6 Best Electrolyte Drinks, According to a Certified Athletic Trainer

Electrolyte and hydration replenishment can support recovery for exercisers of all levels.

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November 15, 2022

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Photo by: Thomas Barwick/Getty Images

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Our Top Electrolyte Drink Picks

If you’re even a moderate exerciser, you’ve probably heard about electrolyte replenishment. The human body needs ample amounts of electrolytes for proper nerve and muscle function, fluid balance, and other vital physiological functions. The most plentiful electrolytes lost in sweat include sodium, chloride, and potassium. Magnesium and calcium are also lost in smaller quantities.

Most electrolyte drinks are designed for moderate to heavy exercisers with the intention of replenishing many of the electrolytes lost during a workout. And with so many electrolyte drinks flooding store shelves and social media feeds, these are the best ones on the market, according to a registered dietitian and certified athletic trainer.

How to Choose a Healthy Electrolyte Drink

Excessive electrolyte loss from sweat (like during a workout) calls for additional replenishment and getting fluid and electrolytes from an electrolyte drink can be an effective way to help make up losses. A quality electrolyte drink offers electrolytes in appropriate amounts, plus water. Too much sodium, chloride, potassium, magnesium, or calcium can do more harm than good, so choosing the product with the highest electrolyte values is not always the best.

Ideal sodium levels in an electrolyte drink for exercise should range from 150mg to 250mg per serving. Very active athletes involved in heavy training at elite levels should aim for 500mg to 1000mg, which is on the higher end of a safe range. Average exercisers should look for potassium levels from 45mg to 250 milligrams, heavy sweaters and very active athletes may go as high as 700mg to 800mg.

Carbohydrate-enhanced electrolyte drinks can offer easily digestible calories to help maintain energy levels during exercise. Low and no calorie drinks can also be useful, but are often flavored with artificial sweeteners like stevia and monk fruit that may impact flavor and, in some cases, contribute to stomach upset.

$16.29
Amazon

The OG of electrolyte drinks, available in powder and ready to drink forms, Gatorade is a blend of fluid, carbs, and electrolytes and is specifically formulated to replace electrolytes lost during exercise. The levels of electrolytes (sodium and potassium) are moderate and sensible with 160 mg of sodium and 45mg of potassium per 12 fluid ounce serving. You can also find Gatorade varieties with higher sodium, zero sugar or no calories depending on your needs.

$27.45
Amazon

Gnarly Nutrition has been coming in hot with a wide range of products. This brand has third-party verification from NSF Certified for Sport, which ensures label accuracy for dietary supplements. The powders taste good and contain 250mg sodium, 100mg of potassium, plus several B vitamins per serving.

$17.28
Amazon

This electrolyte drink is your best bet for those seeking higher amounts of potassium. The primary ingredient is coconut water, contributing 700mg per serving, which is on the higher side and best for heavy sweaters.

$47.96
Amazon

Prone to cramps? This blend is a heavy hitter with high doses of several electrolytes, making it a good choice for athletes who tend to suffer from muscle cramps caused by electrolyte losses.

$6.49
Amazon

We love the convenience and bubbly goodness of these electrolyte tablets. Drop a tab into 16 fluid ounces of water and get 360mg of sodium, 100mg potassium, 25mg magnesium and 13mg of potassium.

$19.99
Amazon

From Passionfruit to Appletini, this sugar-free powder is top dog for creative flavors. Lower in sodium with 55mg, but plentiful magnesium and vitamin C (100mg for both) per serving, this may be used as a quick way to give your daily drinking water a lighter electrolyte boost.

Dana Angelo White, MS, RD, ATC, is a registered dietitian, certified athletic trainer and owner of Dana White Nutrition, which specializes in culinary and sports nutrition.

*This article was written and/or reviewed by an independent registered dietitian nutritionist.

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