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Best Sports Drinks For Hydration Tested & Compared

last updated Nov 24, 2018
As runners we all know that staying hydrated is super important, especially when we're running in warmer climates. During exercise your body sweats and loses essential electrolytes and sugars. Drinking plenty of water is key, but sometimes you need more than just what water has to offer, you need a hydration drink.

There are several hydration drinks on the market today that are specially designed to replenish what your body loses during exercise to help you continue performing at your best. As you research these products, you will find that there are quite simply tons of drinks out there it may be difficult to decide which is best. To simplify the decision-making process for you, we have put together this guide of the ten best hydration drinks.
Researched Sources
5
Researched Sources
Reviews Considered
1100
Reviews Considered
Hours Researching
12
Hours Researching
Products Evaluated
10
Products Evaluated
Last Updated:
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By Tess Bercan:

This update brings some new additions to keep your interest. You will want to keep checking back for more, as we update this list every few months.

Sorting Options
Effectiveness Ease of Use Materials Product Purity Value By Default
Rank
PictureProduct
Name
Rating
Shops
1
The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
94.4
Effectiveness
98%
Ease of Use
85%
Materials
96%
Product Purity
99%
Value
94%
Price Comparison Last Updated (12.12.18)
$19.50
$19.50
Best Deal
$35.00
Best Deal
2
The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
92.2
Effectiveness
95%
Ease of Use
90%
Materials
91%
Product Purity
90%
Value
95%
Price Comparison Last Updated (12.12.18)
$14.99
3
The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
90.4
Effectiveness
90%
Ease of Use
95%
Materials
92%
Product Purity
90%
Value
85%
Price Comparison Last Updated (12.12.18)
$18.99
$39.98
Best Deal
4
The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
87
Effectiveness
95%
Ease of Use
95%
Materials
75%
Product Purity
75%
Value
95%
Price Comparison Last Updated (12.12.18)
$17.99
5
The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
85.8
Effectiveness
81%
Ease of Use
75%
Materials
90%
Product Purity
93%
Value
90%
Price Comparison Last Updated (12.12.18)
$19.00
Best Deal
$32.25
6
The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
83
Effectiveness
90%
Ease of Use
70%
Materials
90%
Product Purity
90%
Value
75%
Price Comparison Last Updated (12.12.18)
$28.95
7
The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
81.4
Effectiveness
77%
Ease of Use
90%
Materials
85%
Product Purity
90%
Value
65%
Price Comparison Last Updated (12.12.18)
$20.35
8
The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
79.4
Effectiveness
90%
Ease of Use
75%
Materials
84%
Product Purity
83%
Value
65%
Price Comparison Last Updated (12.12.18)
$6.50
Best Deal
$43.95
Best Deal
$47.05
9
The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
77
Effectiveness
80%
Ease of Use
90%
Materials
85%
Product Purity
85%
Value
45%
Price Comparison Last Updated (12.12.18)
$16.99
10
The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
74.4
Effectiveness
90%
Ease of Use
60%
Materials
85%
Product Purity
87%
Value
50%
Price Comparison Last Updated (12.12.18)
$39.99
In Depth Review Top 10
  • Skratch Labs Exercise Hydration Mix
  • Dr. Price’s Electrolyte Drink Mix
  • Nuun Hydration Electrolyte Drink Tablets
  • Organic Gatorade Sports Drink
  • Vitalyte Natural Electrolyte Powder Sports Drink Mix
  • Xendurance | Extreme HYDRO-X – Energy
  • Hoist Premium Hydration
  • GU Hydration Drink Mix
  • BodyArmor SuperDrink
  • LyteShow Electrolyte Concentrate for Rapid Rehydration
Table of contents
  • Criteria Used for Evaluation
  • Other Factors to Consider
  • Frequently Asked Questions
  • Sources

Top 10 Hydration Drinks

1. Skratch Labs Exercise Hydration Mix

The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
94.4
Skratch Labs Exercise Hydration Mix
Effectiveness
98
Ease of Use
85
Materials
96
Product Purity
99
Value
94
best offer for today
more shops
$19.50
$19.50
Best deal
$35.00
Best deal
Pros:

All-natural

Great tasting and comes in 6 different flavors

Contains calories, carbs, sodium, potassium, sugars, and magnesium to stay energized

Comes in a 1 pound bag that will last you a while

Cons:

Relatively low in calories, making you have to either take more or supplement with other products, especially on long distance runs

This hydration product from Skratch Labs comes as a powder that you mix with water. This delicious fruit flavored product not only tastes great but is all natural and contains no artificial colors or flavors.

Read more

This product not only keeps you hydrated, but provides you with electrolytes and calories you need to keep you energized while you run. Stay hydrated and energized with the perfect balance of all-natural ingredients that will fuel you no matter how intense your workout is.

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.

2. Dr. Price’s Electrolyte Drink Mix

The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
92.2
Dr. Price’s Electrolyte Drink Mix
Effectiveness
95
Ease of Use
90
Materials
91
Product Purity
90
Value
95
best offer for today
$14.99
Pros:

Non-GMO

Uses 72 trace minerals and electrolytes

Uses Stevia as a natural sweetener

Gluten-free

Easy to use

Affordable

Cons:

Too sweet for some users

Dr. Price's Electrolyte Drink mix is an affordable, delicious, and healthy hydration supplement to invest in. It will provide you with the additional supplements you need after those long runs and arduous workouts.

Read more

This high quality, powdered hydration supplement is an affordable option that will work great for all athletes alike. It uses 72 trace minerals and electrolytes to provide your body with the supplements you need and prevent you from becoming dehydrate or experience any ill effects from the lack of electrolytes.

This product is non-GMO, gluten-free, and uses Stevia as a sweetener. It comes in three different flavors and is packaged individually, so you can take them on the go hassle-free!

3. Nuun Hydration Electrolyte Drink Tablets

The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
90.4
Nuun Hydration Electrolyte Drink Tablets
Effectiveness
90
Ease of Use
95
Materials
92
Product Purity
90
Value
85
best offer for today
more shops
$18.99
$39.98
Best deal
Pros:

Comes in easy to use portable tubes

Different flavors available

Packed with electrolytes and other vitamins

Great for avoiding muscle cramps

Cons:

Bad after taste

Even though Nuun has different types of tablets for different kinds of lifestyle, we've decided to include the product that contains electrolytes and without caffeine to our listing. A great option that replenishes the electrolytes that you lose through sweating.

Read more

With many flavors to chose from, Nuun provides a solution for pre, during and post-workout runners. Relatively competitive in pricing compared to other hydration drinks, it's easy to bring your tube with you when you're on your run.

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.

4. Organic Gatorade Sports Drink

The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
87
Organic Gatorade Sports Drink
Effectiveness
95
Ease of Use
95
Materials
75
Product Purity
75
Value
95
best offer for today
$17.99
Pros:

USDA certified

Uses organic cane sugar instead of artificial sweeteners or additional sugars

No dyes, preservatives, or unnecessary ingredients

Comes in three different flavors

Cons:

Some users report is either too sweet or not sweet enough

This organic version of Gatorade is just as delicious and replenishing as all of their other formulas, but without all the unnecessary artificial dyes and ingredients.

Read more

This Gatorade formula is USDA certified and uses 7 key ingredients: water, organic cane sugar, citric acid, organic natural flavor, sea salt, sodium citrate and potassium chloride.
It does not have any artificial sugar or dyes to make the drink colorful.

It comes in three different, delicious flavors and is sure to keep your body fueled and ready to perform at peak levels for all your workouts.

5. Vitalyte Natural Electrolyte Powder Sports Drink Mix

The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
85.8
Vitalyte Natural Electrolyte Powder Sports Drink Mix
Effectiveness
81
Ease of Use
75
Materials
90
Product Purity
93
Value
90
best offer for today
more shops
$32.25
$19.00
Best deal
Pros:

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

Cons:

Powder formula has to be mixed ahead of time

This product is one of the best hydration drinks on the market for providing electrolytes and other beneficial supplements (such as magnesium, calcium, and beta-carotene) to help you feel your best at every stage of your workout.

Read more

This drink has fast absorption rates to keep you hydrated and cramp-free at all times. Sodium and potassium keep you energized, along with just the right amount of calories and carbohydrates.

Even though it's a little bit expensive, it's a good value for the money.

6. Xendurance | Extreme HYDRO-X – Energy

The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
83
Xendurance | Extreme HYDRO-X – Energy
Effectiveness
90
Ease of Use
70
Materials
90
Product Purity
90
Value
75
best offer for today
$28.95
Pros:

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 the 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

Cons:

Only comes in one flavor (lemon-citrus)

Another powdered hydration product, this time from the brand Xendurance. This product features patented technology, Sustamine, which helps to increase water absorption in the kidneys, ensuring you will stay hydrated and avoid getting cramps while you exercise.

Read more

This product is targeted at energy production, accomplished via both electrolytes and lactate, which is a source found naturally in the body that provides you with fuel. This product doesn’t stop there but also focuses on protecting the muscles and aiding in recovery thanks to patented Sustamine which increases water absorption and aids in the repair of muscle tissue.

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.

7. Hoist Premium Hydration

The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
81.4
Hoist Premium Hydration
Effectiveness
77
Ease of Use
90
Materials
85
Product Purity
90
Value
65
best offer for today
$20.35
Pros:

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

Cons:

Does not focus on energy renewal or muscle recovery

This drink from Hoist Premium Hydration is a great tasting, all natural product that will keep you hydrated, even during the most intense of workouts.

Read more

This product is primarily focused on hydration, as its isotonic formula ensures it passes through the stomach quickly that will keep you going and prevent muscle cramping.

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.

8. GU Hydration Drink Mix

The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
79.4
GU Hydration Drink Mix
Effectiveness
90
Ease of Use
75
Materials
84
Product Purity
83
Value
65
best offer for today
more shops
$47.05
$6.50
Best deal
$43.95
Best deal
Pros:

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)

Cons:

Some users didn't like the taste

These dissolving tablets are a great tasting product from GU Energy Labs. This product will keep you hydrated and energized without the use of caffeine and is perfect for even the most intense of athletes.

Read more

These hydration tablets provide the perfect combination of electrolytes, carbohydrates, and calories to keep you energized and hydrated at the same time. Drink this product each hour to stay in top condition during your entire workout.

Not the most expensive product on this list, but also not the cheapest. With only 8 servings per container, this will not last serious athletes a very long time, especially if you workout multiple hours each day.

9. BodyArmor SuperDrink

The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
77
BodyArmor SuperDrink
Effectiveness
80
Ease of Use
90
Materials
85
Product Purity
85
Value
45
best offer for today
$16.99
Pros:

Comes in 7 delicious flavors

Contains 10% coconut water

Has full daily value of vitamins A, C, E, and 200% daily value of vitamin B

Gluten-free

No artificial colors, flavors, or added preservatives

Cons:

Contains 18 grams of sugars

Some users said it was too sweet

This sports drink from Body Armor is a premixed sports drink that contains electrolytes and helpful vitamins to keep you hydrated and feeling your best.

Read more

This drink provides one of the largest amounts of electrolytes of products on this list, making it a great product that will keep you hydrated and performing at your top level even during the most intense of workouts. This drink also provides necessary vitamins and antioxidants making this a healthy and useful drink in multiple ways.

Fairly expensive, and each pack only contains 12 bottles. For intense athletes, you will go through this product very quickly.

10. LyteShow Electrolyte Concentrate for Rapid Rehydration

The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
74.4
LyteShow Electrolyte Concentrate for Rapid Rehydration
Effectiveness
90
Ease of Use
60
Materials
85
Product Purity
87
Value
50
best offer for today
$39.99
Pros:

No unneccessary preservatives, artificial flavors, sweeteners, or flavors

Gluten-free

Low-calorie

Low-carb

Vegan

Cons:

Slightly salty and tart which some users find strange

Lyteshow is a low calorie, low carbohydrate hydration option. It is great for those who prefer their drinks to be less sweet and without any unnecessary additives.

Read more

This product comes at an affordable price and with 40 total servings. It is perfect for athletes looking for a calorie free option. It also does not have any preservatives, artificial flavors, sweeteners, or flavors.
It has an acquired taste many users love, so if you are looking for a calorie free, natural, and organic option this is will be the perfect fit for you.

Criteria Used for Evaluation

Effectiveness

The speed at which the body absorbs the electrolytes and nutrients contained in a drink plays a decisive role in the quality of the product. We selected the ease (or difficulty) of the body to digest the supplements as an important criterion 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.

Ease of Use

Many athletes use specialty drinks while exercising, not only after finishing. For those athletes, we took into 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 and anytime such as 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.

For powdered products, we took into 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 come 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.

Materials

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, but 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, and active people. Loss of electrolytes or electrolyte imbalances are often caused as a response from the body after strenuous athletic activity. Within the targeted supplements, we made sure to look for those drinks that are rich enough in electrolytes, so you are able to reach the goals that you are trying to achieve. What some people may not know is that everyone who has an active lifestyle will benefit from replenishing the nutrients you lose throughout the day. Most drinks don’t contain all the necessary nutrients like these do, with some of the most common being sodium, potassium, calcium, magnesium, chloride, hydrogen phosphate, and hydrogen carbonate.

Product Purity

As a runner and human being, your body is important, and so is what you put in it. The bottom line is that what you put in is what you'll get out, and hydration drinks are no exception. If you're putting drinks with low-quality, impure ingredients into your body you're not going to perform at your best, period. Because this is so important we looked at the ingredient lists for each product and rated them according to the purity of their ingredients.

Some hydration drinks out there on the market today are little more than water, salt, and tons of sugar. We stayed away from those while making out list. Instead, we chose only products that are able to give you the hydration you need without an unnecessary amount of sugar or harsh chemicals.

Value

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 into consideration the number of servings and 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 product at the best price.

Other Factors to Consider

Bottom Line

Flavor
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.

Popularity and Availability
For this parameter, we took into 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.

Frequently Asked Questions

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 what 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 a hydration drink and water?
a:

While water makes up for great natural hydration, these drinks provide other essential compounds that contribute to the 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 other minerals to restore electrolytes. Following our parameters will help you in finding the adequate drink.

q: What should I try to avoid in a hydration drink?
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 traditional 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.

Sources

  1. Runner's World, Sports Drinks, Online running publication,
  2. Active.com, Hydration: Sports Drinks vs Water, Running & sports publication,
  3. WebMD, Sports and Hydration, Clinical information website,