Friday, April 20, 2012

Make Your Own Sports Drink (Gatorade Clone)

You see them everywhere, ads for Gatorade © or Powerade © or any number of sports electrolyte replacement drinks on television, in magazines, and on the internet. Promoted by athletes and other celebrities, sports drinks have become a worldwide multi-billion dollar industry. It has been estimated that Americans alone spent $500 to 750 million dollars on sports drinks in 2011.

With summer rapidly approaching and many of you will be out and about in the heat working, playing, sweating and consuming those well advertised sports drinks. Do not misunderstand me, I am not advocating stopping the use of electrolyte replacement drinks, rather I am in favor of reducing their impact on your wallet. Depending on where you live, sports drinks such as Gatorade © and Powerade © can cost anywhere from $1.00 - $2.00 for a 32 ounce bottle. What would you say if I told you that you could make your own electrolyte replacement drinks for 29 to 35 cents per 64 ounces that contain the same ingredients as their commercial counterparts? That's an amazing 3 to 5 cents per 8 ounce serving or a 95% savings over commercially made electrolyte replacement drinks!

Impossible, you say, not at all. In addition to flavorings, all sports drinks contain three essential items: carbohydrates (sugar), sodium (salt), and potassium. So lets examine the contents of the two most popular sports drinks sold today, Gatorade © and Powerade © to see what we need to make our own version at home.

As you can see Gatorade © contains 50 calories (14g sugar), 110mg of sodium, and 30mg of potassium per an 8 fluid ounces. Whereas, Powerade © contains 50 calories (14g sugar), 100mg of sodium, and 25mg of potassium per an 8 fluid ounces. Although there are some minor variations, both contain very similar amounts of electrolytes.

So what does it take to make your own sports drink? As you have seen, most sports drinks contain only four things: flavorings, sugar, salt and potassium. Sports drinks such as Gatorade © and Powerade © use high fructose corn sugar (HFCS) as their primary sweetener. HFCS is not readily available over the counter, however, Gatorade © powder which can be found on supermarket shelves uses sucrose (granulated table sugar) and dextrose (plant sugar, most often corn sugar) as it's sweeteners. It is this powdered formula that we are going to use as the basis for 'Frugalade' my version of a DIY sports electrolyte replacement drink.

Originally when I wrote this article back in 2012, I was just experimenting with making my own electrolyte replacement drink and listed two different recipes. The first used crushed potassium tablets to supply the potassium, however, the filler used to make the potassium tablets tended to settle in the bottom of the bottle, requiring you to shake it thoroughly before drinking. After a while I abandoned this formula so I have removed it as an option from this article.

Three years later, still use and enjoy the Frugalade Formula No. 2. It is by far the easier of the two formulas to make and it is cheaper as well. I have even streamlined the making process and have changed the instructions to include those changes. I have abandoned the 1/2 gallon recipe and make my frugalade in one gallon batches as I obtained a couple of old 1 gallon Gatorade container's from my mother-in-law. However, I have included both recipes in this updated article.

Frugalade (1/2 Gallon Recipe)

2 quarts of water (64 ounces)
1 package store brand or Kool-Aid powdered fruit punch
½ cup granulated sugar (387 calories, 100 carbohydrates)
¼ teaspoon Morton kosher salt (480mg sodium)
¼ teaspoon Morton Lite salt (290mg sodium, 350mg potassium)

Heat a pint of water (2 cups) in a small pan on the stove just until it boils, then add the sugar, and both salts and remove the pan from the heat. Stir until the sugar and salt are completely dissolved.

Add the powdered fruit punch or your favorite flavor of Kool-Aid mix to your water pitcher or 64 ounce container. Once the water with the salt and sugar has cooled, pour the water into the picture and add the remaining 1 1/2 quarts (6 cups) to your picture. Stir to combine, then refrigerate. Once  cold, use it as you would any sports drink.

Frugalade (1 Gallon Recipe)

4 quarts of water (128 ounces)
2 packages store brand or Kool-Aid powdered fruit punch
1 cup granulated sugar (387 calories, 100 carbohydrates)
1/2 teaspoon Morton kosher salt (480mg sodium)
1/2 teaspoon Morton Lite salt (290mg sodium, 350mg potassium)

Follow the same steps to prepare a 1 gallon of frugalade as you do for a 1/2 gallon batch, just make sure you top off your one gallon batch with the appropriate amount of water.

Chef's Note: I pour all of my dry ingredients into a 1 gallon Gatorade container, I use a small Sunbeam 'hot shot' hot water dispenser to heat up 2 cups of water then add the hot water to the gallon container, swirl it all around until it is mixed, then top it off with tap water, put the lid on it and throw it in the fridge. Takes me less than 5 minutes to make.

    As you can see, my Frugalade Formula is comparable in calories, and sodium to Powerade ©, and has less sodium than Gatorade ©. The trade off is that Frugalade has a higher potassium content at 44mg than both Powerade © (25mg) and Gatorade © (30mg). In addition, it only costs you 29 cents per 2 quarts or about 3 ½ cents per 8 fluid oz serving.Of the two, this is my preferred recipe, first because it is the cheapest, and second because their is no residue left in the bottom of the bottle as the potassium supplied comes from the salt which dissolves totally.

    Frugalade F2 (Gatorade G2 Clone)

    If you are a diabetic or are watching you caloric intake, you can make a G2 clone, by using Splenda in place of the sugar. We use the Walmart version of Splenda they use to call 'Altern' but is now simply labled as 'Great Value No Calorie Sweetner'. Using a sugar substitute does increase the cost quite a bit more, but it is still cheaper than buying G2. A cup of 'Splenda'  or  'Great Value No Calorie Sweetner weighs about 0.9 of an ounce.

    The current cost of 'Great Value No Calorie Sweetner is $0.46 and ounce, so it is going to cost you about $0.89 to make a gallon of my version of Gatorade G2. That's just under $0.06 for an 8oz serving. Gatorade G2 costs $0.32 for an 8oz serving. So making your own F2 is 81% cheaper than buying G2 at Walmart.

    The downside to F2 just G2 is the reduced caloric intake, if you are outside and doing a lot of physical labor, you may need the calories that the regular recipe of frugalade can provide, even if you are a diabetic.

    Low Sodium Variant

    If you are on a low sodium diet and are concerned about your sodium intake, then follow the directions to make Formula No.2 and reduce the the Morton © Lite salt to 1/8 teaspoon and you would end up with a sports drink with a sodium content of 78mg per serving and potassium of 22mg per serving.


    As for the taste, side by side I could not taste any difference between the two. I am not saying that Frugalade is delicious, simply that it tastes just like Gatorade © and that was my primary goal. If you want a wider variety of flavors, you may need to use Koolaid © brand of drink mixes. My local supermarket only has three flavors in the store brand: fruit punch, grape, and lemonade. This will increase the cost a little, as Koolaid © in my area sells for 20 cents as opposed to the store brand of 12 cents per package.

    While sports drinks are purchased by thousands of parents for their child athletes, unless your child is participating in intense sports activities such as soccer etc.; water is a better hydration choice. In addition, Frugalade, nor any homemade electrolyte replacement drink should be used by anyone who is experiencing diarrhea as it may make the symptoms worse especially in children. See the following section for more information regarding children and oral rehydration.

    If you are looking to find additional ways to stretch your food dollars, be sure and check out some of my other articles on the subject on our blog. And as always, if you have enjoyed this article, please share it with your friends and don't forget to send us a friend request on Facebook and Google+ so that you will not miss out on any of our new articles.

    Pedialyte © Abbott Laboratories

    Pediatric is an oral dehydration product produced by Abbott laboratories to help toddlers and children rehydrate during times of gastrointestinal distress in which the child is experiencing diarrhea and vomiting. It has been specifically formulated with lower amounts of sugar and higher amounts of sodium and potassium than other sports drinks. Like most commercial sports drinks, Pedialyte does not use fructose (fruit sugar), or sucrose (granulated table sugar) as sweeteners in there formulation as they can increase the effects of diarrhea by putting more water into the intestine due to the way they are metabolized by the body. According to their website, Pedialyte uses dextrose (HFCS) as it's primary sweetening agent which is metabolized differently by the intestines thereby avoiding the increased risk of diarrhea associated with fructose and sucrose.

    I mention this only because I have seen many recipes for homemade Pedialyte © solutions on the internet that contain sucrose as their primary sugar which can exacerbate diarrhea in children causing them to become more dehydrated. Therefore, you should not use any DIY electrolyte replacement drink if your child has vomiting or diarrhea. Let me repeat this, Frugalade or any other homemade electrolyte drink that contains, table sugar (sucrose) or fruit based sugars (fructose) such as apple juice should not be used when your child is actively experiencing diarrhea as it may increase their symptoms.


    1. "It should be noted that in their liquid form sports drinks such as Gatorade © and Powerade © use high fructose corn sugar (HFCS) as their primary sweetener."

      Not true. Gatorade in liquid form only has dextrose (glucose), while Powerade and most soft drinks use HFCS. Sucrose and HFCS both have a mix of glucose and fructose. Glucose and fructose are processed by the body differently, and I believe there's actually been some studies showing that glucose is less bad for you long term. (Which is likely the marketing reasoning behind Pepsico changing the sugar type, as Gatorade tends to be marketed towards slightly more health conscious folk than those who drink 2 liter Big Gulps)

    2. The information that I have found is that Gatorade formerly used HFCS as it's primary sweetner, but later changed to a dextrose/sucrose combination sometime around 2010-11. According to Backpacker Magazine", their G2 line is sweetened with a extract from stevia plant. You could substitute Splenda for the table sugar on an equal basis in these recipes (i.e. 1 cup splenda for 1 cup sugar etc...} and make a lower calorie sports drink similar to Gatorade's G2 series, however you lose most of the carbohydrate replenishing value of the drink.

      I have never used stevia or any of the stevia plant byproducts, so if someone decides to make one of these recipes using such, I would be interested in how it came out and how much they used to make a batch of Frugalade.

    3. How about paying the same money for hydration drinks that are much more healthier??

    4. I'd put coconut water in the Isotonic category. It's a great natural sports drink. I use it on my long runs. Just be sure to get the 100% coconut water. Here's a post I did on coconut water a while back. - carbohydrate sports drink

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