As I train for the upcoming Angkor Wat Marathon (well, the half-marathon for me), I have been thinking more and more about what exactly I am ingesting each day. Running in Cambodia is, frankly, a very sweaty affair, with average daytime temperatures hovering around 35 degrees—every day. Not bad when sitting on the beach, but less than ideal when putting in the miles.
A recent article in Cycling Weekly about making energy and recovery drinks at home made me realise that I don’t have to simply rely on my stash of re-hydration and electrolyte concoctions.
I have always made recovery drinks myself, initially using whey, milk and a banana or two after ice hockey matches and training at university, and more recently hemp protein, oats, juice and some more bananas for my cycling and triathlon efforts. Simple, tasty (in an earthy, “this tastes healthy” kinda way) and much more affordable than buying pre-made equivalents, the hemp drink has been a revelation, and honestly popular with training buddies as well.
Yet for in-exercise needs, I have always just used powder mixes—whether one of the tabs I seem to keep being given for free, or from a big container of the strangely-white-until-water-added-then-vivid-orange/pink powder.
But as the article noted, the list of ingredients in these things is very long, and full of unknown items for non-scientists. With the accepted science on the matter stating that salts and sugars are what your body requires during exercise, do we really need all this extra stuff, and is it worth the cost?
The article suggested that “an energy drink could contain coconut water, honey, salt plus lemon or lime juice to flavour” struck me as sounding frankly a thousand times nicer than the ‘berry’ flavoured stuff I currently use.
It also didn’t sound too expensive, but that is aided by the fact I live in Cambodia, and, well, all of these ingredients can be gotten for under a dollar.
The end result? Well, I can’t really make any claims for sporting improvement, but it certainly tastes a heck of a lot nicer, and I know the origin of 100% of the ingredients. Yes it takes more time, and more washing up, but if you are reading this blog in the first place and buying Creative Nature products, you are already clearly a believer in the merits of high-quality ingredients and superfoods, and are willing to put in a bit more effort. Looking at the Creative Nature Shop, there are some other ingredients which could offer even more benefits—Maca root for some extra energy, and Himalayan salt for its extra minerals.
Making exercise or recovery drinks yourself means you fully control just how vegan/organic/gluten-free what you are imbibing truly is, and allows you to exercise or train, safe in the knowledge that it matches your normal dietary patterns.
While I will stick with the professional made stuff for race day, for everyday training needs, my energy and recovery drinks have now become a whole lot healthier, and tastier to boot.
Have ideas for other flavours or ingredients? I would love to hear them.