Olivia Dish

Taste Test: Sports Drinks

In Beverages, Homemade, Taste Tests on August 25, 2009 at 3:23 pm
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Gatorade Alternatives

After my lousy 17-mile training run, I conceded that maybe I need a little more than water to keep me going.  But I can’t bring myself to drink Gatorade.  Don’t know why.  Maybe it’s the color.

So I started looking around for an alternative, something that offered replenishment, something that’s flavor wouldn’t make me gag.

Online, I found a recipe for a homemade sports drink–basically water with a splash of orange juice, a spoon of sugar and a pinch of salt.  It was drinkable if not wildly delicious.

Then I found two more options at a grocery store–coconut water and a natural sports drink.  I gave them a try this morning, after a run.

I chilled both and decided to submit them to the wine ritual….look, smell, taste.

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Coconut Water

I wanted to like coconut water, so I started with it first.  It’s supposed to be nature’s Gatorade, so full of good stuff that it’s been given to people intravenously when medical saline isn’t available.  Coconut water is not coconut milk–the water comes from young coconuts.

As you can see, it has a slightly cloudy appearance.  The smell is sort of a muggy floral thing.  It tastes like mildly sweet water–no surprise I suppose–but it’s not a very refreshing flavor, even ice-cold.  After you sip, you get the feeling that it’s hanging around in the upper back part of your throat.  It’s hard for me to imagine choking this down when I’m hot, tired and a little cranky, with 10 more miles to go.

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OWater

The OWater, on the other hand, engenders my suspicion right away.  I want to like it–yes, especially since I don’t care for the coconut water.  But I also want to dislike it–maybe because it reminds me of that smart water that makes me feel pretty stupid when I buy it.

At any rate, I do like the looks of it–crystal clear.  It has a fresh, fruity, bubblegum smell.  I’d bought the black raspberry flavor, and the taste is bright and refreshing.  There is a hint of salt under the sweetness, but the OWater cuts through that scummy feel you have in your mouth when you’ve been running.  It’s easy to drink, makes you want more.

The salt does become more pronounced, though, as you continue drinking.  The aftertaste is like the one you have when you accidentally take in a mouth of seawater at the beach.  There’s even a saltwater sting in the back of my throat.

Oh and one other thing about the OWater:  it’s hard to open.  If you’re weak from exertion, I don’t know how that factors in.  (According to their website, they have a sports bottle version–and unsweetened varieties too.)

So, what to do?  Well, I do like OWater better than my homemade sports drink, so I think I’ll give it a try on my 20-mile run this weekend (provided I can wrench it open).  I also plan to whip up a batch of switchel–to see how that goes down–though I’m not sure how it measures up as a sports drink.

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  1. So glad you liked owater. Please do try some of our other flavors too — blueberry and strawberry pomegranate are two of my favorites. We hear you on the cap thing. It’s been a big pain for us (our bottler went a little crazy on the tightening), but we’ve finally fixed it, so bottles arriving in stores now should be a lot easier to open. As for the salty flavor you were detecting, that’s the first time I’ve heard that actually. We don’t use sodium as an electrolyte in the Black Ras flavor, but perhaps it’s the potassium? Or maybe it’s just getting used to a sports drink that doesn’t taste like a melted popsicle 🙂 What are you training for?

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