The Best Electrolyte Drinks & Powders To Keep You Hydrated All Day
Have you ever felt extremely thirsty, fatigued or dizzy, or seen dark-colored urine? These can all be signs that you're dehydrated. Multiple factors like climate and diet can lead to dehydration, but it's typically triggered by activities or conditions that cause your body to lose fluids (think: sweating hard on a summer run or certain stomach bugs). Certain foods and beverages like alcohol can also leave your body dried out; if you've ever had a bad hangover after a night out, you know what we're talking about. Symptoms of dehydration are your body's way of telling you it needs fluids, and more specifically, electrolytes—aka, essential minerals in your body that are depleted when you sweat or shed fluids.
Electrolytes help keep you hydrated and aid in rejuvenation during any needed recovery. While it's important to drink water and stay hydrated to keep your body functioning properly, it's just as important to make sure you replenish those electrolytes. Keep reading for our handy guide to electrolytes and our picks for the best electrolyte packets and drinks for hydration. Then, be sure to check out 5 Drinks to Keep You Hydrated During Sweaty, Hot Days.
What are electrolytes and why are they important?
Here's how the Cleveland Clinic defines electrolytes:
"Electrolytes are substances that have a natural positive or negative electrical charge when dissolved in water. An adult's body is about 60% water, which means nearly every fluid and cell in your body contains electrolytes. They help your body regulate chemical reactions, maintain the balance between fluids inside and outside your cells, and more. Your body gets electrolytes or their components from what you eat and drink."
Electrolytes are minerals like:
When your muscles contract, that's your body using electrolytes. "Electrolytes are given their name because they literally provide an electric charge that your body relies on to properly function as they move in and out of cells," Lisa Moskovitz, RD, CDN, tells us. "Electrolytes such as magnesium, potassium, calcium, and chloride are essential for maintaining healthy blood pressure levels, and proper nerve and muscle function," she explains.
In other words, electrolytes are important but the minerals themselves are also critical to a range of internal health functions, so a failure to restore electrolytes can have serious consequences.
"An electrolyte deficiency can become a serious medical issue," explains Moskovitz. "Mild and short-term symptoms include muscle twitching and weakness, but in more severe cases can lead to seizures and even cardiac arrest."
Drinking water on its own does not deliver these essential minerals, which is one reason why sports drinks (we're looking at you, Gatorade) that contain electrolytes are marketed to athletes as a performance-enhancing alternative to water. The problem is, those drinks also tend to be high in calories, sugars, and other additives that you may want to avoid.
The best electrolyte packets and drinks for hydration
The perfect drink to pop in your cooler for your next beach day or outdoor workout session, BODYARMOR LYTE can stabilize your electrolytes after sweating them out, and equally important, it tastes good.
"With no artificial flavors or sweeteners, BODYARMOR LYTE can be a great option for those who want to rehydrate in a healthy way," says Moskovitz. "[It comes in] a variety of flavors, offers inflammation-fighting antioxidants, and provides around 530 mg of potassium. That's enough to recoup what is lost through sweating."
These DripDrop packets are easy to stir into your cup of water or shake into your water bottle.
"This doctor-developed drink promises to hydrate you faster and more efficiently than most other electrolyte beverages," says Moskovitz.
This is thanks to DripDrop's patented formula, which includes essential electrolytes such as potassium, sodium, and magnesium, which are combined with glucose—hence the brand's rapid rehydration claims.
Adding one packet of Liquid I.V. to your water will help you hydrate faster, enabling your body to recover and perform more efficiently.
"Not only is Liquid I.V. an effective way to hydrate on an active, sweaty day, but it also comes in single-serving portable packs, making it great for traveling," Moskovitz says. "It contains the ideal ratio of glucose, sodium, and potassium along with energizing B-vitamins."
SaltStick has a variety of electrolyte products, from caps to chews. If you prefer to get your electrolytes through liquid, their powder packets are the perfect dissolvable solution.
"This brand promises that it's more gentle on your gastrointestinal system," says Moskovitz. "And, unlike most other sports supplements, has zero added sugar."
A combination like this is ideal for those doing shorter and lighter exercises or anyone who wants to stay hydrated throughout the day.
Nuun Hydration Sport
Dissolvable tablets from Nuun Hydration are a great way to reenergize after a workout without the hassle of stirring powder into your drink. Plus, the flavors can make your water a little more exciting.
"These electrolyte tablets are popular for their great taste and convenient packaging," says Moskovitz. "You can simply pop out a tablet, drop it in your water bottle, let it dissolve, and drink it down. With only 1 gram of sugar per serving and all the necessary electrolytes for proper hydration—sodium, potassium, magnesium, calcium, and chloride—this product is appropriate for athletes and non-athletes alike."