Nutrition and Wellness

Make Your Own Electrolyte Drink: Improve Hydration and Recovery


Replenishing electrolytes and maintaining hydration is essential for individuals who work out, fitness enthusiasts, and those who play recreational or serious sports and want to improve overall health. Can making a homemade sugar-free electrolyte drink help individuals achieve health goals faster?

Homemade Electrolyte Drink

Sports drinks can help replenish the body’s lost electrolytes. Individuals who follow a low-carb diet and exercise or who are on a low-carb diet and get sick need double the added electrolytes. There is evidence that electrolytes are very effective in regulating the body’s fluid balance, especially during and after exercise or illness, and for those on a strict low-carb diet. (Maughan R. J. 1991)

Why More Electrolytes Are Needed

On a low-carb diet, insulin levels drop, so the kidneys retain less sodium. As the body excretes water, important minerals, such as the electrolytes calcium, sodium, magnesium, chloride, and potassium, are also excreted from the body’s system. Therefore, it is important to replenish them to avoid negative symptoms like lightheadedness and dehydration—especially when exercising or ill. (Bostock E. C. S. et al., 2020)

  • Two tablespoons of lemon juice contain almost the same amount of potassium in an 8-ounce sports drink.
  • A pinch of salt supplies 110 milligrams of sodium, the same amount in 8 ounces of a sports drink.

Individuals can make a low-carb homemade electrolyte sports drink. Many sports drinks contain a lot of sugar and other additives. The science behind why many of these drinks contain sugar is that a quick hit of sugar provides glucose for replenishing energy stores. Most individuals benefit from having small amounts of carbohydrates during heavy exercise. However, those who want to avoid sugar might want a sugar-free option to replace fluids and electrolytes.

Basic Recipe

Homemade Electrolyte Drink Mix:

  • 1 cup or 8 ounces of non-carbonated water
  • Two tablespoons of lemon juice
  • A small pinch of salt—a teaspoon contains 2,300 milligrams of sodium, but the body needs 1/20th of a teaspoon.
  • Flavoring and sweetener for taste are optional. Try unsweetened Kool-Aid, Crystal Light Drink Mix, or sugar-free flavored syrups.
  • If avoiding artificial sweeteners, Stevia could be an option.

Sports Drink Ingredients

What goes into most sports drinks and adapting to a low-carb diet?


Water is a primary ingredient, as the goal is to hydrate the body.


Sports drinks can contain a lot of sugar, but only about half the sugar of most commercial beverages. For example,

  • A 20-ounce bottle of Gatorade has about 34 grams of sugar.
  • A 20-ounce soda has about 69 grams of sugar.

Sports drinks have less sugar to prevent gastrointestinal cramping during exercise and strenuous physical activity. Although Gatorade contains less sugar than soda, depending on individual health goals, it may not be the best option. Studies of nutritional needs during exercise for those restricting carbohydrates are not extensive. However, it is known that when individuals cut carbs, their bodies switch from primarily using carbohydrates to using fat for energy. This change, known as keto-adaptation, can take two to three weeks. Native populations, like the Inuit, traditionally ate a very low-carbohydrate diet and could maintain vigorous endurance for a long time without ill effects. (Phinney S. D. 2004) This suggests that bodies adapt to using fat for energy during physical activity and exercise over time. However, cutting carbohydrates too much and too soon can lead to symptoms like the keto flu. (Harvard Medical School, 2018). Individuals may need to replace carbohydrates during training for longer, more vigorous workouts, such as running longer than an hour. In addition, what is eaten before and after exercise can also affect physical performance. Working with a registered dietitian, nutritionist, or health coach could be helpful to achieve specific fitness goals.


Electrolytes are molecules of certain minerals that contain an electrical charge. The nervous system runs on those charges generated by manipulating molecules called ions. (Faber D. S. and Pereda A. E. 2018) Every body function that depends on the nervous system, which includes muscle movement, breathing, digestion, thinking, etc., requires electrolyte activity. Those who exercise strenuously for long periods, individuals who follow a low-carb diet, or those with illness may need extra salt and potassium. Sports drinks contain small amounts of sodium and potassium. A balanced diet will supply plenty of minerals for electrolyte needs for individuals engaged in moderate exercise.

Using an integrated approach to treat and prevent injuries and chronic pain syndromes, improve flexibility, mobility, and agility, and help individuals return to normal activities, Injury Medical Chiropractic and Functional Medicine Clinic works with primary healthcare providers and specialists to develop a personalized treatment, nutrition, and fitness programs. Each case is different and requires reviewing individual medical history and physical examination to determine the proper and most effective plan.  Dr. Jimenez has teamed up with top trainers, clinical specialists, medical researchers, and rehabilitation providers to provide the most effective treatments and training.

Is Intermittent Fasting the Ultimate Weight Loss Hack?


Maughan R. J. (1991). Fluid and electrolyte loss and replacement in exercise. Journal of sports sciences, 9 Spec No, 117–142.

Bostock, E. C. S., Kirkby, K. C., Taylor, B. V., & Hawrelak, J. A. (2020). Consumer Reports of “Keto Flu” Associated With the Ketogenic Diet. Frontiers in nutrition, 7, 20.

Phinney S. D. (2004). Ketogenic diets and physical performance. Nutrition & metabolism, 1(1), 2.

Harvard Medical School, Harvard Health Publishing, Marcelo Campos, M., Contributor. (2018). What is keto flu? Harvard Health Blog.

Faber, D. S., & Pereda, A. E. (2018). Two Forms of Electrical Transmission Between Neurons. Frontiers in molecular neuroscience, 11, 427.

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Professional Scope of Practice *

The information herein on "Make Your Own Electrolyte Drink: Improve Hydration and Recovery" is not intended to replace a one-on-one relationship with a qualified health care professional or licensed physician and is not medical advice. We encourage you to make healthcare decisions based on your research and partnership with a qualified healthcare professional.

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Our information scope is limited to Chiropractic, musculoskeletal, physical medicines, wellness, contributing etiological viscerosomatic disturbances within clinical presentations, associated somatovisceral reflex clinical dynamics, subluxation complexes, sensitive health issues, and/or functional medicine articles, topics, and discussions.

We provide and present clinical collaboration with specialists from various disciplines. Each specialist is governed by their professional scope of practice and their jurisdiction of licensure. We use functional health & wellness protocols to treat and support care for the injuries or disorders of the musculoskeletal system.

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Our office has reasonably attempted to provide supportive citations and has identified the relevant research study or studies supporting our posts. We provide copies of supporting research studies available to regulatory boards and the public upon request.

We understand that we cover matters that require an additional explanation of how it may assist in a particular care plan or treatment protocol; therefore, to further discuss the subject matter above, please feel free to ask Dr. Alex Jimenez, DC, or contact us at 915-850-0900.

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Dr. Alex Jimenez DC, MSACP, RN*, CCST, IFMCP*, CIFM*, ATN*


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