Isotonic Drinks – What are they and how to prepare one at home?

Isotonic drinks can help you improve your body’s water balance.

If you practice long-term endurance sports, one of its benefits is to reduce muscle fatigue. Although you can buy isotonic drinks in the supermarket gondolas, you can also make them at home.

This article defines the concept of isotonic drinks, their benefits, and how to make one at home.

Isotonic Drinks: What are they?

An isotonic drink is a valuable sports drink for restoring fluid and electrolyte balance in the body during physical exercise.

The best-known isotonic drinks on the market are Gatorade and Powerade, although it is straightforward to make one at home.

The prefix iso refers to the same when we talk about isotonic drinks. In this case: the same concentration of salts as the cell interior.

The essential thing in isotonic drinks is that they have a concentration of mineral salts similar to those we have in cells (magnesium, potassium, and sodium chloride).

Although in some cases, they may contain carbohydrates (maltodextrin, fructose, glucose) or caffeine, vitamin complexes can also be added.

Effects of isotonic drinks: Are they suitable for running more?

The main advantage of sports drinks for athletes is not only quenching thirst and also the ability to avoid losing fluids.

Isotonic drinks are helpful for cardiovascular endurance workouts like running, especially for long runs and in hot, sunny climates. On the contrary, during training of fewer than 45 minutes, sports drinks will not bring additional benefits.

Isotonic drinks help to compensate for the loss of minerals caused by increased sweating, in addition to providing energy quickly and preventing the loss of muscle glycogen stores.

Remember that sports drinks are recommended for a cardio fitness workout that lasts longer than 60 minutes. Before a competition, it is recommended to combine them with BCAA amino acids to increase performance in resistance training.

Types of isotonic drinks

Isotonic sports drinks are sold both as a finished product (i.e., liquid in a bottle) and as dry concentrates to mix with water.

To make it at home, you can buy isotonic powder on tablets. Also, you can make a simpler version with honey salt or maltodextrin and the help of a scale. The types of isotonic drinks are:

  • with sugar
  • with honey
  • no sugar or diet
  • with a combination of salts
  • with sodium chloride
  • with multivitamin supplements, maltodextrin, etc

Isotonic Drinks – Advantages and Disadvantages

Isotonic electrolyte-minerals play an essential role in regulating the body’s water balance.

Loss of electrolytes with sweating can lead to poor performance in athletes, cramps, lack of coordination, and a drop in blood pressure. In the worst cases, the loss of consciousness.

Also, the lack of minerals in the body during physical resistance training is the reason for the increased viscosity of the blood.

The deterioration of gas exchange in capillaries leads to a significant decrease in work capacity and a lower performance in cellular respiration. The longer the duration of the training, the more noticeable these processes are.

As a downside, keep in mind that the composition of sports drinks like Powerade and Gatorade includes a significant amount of sugar. These carbohydrates have a high insulin index: they instantly increase the level of insulin in the blood.

Although this helps athletes train more vigorously, such a composition is not recommended for burning fat.

How to prepare an isotonic drink at home?

The key ingredient in preparing a homemade isotonic drink is sodium chloride (common table salt or Himalayan salt ). Also, it is recommended to add a pinch of baking soda.

The second ingredient is simple carbohydrates (honey, sugar, fruit juice). Properly prepared homemade isotonic drinks should taste slightly sweet with a salty aftertaste. To counteract this, you can use mint, ginger, lemon, coconut water, honey, or even fennel seeds.

Ingredients to prepare an isotonic drink at home:

Preparing an isotonic drink at home requires water, salt, and some source of simple carbohydrates. We choose honey, natural fruit juice, and sugar in this case. Some recipes for homemade isotonic drinks also include the addition of maltodextrin and other homemade complex carbohydrates.

  • 800 ml of water
  • 200 ml of natural fruit juice (or 10 g of fructose)
  • 1 g of table salt
  • 15 g of honey
  • 10g sugar
  • 1 pinch of baking soda
  • Mint, ginger, and lemon to taste

The ingredients should be mixed, and it is recommended to cool them to a temperature not lower than 10 degrees. It has been found that at a lower temperature, the effects of isotonic drinks on hydration are more minor. At a temperature greater than 20, they become an unappetizing liquid.

Can you add caffeine?

Some recipes for homemade isotonic drinks include energy components such as caffeine. Instant coffee is not an option as it ruins the taste of the glass. However, a natural source of caffeine can be concentrated green tea. The caffeine powder or tablets are the most practical and convenient option because they are easier to measure.

Adding caffeine to homemade isotonic drinks has its advantages and disadvantages. One of the effects of caffeine is to increase focus and improve maximum breathing capacity. In addition, caffeine is considered a diuretic and increases sweating, so it would counteract the effect of isotonic drinks on hydration.

Caffeine can increase the heart rate, an unwanted effect for athletic athletes. In short, getting used to adding caffeine to a sports drink is not the best idea.

ABSTRACT

Isotonic drinks are sports drinks that contain salts (electrolytes) and simple carbohydrates.

The main advantages of drinking this type of drink are to restore the balance of minerals in the body and reduce the dehydration processes that occur in resistance training.

Preparing an isotonic drink at home is possible with simple ingredients such as table salt and simple carbohydrate sources (honey, fruit juice) and water.

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