Thursday, October 22, 2020

My Take on Homemade Tailwind

My first attempt at a DIY sports drink was a bust; while the nutritional profile was solid, the taste left a lot to be desired. Nearly two years later, I decided I'd try again. A search for homemade tailwind turned up this post: Homemade Sports Drink For The Ultimate Diy Running Nutrition, which inspired the recipe below. This one seems to nail cost, nutrition and even taste. Here's how I make it.

The Tools

To efficiently mix this, I use a diet scale, a top of an old soda bottle as a funnel and a handful of 16oz recycled bottles from a case of Body Armor sports drink. I also use a set of measuring spoons that handle itty bitty amounts, like a 1/32 of teaspoon.

The Carbs

The recipe I'm working from calls for mixing dextrose, sucrose and maltodextrin for an optimal quick energy rush. Early on, I used superfine sugar for the sucrose, though I've since learned any table sugar works. The dextrose and maltodextrin I picked up at Amazon.

I shoot to make each 16oz bottle contain 40g of carbs, or 160 calories. The original recipe called for a sugar, dextrose, maltodextrin ratio of 1:1:2 or more concretely 10g, 10g, 20g of each respectively. Taste wise, I found it better to go heavier on the sugar (shocker, right?). So each bottle is typically 15g of sugar, 10g of dextrose and 15g of maltodextrin. Though this is still something I'm fiddling with.

I add the carbs by putting the bottle and funnel on the scale and taring them both. I then add the sugar, dextrose and maltodextrin by watching the weight of the added ingredients increase till it hits 40 grams. I add maltodextrin last because it tends to clump on the bottom. Laying the sugar and dextrose below the malto seems to help speed up the disolving process.

The Electrolytes

It's not at all clear to me what the ideal electrolyte content of a sports drink should be. A Nuun sports hydration tablet and a scoop of Tailwind contains 300mg of sodium, while a bottle of Body Armor contains a mere 40mg. A Medi-Lyte tablet contain 40mg of potassium, while Body Armor has a whopping 700mg and Nuun Sports Tablets have 150mg.

For now, I've been adding 1/32 of a teaspoon of both table salt and salt substitute. The former adds 70mg of sodium, while the latter adds 90mg of potassium. In hot whether, I'll experiment with increasing these quantities. 1/32 of a teaspoon adds no discernible taste, so there's room to bulk up on the electrolytes without messing with palatability.

I haven't bothered mixing in other key electrolytes like calcium and magnesium. I figure it's easiest to just pop a Medi-lyte as needed. Though maybe v3.0 will address this shortcoming.

The Flavor

Taste derailed my last drink mixing attempt. But thanks to the True brand of powdered citrus packets I've got that department covered. I ordered crystallized lemon, lime and orange packets. I've found that adding three packets to 16oz of water adds a nice bit flavor without overpowering things.

By mixing the different packets, I can create a variety of drink flavors: lemon, lemon-lime, orange-lime, etc.

As a bonus, Shira likes to add the citrus packets to plain water to liven things up. Unlike many mix-ins, these packets contain no sketchy ingredients.

After I've add in three flavor packets, I add water to the bottles, give it a shake and let the contents dissolve. I then move them to the fridge where they are ready to be used before, during or after a run.

The Outcome

All of this probably sounds like overkill when compared to scooping pre-mixed powder. And even more so when compared to grabbing a bottle of pre-made Body Armor from the fridge. In practice, making up these bottles goes relatively quickly, though I may experiment with mixing the ingredients in bulk and storing the results in a container for on demand scooping.

Most importantly  I love the versatility of this DIY approach. I can dial up or down the calories, electrolytes and flavor as I wish.  All at a fraction of the cost of a name brand drink mix.


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