The quest to find the perfect sports recovery drink is globe-spanning! Major sports drinks companies are forever competing to find a better mix of water, sugar, salts, and other nutrients to help us recover more quickly from hard workouts, build muscle faster, and knock down more personal bests in our chosen sports.
Natural remedies may already have them beat, though, as there are a number of excellent sports recovery drink options out there in the natural health world. A combination of one or more of the following suggestions for sports drinks or post-workout meals may help you build the body you've been working toward!
Natural Remedies: A few recent medical studies have found the mix of water, protein, and nutrients in chocolate milk to be an almost perfect sports recovery drink. Apple cider vinegar, honey, and water has been a recovery drink at least back to Roman times.
Our readers offer information and opinions on Earth Clinic, not as a substitute for professional medical prevention, diagnosis, or treatment. Please consult with your physician, pharmacist, or health care provider before taking any home remedies or supplements or following any treatment suggested by anyone on this site. Only your health care provider, personal physician, or pharmacist can provide you with advice on what is safe and effective for your unique needs or diagnose your particular medical history.
Arnica Gel, Epsom Salts, Ice
[YEA] 03/13/2006: Deirdre from Los Angeles: "I use arnica gel to help in recovering from sore muscles from rigorous martial arts workouts. I also supplement with potassium once in a while. However, I've noticed that potassium lowers my already low blood pressure so I need to be careful with that one! Soaking in Epsom Salts is another technique I use from time to time. I cannot stress the importance of ice packs on an injury! They bring swelling down quickly."Replies
[YEA] 12/29/2009: Sweet Bug from Stone Mountain, Ga replies: "arnica gel is a must my daughter plays basketball and whenever she got a sprained ankle i put it on and the next she's fine coming from being very swollen and not being able to walk. Its all so great for bruises and the arnica tablets work great in conjunction with the gel. I've just never seen something that heals things so fast."
Ascorbic Acid, Potassium Bicarb, Magnesium Citrate
[QUESTION] 10/16/2009: Randy from Pascagoula, Ms, USA: "Ascorbic Acid, Potassium Bicarb, and Magnesium Citrate powder-how much to take daily?
I just purchased from a bulk herb company a few one pound bags of Ascorbic Acid, Potassium Bicarbonate, and Magnesium Citrate powder. I don't have any idea how to convert the tbsp/tsp to equal what I was taking in pill form. Does anyone know how to convert it? Also, I like to run 4-5 miles every other day and I lose about 2-4 pounds of sweat/water after the run, is there a recipe for electrolyte replenishment? I remember Ted saying something about 1/4 potassium and sodium bicarbonate but not sure how much daily and after excessive sweating. Thanks for any help."
[YEA] 01/25/2013: Anon from Anon: "Don't know how safe this is but I mix a solution of baking soda and water (5 teaspoons of baking soda, 1 liter of water) and drink it all quickly after using the treadmill for an hour. Then in about 30 to 50 minutes I get really thirsty and begin drinking plain filtered water. After an hour or two the water mixture goes right through me. Then I drink lots of plain filtered water and eventually eat some light fruit or celery until my digestion is back to normal. Afterward I feel very light and relaxed and never get sore or tired muscles from exercising. I even feel great the next day. Sometimes I get nauseous or light headed right after drinking it if I do it wrong. I make sure not to eat anything or drink anything for a few hours before or the water mix gets absorbed instead of going through. It completely removes all desire for anything besides fresh raw fruits and vegetables and water. I don't feel hungry. My digestion is much less sluggish afterward if I stick to the raw fruit and vegetables. My thinking is very clear and relaxed. I'm not sure how safe it is because that's a lot of salt at once, and a lot of bicarbonate. I got the idea from that diet where you fast and drink lemonade with cayenne pepper."Replies
01/25/2013: Anon from Anon replies: "Hi, be careful with this. I wouldn't recommend it, you could be putting a strain on your kidneys."
[YEA] 09/02/2008: Tami from Greenville, S.C.: "In response to Marea, who asks about a sports energy drink for her son... I have this suggestion. Coconut water. This is a natural, highly nutritive substance which I feel will meet your son's needs quite nicely. It is, quite possibly, the perfect after sports beverage. It is easy to come by providing you can secure a coconut, hammer, and screwdriver. Enjoy."Replies
[YEA] 09/03/2008: Melissa from San Diego, CA replies: "I concur about coconut juice. When I suffered from severe dehydration, it was the only thing that got me back. Now I use it preventatively before, during, or after intense exercise. It is even used in IV's for severe dehydration because it has the perfect balance of electrolytes. It tastes good and none of the fructose etc. of sports drinks. there are several brands you can buy at stores such as Henry's, Jimbo's, Whole foods etc."
02/23/2009: Marea from Dallas, Texas replies: "SPORTS RECOVERY REMEDIES - THANK YOU
TO TAMI, FROM GREENVILLE, SC; TO MELISSA FROM SAN DIEGO, CA; TO HELEN FROM AUSTIN, TX
I have been traveling extensively, so I didn't realize you had all responded to my inquiry. Thank you! I love Coconut water and have used it at home many times, but we don't have access to coconuts regularly and the grocery stores carry them only seasonally, if at all. That is why I was wondering if an electrolyte sports drink could be made with just everyday common wholesome natural ingredients. When available, I will definitely try the coconut water as electrolyte replacement for my son who perspires profusely under his catcher's gear in baseball. I will also try the salt, sugar and water that Helen suggested, except that I will use sea salt, and substitute maple syrup for the sugar. I wonder if that will still work, and also wonder if Apple Cider Vinegar will do for the potassium, and how much???
Marea from Dallas, Texas"
[YEA] 04/25/2009: Danielle from NYC, NY replies: "I agree. Personally I love [coconut] water. It's great for hangovers too!"
Salt, Sugar and Water
[YEA] 09/03/2008: Helen from Austin, TX: "Someone asked how to make a sports drink for after athletics.
The rehydration formula being taught to the third world (to save babies from dying of dehydration) is a pinch of salt, a palm-full of sugar, to half a liter of water.
(If you like, you may add a small sprinkle of potassium, sold as fake table salts such as Nu-Salt next to the regular table salt in the grocery).
I drink the salt, sugar, water mixture whenever I feel dehydrated. The body absorbs this much better than plain water.
Use a search engine to look for "rehydration formula" and you'll find several home versions recommended by World Health Organization, including this simple one and several with more ingredients and more precise measurements.
I once bought a box, about the size tea bags come in, called Electrolyte Stamina, 32 packets of powder you dump in water and claims to have all the major electrolytes. There are undoubtedly other prepared mixes you just add water to. But the home salt/sugar/water formula perks me up. The salt and sugar make the water thinner, drinking a whole glass or more at one time is easy."
Sports Recovery Drinks
[QUESTION] 09/02/2009: Fran from Pittsburgh, Pa: "I am interested in a sports drink with no sugar. I hear orange juice is good. I also am interested in finding out about adding potassium tablets, and how much, also how much salt."Replies
09/02/2009: Robert from Manhattan, New York replies: "there are a few brands of Coconut water on the market... a couple have saved me from dizziness and the shakes from last summers heat spell in the city. I prefer these over sports drinks for their natural electrolyte content & sweetness without sugar. Very high in potassium, about 670 milligrams per serving. Even better, (better tasting) buy a fresh young coconut if available and drink the juice...(some stores in manhattan sell them)"
09/03/2009: Kyra from Cortlandt Manor, Ny, Usa replies: "I agree with Robert. Coconut water is the best choice. I drink it daily. Be sure to purchase a natural coconut water made from young coconuts with no sugar added."
[YEA] 08/04/2007: "My right knee was injured playing softball. A very smart alternative health practitioner told me that all illness, ie staph, strep and any virus, etc goes to the injury area. She said if you want any injury area to heal, you need to give it added nutrition and support. Since I had some liquid Trace Minerals at home, I put a quarter size amount on my palm and rubbed it onto my knee. After doing this for two weeks my right knee felt stronger than my good left knee. Later playing racquetball, I injured my left knee - and the Trace Minerals came thru again! I now apply liquid Trace Minerals directly externally over my heart, liver, kidneys, pancreas and colon. Plus my knees! This is incredible!"Replies
11/07/2009: Vreed27 from Edmonds, Wa replies: "where do you find Trace Minerals at?"
EC: Trace minerals can be found at most health foods stores and online.