ATK Reviews

Which Electrolyte Drinks Are the Best?

Hydration is a hot topic these days, and some say water isn’t enough. We tasted electrolyte drinks to find the best options for your lifestyle. 

Published June 29, 2023.

We all know we should be drinking lots of water, but is H₂O alone enough? In the past few years, a new category of beverages has blown up: electrolyte drinks. These products have been popular with endurance athletes for a while, but now it seems like Olympians and civilians alike are adding powders to their water on a daily basis. 

Most of the time, we can get enough electrolytes from food. But in hot weather and/or when exercising, they can be a helpful tool for staying hydrated.

I spoke with sports dietitian and avid marathoner Meghann Featherstun to learn more about what to look for and how to use these products. We tried them all to see how they taste.

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What Are Electrolyte Drinks?

Electrolyte drink mixes come in powder and tablet form. You dissolve them in water and they add electrolytes—minerals such as sodium, potassium, calcium, and magnesium that are key to many functions in the body—to your beverage. They come in a wide variety of flavors, so they affect the taste of your drink as well. Some include additional vitamins and minerals and even caffeine.

The ingredients vary widely, but two important things to pay attention to are the levels of sodium and sugar. Both contribute flavor, of course, but they also help your body to retain fluids, Featherstun explained. When we sweat, we lose some calcium and magnesium, but a lot of what we lose is sodium. Most electrolyte drinks also contain either sugar or artificial sweeteners. Some people dislike the flavor of artificial sweeteners and may choose drinks with sugar for that reason, but sugar also helps the body to absorb fluid more quickly, said Featherstun. 

So, for longer endurance activities, sugar serves both as a source of energy and to assist with hydration. If you’re choosing an electrolyte drink just to consume on an average daily basis, sugar is less essential. Whatever your lifestyle, Featherstun recommends avoiding products with sugar alcohols such as erythritol, as it can cause GI distress for some people, which is especially uncomfortable during a long run, ride, or race. 

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Who Needs Electrolyte Drinks?

As a general rule, “we probably don’t need them if we’re not sweating a decent amount,” Featherstun said. But that doesn’t mean you should always stay away from electrolyte drinks if you’re not exercising. Many people struggle to drink enough water because it’s bland, so the flavor and light sweetness of electrolyte drinks may encourage them to drink more. Plus, if you’re in a situation that promotes dehydration, such as living at a high altitude or on long flights (or even when you’re feeling under the weather after a night out), “we can use those electrolyte drinks to help us stay on top of staying hydrated,” Featherstun explained.

How We Tested

Different electrolyte drinks have a wide array of ingredients, so it's hard to compare apples to apples. We tried nine brands, based on a mix of trendy new brands and recommendations from experts, and broke them into four categories: for everyday drinking, for light activity, for long activity, and for heavy sweating. We chose lemon or lemon/lime flavors and mixed each one with the amount of water on the label’s instructions, which varied from 8 to 32 ounces. 

We rated the taste and provided tasting comments based on the result of those instructions, but a lot of it comes down to personal preference. Some are sweeter, some are saltier, and when shopping, you can usually gauge this based on the sugar and sodium content. Whichever one you end up getting, you can use more water to make the flavor less concentrated and less water to make the flavor more concentrated, so they are all customizable. Within each category below, products are listed in order of our preference based on taste. If you want to try making one yourself, check out our recipe for homemade sports drink.


How to Make Homemade Gatorade

Sports drinks don’t need to be complicated. Skip the store-bought stuff and make your own.
Learn More

Best Electrolyte Drink for Everyday Drinking

If you’re not exercising and/or sweating a lot, you likely don’t need as much extra sodium and sugar outside your diet. 

Ultima Replenisher Electrolyte Drink Mix Lemonade

  • Ingredients: citric acid, magnesium citrate, potassium phosphate, potassium aspartate, calcium citrate, natural lemon flavor, salt, calcium ascorbate, rebaudioside-A (from organic stevia leaf), zinc citrate, and manganese citrate 
  • Sodium per serving: 55mg
  • Sugar per serving: 0g
  • Price per serving: $1.05 (for individual packets)
  • Tasting Comments: “Tangy,” “bright and lemony,” with “subtle sweetness.”

Best Electrolyte Drinks for Light Activity

These brands have a moderate amount of sodium and sugar to keep you fueled and hydrated for light activity.

Ucan Hydrate for Electrolyte Replacement Lemon-Lime

  • Ingredients: Sodium citrate, citric acid, magnesium phosphate, natural flavors, potassium citrate, salt, stevia extract (Rebaudioside A), tricalcium phosphate
  • Sodium per serving: 300mg
  • Sugar per serving: 0g
  • Price per serving: $0.89
  • Tasting Comments: “Sweet,” like “lemonade,” and “refreshing.”

Nuun Hydration Sport Lemon Lime

  • Ingredients: citric acid, dextrose, natural flavors, calcium carbonate, monkfruit extract, stevia leaf extract, avocado oil, riboflavin (for color)
  • Sodium per serving: 360mg
  • Sugar per serving: 1g
  • Price per serving: $0.56 
  • Tasting Comments: “Watery,” “subtle,” “floral,” and “basic.”

DripDrop Hydration Electrolyte Powder Packets Lemon

  • Ingredients: sugar, fructose, sodium citrate, citric acid, natural flavor, potassium citrate, magnesium citrate, dextrose, salt, ascorbic acid (vitamin C), sucralose, turmeric as color, zinc aspartate
  • Sodium per serving: 330mg
  • Sugar per serving: 7g
  • Price per serving: $1.12 (for individual packets)
  • Tasting Comments: “A little syrupy,” “citrusy,” and “cloying.”

Best Electrolyte Drinks for Long Activity

These electrolyte mixes have more sugar, which helps the body to retain more fluid. The extra carbohydrates will also help sustain longer endurance activities.

Gatorade Endurance Formula

  • Ingredients: Sugar, maltodextrin, fructose, citric acid, sodium citrate, monopotassium phosphate, salt, calcium lactate, calcium silicate, natural flavor, magnesium oxide, gum arabic, sodium ascorbate (preserves freshness), beta carotene (color)
  • Sodium per serving: 300mg
  • Sugar per serving: 13g
  • Price per serving: $0.61
  • Tasting Comments: “Less zingy than some of the other options,” “powdery,” and “very mild.”

Skratch Labs Hydration Sport Drink Mix Lemon and Lime

  • Ingredients: Cane Sugar, Dextrose, Sodium Citrate, Citric Acid, Magnesium Lactate, Calcium Citrate, Potassium Citrate, Lemon Oil, Lime Oil, Lemon Juice, Lime Juice, Ascorbic Acid (Vitamin C)
  • Sodium per serving: 380mg
  • Sugar per serving: 19g
  • Price per serving: $1.44
  • Tasting Comments: “Delicately sweet,” “lemony,” and “a bit lacking in flavor.”

Tailwind Endurance Fuel Lemon

  • Ingredients: Dextrose (Glucose), Sucrose, Citric Acid, Sodium Citrate, Sea Salt, Organic Flavor, Potassium Chloride, Magnesium Citrate, Calcium Carbonate
  • Sodium per serving: 310mg
  • Sugar per serving: 25g
  • Price per serving: $0.80
  • Tasting Comments: “Weak flavor,” “bitter,” and “like melted ice cubes.”

Best Electrolyte Drinks for Heavy Sweating

When it’s really hot out and/or you’re sweating heavily, higher levels of sodium will help keep you hydrated. 

Liquid I.V. Hydration Multiplier Lemon Lime

  • Ingredients: Pure Cane Sugar, Dextrose, Citric Acid, Salt, Potassium Citrate, Sodium Citrate, Natural Acai Flavor, Dipotassium Phosphate, Silicon Dioxide, Rebaudioside A (Stevia Leaf Extract), Vitamin C (Ascorbic Acid), Vitamin B3 (Niacinamide), Vitamin B5 (D-Calcium Pantothenate), Vitamin B6 (Pyridoxine Hydrochloride), Vitamin B12 (Cyanocobalamin)
  • Sodium per serving: 500mg
  • Sugar per serving: 11g
  • Price per serving: $1.00 (for individual packets)
  • Tasting Comments: “Salty,” “a little more viscous,” and “very sweet.”

LMNT Electrolyte Drink Mix Citrus Salt

  • Ingredients: Salt (Sodium Chloride), Citric Acid, Magnesium Malate, Potassium Chloride, Natural Flavors, Stevia Leaf Extract
  • Sodium per serving: 1000mg
  • Sugar per serving: 0g
  • Price per serving: $1.66 (for individual packets)
  • Tasting Comments: “Very salty,” “lemony,” “sour,” and “perfumey.”

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