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Do You Need An Electrolyte Powder? An RD Weighs In

March 19, 2024

Staying hydrated is one of the pillars of good health, one of those things you’re probably focusing on doing every day or at least have on your health to-do list. But staying hydrated isn’t always as simple as just drinking more water, especially if you’re active. Electrolyte powder also can play an important role — so it’s no wonder there are so many in our social feeds.

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What are electrolytes?

“Electrolytes are minerals — including potassium, sodium, magnesium, and calcium — that play many roles in the body,” says registered dietician nutritionist Eliza Savage, author of Healing Through Nutrition. “Electrolytes help to replenish hydration levels in the body. In simple terms, they attract water and help to keep muscles and tissues hydrated.”

You already know that working out in the heat causes you to sweat a lot. When that happens, it can upset the balance of those minerals in your body. Drinking water helps replace the fluids you lost, but not the electrolytes. Plus, electrolytes help regulate fluid balance in the body, needed when you’re losing and replacing fluids.

Low-carb diets like keto also call for boosting your electrolytes. When you eat fewer carbs, your insulin levels are lower, which causes your kidneys to excrete more sodium. This upsets the balance of electrolytes in your system, causing symptoms like fatigue, headaches, and irritability, known as the “keto flu.” Using an electrolyte powder can help prevent or relieve those symptoms.

How can I get electrolytes?

Luckily, it’s easy to find electrolytes once you know to look for them. “There are many foods that provide electrolytes, such as fruits and vegetables,” Savage says. “You can make your own electrolyte beverage using fruit and a pinch of salt. Coconut water, watermelon, avocado, and bananas are also my go-tos for electrolytes.”

You can also buy drinks and drink mixes that contain electrolytes — but they vary a lot in quality. “Skip a drink with dyes or artificial ingredients,” Savage says. “Double-check what sweetener is used. I usually only recommend stevia; avoid all other sweeteners.”

Electrolyte powder: Three to try

If you like the convenience of an electrolyte powder that you can stash in your bag, here are three that we love.

  • LMNT: This drink mix focuses on 3 electrolytes — sodium, potassium and magnesium — in a particularly formulated ratio. Each stick has 1,000mg sodium, 200mg potassium and 60mg magnesium, which the company says is ideal for very active people as well as those on low carb diets. It’s made without sugar, artificial dyes and sweeteners, and comes in flavors like Citrus Salt, Raspberry Salt, Watermelon Salt, Mango Chili, and Raw Unflavored. The mix is very strongly flavored; though it says to mix it with 16 ounces of water, we found it still flavorful even in 24 ounces. Because of the higher sodium level, it is salty, but we actually found that really refreshing.
    Buy it: LMNT, $45 for 30 packets
  • Ultima Replenisher: Available in scoopable canisters or convenient on-the-go packets, this electrolyte powder is free of sugar, artificial dyes, GMOs, and caffeine. It’s sweetened with organic stevia and natural fruit flavors, gets its bright colors from fruit extracts, and contains 6 electrolytes: Calcium, chloride, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, and sodium, plus zinc and vitamin C. It comes in tasty flavors including orange, cherry pomegranate, pink lemonade, grape, and raspberry, and we love that it’s flavorful and refreshing without being overly sweet or overpowering.
    Buy it: Ultima Replenisher, $21 for a 20-stick pack
  • Re-Lyte Hydration: Redmond Real Salt, which makes some of our favorite sea salt products, offers this electrolyte powder. With calcium, magnesium, chloride, sodium, and potassium, and no sugar or artificial dyes, it’s a great option for anyone looking to prioritize hydration. It comes in flavors like lemon-lime, mango, mixed berry, pina colada, and unflavored, so there’s something for everyone. And you can buy it in tubs, on-the-go packets, or even in supplement form.
    Buy it: Re-Lyte Hydration, $12 for 7 sticks

Read next: 8 Easy Hacks to Hydrate More


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