Hot. Hot. Heat.


Fuel up before—and after—your workout

I just returned from a cool and comfortable NYC (for our annual U.S. Open trip)...back to the heat and humidity of Chicago's Indian Summer. Prior to our arrival NYC had been experiencing that same thick, humid, heat.  I watched some of the early round matches from home last week, mostly to observe how the players are handling two and three hour matches in that type of weather;  it looked like muscle cramping, overheating, and, literally in all cases, buckets, and buckets of sweat.  One sympathizes.

As I watched, I was reminded of the book on the Tarahumara runners in Mexico: Born to Run, by Christopher McDougall. Their nutrition “secrets” seem to be one of the reasons for the tribe’s superhuman endurance, allowing them to run impossible distances in any kind of weather, including intense heat.   They subsist on a concoction of water, mixed with lime juice, sugar or agave, and chia seeds.  Yes, they started the chia seed revolution long before we, Americans started putting chia seeds in our cereals, cookies and crackers.  For generations, the Tarahumara (pronounced: tara-oo-mara) have been harnessing the super food powers of the chia:  high protein, high omega 3s and 6s, carbohydrates, fiber and calcium to name a few. 

Clearly, the tribe knows what they are doing, and have the basic formula for hydration drinks down (with apologies to Gatorade...). 

A recent article in Tennis ( featured the ingredients to make a sports drink that puts in what exercise takes out of us.  Here are the basics you need to bespoke your own:

Water: Any sports drink should have a water base, because that’s what your body is sweating out. 

Sugar: Some do-it-yourself sports-drink recipes call for plain sugar, but there are better and healthier alternatives. Raw honey, for example, is full of enzymes, antioxidants and phytonutrients that are lost in processed honey and don’t exist in plain sugar. Unrefined agave is great as well.

Fruit Juice:  Freshly squeezed or Vitamix-ed only (no pasteurized juice)!  Citrus is great as a flavor enhancer and is loaded with vitamins.  Orange juice and lemon juice are good sources of potassium as well as vitamin C.

Electrolytes: Most sports drinks contain sodium and potassium to replenish electrolyte levels.  Depending on the size of your drink, a small amount of sea salt works well to provide sodium and does little to affect the overall flavor.   Coconut water is another great option that is loaded with potassium.

Amino Acids: Some studies have shown that ingesting amino acids during strenuous activity can help recovery. Amino acids are the building blocks of protein, and in powder form they dissolve easily. Post-exercise ingestion (immediately after up to 3 hours after) of amino acids, have been shown to stimulate robust increases in muscle protein synthesis.

Energizers: These are purely optional, but research supports that supplementing with stimulants can boost athletic performance. Mild caffeine intake—as long as you continually hydrate—can give you a little power boost and kick the metabolism into high hear. Green tea extract works well, as does mate tea, which is also supposed to help the body use carbohydrates more efficiently.

Bespoke Sports Drink

• 3 ½ cups water
• 2 tablespoons raw honey or agave dissolved in ½ cup warm water
• ¼ teaspoon sea salt
• 2 tablespoons lemon juice, lime juice or citrus
• 25 ish drops green tea extract (available at health-food stores)

One teaspoon chia seeds (optional)

Stir well in a pitcher until fully mixed. (This drink may be made 24 hours in advance of your work out, and chilled.)

(This drink does should not be used as a meal replacement.  Consult your doctor before drastically changing your lifestyle, exercise or nutrition regimen.)