What is the best electrolyte powder? As always the answer depends on what you need from a product. Over the last year, I’ve been in search of my own go to electrolyte to help give my recommendation.
Through a lot of drinks and runs, I’ve tested a variety of flavors, brands and options from lower to higher sugar content.
I’ve written in depth about why runners need electrolytes, and even shared Shalane Flannagan’s homemade electrolyte drink, so today let’s focus simply on breaking down these products and what I looked for in making my own judgement.
AND what you use matters because the right mix, helps water move from your stomach in to your bloodstream more quickly! That means fighting off dehydration which can impact your performance and mood.
Best Electrolyte Powder
One of the best things about electrolyte powders is that in this format there is less need for binding agents or fillers than you might find with pre-made drinks on the shelf.
There were a few considerations that immediately came to mind for me in testing:
- Taste – let’s be honest, if it’s awful I won’t use it continually and this one is subjective as we all have different taste budes.
- Sugar – higher sugar can be great for a drink utilized during long runs as part of your fueling strategy, lower or no sugar electrolytes are my preference when hydrating throughout the day. Additionally, we’ll look at the source of the sugar.
- Nutrients – what’s the % of electrolytes, minerals and nutrients in the powder
- Cost – while I was able to try many of these options for free through brand partners, long term I’m always considering how cost matches up.
You may notice that many of these don’t have a very high magnesium content, though it’s super important to prevent muscle cramps, we also know that magnesium can get things moving in our digestive system and we don’t want too much DURING the run.
Vega Sport Hydrator
The first electrolyte I ever used consistently was Vega when I lived in Miami! It was the first time I realized that sipping during the run was more ideal than guzzling before or after the run to keep me feeling good start to finish.
Sugar: 0 grams, sweetened with Stevia, which means some are not a fan of the taste, I don’t mind it and like the 0 sugar option.
Nutrients: Fantastic spread and good ranges to keep you balanced without overdoing any particular area. Bonus of 100% daily Vitamin C needs to boost immune system. 100mg sodium, 100mg magnesium, 400mg potassium
Cost: Breaks down to .48 cents per serving from the container, higher if you buy individual sticks
Hydrant Rapid Hydration Mix
I LOVE that this brand goes deep in to telling you why the exact mix of ingredients is really important for your hydration. It’s all the science that I get excited about showing how the mix improves your overall hydration and with this sugar content can be something you utilize as part of your daily hydration or as part of your workouts.
Sugar: 6 grams sweetened with cane sugar, a great option for those looking lower sugar, but without an artificial sweetener! Very light flavor.
Nutrients: 260 mg sodium, 200 mg potassium, 30 mg magnesium, not a lot of other add-ons.
Cost: Breaks down to 1.30 per single pack
Skratch Labs Sports Hydration Mix
I always get excited to talk about local Colorado brands, but I was actually introduced to them when I was in Hawaii for the Ironman! They’re known for making high quality products and they use science to determine what’s in their product.
For example, they keep it to a 4% carbohydrate solution because that still optimizes fluid transport to the small intestine.
Sugar: Uses cane sugar for an avg 19 grams per serving, making this drink ideal for use on the run or immediately post run when you need to refill glycogen stores. I wouldn’t sip it randomly throughout the day because of the sugar, again personal choice.
Nutrients: Main focus is on sodium and carbs to fuel your workout (small amount of magnesium), they believe in not adding extras. 380 mg sodium, 39mg potassium, 39mg magnesium
Cost: Breaks down to .81 cents per serving from the bag, higher if you buy individual sticks
Perhaps you’ve seen this fizzy little tablet and wondered about it. In fact, in the last year they’ve expanded from just electrolytes to drinks to help with immunity, sleep and caffeine. Here we’re focused just on the basic sport electrolyte which is formulated for fast absorption.
If you’re a sparkling water fan, this will probably be your jam for an any time drink. Flavor is super, super mild and my husband likes this for his bike rides. I’m not a sparkling water person, so I drink it less often.
Sugar: 1 gram of sugar, sweetened with stevia.
Nutrients: 300mg sodium, 150mg potassium, 25 mg magnesium – especially ideal if you’re taking in other fuel on the run
Cost: Breaks down to approximately .50 cents per serving (easily portable)Trying to find the best electrolyte drink for you?! Check out all the options from no sugar to moderate sugar #runchat Click To Tweet
Are you a heavy sweater? Do you run in the heat and humidity? Then this might be the option you need to pay the most attention to, as it’s designed to be a super hydrator. In fact, it’s so dense that for me I can’t drink a full serving at once or my stomach feels like a water balloon.
That’s actually by scientific design! This was original developed to help with undernourished kids in third world countries and we’ve found it to be an option for rehydration as well. “1 packet can provide the same hydration as drinking 2-3 bottles of water.”
Sugar: 11 grams of sugar from pure cane sugar
Nutrients: 110% of Vitamins A, B, C, Niacin, plus 500mg sodium, 370mg potassium,
Cost: Breaks down to $1.50 per stick, but if you only use half at a time, which you could because of high density it could make each serving in to 2.
Tailwind Nutrition Endurance Fuel
I think it’s important to know this is different than the other drinks listed. It’s designed to provide both calories and electrolytes, making it a replacement for needing things like gels. A great option for those with sensitive stomachs doing distance training. From research they determined that protein during intense long exercise can bother the GI tract and that’s why they don’t have it in here.
Sugar: 25 grams of sugar with 100 calories per scoop (10-12 oz water). Their recommendation is 2-3 scoops in 24 oz of water per 1 hour workout. Which makes sense for triathletes to me, but feels heavy as a runner.
Nutrients: 303 mg sodium, 88mg potassium, 14mg magnesium
Cost: Breaks down to .72 cents per serving from the bag
I haven’t had a chance to taste these, so I can’t speak to that, but I was really intrigued to see a Optimized Women’s Hydration and a Preload hydration, which meant I had to look in to it. In terms of the pre-load, I could see where this would have been amazing when I trained in Miami “scientifically designed to prepare the body for high-intensity efforts and hot environments by raising plasma levels and boosting blood circulation while counteracting hormone-related drops in body water.” But it’s OVER 1200mg of sodium, so definitely use appropriately!
Following looks at their standard active hydration mix, I really couldn’t see why the “women’s” formula would be any better.
Sugar: 9 grams from cane sugar
Nutrients: 130 mg sodium, others are not listed by milligrams, but also contains some B vitamins which means a little energy boost.
Cost: Varies, but average breakdown is .50 cents per serving from container
What do you look for when buying Electrolyte Powders?
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