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Lemonades are synonymous with summer. What could be more refreshing than a cool zesty drink when you’re riding in the hot summer sun. And the right kind of lemonade can even help you in your training. Let’s take a look at how to find it or make it at home.

Supplying your body with enough fluids is an important part of cycling in the summer and lemonades are a great way to make hydration fun. There are three components that a proper hydration drink should have.

  • Water
  • Electrolytes
  • Sugar

Drinking plain water is not enough because when you sweat, you lose important minerals, also called electrolytes, which you need for your body to keep working. If you sweat a lot, you need to make sure your hydration drink contains electrolytes, mainly sodium. Sugar has been found to improve the speed at which water is absorbed in your body but its concentration matters a lot.

Are lemonades hypertonic or isotonic?

The amount of sugar in a given drink determines which of the three main types of drinks it belongs to – hypertonic, isotonic or hypotonic.

Hypertonic drinks – Soft drinks, energy drinks, and fruit juices including lemonade typically fall under this category. These have the highest concentration of sugars (10% and more). They digest relatively slowly and are used mainly for recovery as they could cause digestive discomfort if consumed on the bike.

Isotonic drinks – These are typically specialized sports drinks. They are made with a sugar concentration that matches the concentration of sugar in the blood (between 6% and 8%). This means they absorb fast. They are a great all-around choice for hydration on the bike when you also want to get in some calories.

Hypotonic drinks – These are also typically specialized sports drinks or very diluted fruit juices. They have the lowest concentration of sugars (1-4%) which allows for the fastest hydration out of all three options. They are best used on very hot days and hard rides when you sweat a lot. The low amount of sugar also makes them less risky for digestive issues.

Electrolyte drink
The best way to hydrate during exercise is with specialized electrolyte drinks. © Profimedia

The great thing about lemonades is that you can choose the sugar concentration if you make one at home. And you can even add electrolytes. This is how you do it.

Make a salty lemonade at home

All you need to make the perfect cycling lemonade are four ingredients:

  • lemons
  • water
  • salt
  • fruit juice

To make an isotonic drink, mix about 1 part of fruit juice and 1 part of water. If you want a hypotonic drink, use even less fruit juice than that. How many lemons you squeeze into your lemonade depends on your preference for sourness. And to add some electrolytes, about 1/8 of a teaspoon of salt is enough for one bidon. Here are few more tips.

  • You can take two bidons and dilute one with more water. You can alternate between them depending on how much you’re sweating. The more sugary one is for when you sweat less.
  • On long trips where you know you’ll be able to refill your water bottle, you can also carry single-use salt packets to add to the fresh water and have a nearly endless supply of electrolytes.
  • You can also opt to make the lemonade without any fruit juice. That’s the best option for really hard and hot days. If that’s the case, don’t forget to pack some bananas as a source of sugar too.

Commercial sports drinks can achieve the same while offering a more precise electrolyte content and a wider array of flavours. But they also contain unwanted additives. Those who don’t tolerate these well or enjoy making their own drinks are the best candidates for a homemade salty lemonade.

Next up in How to Enjoy Your Cycling Summer series