Best Sports Drinks For Hydration Tested & Compared
When it comes to best drinks, there are so many options out there. Discover our list of top 10 hydration drinks for runners!
As runners and athletes, are you constantly replenishing your body with the right nutrients? You might drink enough water, but is water enough? How about all the other nutrients that your body needs? Staying hydrated keeps you away from muscle cramps, keeps your body replenished to avoid dehydration, and maximizes your efficiency as a runner or as an athlete, especially when you’re training for long periods of time or doing high intensity workouts.
When running in warm climates, hydration becomes even more essential. Your hydration method should cover pre-run, in-run and post-run phases of your workout.
Water is (obviously) a great choice, but for runners you often need more than just water. Especially for long distance runners, staying hydrated is a combination of hydrating the body and also energizing the body with sugars and electrolytes. For that reason, there are products on the market today called hydration drinks that combine both of those elements. As you do your research you will see that there are tons of drinks out there, and it can be hard to decide which is best. To make your decision easier, we put together this guide of the ten best drinks.
- Skratch Labs Hydration Mix
- All natural
- SOS Rehydrate Drink
- Designed by doctor and former athletes
- Nunn Hydration
- Helps avoids muscle cramps
Here are our picks for the best hydration drinks out there today. These drinks will keep your body hydrated, energized, and free from muscle cramps.
10 Best Sports Drinks For Hydration
Skratch Labs Exercise Hydration Mix
Not incredibly expensive, but not the cheapest thing either. 1 pound bag is said to produce about 40 servings, which may not last active people as long as other individuals who don’t need to use it as frequently.
- All natural
- Great tasting, and comes in 6 different flavors
- Contains calories, carbs, sodium, potassium, sugars, and magnesium you need to stay energized
- Comes in a 1 pound bag that will last you a while
- Relatively low in calories, making you have to either take more or supplement with other products, especially on long distance runs
SOS Rehydration Drink
Relatively expensive, especially considering that there are only 20 servings in one box. However, if you are using this as more of a “lifestyle” product (as in for fighting dehydration or fatigue not caused from exercising) this may last you longer, as most people would not use this on a daily basis. Also, if you use it as a hangover treatment, this will likely last you for a while.
- No artificial additives
- Comes in 4 flavors and 3 different varieties that each have a slightly different purpose (targeted at athletes, non-athletes, or hangovers)
- Designed by a doctor and former pro athletes
- One box only contains 20 servings
- May not be suitable for high-endurance athletes, as there are only 10 calories per serving
Nuun Hydration Electrolyte Drink Tablets
Be warned - the taste might not be what you're looking for. Some people don't mind the taste, while others completely hate it. You might want to try it out and see for yourself if you like the taste.
- Easy tubes for easy transporting.
- Different flavors available.
- Packed with electrolytes and other vitamin content
- Great to avoid muscle cramps
- Bad after taste
Sqwincher ZERO Qwik Stik
It is one of the most affordable products on this list, with one box containing 50 individual packets.
- Comes in 9 different flavors
- Completely sugar and calorie free
- Contains necessary potassium and sodium to provide energy and reduce cramping
- Does not have any calories or carbohydrates
Vitalyte Natural Electrolyte Powder Sports Drink Mix
While this might look like a more expensive formula at first, it contains 80 servings, meaning it will last a lot longer than many of the other products on this list.
- Gluten free
- Comes in 5 different flavors
- All natural, no artificial colors, flavors, sweeteners, or preservatives
- Can mix a smaller amount in a small amount of water, making it easier and quicker to achieve results
- Powder formula has to be mixed ahead of time
Xendurance | Extreme HYDRO-X – Energy
It is fairly expensive, especially considering that one bag only contains around 25 servings. If you are very active, you will go through this product quickly, but at least for the price you are getting a great product that has patented technology that really works to keep you hydrated and fueled.
- Gluten free
- Patented Sustamine technology is unique to this product, helping with water absorption and muscle recovery
- Contains lactate, a natural fuel source which also helps reduce amount of lactic acid in the muscles, which reduces their overall soreness
- Doesn’t just help you during your workout, but aids in recovery after the fact
- Only comes in one flavor (lemon-citrus)
Fairly expensive, with one pack containing 12 bottles. Each bottle is one serving size, so this product is sure to go fast, especially during hot weather.
- Liquid formula, no measuring or mixing required
- Comes in various flavors, all that are all natural and have no artificial colors, sweeteners, or high fructose corn syrup.
- Especially useful during summer months.
- Does not focus on energy renewal or muscle recovery.
GU Hydration Drink Mix
Not the most expensive product on this list, but also not the cheapest. With only 24 servings in one container, this will not last serious athletes a very long time, especially if you workout multiple hours each day.
- Comes in 6 great flavors
- Has a lower amount of sugar than other hydration drinks, giving it a less sugary taste that is not appealing to many people
- Contains all the ingredients you need during intense workouts (sodium, potassium, carbohydrates)
- One container only contains 24 servings
Fairly expensive, and each pack only contains 12 bottles. For intense athletes, you will go through this product very quickly.
- Comes in 7 delicious flavors
- Contains 10% coconut water
- Has your daily value of vitamins A, C, E, and 200% daily value of vitamin B
- Gluten free
- No artificial colors, flavors, or added preservatives
- Contains 18 grams of sugars, has a fairly sweet taste
Zipfizz Electrolyte Healthy Energy Drink Mix
Many people tend to take them for sports or on the go because they provide the energy you need.
There is no added sugar, but it does have an added artificial sweetener. Though, people love the taste as an alternative to energy drinks.
- Amazing taste
- Comes in different delicious flavors
- It has an artificial sweetener
Many of the products on this list are recommended for different needs and different situations. You might want to take a packet with the powder mix-in and prepare it right after your workout, or you might enjoy an already prepared drink. Whatever the case may be, make sure you are prepared and hydrated, that’s the most important.
The Criteria We Used for Our Evaluation of the Best Hydration Drinks
When it comes to hydration, we can’t just list a bunch of random drinks. Runners know how important it is to stay hydrated, and so do we; which is why we’ve compiled a list of strict parameters for our research and review of the best hydration drinks. These parameters were carefully selected in order to provide our audience with the highest quality.
In the section below we’ll go through each of our research parameters, explaining why we’ve chose such parameters as well as informing you on the importance of it. These are the features we looked for during our investigation:
During our research for the best drinks, we made sure to select those products which feature a larger list of supplements as well as other important compounds that should be part of every drink. These supplements play a major role in hydration drinks. Not only do they provide proper hydration, put they also compensate for the loss of other salts and compounds that are expelled from the body through sweat. We also looked for those hydration drinks that restore the greater amount of electrolytes and vitamins.
The electrolyte restoration is very important for athletes. Losses of electrolytes or electrolyte imbalances are often caused as a response from the body after strenuous athletic activity, such as running. Within the targeted supplements, we made sure to look for those drinks that are rich enough in electrolytes, some of the most common being Sodium, Potassium, Calcium, Magnesium, Chloride, Hydrogen Phosphate and Hydrogen Carbonate.
Digestion & Absorption
A common mistake amongst hydrating supplements made by consumers is overlooking the products’ properties for digestion and absorption, and they’re committing a huge mistake. The speed with which the body absorbs the electrolytes and nutrients contained in drinks plays a decisive role in the quality of the product. We selected the facility (or difficulty) of the body to digest the supplements as an important criteria during our investigation because it can determine the effectiveness of the product.
We also verified that the products do not provoke any digestive side effects (based on existing customer reviews). Consuming a product that is complex to the digest will put you off the activity you’re practicing, and can even involve a variety of side effects. In order to list the best drinks, we looked for products composed by easy-digestion compounds as well as those products that are quickly absorbed by the body. The absorption speed is also an important factor, seeing as some athletes rely on these drinks for instant energy and hydration during a workout session.
For powdered products, we took in consideration the dissolving properties as a secondary parameter during our research. While some audiences might be new to this term, some other audiences will know what we’re talking about. The dissolving properties of a powdered supplements comes down to the facility (or difficulty) of the powder to dissolve in water, milk, or any other liquid of the consumer’s choice.
One would normally think that no matter how bad the product is, it will dissolve if you put enough effort into it. Well, it won’t.
For those consumers who take powdered supplements as an on-the-go solution have no access to a blender, and the dissolving properties are often proportional to the quality of the product. A high-quality powder should easily dissolve in water or milk; while a low-quality powder product will be hard to dissolve and will usually gather up in lumps that won’t go away. This not only makes the drink difficult to dissolve and consume, but like we previously said, it also determines the quality of the product.
Other Important Factors To Consider When Selecting The Best Hydration Drinks
When it comes to hydration drinks and supplements, wallets tend to get lighter. In order to find the best quality, at the best price, we looked through different price ranges and reviewed each product to make sure the price meets the quality. While a higher price tag certainly doesn’t assure you higher quality, we looked for those products that cover enough features for the marked price. In order for an expensive product to be listed, it must meet high standards of quality. This way we make sure that the price is proportional to quality.
We also took in consideration the amount of servings/the net content each product offers, and the relation between the price and the amount of product. For powdered products, we looked for products that offered the greater amount of services at the best price (for products within the same quality range, and while following all the other parameters).
There are multiple perspectives regarding the flavors of drinks and other similar products and supplements. While some users find flavor as a very important factor, some other consumers find it to be irrelevant as long as it meets certain quality standards, and other groups of consumers prefer to buy unflavored products and flavor it themselves in order to save money and obtain the flavor of their own choice.
During our research, we included flavor as a secondary factor. However, we didn’t blindly grab products with amazing flavor reviews; we looked for products that meet high standards of quality while still delivering an acceptable flavor. Another reason why we decided to select flavoring as a research factor is the compounds used to obtain such flavors. Naturally-flavored or bland products had the upper hand on artificially flavored drinks that contain large amounts of sugars and other unhealthy ingredients. Lastly, we made sure that artificially-flavored products don’t include harmful ingredients that might cause indigestion or other unwanted side effects.
Like we’ve previously mentioned, many athletes use specialty drinks while exercising; not only after finishing. For those athletes, we took in consideration the convenience of a product for consumption. Basically, it comes down to the facility of a consumer to access their product in a simple and quick way. For this, we looked for products which can be carried anywhere, anytime; pouches, bottles, envelops, etc.
For powdered products, we made sure to look for those drinks that can be quickly served and mixed without much struggle. Those products that require strict instructions in order to serve properly are inconvenient, such as powders that require the mandatory use of a blender or a special shaking glass, as well as powders that can only be mixed with milk.
In this parameter, we gave the upper hand to those products that can be mixed with water and other easily accessible liquids instead of specific drinks, as well as the facility of the powder to dissolve without the use of a blender or a shaking cup.
Popularity & Availability
For this parameter, we took in consideration the popularity, distribution and availability of the products. We chose this parameter due to the fact that major brands are more likely to be found in any nearby store, while new products are more likely to have limited distribution; hence it’s more difficult to access them.
For some exclusive products, athletes will often have to buy them online from a different location. This represents additional shipping or transportation expenses that add up to the considerable cost of the product itself. Additionally, as a product enhances its distribution network, gains popularity and increases availability, it becomes easier to obtain by consumers–especially those looking for a convenient drink while on the go.
For instance, a product that features great hydrating properties and components might not come in as handy when the consumer has limited options to obtain it. On the other hand, some consumers might find a good drink available at any close grocery store to be handier than the previously mentioned ones.
We compiled a list of the most Frequently Asked Questions in hopes of guiding you in finding the best hydration drinks out there. Refer to this FAQ for additional information:
Q: Do powdered products require a blender or shaking glass?
A: While it does deliver a more intensive blend, such things are not a must. The quality products we’ve chosen for this list will can be easily stirred with a spoon or fork.
Q: At which point of my training should I consume hydration drinks?
A: It’s important to keep hydrated at all times. When under circumstances which contribute to dehydration, such as strong sun, make sure to drink even if you don’t feel thirsty. Posterior to your training is a great moment as well.
Q: What’s the difference between these product and water?
A: While water makes up for great natural hydration, these drinks provide other essential compounds that contribute to restoration of electrolytes and the overall process of recuperation.
Q: What should I be looking for in a hydration drink?
A: You should be looking for compounds such as Sodium, Potassium, Magnesium and similar to restore electrolytes. Following our parameters will help you in finding the adequate drink.
Q: What should I try to avoid?
A: Try to avoid products that contain large amounts of sugar. Feel free to avoid drinks that are artificially flavored, or check the substances used to flavor them.
Q: Why isn’t the famous Gatorade or Powerade on the list?
A: Even though they might be the most famous sports drinks on the market, they have an enormous amount of sugar. They are not necessarily the best hydration drinks. For that reason, we’ve included drinks that will help replenish the fluids that you lose when you exercise as well as vitamins and minerals that fill your body with nutrients.
Here are some sources we used while conducting our research
In order to provide you with the most accurate information about the best sports drink, we made sure to include multiple reputable sources for our reserach. These sites are rich in additional information, feel free to visit them through the links below to learn more about hydration drinks.