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Homemade Sports Drinks Offer Cheaper, Healthier Way To Replenish Electrolytes

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- If you've found yourself sweating in this summer's heat, you may have hydrated with a store-bought sports drink. They replace electrolytes, but they're not cheap and contain a lot of calories.

Sweat is nearly all water, so that's what's most important to replace. Plain water works just fine, but there are some electrolytes in sweat that only sports drinks will restore. As it turns out, making your own is easy, and can be cheaper and even healthier than using store-bought.

Brands like Gatorade or Powerade contain plenty of electrolytes, but they also contain additives, preservatives, and worst of all, sugar.

What we worry about with those sports drinks is the caloric intake that comes," dietitian Jennifer Hartman said. "What you have is it's loaded with sugar."

Plain salt is most of what you lose in sweat, so it's all you need in the homemade concoction. Other electrolytes are easily replaced with food. Green, leafy vegetables will do the trick, as will bananas or even dark chocolate. The rest is all flavoring. Lemon or lime juice works, and a bit of ginger could add a touch of spice. Pomegranate juice adds a bit of color and a dose of antioxidants. From there you can control what kind and how much sweetener to add.

"If you truly don't want the sugar and you want it to be sugar free, you could add some stevia, the little droplets, or the splenda sugar free sweetener," Hartman said.

Water is usually enough for most people other than extreme athletes like marathoners, but there's no harm in consuming drinks containing electrolytes other than cost and calories. If you want to make your own brew, we've got an easy starter recipe HERE.

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