 22:28
amywales wrote (see)

 Is juice and a pinch of salt enough to get you round a marathon or could I do a better time if I drank all these chemicals!? Ta muchly x

I don't think juice, liquid and salt would give you enough carbs to get round. In laymans terms, hitting the wall is due to the body running out of carbs and using fat. The point of gels is that they are easily digested, like fluid, so the body does not have to use energy on digesting them, unlike more solid food. Your digestive system does not work as well when under stress such as exercise, so solid food takes longer to digest than normal.

However gels are pretty new. It might be worth digging out a running book from the 1980s to see what during-race nutrition they advise. Failing that, would have thought a very ripe banana of two (easier to digest and more sugar) early in the race and more sugary foods such as jelly babies later on would be best. (Avoid choclate. It melts!) However do try this in training beforehand.

I would like to add that I am not a nutirtion expert (I can't even spell the word!) but that was the food I ate in cycle races. I managed over 260 miles in a 12 hour race with this food, although I admit I did also top up with some powerbars, gels and energy drinks. Hope this helps.

08/01/2010 at 00:57
Ok gang... It doesn't take much research to find how bad Aspartame can be. I read a bad report in The Guardian over 20 years ago, and have attempted to avoid it since.. I say attempted, because more often than not it's in pub lemonade when you order a pint of shandy...

But look here: http://www.health-report.co.uk/aspartame-toxic-effects.htm

I have been running for a mere 16 years, and completed 10 Marathons, and the only sports drinks I have used are my own made up Vimto, from the 'original' dilutable juice - the low sugar version is yet another victim to the aspartame devil. I also occasionally use mini jelly babies, or Asda's mini teddy bears for later sustinence. About 8 years back there was a feature in RW about making your own isotonic drinks, but my first attempt made me throw up after a tough 18 mile training run, so I reverted to the Vimto... all natural ingredients, and you make it as strong as you like... It gets the back of your throat if you make it too strong though. I have occasionally used gels in tubes... squeezy, I think... no aspartame, whichever one it was....

I tried pure orange juice, but couldn't deal with it. I usually have a ripe banana about 20 or 30 mins before a race start too.

Hope my experience has been some help.
08/01/2010 at 07:31
Cheers guys...I'll try some of the things suggested. As for Aspartame I can't believe the stuff is actually legal!x
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