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The Secret Behind Gatorade & How to Replenish Electrolytes Naturally

Let’s face it – Gatorade (and Powerade, etc…) is one of the worst things you could possibly put in your body. It’s made up of mostly chemically treated & refined sugar (as much as a typical soda), artificial colors, and other ingredients that are dreadful for your body.

One of the worst ingredients is Brominated Vegetable Oil which is added to some flavors to keep the drink from getting cloudy and the artificial flavor suspended in the drink. This controversial substance is linked to serious health consequences like skin rashes, severe acne and thyroid disease and is banned in Europe and Japan! (Update: Gatorade recently decided to phase out this ingredient due to a recent successful petition, but Powerade still contains it)

The new natural version of Gatorade still has chemically processed refined sugars and questionable natural flavor to cover up the fact there is absolutely no fruit juice in this drink to make their fruity flavors. To think athletes and exercise enthusiasts have started drinking this makes me sad.

Even more upsetting, my parents (sorry Mom and Dad!), not knowing any better at the time used to serve me Gatorade to make sure I was hydrated anytime I was under the weather. It was the remedy of choice for hydration in my household growing up…I remember orange was my favorite flavor and is the worst one for you.

Gatorade does do one thing. It replaces electrolytes. But what is the big secret behind the ingredients that do this? To replace electrolytes you don’t need some tricky formula, man made chemicals, refined sugars or colors. All you need is simple real food sources that provide a few key minerals like sodium, chloride, potassium and magnesium.

Here are 4 ways to replenish your electrolytes naturally and give your body some serious nutrition at the same time. Remember to choose organic ingredients whenever possible.

  1. Juice Celery + Apple + Lemon – This juice combination works wonders for replacement of electrolytes. The celery has a natural source of sodium, potassium, magnesium, chloride, and phosphorus. Apple provides additional potassium and natural sweetness. Lemon is the highest electrolyte containing citrus fruit.

  3. Stir Sea Salt + Baking Soda + Lemon Juice + Maple Syrup into 8 ounces of Water – This is a great natural remedy for serious endurance athletes – You might think drinking baking soda is a little weird, but it’s been used for centuries to treat various aliments. In this case, it’s added to the mix because it makes the body less acidic and provides an additional source of sodium bicarbonate.

  5. Shake Raw Coconut Water + Chia Seeds – Raw coconut water has a ton of electrolytes and potassium that will not only help you stay hydrated but also keep your body from getting any cramps. It is completely natural and very low in sugar. Combine this with a packet of chia seeds and you have a 1-2 punch! Chia seeds are an incredible energy food – full of omega 3 fatty acids, protein, fiber. These seeds have the ability to keep you from getting dehydrated because of they can hold 9 times their weight in water! There are travel packs available that don’t need refrigeration either – perfect for just throwing in your gym bag or purse.

  7. Blend Frozen Banana + Almond Milk + Kale – This smoothie is extremely hydrating. The banana provides a good source of potassium and magnesium which help regulate your fluid stores. Almonds are extremely rich in magnesium and potassium. When you make your almond milk, make sure you add sea salt (store bought almond milk already has salt added to it). Kale is a superfood and another excellent source of magnesium and calcium.

Now go outside and sweat, so you can enjoy one of these yummy combinations!

Food Babe

P.S. After I wrote this article, 2 news agencies reported about sports drinks – The Atlantic and NPR. These are must reads, check them out.

Specifically, The Atlantic reported that scientists 40 years ago were paid by these sport drink companies to tell us we would not be able to sufficiently hydrate ourselves with just water, that our children didn’t drink enough at meals, and that we would lose performance during sporting events if we didn’t drink this artificially flavored and colored salt water. These companies even developed school outreach programs to get to even more children to buy into the thought of drinking sports drinks at an early age. Are you shocked? I certainly am.

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300 responses to “The Secret Behind Gatorade & How to Replenish Electrolytes Naturally

  1. Thanks Food Babe for some much needed information! I referenced this article in a post I just wrote about Gatorade. I found it during research and I was like, duh! of course you have already researched this topic! I hadn’t even considered that we, as consumers, could make our own sports drinks. Can’t wait to try your recipes 🙂

  2. Thanks for these suggestions, I’m a Daniel Fast, which restricts my ability to drink and eat certain foods. When I was younger, my cardiologist suggested drinking it because of needing to increase my sodium intake. Which would be the best for this?


  3. As my whole family of 7 is going through the stomach bug and wanting to rehydrate everyone, I found myself in the grocery store aisle looking at the ingredients of gatorade and other options on the shelf (as I’m becoming more aware of doing this) and I ended up buying it anyway. We will definitely try the options you suggested and I thank you for continually opening my eyes to this garbage we have been putting in our bodies. Don’t cringe, but I actually gave my 3 year old some orange gatorade several hours after she was done throwing up, and it made her throw up again. I guess her little body knows that that stuff is toxic!

  4. Hi Foodbabe. I left this on your facebook post about electrolytes. I’m not sure if you want to use this or not, but… here it is if so.

    Hi Foodbabe. I love what you’re doing and all the great information you post. I recently read your post about alternatives for electrolyte replacement (to Gatorade) and thought I’d share these 2 recipes I found online (and tweaked). These are geared more for the “gym-goer” or “athlete” who needs a liquid.

    Homemade Liquid Electrolyte Recipes:

    Option 1:

    2 quarts of water
    5 tablespoons of (raw) sugar
    1 teaspoon of salt
    1 teaspoon of baking soda
    ½ teaspoon of salt substitute (potassium salt)
    (spritz of Organic apple or orange juice for taste and color… and so you can tell the difference in your fridge from the water)

    Option 2:

    1 quart of water
    8.5 oz Organic orange juice (citrus = natural source of potassium ions)
    3 tablespoons of lemon juice
    ¾ teaspoon of salt

  5. Thank you so much for the great information. I’m training for a sprint triathlon and really wanted to make my own, natural “sports drink.”

  6. Hi Food Babe,
    My company has also studied the negative effects of some of the sports drinks. Its amazing what we will put into our bodies simply because of advertising. We have developed Hydra-Blast hydration spray with 11 naturally sourced, polarized trace minerals that facilitate hydration on the cellular level. Rapid absorption. Rehydrates in seconds. There are plenty of healthy alternatives. Thanks!

  7. Wow. They paid off scientists? I am shocked too. I knew Gatorade wasn’t good for you and there was natural ways to replenish electrolytes but I didn’t realize how bad it was for you. I tend to not like really sugary things so I’ve never been a big fan of gatorade. Lemon water on the other hand is one of my favorite workout drinks.

  8. No, scientists weren’t so much “paid off” as all that. More like they had some vague, complicated data, leading to some basic principles which were then applied in a very “common sense” way. Mix that into a need to make something super-sweet and otherwise appealing to a consumer — the basis of adding sugar-loaded fruit juice into drinks, incidentally — and there you go, you have a sports drink.

    Gatorade et al work, but they’re not needed. I like the analogy between sports drinks and over-the-counter cold medicine — it has what you need but also a lot of other junk you don’t.

  9. OMG! I have CVID and have an IVIG infusion every 14 days. In order to hydrate before and after drank three powerades the day before and four the day of. YUCK. I am trying to help my body. I could cry. Thank you for the information.

    1. Don’t stress…you can’t change the past. Just move forward and make changes. Good luck!

  10. Maple syrup is a syrup usually made from the xylem sap of sugar maple, red maple, or black maple trees, although it can also be made from other maple species. In cold climates, these trees store starch in their trunks and roots before the winter; the starch is then converted to sugar that rises in the sap in the spring. Maple trees can be tapped by boring holes into their trunks and collecting the exuded sap. The sap is processed by heating to evaporate much of the water, leaving the concentrated syrup.,^,’

    Talk to you later

  11. Thank you Food Babe! This is great information. One question, I’m allergic to nuts. What’s a good substitute for the Almond milk for the BLEND?

    1. Not sure if you have checked in to this, but almonds are actually a seed. We have friends that have a daughter with a severe nut allergy and she can eat almonds.

  12. I really love this. I think I’m going to do the 1st option with the juice and make ready made Popsicles in the freezer for myself and my kids. Its hot in florida here and they always have a bottle of water nearby to hydrate but sometimes it just doesn’t do the trick. So I like this!

    Question. Do I do it in a blender or juicer?

  13. My son is an athlete and loves his gatoraide. I recently discovered that kiwi is a good source for potassium. He likes to juice kiwi with other fruit before practice. What is your opinion about kiwi? Also, I do not feel comfortable giving him baking soda. My dad’s cardiologist said never drink baking soda.

  14. Isn’t baking soda and acid (like lemon juice) what erupts in a baking-soda volcano in science class? Does that recipe work without reacting?

    1. Hi Rebecca – it is usually white vinegar – I have 2 boys so I have done my share of volcanoes. But yes, lemon juice can do the same thing. With these proportions, it will not erupt in your tummy. Great question!

  15. Thanks for the info FoodBabe! I am already a big fan of coconut water. One question, for the coconut water + chia seeds recipe, do the chia seeds need to be soaked to get gel-y or do they need to be blended to break them up? Or do we simply stick it in with the coconut water and drink it all down. Love your info, thanks in advance!

  16. Thanks for the great information! I just recently bought some Gatorade for my grandsons and I know their Mom buys a lot of Gatorade, so I’m grateful to learn this about Gatorade. Glad to be on your website, thanks!

    1. Glad you read the post! Hope you will pass it on to your grandsons’ mom…It is hard with kids because they want to drink it like everyone else.

  17. What timely advice! I’m passing this on to my FB followers. Thanks for addressing a much needed issue, FoodBabe.

  18. my doctor said I have low sodium but told me not to be too concerned about it. I started jogging about 5 months ago and sweat alot (in Texas) and drink lots of water. Lots. My question is how do I replenish the sodium without also adding sugar and calories after a work out? Instead of gaterade, what is a good healthy drink that will help? is sodium the same thing as electrolytes? If so, I can use the suggestions in the article, but I wasn’t sure if sodium and electrolytes are the same thing. The article seems to address electrolytes more so than sodium. thanks

      1. What article is Greg referring too.

        My son is a goalie. I want to get his off of Gatorade and soda.
        Very picky.

        Would this work for Gatorade replacement.
        #21. Homemade Liquid Electrolyte Recipes:
        1 quart of water
        8.5 oz Organic orange juice (citrus = natural source of potassium ions)
        3 tablespoons of lemon juice
        ¾ teaspoon of salt

  19. I am new to running and was recommended to try those honey stinger waffles before a run because they were suppose to be the most natural. I read the label at home and they still seem to be made with a lot of bad stuff. Any recommendations for something small I can make before a run that is highly digestible but gives me energy? I tried toast with honey but I think it is too heavy and I have to wait a while before I can take off. Also any replacements suggestions for those beans, gels, etc that you may know of would be much appreciated!!

    1. I’ve been using the little squeeze packs of organic applesauce. The ones with either just cinammon or nothing extra added to apples. I’ve replaced GUs and other sports “foods” on my bike with these for quick bursts of energy. Seems to not upset my stomach at all…

  20. I live in spain and I dough I can fined Maple Syrup. Anything else I can use instead? Thanks

  21. Thanks for this information. Do you have any estimates on how these drinks compare to Gatorade in the level of electrolytes offered? More/Less? Biggest question I keep getting asked when I recommend this alternative. Thank you again for all your hard work!

  22. Hi all, I came across your blog through Google if you are a comparable issue, your website developed, it appears great. I’ve saved as a favorite to help favorites|included with book marking.

  23. Thank you so much for this article. I have a poorly understood condition called Postural Orthostatic Tachycardia Syndrome. My cardiologist explained that by drinking more electrolytes, I would be able to help control the symptoms of dizziness. While this did improve, my drinking 2 gatorades a day started to seriously give me stomach aches. After I stopped the Gatorade, the pain was better. Nice to know there are other ways to get my much-needed electrolytes! Now if I can figure out how to manage my syndrome without the use of steroids and salt tablets… which are the only thing that work for me 🙁

    Can anyone help?

  24. Thanks for sharing this.

    Corporations + “Scientists” = Trouble

    I would like to think that “real scientists” would never do such a thing. But “real scientists” seem to be rare in the USA anymore.

    1. The old adage about, “Everyone has their price” applies to scientists as well as others. AND particularly to politicians. Real people can have ideals that will help them resist unethical tendencies. Politicians, on the other hand, almost invariably appear to embrace those unethical tendencies.

  25. I’m old enough to remember the original Gatorade, and the stuff today is not the old stuff. The old stuff was nasty tasting. It tasted like salt water … But I agree, make your own!! Or just drink water …

    1. LOL – – I remember that nasty stuff when it first came out also. I tried it once years ago and have never drank it since then. I never acquired the soda/ pop /soft drink habit either. I’ve had my share of other bad habits though.

  26. The point of Gatorade is not the salts. To understand the need for salt and the entire hydration equation- read Waterlogged by Dr. Timothy Noakes. The gist of it- supplemental sodium and electrolyte intake is unnecessary no matter how high the exercise intensity, duration or temperature.

    The point of Gatorade is the carbs. Muscles are starving for them during prolonged exercise. The more simple and refined- the better as digestion is severely impaired during physical activity. Gatorade is pretty good stuff, but should only be ingested by athletes who are training for hours at a time. Their marketing machine has led couch potatoes to drink it to “be like Mike.”

  27. I would think twice about the Baking soda; I had a good friend who was taking it as it was sold to her as a cancer cure, she almost died from a severe drop in potassium (an electrolyte) at the hospital they told her they see several cases a week of people almost dying from the potassium drop that the baking soda causes. After seeing that happen to my friend I dont even use pet product that contain baking soda.

    1. Like all things, moderation is the key. Even drinking an excessive amount of water can kill you. I have used baking soda in water all my life as a cure for heartburn, but I would never drink it regularly. For one thing, it tastes nasty, but a teaspoon of baking soda in about 6 oz of water is an instant cure for heartburn.

    2. I think you’re right on this. I took 1 a small amount of baking soda for a few days (less than a 1/4 of teaspoon) and at night it would make my heartbeat flutter. I think I’m already a bit low in potassium so that just pushed me a bit over the edge. Even in moderation be careful if you have other underlying medical problems.

  28. One of the reasons that the idea that Gatorade is good for an athlete persists is because the company has donated a lot of money to the schools and programs that train athletic trainers. The trainers are the people that are supposed to help athletes stay healthy. Personally, I recommend that anyone that spends a lot of time in the sun or doing high powered athletics carry a bottle of Kool Off ( with them. I’ve seen heat exhaustion and it isn’t pretty. When you are on hot roof, it is not the time to try and whip up a homemade brew.

  29. As a scientist (MS Computer Science / Washington State University 1989) with a strong background in mathematics (logic is a branch of mathematics) – I read this article with a large dose of skepticism (I am also a member of CSICOP). My first question: who is this Food Babe? Furthermore, what are her credentials? I searched the website and only found a large array of promotional photos (appearances with celebrities and POTUS). I looked for a CV – searching for a degree (or two) in science, engineering or similar. Perhaps these credentials are well hidden because I could find nothing to reveal any level of scientific background for this self-anointed consumer activist. Why are credentials important? Simple — the credentials and bearing of the messenger establish the context from which all issuances are to be evaluated and judged. The act of judgment is the highest level in the taxa of thinking. The exercised capacity for thinking is what separates human beings from animals.

    The so-called controversial studies referred to in the article are just that — controversial. They are written to sell ad-copy. Further, the listed ingredients for the make-it-yourself energy drink can also cause cancer – look it up in any medical journal – lemon (citrus) can act as a cancer escalator in some cases. And so goes the controversy.

    More practically speaking – with multiple careers, real-estate to develop, mathematical articles to review and all the rest, I neither have the time nor inclination to follow any recipes. I do what I do very well – and am paid handsomely for it. I then employ my earnings to purchase those products and services made by others to advance my own state of well being. Off-the-shelf consumer energy drinks are one example of such a product.

    Continuing on the practical bent – I am a full-spectrum athlete: mountain climber, endurance hiker, marathon runner. My being near the top of the health-spectrum, I can tell you that Gatorade and the rest of these energy drinks are not, as claimed, one of the worst things that you can put into your body. Agreed, there are better alternatives – but you get them for a price – in terms of time, energy, portability and convenience. Gatorade, when employed in a measured fashion, has a lasting positive result. I am an example of the living physical proof of that claim.

    In summary, the value of a message is primarily established in the realm of its context. This Food-Babe has very little in sphere of objective context. Gatorade and similar sports-drinks are in no way deleterious to human health to the extent reflected in this article. As an individual human thinker (and scientist), I will continue to cast a skeptical eye on the dubious claims of the self-anointed and make choices to optimize the yield of my time and monetary investments.

    1. Do an internet search “brominated vegetable oil nih”. Then “fd&c nih”. I use the National Institue of Health being you seem skeptical of views that are not published in a respected scientific institution. Fd&c is banned in many places around the world because it is HIGHLY carcinogenic. Brominated vegetable oil (in Powerade) causes a plethora of nasty side effects. The sugar (heavily refined sucrose, “burnt sugar” from the cheapest sources possible), well you should be smart enough to figure that one out on your own. I would add the links for you but another post of mine was vexxed when I did so.

      This is only part of the story as the natural flavors is an unknown and there are other added chemicals that are not intended for human consumption. Just to add NIH has also conducted studies that find lemon contains citrus coumarins that actually fight cancer. Citrus oil has been shown to prevent squamous cell carcinoma along with other types of cancer.

  30. Hi. Just spent 5 hours last nite in the ER with my 17 year old son, suffering from dehydration at football practice. Sitting in the waiting area, checked out the soda machine that was loaded with “Energy Drinks”, pop, some version of Gatorade, and orange juice. (Yuck) After the 2 IVs of whatever it is they re-hydrated him with, they told him to be sure to drink lots of Gatorade and water during practice!!! I agree with the water part, but I was floored they didn’t suggest something natural to maintain hydration. So, just goes to show, not even ‘health care profession’ is concerned with natural choices.

    1. So sorry to hear that – glad he is ok. Absolutely, many health care professionals recommend things with terrible ingredients – gatorade, ensure, pedialyte etc.

      1. Pedialyte is not good eighter???? That’s what my doctor prescribes every time my kids get sick and are vomiting or have diarrhea..

  31. You think I’m going to get all those ingredients together, mix this and that, and have $40 of raw ingredients left over on my shelf when I can just pick a gatorade off the shelf for $1 a bottle?

    1. Hi! Just squeeze about one half lemon (or more if you like the taste)

  32. so my daughters cross country coach insisted that she drink Gatorade I showed up at her me and she had one of those bottles in her hand I was so upset. I am so glad you re posted this but I had a question can I pre make any of these early in the morning when her meets are in the afternoon or do I have to make them right before she runs and should she drink a little bit before the run and the rest after the run I was thinking of pre making the number 2 the stir one with baking soda

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  34. I make different variations of the maple syrup/lemon juice add to water one. I will make up a large batch and put into a glass container. My daughter will drink it, and it is cheaper and better for her than juice.

  35. We made the switch to coconut water this year for my son’s soccer practice/games. He is an avid label-reader, even at 11. Once he read was in the typical sports drink he was more than ready to leave that stuff on the shelf.

  36. There are so many coconut waters out there now. Afraid to get one that is overly pasteurized. Which do you recommend?

  37. I will definitely be avoiding Gatorade in the future, thanks! What would you recommend to drink when you (or your little one) have a stomach bug? I can’t imagine drinking some of those ingredients, like kale, after throwing up.

  38. Any recommendations for a ‘pre-packaged’ drink when we are responsible for bringing a drink/snack to my childrens sporting games and practice?

  39. Shaklee’s Performance Pure Hydration Drink has been scientifically proven to enhance endurance more than any other sports drink for Olympian and other elite athletes for decades, and is used by astronauts at NASA since the 90’s. As parents of 4 children we’ve loved Performance Drink since the early 90’s too in multiple ways. Fantastic not only for extreme exercise, but also working on hot days, GREAT when anyone was sick (blows gatorade and pedialyte away in non-toxic effectiveness!), fasting, or needing a refreshing drink. Love that it is not only the most effective for rehydration and endurance, but also has no sucrose, artificial colors, additives, or sweeteners in it!

  40. Thanks for the article! Definitely going to keep this on hand for when I start working out again.

    Speaking of which, after following her advice (avoiding chemicals/artificial dyes/etc, eating real, whole foods and using natural cleaners/bathroom stuff), I’m finally recovering from severe chronic asthma. Haven’t had an er visit yet this year (which is a new record for me, used to average several trips a year) and I’m now working off a majority of my medication (along with a dr’s advice). It’s awesome. =)

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