Stock Up on These Electrolyte Drinks Ahead of Your Next Tough Workout
"Hearst Magazines and Yahoo may earn commission or revenue on some items through these links."
Whether you’re hitting the gym for weight training or running in the summer heat, exercise makes you sweat. While sweating is a good thing (it helps regulate body temperature), it can also dehydrate you—which means your body is losing electrolytes, which are essential for your well-being. The best electrolyte drinks can rehydrate your body quickly and effectively.
“Because our bodies are made up of around 60% water, nearly all of our cells are made up of electrolytes,” says Dana Cohen, M.D., an integrative medical doctor at Dr. Dana Cohen Integrative Functional Holistic Medicine. “But because you lose electrolytes when you sweat, urinate, etc. it’s important to restore them through what you eat and drink.”
Electrolytes include potassium, sodium, calcium, magnesium, chloride, and phosphorus. If you’re wondering why exactly do I need them? In short, they support cell and bodily functions to keep you alive and healthy. These are all naturally found in food, but sometimes we need a bit more help than what we can naturally get from food and water alone. Sports drinks replenish the body using electrolytes and add in other essential vitamins and minerals so you can make the most out of each sip. This makes electrolyte drinks ideal for those recovering from an illness or a tough workout.
MEET THE EXPERTS: Jim White, R.D.N., A.C.S.M. exercise physiologist, and the owner of Jim White Fitness & Nutrition Studios; and Dana Cohen, M.D., an integrative medical doctor at Dr. Dana Cohen Integrative Functional Holistic Medicine.
Like many flavored beverages, finding the best electrolyte drink comes down to preference. Just be sure you’re reading the ingredient list to make sure you’re not consuming loads of added sugar if that’s something you’re trying to avoid.
Ahead, find some of the best drinks available to restore electrolytes quickly.
Dietary supplements are products intended to supplement the diet. They are not medicines and are not intended to treat, diagnose, mitigate, prevent, or cure diseases. Be cautious about taking dietary supplements if you are pregnant or nursing. Also, be careful about giving supplements to a child, unless recommended by their healthcare provider.
Fit Healthy Real Hydration
If you’re looking for a flavorful drink that will replenish your body with electrolytes without added sugar, Gatorade’s newest electrolyte drink is the one for you. “Gatorade Fit has no added sugars, no artificial flavors or sweeteners, no added dye or colors, and excellent sources of vitamins A and C,” says Jim White, R.D.N., A.C.S.M. exercise physiologist, and the owner of Jim White Fitness & Nutrition Studios. The delicious flavors and one gram of sugar comes from natural sweeteners like watermelon juice, keeping it at a low ten calories, and the electrolytes are derived from sea salt. “When it comes to electrolytes, Gatorade Fit uses sea salts which have more minerals compared to iodized salt that is refined,” White says. This drink offers the same amount of electrolytes as traditional Gatorade, just without all the extra ingredients.
Peach Mango Sports Drink
This sports drink is packed with a whopping 530 mg of potassium to ensure you are replacing any lost electrolytes in your system after a strenuous workout. And it has no artificial flavors or added sugar. Instead, this drink includes coconut water (which also provides electrolytes), B vitamins, and a load of antioxidants. BODYARMOR LYTE’s sports drinks are highly rated and popular among celebs like Carrie Underwood. One reviewer writes, “I need a drink to replenish my electrolytes after a medical treatment three times a week and I’ve found this tastes better and sits better in my stomach than other sports drinks. I’m happy they’re starting to make different flavors in Lyte.”
White recommends coconut water as one of the best ways to get electrolytes. “Coconut water is a naturally-occurring drink coming directly from the coconut,” White says. “To add on, it has little to no added sugars and is easy for your body to process compared to other electrolyte drinks with many other non-naturally occurring ingredients.”
Coconut water is also jam-packed with nutrients that might improve your well-being. Vita Coco’s coconut water is high in potassium, which supports normal blood pressure and muscle cell functioning. This drink also has calcium, magnesium, and phosphorus, so you can be sure your body is hydrated and receiving all the nutrients it needs. Even better, this coconut water is lower in calories than other electrolyte drinks and is gluten-free.
Dragonfruit Electrolytes Tub
If you’re looking for a product with as many electrolytes as you can get, this dissolvable powder may be the option for you. “This product does contain a lot of salt compared to other electrolyte products, so I would edge on the side of caution if you have hypertension,” White says, since it’s best to avoid too much sodium if you have high blood pressure. “All in all, I think this is a great product to have when doing a very strenuous exercise and losing lots of sweat.”
This electrolyte powder is available in three fruity flavors, and boasts only one calorie (yes, you read that right). It’s a bit pricier than other options, but the tub can go a long way.
Classic Beef Bone Broth
Bone broth is packed with electrolytes, including calcium, magnesium, and phosphorus. Beef, chicken, and turkey broth all provide electrolytes and protein, but this beef broth from Kettle and Fire is also packed with collagen. “Bone broth is all natural and easy for your body to digest,” White says. “All in all, bone broth is a great alternative if you don’t enjoy sweet or artificial flavorings while still getting the electrolytes your body needs.” With zero added sugars and a high percentage of potassium, this is a great savory drink to replenish electrolytes and consume protein after a workout.
Kiwi Strawberry Sports Drinking Water With Electrolytes
This bestseller on Amazon is water, but elevated. It has a slightly fruity flavor without added sugar—and with zero calories. What it does have is loads of electrolytes. This sports drink has 230 mg of sodium, which is a great way to consume salt after profusely sweating from a workout. “Not only does this taste great but it’s perfect for working out,” one reviewer wrote. “There are no calories and stuff in them to prevent dehydration. It doesn’t have the slimy taste that some hydration products have.”
Boosted Blends Frozen Pineapple and Mango Energize Smoothie
Looking to rehydrate and satisfy some hunger? Add this pineapple and mango frozen smoothie mix to your routine—you’ll get a serving of fruits and greens while also some electrolytes from the 380 mg of potassium. Compared to a traditional electrolyte drink, such as Gatorade, this is much higher in potassium. “Adding milk or Greek yogurt is also a great way to get extra electrolytes in the form of calcium in your smoothies,” White says. “There is nothing better than getting electrolytes straight from the fruit or vegetable.”
How to choose an electrolyte drink
You may want higher levels of electrolytes for days you complete an intense workout, or you might be looking for a daily electrolyte drink to keep you extra hydrated. Just remember to check with your doctor before making any drastic dietary changes, especially if you have any underlying health conditions. Here are a few tips to follow when looking for an electrolyte drink:
Consider sodium: Sodium is an essential electrolyte for our body, but sodium recommended levels change from person to person. If you have high blood pressure, you should avoid high levels of sodium and look for sports drinks with other electrolytes (potassium, calcium, magnesium, and phosphorus). But if you don’t have to limit your sodium intake and you want an electrolyte for after working out, one with sodium is beneficial as we lose sodium when we sweat.
Think of potassium: Potassium is another essential mineral our body needs, but it’s important to not overdo it. The recommended daily potassium intake is 3400 mg for adult men and 2600 mg for adult women. Too much potassium in our blood can cause heart attacks or even death, but this only occurs if there is an issue with your kidneys or you are ingesting over 18 g of potassium a day. Electrolyte drinks’ potassium levels are typically in milligrams.
Look at added sugar: Electrolyte drinks are great for rehydrating our bodies, but many sports drinks contain sneaky added sugar. If you are already prone to high blood sugar or have type 2 diabetes, consuming too much can make you even thirstier by spiking your blood sugar levels.
Are electrolyte drinks safe?
Whichever electrolyte drink you choose to drink is up to personal preference, but keep your health conditions and exercise levels in mind. Those with high blood pressure should not consume too much potassium, so it’s best to avoid drinks with high levels of electrolytes. If you are an avid exerciser, runner, weightlifter, or athlete, you can look for and enjoy electrolyte drinks with higher levels of potassium to replenish after a tough work out.
What are electrolytes?
Electrolytes are the essential minerals our body needs to maintain proper functioning. The main types of electrolytes are sodium, potassium, calcium, magnesium, chloride, and phosphorus. “Electrolytes help in basic life functioning, such as maintaining electrical neutrality in cells, generating, and conducting action potentials in the nerves and muscles,” White says. “All in all, electrolytes is any substance that produces an electrically conducting solution when dissolved in water.”
Benefits of electrolyte drinks
Maintain bodily functions. Staying hydrated is crucial for organ function, body temperature regulation, delivering nutrients to our cells, and more according to Harvard University’s school of public health. When we are dehydrated, electrolytes can provide a quick fix. “Sometimes you need to rapidly rehydrate, and water isn’t going to cut it versus electrolytes,” says Dana Cohen, M.D., an integrative medical doctor at Dr. Dana Cohen Integrative Functional Holistic Medicine. “Let’s say you are experiencing severe dehydration symptoms due to extreme fluid loss. Maybe you are ill, stayed out in the heat too long, or haven’t properly nourished your body with nutrient-dense foods. If you need to hydrate fast to improve your symptoms, using electrolytes to rehydrate is your first step.”
Aid in workout recovery. Electrolytes can also enhance exercise because our body weakens after sweating. This is because cells use electrolytes to conduct electrical charges, which is essentially how our muscles contract. “As soon as your body loses only one to two percent of its body weight in sweat, you are prone to a decrease in strength, focus, and speed,” White says. “This can take away from you exercising or doing an activity that requires your body to be at peak performance.”
Ensure better sleep and brain function. Dehydration can also negatively impact our sleep and brain functioning, so it is beneficial to drink electrolytes for rehydration. “Your body needs both water and the proper ratio of electrolytes in order to stay hydrated,” Dr. Cohen says.
How do electrolyte drinks work?
“Using an optimized ratio of sodium, potassium and glucose, the Oral Rehydration Solution uses your body’s sodium-glucose cotransport mechanism to pull potassium, water, and sodium directly into your bloodstream through osmosis,” Dr. Cohen says. “You can think of this… mechanism as a superhighway, delivering optimized hydration when you need it most.”
Each of the electrolytes found in many popular electrolyte drinks also work to rehydrate you in their own way. “Basically, [sodium] helps you retain the fluid that you are drinking more efficiently/effectively,” White says. Whereas potassium “regulates the homeostasis between sodium and potassium, which pumps out sodium in exchange for potassium, which moves into the cells,” White says.
How often should I drink an electrolyte drink?
Electrolyte drinks are useful when you are dehydrated, which can include after a workout, spending time in the sun, sweating, drinking alcohol, or vomiting. White says water is typically just fine for rehydrating you on a daily basis, but there are certain situations where electrolyte drinks come in handy. “On the other hand, if you know you are going to sweat, drinking about 2 cups of fluid two hours before would be beneficial,” he says. “Furthermore, 4 to 6 oz every 15 to 20 minutes during physical activity will keep you hydrated and your electrolyte levels at par.”
There are some people who may want to consider consuming electrolyte drinks every day. “If you struggle regularly with symptoms of dehydration like fatigue, headaches, nausea, dizziness, brain fog, or kidney stones, you may want to try a daily hydration routine that includes electrolytes,” Dr. Cohen says. “Mornings are a great time to consume electrolytes, as your body has been working all night while you have been sleeping, but you haven’t consumed any fluids, nutrients, or minerals to support its activity.”
Can you have too many electrolytes?
You want to be sure to not overdo it. White says consuming too many electrolytes can give your body too much sodium, potassium, calcium, and magnesium. These can cause minor health issues such as dizziness, vomiting, weakness, or worse concerns such as issues with kidney function and muscular and neurological damage. “All in all, your body ultimately does a good job at making adjustments if you have too little or too much of something,” White says. “Listen to your body and if you feel dehydrated, I would recommend electrolytes.” Just be sure to speak with your healthcare professional before using them regularly.
Who should drink electrolyte drinks?
Anyone who is dehydrated, no matter the cause, can benefit from electrolyte drinks. White recommends electrolyte drinks to anyone who completed a moderate or intense exercise, someone withstanding extreme heat, and anyone who lost fluid from vomiting or diarrhea to rehydrate and replenish your body’s electrolytes.
Dr. Cohen recommends electrolyte drinks for similar situations, as well as for pregnant or breastfeeding people, people traveling, and those undergoing certain medical treatments. “It’s always a good idea to consult with a healthcare professional or a registered dietitian for personalized recommendations based on your specific needs and health conditions,” Dr. Cohen says.
How we chose the best electrolyte drinks
We consulted Jim White, R.D.N., A.C.S.M. exercise physiologist, and the owner of Jim White Fitness & Nutrition Studios; and Dana Cohen, M.D., an integrative medical doctor at Dr. Dana Cohen Integrative Functional Holistic Medicine. We also conducted our own research and sifted through tons of online reviews to find the best electrolyte drinks available.
Why trust us?
For more than 70 years, Prevention has been a leading provider of trustworthy health information, empowering readers with practical strategies to improve their physical, mental, and emotional well-being. Our editors interview medical experts to help guide our health-focused product selections. Additionally, Prevention also examines hundreds of reviews—and often conducts personal testing done by our staff—to help you make informed decisions.
You Might Also Like