To make your own sports drink, start with lemons or another citrus fruit. (Chicago Tribune file photo)

It’s easier than you might think to concoct your own sports drink. The refueling beverages need to provide three things: water, electrolytes (especially sodium) and carbohydrates, said registered dietitian Dawn Jackson Blatner.

Electrolytes are essential minerals, including sodium and potassium, that regulate heart beat and blood pressure. When we sweat, we lose sodium and chloride (salt) and to a lesser degree, potassium, magnesium and calcium, said Blatner.

Milk has electrolytes, but “chocolate milk is used more as a recovery drink since it has protein and carbohydrates to repair muscle and replenish energy stores,” Blatner said. “A sports drink is more for before and during exercise to replenish energy stores to keep our muscles running.”

Still, the best sports drink for most athletes, with the exception of endurance or distance competitors, is good old fashioned water, said registered dietitian Dave Grotto. His mock sports drink consists of a lemon juice, a splash of fruit juice or a 1/2 teaspoon of honey and a dash of salt per one cup of water.

Or, try coconut water, which is said to deliver as much as 12 times the electrolytes of sports drinks. “Buy an unsweetened version like Zico. Jazz it up by adding chilled green tea and mango juice or a drizzle of honey,” suggests

Here are a few other ideas:

Blatner’s homemade Gatorade:

3 1/2 cups water

1/2 cup orange juice

2 1/2 tablespoons honey

1/4 teaspoon salt.

Makes four servings. Per 8 ounce serving: 50 calories, 14 grams carbohydrate, 160 milligrams sodium.

Homemade sports drink from "Nancy Clark's Sports Nutrition Guidebook." It's also available on her new app: Recipies for Athletes.

1/4 cup sugar

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/4 cup hot water

1/4 cup orange juice (not concentrate) plus 2 tablespoons lemon juice

3 1/2 cups cold water

 1. In the bottom of a pitcher, dissolve the sugar and salt in the hot water.