Laborade Recipe- Homemade Healthy Sports Drink

Laborade in a repurposed Coke bottle
My good friend and next door neighbor is overdue and ready to go into labor any second. In my reading posts throughout the bloggosphere, I came across this recipe for something called "Laborade", a drink like Gatorade or Powerade, only its healthier and cheaper to make, and is especially good for keeping hydrated while in labor, as it contains energy giving carbohydrates and electrolytes. Basically, its a sports drink without all the chemicals and without the expense. (This recipe was from The Cardamom's Pod, and the author there got the recipe from her midwife.)
I whipped up a batch to bring to my friend in case she went into labor, and I mixed up a batch for myself as well. All day yesterday I was drinking this Laborade; I drank an entire gallon and a half (that's 24 cups, if you want to know the count) and it was so easy to drink and yummy; not too strongly flavored, and it didn't make me nauseous like I would have been if I drank that much water. The best part about it is that yesterday, I felt the most terrific I have this pregnancy. I think I must just be in a constant state of dehydration, and only by drinking a gallon and a half of liquid in one day was I actually feeling fine with no dehydration signs, no dizziness, etc... Or maybe its just something really special about this recipe. I dunno, but I'm really, really tempted to mix up a batch of this to drink every day, it worked that well for me.

Laborade Recipe

1 cup lemon juice
1/2 cup honey, sucanat, or other sweetener, such as sugar (which obviously won't be as healthy, but will make this cheaper)
2 tablespoons lime juice (omit if you don't have available)
1 teaspoon salt (ideally unrefined salt, because it contains trace minerals)
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 gallon of water (16 cups, if you don't have something to measure one gallon)


1) Mix the lemon juice, lime juice, sweetener, salt, baking soda, and 4 cups of water until the sweetener and salt are entirely dissolved.

2) Add the other 12 cups of water. You'll need a large container to do this. Mix well.

3) Chill. I like to divide this up and put bottles in the freezer and refrigerator. I especially enjoy the bottles from the freezer that are just starting to get slightly frozen. It is so refreshing that way!

Note: I shared this recipe on my personal Facebook page and got criticism for promoting this as a "healthy drink" because "its not, because it has "so much sugar in it".

Firstly, I wanted to say that the amount of sugar in this is not so incredibly much. The average cup of juice has much more, as does the average cup of soda or coffee or tea.

Secondly, not all sugars are created equal. According to my list of sweeteners from worst to best, artificial sweeteners and high fructose corn syrup pretty much top off as the worst, with the most serious health consequences from consuming them. Standard sports drinks are made with either artificial/chemical sugars or high fructose corn syrup, which makes this automatically healthier, because even the less healthy option, white sugar, is still healthier than what is in the store bought sports drinks! The healthier version, made with honey, is incredibly healthier, as honey not only is not bad for you, it actually has many health benefits to it. (Honey also doesn't wreak the same havoc on blood sugar that white sugar and HFCS does.)

Thirdly, sugars aside, this sports drink doesn't have artificial flavorings or colorings that are generally found in store bought sports drinks, which is yet another reason this is a healthier alternative.

Fourthly, healthy is relative. This drink wouldn't be healthy for someone who is diabetic, obviously. And drinking really large quantities of water at one time can actually be dangerous for your health. Drinking large quantities of this drink won't cause water intoxication, however, and therefore, if you're drinking tremendous amounts to prevent dehydration, especially when doing things that are physically exerting (like running a marathon, or... being in labor) or when its really hot out, its actually safer to drink this than to drink water. Unlike some people, I don't think carbohydrates are bad, and personally, I need them in order to function (otherwise I get very lightheaded- I tend to have low blood sugar), so the carbohydrate count in this drink seems totally fine to me, but feel free to disagree.

Either way, I have no qualms about recommending this as a healthier alternative to purchased sports drinks, or juice, or soda, etc... And in certain cases, such as for people who are trying to prevent dehydration, this is a better alternative to drinking plain water.

So, agree, or disagree? Do you think there is a problem promoting this as a "healthy drink", assuming we're talking about making it with honey, not white sugar? 
Do you ever drink sports drinks like Gatorade or Powerade?
What do you drink to prevent dehydration?
Do you think you're likely to try out this recipe?

As for me, I'm heaving off to the kitchen to mix up another batch. I want a day in which I feel incredible like yesterday, and I'm sure drinking large quantities of this played a huge part in how I felt. 

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Penniless Parenting

Mommy, wife, writer, baker, chef, crafter, sewer, teacher, babysitter, cleaning lady, penny pincher, frugal gal


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  1. No honey is Healthy, there are tons of scientific studies that prove it. However, for people that want a sugarless version try Stevia leafs they are awesome and healthier than artificial sweeteners which often are bad for you and your baby.

  2. No honey is Healthy, there are tons of scientific studies that prove it. However, for people that want a sugarless version try Stevia leafs they are awesome and healthier than artificial sweeteners which often are bad for you and your baby.

  3. I agree it's a much better option than anything you can buy. I have some in my fridge and I am wondering how long it will stay fresh. I went into preterm labor so we made it when I was allowed to go home just in case labor came back quickly. Now it's been a couple of weeks and I have been saving (hoarding) it for the big day, but it could be a few more weeks. Should I just drink this batch and make another?

  4. Drink and make another Jen

  5. Sugar is a good way to get liquid calories, which might be needed during birth.

  6. I agree tgat its better than most anything one can find in the sports drink isle. Depending on choice of sweetners. In order to cut on sugar, I usually use sugar free options, but for tge purpose of this recipe, I would likely use several types. A bit of honey, stevia, splenda and pure cane sugar to taste.

  7. Can i make this without all the water and freeze as ice cubes?

  8. This recipe is great; NEVER use artificial sweeteners when pregnant or nursing! Or any other time if you care about your health, but at least protect your developing baby. (Stevia is generally regarded as safe, but it defeats the purpose of getting something for energy.)
    Honey is shown to keep your blood sugar steady; in tests it was shown to keep one's blood sugar levels even over two hours, instead of the quick spike and crash of table sugar.

  9. for a 1.5 liter bottle - 75ml lemon juice/ 2.5 tbs honey/ 3 tsp lime juice/ slightly more than 1/4 tsp salt, slightly less than 1/4 tsp baking soda.

  10. It's an electrolyte formula - you can't do it without sugar (in some form or another)

  11. Can I take it before labor? I'm 34 weeks pregnant at the moment

  12. I believe there is no scientific evidence that artificial sweeteners are bad for the general population. Still, studies aren't done on pregnant women, so many advise them to stay away.

  13. Buy lemon flavor drink online with added herbal advantages in India. Our lemon flavor drink is herbal infusion with 0 calorie, 0 artificial sweeteners & flavors; It’s the best juice or cold drink for party.
    0 preservatives juice

  14. What does the baking soda do? Is it necessary?

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