Feb 04 2010

A Sports Drink You Can Make at Home: Newt Nectar

Newt NectarStrenuous exertion can take it out of you. Literally. Exercise means sweating, and sweating depletes your body’s electrolytes and fluid levels. If you don’t keep hydrated and if you don’t maintain an electrolyte balance, you’ll run out of energy. But I often find it difficult to eat underway, because solid food just is not always appealing when I’m on the bike. Enter “sports drinks.” You know the stuff I’m talking about. HyperMarket shelves groan under the weight of thousands of bottles in dozens of shapes. And the contents come in every flavor of the rainbow, from berry red to very violet. Basically, though, each and every one does the same two jobs: they replace salts and replenish calories. What they don’t always do is taste good. OK. Maybe that’s too harsh. Let’s just say that they’re an acquired taste. Well, I’ve acquired it. And now that I make my own, I find I like it even more. I call my home-brew sports drink Newt Nectar. Why? Well, there’s history here. The spring-fed cistern from which we used to haul our water boasted a thriving population of newts. They always had plenty of energy, and my Newt Nectar makes me feel almost as lively, in hot weather and cold alike. Only the name’s original, however. The Nectar itself is just a variation on the “oral rehydration drink” described in the medical guide, Where There Is No Doctor.

Why would you want to make your own sport drink? Two reasons—cost and flavor. A twenty-ounce (600-mL) bottle of Very Violet (or Berry Red) can set you back nearly a buck at the local HyperMart. On the other hand, 20 ounces of my homemade Nectar costs only pennies. And my Nectar gets its flavor from real fruit juice. Want to imbibe the Nectar of the Newt yourself? It’s easy. Here’s how…

Tamia’s Newt Nectar

NB Makes 1 US quart, but you can scale it up if you want

  • 1/8 – 1/4 teaspoon ordinary table salt
  • 8 teaspoons sugar
  • 1 cup fruit juice (or the equivalent in juice powder)
  • Enough clean water to make up a quart

You also need a bottle that will hold one quart (or one liter—the difference between them is negligible). Put the salt and the sugar in the bottom of the empty bottle (but see WARNING below first). Then pour in the fruit juice. I prefer orange juice, but you can use whatever you like: grape, apple, mango, apricot, or…. Anything that takes your fancy, in other words. Now fill the bottle with clean water, stopper tightly, and shake. That’s it! You’re done. At home, I mix up Newt Nectar in advance and store it in the fridge till I’m ready to go. It keeps about as long as any other refrigerated juice. Be sure to shake it up again before you pour it out into your bike water bottle, though. Sugar and salt dissolve, but real fruit juice has solids that settle out over time.

Want to ring the changes? Feel free. Experiment. Adjust Newt Nectar to your own taste, altering the amounts of salt, sugar, and juice as needed. You can use an equivalent amount of powdered drink mix instead of fresh juice. (But watch out for added sugar and salt in the powdered drink mix.) The taste won’t always be great, but it’s at least as good as Berry Red or Very Violet.

WARNING! Salt (sodium chloride) is essential for life, but too much can kill you. And just how much is too much? That depends. The 1/8 – 1/4 teaspoon in my Newt Nectar works for me, but it may not work for you. If you have any doubts—and maybe even if you don’t—ask your doctor. This is especially important if you have, or think you might have, hypertension or heart disease. Diabetics also need to watch their sugar intake carefully. Sport drinks like Newt Nectar probably aren’t a good bet for them. Questions? Once again, ask your doctor.

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