Energy drinks are a bit of a racket. Most of them are little more than huge amounts of sugar or caffeine dressed up with a few healthy sounding ingredients or some slick marketing, at higher prices than your average soft drink or cup of coffee. But the idea behind energy drinks is sound enough: sometimes you need a boost. When you do, you can either turn to your supermarket or you can make it yourself.
Mixing your own
There are several advantages to making energy drinks at home:
- It’s almost always cheaper. Ounce for ounce, a drink you make yourself from ingredients you’ve bought is almost always less expensive than one pre-made in a bottle or can.
- You can get exactly the flavor and texture you want. Some energy drinks are cola-like while others are more like smoothies. And then there’s the Gatorade style.
- You can use ingredients that you’re comfortable with: caffeine but not sugar, sugar but not caffeine, natural sugar instead of refined, etc. Want to avoid sugar and caffeine? Try ginseng or gingko.
Energy drink ingredients you may already have
To build your own energy drink recipes, consider what you already have on hand for energy boosting:
- Tea – black tea, ginseng tea or gingko. Even green tea has some caffeine. Any of these can be brewed to be used in energy drinks.
- Fruit or fruit juice – fruits provide natural sugars and vitamins. Bananas, oranges, berries, etc. are known for their vitamin content, but I was surprised to learn that coconut milk has a ton of nutrients.
- Coffee – for the caffeine.
- Honey, m0lasses or unrefined sugar – refined sugar will give you a boost, and artificial sweeteners won’t. If you want a little nutrition along with your boost, try one of these more complex versions of sugar.
Check these recipes out to get some ideas:
- Maggie’s Energy Drink – relies on gingko or ginseng for an energy boost, rather than sugar or caffeine
- Grizzly Bears Energy Drink – lemon, honey, and no refined sugar (the salt and baking soda will help you rehydrate)
- Cocoa Energy drink – chocolate, banana, milk and sugar
- Barley Water Energy Drink – it may sound weird, but barley has some good nutrients, along with honey, lemon and ginger
- Strawberry Energy Drink – strawberries, peaches, honey
- Gatorade Substitute – this comes close to the exact ratio of ingredients that makes Gatorade effective
- Chocolate Energy Drink – with egg for protein
- Any fruit smoothie recipe you like will give you a natural sugar boost
You can also make your own energy bars.