My son’s school does not have air conditioning. Normally this is not much of an issue since Chicago is more famous for its icy winters than for its broiling hot Septembers. That said, this has been a very hot September and, despite the best efforts of everyone at his school, it has been very hot in there.

Now he drinks cold water all day, but as any runner will tell you, if you sweat enough water isn’t the entire answer. You need something that will replace all the salts you are losing through sweat as well.

So after a day like that, sports drinks like Gatorade seem like a great option. After all the drink was invented to properly rehydrate the football players at The University of Florida which is in Gainsville which, in August, when they are practicing is typically hot, humid, and sweat inducing. The problem is that most sports drinks contain less of they electrolytes than you might think and they also contain dyes and other scary ingredients some of which are restricted if not banned in other civilized nations. They also contain a lot of sweetener, typically sugar.

So not wanting to trade one problem for another, I discovered a few other options.

1) Coconut Water Drinks – We drink Zico chocolate because my son will drink it, but there are other brands and other flavors. Be forwarned, coconut water is not sweet and you will taste the salts. I found the plain flavor to be a bit too much like drinking brackish seawater, so I highly recommend a flavored version. That said,it has as much potassium as a banana and it also has salt, calcium, magnesium and phosphorus.

2) V8 or Other Vegetable Juice with a LOT of Ice – Normally you might not want this much salt but to replace electrolytes conveniently, vegetable juice, like V8 can be an excellent choice. The low sodium version has even more potassium but even the regular one contains about 400mg, which is far more than most sports drinks. Both this and the coconut water area every bit as convenient and shelf stable as “sports drinks” and they both contain far more minerals. Not sure I could get my child to drink it but for me this is a great option.

If you have time to do a little work or deal with fresh food here are some other alternatives.

3) Avocados with Salt and Water – I love avocados. It turns out that they contain a lot of potassium, over 700 mg. They also contain plenty of magnesium and Vitamin C. I also like them salted. I actually love them with some nice salty smoked salmon. Of course it helps to be hungry with this one. It might make a good meal after a strenuous workout. And yes, you will need to have some water with this one.

4) Banana and Almond Milk Smoothies – Both foods are high in minerals, Add a little salt, run it in a blender with ice and you have another option.

I will continue to keep Sports Drinks around for episodes of stomach virus because quite simply, I don’t see myself keeping any of these choices down during a stomach bug, but for day to day replenishing after a workout….I think I have some better options.

So for anyone still in a hot and sweaty place or for those looking forward to a hot and sweaty hockey season, you have choices that don’t include scary ingredients.