The 5 Best Electrolyte Powders, Tested by Registered Dietitians

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the 5 best electrolyte powders

Eli Schmidt

Best Overall

LMNT Electrolyte Powder Packets

Electrolyte Powder Packets

Pros
  • Gluten and sugar-free
  • Not a carb source, so athletes can choose a separate fuel source
  • Several flavor options to choose from
  • No artificial sweeteners, colors, or fillers
Cons
  • 1,000 milligrams of sodium may not be necessary for most active guys
  • Flavor is very salty

Experts and testers we consulted with say LMNT is a serious electrolyte supplement, providing 1,000 milligrams of sodium in each pack. With this much salt, you can expect the flavor to be, well, salty. After a 10-mile run or a hard, sweaty bike ride, we appreciated the replenishment, but the salty flavor may take a little getting used to for some people. However, other athletes like Munson, actually prefer that taste over some typical sports drinks, which can taste overly sweet. The instructions include mixing a packet with 16 to 32 ounces of water, but you can always dilute it a little more to cut the salty flavor.

“There are several flavors to choose from, which helps finding one you will enjoy and tolerate during your workouts,” says Alsing. You can choose from fruit flavors like citrus or watermelon or even a more decadent chocolate caramel. It’s sweetened with stevia leaf, and one packet has just 2 grams of carbohydrates. If you don’t like the taste of stevia, you can always choose the raw, unflavored option with no sweeteners added.

In addition to sodium, LMNT provides 200 milligrams of potassium and 60 milligrams of magnesium, electrolytes that are also lost through sweat, although in lower amounts than sodium. “This is good for long workouts as ACSM recommends sodium replacement of 300-600 mg per hour,” says Alsing. If your workout is shorter or you aren’t feeling especially sweaty, you can always use half a packet, cutting the cost and the sodium.

Read more: Best Supplements for Men

Sodium 1,000 milligrams
Carbohydrates 2 grams
Certifications Vegan, gluten-free, sugar-free
Flavors Grapefruit salt, watermelon salt, citrus salt, orange salt, raspberry salt, mango chill, chocolate salt, chocolate caramel, and raw unflavored
Other key nutrients 60 milligrams of magnesium, 200 milligrams of potassium

Best Budget Powder

DripDrop Bold Variety Electrolyte Powder Packets

Bold Variety Electrolyte Powder Packets

Munson is a big fan of the Drip Drop oral rehydration solution, as it dissolves really well, leaving very little sediment in the bottle. This formula has 330 milligrams of sodium in each serving and is free from gluten, soy, and certified vegan.

This formula does have some added sugars and a total of 9 grams of carbohydrates but is also one of the few that does not use stevia as a sweetener. Unlike the other powders, this one has 15 percent DV of zinc, an essential trace mineral that helps with the absorption of water and electrolytes by the intestines, aiding hydration.

There are several flavors to choose from, and by choosing a subscribe and save option, you can save 25 percent on each order, which makes it an affordable rehydration option as well. If you’re looking for a zero sugar option, they have the Zero Sugar Variety which also has the addition of several B vitamins.

Sodium 330 milligrams
Carbohydrates 9 grams
Certifications Vegan, gluten-free, soy-free, kosher, non-GMO
Flavors Lemon-lime, berry, watermelon, lemon, orange, fruit punch, concord grape
Other key nutrients 185 milligrams of potassium, 70 milligrams of vitamin C, 39 milligrams of magnesium, 15 milligrams of zinc

Best Gluten-Free Powder

Nuun Sport Powder

Sport Powder

Pros
  • Includes potassium and magnesium along with sodium
  • Certified vegan and gluten-free
  • Dissolves well
Cons
  • The flavors are strong, which may be off-putting to some athletes

These Nuun tablets are effervescent, which can be difficult to drink while running or biking. But the Sport Hydration Powder has no fizz, making it a better option for athletes drinking them on the go. The powder sticks come in five flavors and have just one gram of added sugars along with stevia for a sweet flavor. While many people love the flavors, they are a lot stronger than the tablets, which may be off-putting for some athletes if you’re drinking them during a workout.

Each packet has 300 milligrams of sodium, along with potassium and magnesium, making it a good all-around hydration drink for workouts lasting an hour or less. The packets are easy to tear and mix quickly into a water bottle for hydration on the go—no waiting for tablets to dissolve. Plus, they’re certified vegan, gluten-free, and kosher.

Sodium 300 milligrams
Carbohydrates 2 grams
Certifications Vegan, Gluten-free, Kosher
Flavors Strawberry kiwi, pink lemonade, orange, lemon-lime, mixed berry
Other key nutrients 15 milligrams of calcium, 150 milligrams of potassium, 25 milligrams of magnesium, 40 milligrams of chloride

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Best Value Powder

Transparent Labs Hydrate Electrolyte Powder

Hydrate Electrolyte Powder

Pros
  • Tub is more eco-friendly than individual packets
  • No artificial colors or sweeteners
  • Gluten-free
Cons
  • Tub size makes it hard to use on the go

Transparent Labs Hydrate electrolyte powder includes multiple electrolytes and other nutrients like taurine and Senactiv, an adaptogen complex that supports muscle recovery. “It has 500 mg of sodium per serving, which fits ACSM’s recommendation for sodium replacement per hour,” says Alsing. You’ll also replace small amounts of potassium, magnesium, and calcium.

Each dose has 1,000 milligrams of taurine, a sulfur-containing amino acid that may help support muscle recovery. You can choose from six flavors, all sweetened with stevia, as this formula is carbohydrate and calorie-free. The one downside is that this electrolyte powder only comes in a multi-serving tub. While it’s great for the environment with minimal waste, it’s not as convenient to take with you on runs, hikes, or rides as powders that come in individual packets.

“I look for supplements to be third-party tested so you can trust the ingredients listed, and Transparent Labs is third-party tested,” says Alsing. It’s Informed Sport Certified, meaning it’s been tested for substances banned by major athletic regulating organizations, which gives peace of mind to competing athletes.

Sodium 500 milligrams
Carbohydrates None
Certifications Informed Choice Certified
Flavors Raspberry lemonade, peach mango, blue raspberry, arctic freeze, tropical punch, lemon-lime
Other key nutrients 50 milligrams of magnesium, 84 milligrams of calcium, 250 milligrams of potassium, 1,000 milligrams of taurine, SenActiv, and coconut water powder

Best Powder for Athletes

Mortal Hydration

Mortal Hydration

Now 30% Off

Credit: Eli Schmidt
Pros
  • Two levels of electrolytes to meet various hydration needs
  • Small amounts of magnesium, potassium, and calcium added
  • Mellow flavors
Cons
  • 8 grams of added sugars and sweetened with stevia, which some athletes may not prefer

Mortal Hydration is the new Official Sports Beverage of the North American Ironman series. This formula doesn’t contain any carbohydrates, unlike many typical versions of Gatorade. Based on our research, we found that a lot of the best electrolyte powders are moving away from carbohydrate formulas. That way athletes can customize their carb intake with separate mixes or gels, says Munson.

The brand has a regular and a salted version, offering different levels of sodium to help meet the needs of various levels of exercise and hydration. The original Mortal Hydration packs have 500 milligrams of sodium, while the Salty varieties have 1,000 milligrams.

Munson loves this option, as it dissolves really well and has a nice mellow flavor, with the Lime Margarita option being her favorite.

Sodium 460 milligrams
Carbohydrates 10 grams
Certifications Gluten-free, vegan
Flavors Margarita, mango, berry
Other key nutrients 150 milligrams of potassium, 25 milligrams of magnesium, 20 milligrams of calcium

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When Is the Best Time to Use Electrolyte Powders?

Electrolyte powders can be used before, during, and after exercise to help replace fluids lost during periods of long exercise or heavy sweating.

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How Do Electrolyte Powders Help Improve Athletic Performance?

Replacing water and sodium helps to avoid the effects of dehydration, which could include an increase in heart rate, core temperature, and muscle glycogen use and a decrease in cardiac output, cognitive awareness, anaerobic power, and time to exhaustion. All of these can have negative effects on performance.

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What Should I Look for in an Electrolyte Powder?

Experts agree that you should look for an electrolyte powder that has at least 230-690mg of sodium and also includes small amounts of electrolytes such as potassium and magnesium. If you’re not using it as a sports carbohydrate drink, you can choose low-sugar powders, or choose one that has carbohydrates to replenish electrolytes and energy in one product.

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How Do Electrolyte Needs Vary With Different Types of Exercise?

Any exercise where you’re sweating can lead to electrolyte losses. Short sweat sessions can usually be replaced with the sodium included in regular foods and drinks, while sessions longer than two hours may need a stronger source of sodium, like an electrolyte rehydration drink.

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Are There any Side Effects Associated With Electrolyte Powders?

Depending on the ingredients, some electrolyte powders could lead to digestive upset, especially if they include high amounts of sugar, sugar alcohol, or magnesium. Drinking electrolyte powders when you’re not losing sodium through sweat or if you have high blood pressure, could increase your blood pressure.

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Meet the Experts

  • Leah Reitmayer, MS, RD, CSSD, LDN, is a Board-Certified Sports Dietitian and owner of Lettuce Eat Dessert.
  • Sarah Alsing, MS, RD and owner of Delightfully Fueled.
  • Marty Munson is the Health Director at Men’s Health, triathlete and USA Triathlon Certified Coach.

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Headshot of Marty Munson

Marty Munson, currently the health director of Men’s Health, has been a health editor at properties including Marie Claire, Prevention, Shape and RealAge. She’s also certified as a swim and triathlon coach.

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