If you only associate electrolytes with that sugary drink Mom used to give you when you were sick, it’s time to broaden your definition of these important minerals, which include magnesium, sodium, potassium, and more.
Electrolytes help maintain proper fluid balance in your cells, support healthy muscle contractions, and regulate your body’s pH level. Since you lose electrolytes via sweat and other bodily fluids, it’s a must that you replace them—especially if you’ve been working out hard or following an eating style like the keto diet that can cause your body to flush out these minerals.
Electrolyte supplements have been gaining popularity with health and fitness enthusiasts in the past few years, and all different sorts of mineral-packed products have been popping up on shelves. There’s something for everyone, from dissolvable tablets and mixable powders to flavored gels and pre-bottled drinks. Not sure where to start? Here are a few top-notch picks to explore.
Low-sodium: True Athlete Balanced Hydration Powder
If you’re an everyday exerciser looking to spruce up your hydration routine with a touch of flavor, True Athlete Balanced Hydration Powder is about to become your new best friend. With more potassium (250 milligrams) than sodium (90 milligrams) in each serving, this fruit punch-flavored drink mix is a great option for people who don’t sweat too much during workouts (heavy sweaters need more sodium; more on that soon!) or who miss the mark on potassium in their diet (which is actually most people), says The Vitamin Shoppe nutritionist Brittany Michels, R.D.N., L.D.N., C.P.T. With 90 servings in every tub, this pick is also a great value, so you can reap the benefits of being better hydrated without breaking the bank.
Higher-sodium, Plus Carbs: Liquid I.V. Hydration Multiplier
On the opposite end of the spectrum from True Athlete’s powder is Liquid I.V. Hydration Multiplier. Because it contains a higher ratio of sodium (500 milligrams) to potassium (380 milligrams) that mimics the amounts of these electrolytes lost via sweat, “it’s best for athletes with a high sweat rate; those who take part in high-intensity exercise, and those in hot temperatures,” says Michels.
Another unique aspect of Hydration Multiplier? It also contains 12 grams of sugar from pure cane sugar and dextrose, which can offer quick energy during workouts and may also help improve your absorption of water and electrolytes, Michels notes. That’s a game-changer during longer efforts! Plus, single-serving packets make it easy to tote this hydration booster along with you on hikes, bike rides, and more.
Tablets: Nuun Hydration Sport for Exercise
Like your electrolytes with a little fizz? Nuun’s popular tablets are easy to stash in your gym bag, car glove compartment, or pocket for whenever you need an electrolyte boost. With 300 milligrams of sodium and 150 milligrams of potassium in each fast-dissolving tablet, Nuun SPORT “mimics the lower end of the average electrolyte sweat loss ratio and is a good middle-of-the-road option for anyone who has no idea about their electrolyte needs to start with,” explains Michels. That said, it’s ideal for moderately sweaty exercisers and people who exercise daily at moderate to high intensities or in hot temps. Nuun SPORT also happens to be low in carbs, so pair it with a carb source if you need the extra fuel, Michels suggests.
Unflavored Liquid: BodyTech Liquid Electrolytes
You’ll find no frills in this bottle of unflavored electrolytes from BodyTech. What you will find: an impressive 96 servings of pure electrolytes (every half-teaspoon serving offers 100 milligrams of sodium and 150 milligrams of potassium). “Suitable for anyone, you can add this liquid to your water or other drinks to support electrolyte intake and hydration balance,” notes Michels. “The conservative amount of electrolytes per serving makes it easy to adjust dosage based on your needs.”
This everyday option may be especially helpful for people following a keto or low-carb diet (both of which can contribute to electrolyte losses) and those who prefer hiding their electrolytes in whatever food or drink they’re already consuming. Michels personally turns to the Liquid Electrolytes when participating in endurance events and is plenty hydrated but low on these must-have minerals. Talk about versatile!
Gels: GU Energy Labs Energy Gels
If you participate in any sort of endurance sports, GU’s Energy Gels should already be on your radar. These popular gels (which come in all sorts of tasty flavors, from Strawberry Banana and Chocolate Outrage), are a go-to amongst athletes who train for more than an hour at a time.
“Endurance athletes generally need between 30 and 60 grams of carbohydrate per hour of endurance training or racing after that initial hour,” Michels explains. “In addition to 50 milligrams of sodium and 40 milligrams of potassium—a conservative amount of electrolytes—one gel also provides 25 grams of carbohydrates.”
Depending on your needs in the carbs and electrolytes departments, you can pair these easy-to-store gels with electrolyte drinks and your favorite carb sources.
Ready-to-Drink: BioSteel Sports Hydration
When maximum convenience is of maximum importance, BioSteel’s Sports Hydration beverages are a no-brainer. These flavored drinks pack 230 milligrams of sodium and 231 milligrams of potassium per carton—and though that doesn’t quite mimic the ratio of these electrolytes lost via sweat, the drinks can still be beneficial for people on certain diets or who fall outside of the normal range in terms of sweat composition, shares Michels.
Since they contain zero carbs, BioSteel’s Sports Hydration cartons work well for anyone who wants to stay hydrated during their standard fasted workouts, who follow a keto or low-carb diet, or who want to support their exercise routine without intra-workout calories, she says.
Powered By Superfoods: Sunfood Superfoods Energize Superfood Hydration
Sunfood Superfoods is known for packaging some of the most powerful plants on the planet into easy-to-consume powders—and that food-based approach makes their electrolyte mix a unique one. Superfood Hydration gets its electrolytes from natural sources, with coconut water powder providing potassium and sea salt offering sodium. “Providing a high 3.75-to-one ratio of sodium to potassium (containing 300 milligrams of sodium and 81 milligrams of potassium per serving), this option may be most supportive to the clean-eater with fairly low sodium intake,” says Michels.