Homemade Isotonic Drink Recipe

Making your own isotonic sports drink is much easier than you can imagine.

How popular are isotonic drinks?

The Global Sports Drink Market was valued at USD 24.44 billion in 2020 and is likely to reach USD 32.61 billion by 2025


The driving force behind these figures are probably due to the increased perception of sports drinks helping to improve wellbeing, boosting endurance in workouts and just being a fashionable thing to do.

Sports drinks are predominantly made up of water, with a ‘few’ added ingredients mixed in that make the difference to perceived energy levels as opposed to just drinking water on its own.

There are a variety of sports drinks available which all have different effects on our brains and on our bodies.

The different types of sports include Hypotonic, Isotonic and Hypertonic.

All of which have different properties that the body reacts to in a variety of ways.

This particular article will focus solely on the role and benefits of isotonic sports drinks, and how you can create your own in a few simple steps.

What Is An Isotonic Sports Drink?

A drink is isotonic when it contains the same particulate concentration as blood. In order to determine this, we study the osmolarity of the drink, which must be between 270 and 330 mOsml / litre in order to be isotonic. So, a drink is hypotonic when less concentrated than blood


This is the scientific explanation, so unless you are a nutritionist, it kind of makes the whole thing even more confusing.

Here is an explanation in simpler terms:

Isotonic Sports Drinks are carbohydrate infused drinks, which are more effective in hydrating the body more quickly than regular water when undertaking exercise.

Dehydration can and will have a direct performance once at a certain level.

Fluid deficits greater than 2% Body Weight will affect your aerobic and cognitive performance

(Cheuvront et al.,2003; Sawka,1992)

This provides enough of a reason to understand, that just a slight drop in hydration can determine and negatively effect a training session.

They also provide a psychological and physical boost to fatigue, which allows you to train for longer, more effectively and more safely.

Common examples of Isotonic Drinks are Lucozade Sport, Gatorade and Powerade.

Do You Need Isotonic Drinks?

We often tend to follow the pack with a lot of our choices without ever realising.

When these drinks are readily available, presented nicely in a refrigerated vending machine in every gym across the planet it is easy to believe that you should drink one for ‘more energy’. This is how are they both portrayed and advertised.

It is not to say that they can not have a positive effect, but it may be useful to understand when you would really benefit from consuming an isotonic sports drink rather than following the pack.

Think for yourself!

They are clearly a popular choice amongst professional athletes, as well as recreational athletes and almost everyone that has done any form of exercise has probably consumed one.

When Do You Need Isotonic Drinks?

Isotonic drinks are most effective when consumed in any exercise that lasts more than 60 minutes and to avoid glycogen depletion, low blood sugar and risk of dehydration.

Their effectiveness does not have much added value before this time, and hydrating with water will have the same benefit for any moderate exercise lasting up-to 45 minutes.

If you are working out in the gym for 45 minutes or less, this indicates that the effectiveness of consuming one of these sports drinks may not have much of a positive effect on your overall output as widely assumed.

Simply staying hydrated and making sure you are consuming enough electrolytes as well, can be the difference between a great workout and one below standard.

What are electrolytes?

But if you are undertaking exercise which is of high intensity, isotonic drinks can play an important role under the 45 minute mark.

Consider that if you are working at over 80-90% of maximal output during any part of your workout, that the session to be classed as high intensity.

It would then be advisable to sip on an isotonic drink during and also sipping the same one after the workout is complete.

How To Create Your Own Isotonic Drink Recipe

The first thing you will need is a 1 Litre bottle to drink from.

If you only have a 500ml bottle or 750ml then only use 50% or 75% of the ingredients listed dependant on size of the bottle.

Isotonic Drink Option A:

  • 800ml water
  • 200ml squash (Cordial) E.G Robinsons
  • Pinch of Salt

Isotonic Drink Option B:

  • 500ml natural fruit juice e.g Orange or Apple Juice
  • 500ml water

Isotonic Drink Option C:

  • 60g Sucrose
  • 800ml warm water
  • 1g salt
  • 200 ml Cordial Juice

You can try lots of different flavours and combinations, but these recipes go to show just how simple it really is to create your own isotonic drink without all of the extra additives added in commercial drinks.

One will not be more effective than another, but they have been listed in order of simplicity and cost effectiveness.

Important Reminder: Make sure your drink is chilled when you consume.

Isotonic ‘Swishing’

Have you ever wondered why you see sportsmen and women ‘spitting’ their drinks out?

When you ‘swishing’ their drinks in their mouth and spitting them out, it is a common misconception that they are being wasteful.

Swishing the isotonic drink around in the mouth for a few seconds actually sends a signal to the brain, via the mouth and effects the brain the same way actually swallowing the liquid would. – Add citation

This can be more effective than actually drinking the liquid as to avoid carrying extra water weight and avoiding stomach cramps, which is why you often see athletes such as football players appearing to spit their drinks out rather than swallowing them.

Importance Of Hydration

Hydration plays a HUGE role in any successful exercise routine.

Remover that just a small dip in hydration can lead to negative effects on both decision making and performance.

The importance of hydration should not be underestimated.

Replacing glycogen stores to prevent low blood sugar and dehydration can be done more quickly by consuming an isotonic drink as opposed to just plain water.

Published by Thomas Jackson Smith

Personal Trainer. Qualified Strength and Conditioning Coach, Exercise Referral specialist, Football coach and entrepreneur. Interested in health and fitness, exercise prescription, football, nutrition, injury prevention, recovery and mindset improvement. Any views are my own and from my own experience. Looking to build links within the blog community, replying to feedback and offering support so we can learn and grow together!

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