For the past few years I’ve relied on Accelerade Fruit Punch to nourish me through intense running workouts. However, as this year I’ve shifted more to cycling, I’ve been doing less intense workouts and don’t need as high of concentration of sugar. I started using Skratch Labs Exercise Hydration Mix, which has half the calories and more sodium (important since I sweat a lot). However it doesn’t have any protein, which is important for endurance events. After getting inspired by Allen Lim’s story (Skratch Labs’ founder) of creating the recipes in his kitchen, my inner DIY demon took root and I decided I had to give it a go creating my own sports drink.
Research and Recipe Creation
I started by looking at the ingredient lists and nutritional information for Accelerade and Skratch Labs to understand what goes into those. I also did research online for other individuals who had began this same quest. One important aspect to me was to try and use natural ingredients – I didn’t want to give in and use artificially flavored Kool Aid because I was pretty sure I would find it disgusting after a couple swigs.
It didn’t take long to figure out that essentially all the ingredients to a basic sports drink are easily available online. Whey protein powder, vitamin C, magnesium, calcium, etc. are all available through health food stores. Potassium is a key ingredient in “Lite Salt”. Taking a hint from Skratch, I picked up some freeze-dried strawberries at Trader Joe’s to flavor my mix.
My first batch tasted good but was a little milky-almost like strawberry Quik. I attribute that to the presence of the Whey Protein powder, so I backed off in the next batch. It drink also lacked the thirst-quenching punch of citric acid. So I broke down and bought some Lemonade Kool-Aid, which is naturally flavored but (alas) artificially colored. With these tweaks complete, I ended up with the following recipe.
Yield: 20 x 12oz servings
I did all measuring using a digital kitchen scale in grams.
- NOW Vitamin C Crystals – 0.56g, about 1/8 tsp
- Morton Lite Salt – 5g
- NOW Calcium Magnesium Powder – 8g
- Kosher Salt – 9g
- Kool Aid Unsweetened Lemonade – 2 packets (13g)
- Trader Joe’s Freeze Dried Strawberries – 1 bag (34g), pulverized in mini food processor and then strained to remove seeds
- Jarrow Unflavored Whey Protein Powder – 80g
- NOW Carbo Gain (Sugar – Maltodextrin) – 100g
- Sugar (regular table sugar) – 260g
Add the ingredients in the order listed above, at each step making sure they are thoroughly mixed. This helps ensure the smaller-quantity ingredients are evenly distributed through the drink mix.
Once it is mixed well together then weigh the entire mix and divide by 20 to see how many grams to add per 12oz of water. My total was 520g/20 = 26g. I had an old Gatorade scoop that delivered this much mix, so I’m just using that.
Here’s a comparison between the different drinks in 12-oz dosage.
|Accelerade||Skratch Labs||Chuck Drink|
|Vitamin C (mg)||75||17||28|
|Vitamin E (mg)||10||0||0|
|Cost per serving||$0.62||$1.00||$0.40|
The main cost driver is the freeze-dried fruit – $0.15 per serving. The protein is $0.10/serving. So if you wanted to go cheaper you could cut those out (Gatorade is $0.15/serving for reference).
Taste is pleasantly lemony and not too sweet. The protein is understated (lower ratio than Accelerade) but still there. Thanks to the lemon, the drink doesn’t taste like Strawberry Quik. The best thing is that the recipe is fully customizable depending on your activity and tastes. There are a variety of freeze-dried fruits on the market: berry blend, strawberry, raspberry, blueberry, tropical fruit, apple, and more.
The only thing that’s left is picking the right name. The leading contender is “Chuckleberry” but I’m open to more suggestions.