How To Make Sports Drinks for Energy, Hydration and Workout Recovery

A Customizable Homemade Sports Drink Recipe

Sports energy drinks

The goal was to formulate a homemade sports drink that provides an energy boost, replaces glycogen stores, re-hydrates and aids in muscle recovery. Oh… and one more thing: it had to actually taste halfway decent.

The problem with sport drinks is that they’re formulated for moderate activity and mild hydration. The increased sweat-loss and calorie burn from high intensity training uses more of the athlete’s carbohydrate stores, which need to be replaced for the activity to continue. Plus, the amount of electrolyte replacement in almost all commercially available sport drinks is nominal compared to the actual salt lost through heavy perspiration. 

Busting the caffeine will dehydrate you myth. Caffeine is a known physical and mental stimulant. However, some of the data reported on caffeine is obsolete. In classic herd mentality, even some well respected Medical and University websites are still promoting the myth that caffeine is a diuretic and promotes dehydration.

Current research has shown that there is no significant difference in purged electrolyte or urine volume whether caffeine is consumed or not. In fact, when consuming moderate amounts of caffeine, the diuretic effect is just slightly higher than plain water! 

I didn’t need a study to tell me this. When I wrestled back in the Seventies, I was unsuccessful at using caffeine to dehydrate myself for weight loss. I was no more dehydrated with or without using caffeine. The links below are for anyone still trying to hold onto the myth.

Maltodextrin is a carbohydrate made from corn, rice or potato. It has a high glycemic index, which when combined with intense physical activity, speeds recovery of depleted glycogen stores. It is a sugar, but on its own, it tastes hardly sweet at all.

Carbohydrate and protein uptake is higher during and post intense activity when metabolism switches to the replacement of lost energy and muscle recovery mode. The pathways for distribution of these nutrients are enhanced via the increased blood flow throughout the body. 

Like carbohydrates, protein uptake is optimized when consumed within 30 minutes of intense physical activity. Compared to regular table salt, unrefined sea salt is loaded with minerals and provides an almost perfect sodium/potassium balance, which makes it an excellent for electrolyte replacement. Let’s get our measuring cups ready to roll.

Step 1

Here’s your list of ingredients:

  • 9 oz. Filtered Water
  • 3/16 cup Maltodextrin
  • 3 Tsp. Sugar
  • 1 ½ Tsp Liquid Whey Protein (fruit punch flavored)
  • 2 Pinch Sea Salt (unrefined)
  • 1 Tea Bag

Step 2

Filter 9-10 oz of filtered tap or bottled water, then place on a stovetop and bring to a boil for about 5 minutes.

Step 3

Pour 8 oz from the boiling pot into a Pyrex measuring cup. Take 1 tea bag and steep in the Pyrex cup for about 45 seconds, then take it out. If you prefer a stronger brew, keep the tea bag in longer. 45 seconds yields about 40 mg of caffeine. About as much as you’ll get in 1/3 of a cup of coffee.

Step 4

Then add the 3/16 cup maltodextrin and stir until fully dissolved. This stuff has the texture of cornstarch and takes a while to mix.


Step 5

After the maltodextrin dissolves, add the sugar, sea salt, and protein and stir vigorously until the entire mixture dissolves. Then let it cool and it's ready to drink.


The taste ain’t bad considering that the only thing on the market that contains more electrolytes is Pedialyte® …which tastes like medicine. Our brew tastes like a mildly sweet fruit flavored tea. You can easily eliminate the caffeine and maintain the same taste using decaf tea.

You can also tinker around with the formulation a bit to suite your taste buds. An example would be to add another teaspoon of sugar, use less salt or use another flavor of liquid protein. If you don’t like tea or you prefer to eliminate the caffeine altogether, an unsweetened powdered drink mix like Kool Aid® is a good substitute. 

Since maltodextrin has a high glycemic index which can spike insulin levels, persons with diabetes should consult their doctor before using anything containing maltodextrin.

Nutrition information per 8 oz serving:

  • Calories – 135
  • Carbs – 31gr
  • Protein – 4gr
  • Sodium – 210mg
  • Caffeine – 40mg 

Total cost:

About .37 cents a pint or $5.50 a gallon.

Rick Contrata is a certified personal trainer and sports nutritionist. For health and fitness articles about balance training and strength and conditioning, go to Vew-Do Balance Boards and Section One Wrestling.

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