Speedy Recovery: DIY Natural Energy Drinks

After a harrowing, sweaty victory in the third set, a speedy delivery of nutrients to replenish your body is important, according to John Ivy, Ph.D., a professor of kinesiology and health education at the University of Texas at Austin. You’ve got an optimal 30 minutes post-exercise to reboot your muscles’ glycogen stores and repair tissue, which then reduces fatigue and soreness. Sure, you can down a sugar and chemical-laced over the counter energy drink, or if you want to go the natural route…make it yourself! Invest in a Vitamix or a Magic Bullet to make your life easier and try any one of these easy recipes, each scientifically proven to work.

Baking soda sipper

Lactic acid causes the “burn” you feel when muscles are overloaded or overtaxed. Research in the International Journal of Sports Medicine suggests that adding baking soda to your water after intense cardio intervals can prevent soreness and stiffness.

4 cups water (or 1 liter)
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon sea salt
2 tablespoons sugar or agave nectar
1 tablespoon freshly squeezed citrus juice

Combine all ingredients in a bottle. Shake well to mix.

Homemade chocolate milk

“With its perfect mix of protein and carbs to speed muscle recovery, you can’t ask for a better post-workout drink than chocolate milk,” says William Lunn, Ph.D., an exercise scientist at the University of Connecticut. Experts recommend it for serious workouts (1.5 hours or longer) like those never-ending tie-breakers.

To make syrup
1 cup water
1 cup honey or agave nectar
1 cup unsweetened cocoa powder, preferably Dutch-process
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract

In a medium saucepan, bring water and honey to a boil, whisking until honey is dissolved. Add cocoa and salt; mix well with a whisk. Let mixture simmer until thick, whisking continually to keep from scalding. Remove from heat and allow to cool. Add vanilla. Pour into an airtight container and refrigerate.

To make chocolate milk

1 tablespoon homemade syrup
8 ounces skim milk (or Almond Milk)

Combine ingredients in a glass and stir.

Coffee quencher

Take your carbs with coffee after a strenuous workout and your muscles will absorb the glucose they need to refuel faster, according to research in the Journal of Applied Physiology. If you’re training for a big game or event, this java-love shake will give you the gas to keep going.

1 cup chilled coffee
1/3 cup skim milk
1 teaspoon cocoa powder
2 teaspoons honey or agave nectar

Pour coffee and milk into a glass. Combine cocoa powder and honey, then slowly add to coffee mixture, stirring until well blended. Add ice.

Protein-packed smoothie

Protein-rich foods containing the amino acid leucine can drastically speed muscle recovery, said researchers at the University of Illinois. This is good for weight-training or a strenuous workout.

1 cup skim milk
1 cup frozen mixed berries
1/2 cup low-fat cottage cheese
1/2 banana, sliced
1 tablespoon ground flaxseed
1 teaspoon honey

Combine ingredients in a blender and mix until smooth.

Bee better smoothie

Honey does double duty after a workout, said researchers from the University of Memphis. It helps athletes who use energy in short, intense bursts (e.g., tennis players and sprinters) maintain optimal blood sugar levels, and it aids in muscle recovery post-training.

1 medium banana
1 cup skim milk
1/2 cup plain low-fat yogurt
2 tablespoons honey

Combine all ingredients in a blender and mix until smooth.


adapted from an article by Kristen Drybread