Loving the Bite: Homemade Electrolyte Sports Drink

….And How to Lose Fat in the Off-Season.

Are you interested in improving your strength to weight ratio this off-season? Most likely, the answer is yes.  On the surface, it seems like a no-brainer: the lighter you are, the faster you can go.  The less you eat, the lighter you are. Eat less, go faster—right?

Not so fast.

Although most cyclists want to be as light as possible, most who’ve tried, know it’s also important to be strong. Unfortunately, the two don’t always go hand in hand. What’s more, oftentimes as cyclists attempt to lose fat, they tread between being light and feeling good and being light and feeling lousy, sickly and even undernourished.

In fact, some cyclists may shun fuel in an attempt to “oxidize” more fat, reach the fat-burning zone, and lose weight at the expense of their performance. Here’s a little secret: If this is your plan, and you’re a serious cyclist who trains for more than 90 minutes at a time, you’ll likely not meet your weight-loss or performance goals.

So, how can you accomplish your race or goal weight goals and still train well? The answer lies in knowing when to skimp, when not to skimp, and what to skimp.  And, I’ve got a low-calorie homebrew electrolyte sports drink for you for those times when you don’t need full training nutrition.

Recipe of the week: Homemade Low-Calorie Electrolyte Sports Drink


  • 21 ounces water
  • 1/8 tsp salt
  • 4 oz. 100% juice (can use black cherry for joint pain relief)
  • 2 tsp. sugar


Mix all ingredients together.  Use for training 90 minutes or less.

Nutrition Information: Per 8 oz. serving: 33 calories, 8 gram carbs, 100 mg sodium; Per hour @ 24 oz.: 100 calories, 24 grams carb, 300 mg sodium.



When to Skimp

When training for sixty minutes or less, you can likely get away with no extra fuel before, during, and after, and still train well (60-90 minute workouts are a bit of a gray area and should be examined on the basis of individual needs and benefit of consuming fuel versus cost and logistics of carrying it).  You can “time” a regular daytime snack or meal as pre-training fuel and a regular snack or meal as fuel for recovery afterwards (assuming you have a good, consistent eating plan).  You can also skip the high carbohydrate-loaded drinks and opt for a fluid with electrolytes and less carbs (see recipe above), water or nothing for hydration during training (depending on heat) and then hydrate well afterwards.

When Not to Skimp

However, if you’re training for 90 minutes or more without fuel, you won’t likely train to your potential.  This is where your athletic goals come in.  If you see every training session as an opportunity to improve, to push your limits further so your body can adjust to these new limits in recovery and continually increase your overall potential, you’re wasting time by not giving your body the fuel it can use and needs.  In research spanning the last twenty years, you’ll generally see an improvement in performance when carbs are added during training for sessions greater than 90 minutes.  Remember, this is not a subjective analysis of how an athlete feels during this training, but an objective measurement of how he performs.

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