Today’s question is about making your own sports drinks when supplies are limited and you can’t simply go to the store and buy Gatorade.

Dear Levi,

I am an American living in china, and one of the primary problems with training here is that the only food I can get is either raw ingredients or fried Chinese food. I am trying to start a (mild) training program, but nutrition is becoming a problem for me. I can buy plenty of veggies and meat and eggs and try and get a balanced diet, but after a work out, i feel like i need energy drinks, i need to replenish salts and sugars and all that crap. What kinds of raw ingredients should I look for to do that? yogurt fruit smoothies + salt? nuts and raisins and sugar? what kind of suggestions do you have?

Also, I am self employed, working from home, and trying to work out a regular routine. Should i work out (run, swim, climb, etc) right after waking up, and then go eat? is that healthy or should I wake up, eat, wait a while, and then work out? or is it best to try and workout before bed?


Hi Alex,

Good work on the balanced diet. If you could find steel cut oats, old-fashioned rolled oats, long grain rice, brown rice, or something made with whole grains, that would be great for carbs/sugar. I wouldn’t worry too much about salt unless your workouts are usually 3+ hours of cardio (as salt is so prevalent in common foods, you probably get enough.)

Other electrolytes are important though. Yogurt and raisins are both full of potassium, so good choices there. Nuts or any salty food would certainly provide enough salt for a normal workout routine.

I’m not sure what exact foods are best for electrolytes, but here’s a list of electrolytes that are in Endurolytes (an electrolyte supplement pill): sodium, chloride, calcium, magnesium, potassium, Vitamin B6, Manganese, and L-Tyrosine. Just surf the internet for foods that contain these ingredients. (I might write an article about this, thanks for the idea!)

Working out before eating is fine. You should have plenty of calories still stored from the previous night’s dinner anyway. However, when I workout before breakfast, I keep it at about 45 minutes. Any longer and you’ll want to eat a little bit during the workout. Then just eat breakfast right after. Eating within 15 minutes of finishing a workout is always a good idea since your body is most receptive to replenishment then.

If you eat first, it would be good to wait 2-3 hours before working out. Not a problem if you don’t mind eating, working a bit, working out, eating, working, etc.

If you can workout before bed and still fall asleep easily, then there’s no problem. (Usually I would need a few hours after a workout before falling asleep.)

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  1. hi Levi..

    how wud an where would i go about getting my own energy drinks and bars redbull energy drink an monster energy drink!!

    how would i get drinks made with ideas of my own flavour for it


  2. @Jon

    I don’t have a lot of personal experience with this, but I think most companies that manufacture drinks can work with you for this.

    If you take a look at the banners and classified ads on you’ll probably find at least one place. And download their energy drink guide at – the last few pages list companies that make drinks and ingredients.

    Here are just a few places I’ve seen advertised:

  3. Want to make an energy drink like monster, rockstar, or red bull? All you need to do is add liquid caffeine mix to sparkling Apple Cider (carbonated). You will hardly be able to tell the difference. Seriously, the taste, look, fizz, and energy, will blow you away.

    You can purchase the inexpensive Energy Mix (Google: Semi-Sweetened Mix). The thing to remember is that powder caffeine will not work. It will not dissolve in cold beverages. And, even in hot beverages it will only dissolve slightly.

    Another great advantage to making your own energy drink is that you control how much caffeine you want to add. Add a little or a lot – it depends on how much of an energy boost you want – you decide!

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