Electrolyte Powders 101

Updated on October 9th, 2022
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Electrolyte Powders help keep our body nourished with essential minerals needed for muscular performance. Water is only half of the battle against dehydration, we need electrolytes too. Electrolyte Replacements are typically added to water and come in tons of different forms, flavors, minerals, packaging, and ingredients.

We tested the electrolyte powders that are available on the market today along with some other forms of electrolyte replacements and compiled a list of the best electrolyte powders which also includes the best electrolyte tablet and the best electrolyte capsule. Let's jump in to see which one is best for you along with some buying advice.

Best Electrolyte Powders

The best electrolyte powders are:

Model Calories per serving Sugar per serving Electrolytes Type Price Price
per serving
1. Liquid I.V. Hydration Multiplier Electrolyte Powder 45kcal 11g

Na, K,
and Pi

Powder $24.47 $1.53 8/10
2. Nuun Tablets 15kcal 1g Ca, Na,
K, Mag,
and Cl
Tablet $7.49 $0.75 8/10
3. Hydrant Hydrate Electrolyte Drink Mix 20-25kcal 3-4g Na, K
and Mag
Powder $37.49 $1.25 8/10
4. Skratch Labs Hydration Mix 80kcal 19g Ca, Na,
K, and
Powder $35.95 $1.79 8/10
5. Tailwind Nutrition Endurance Fuel 100kcal 25g Ca, Na,
K, and
Powder $2.50 $2.50 8/10
6. Salt Stick Caps 0kcal 0g Ca, Na,
K, and
Pill $24 $0.24 8/10
7. Ultima Replenisher Mix 0kcal 0g Ca, Na,
K, Pi,
and Cl
Powder $20.99 $1.05 8/10
8. Dr. Price Electrolyte Mix 5kcal 0g Ca, Na,
K, and
Powder $40 $0.44 6/10
9. GU Hydration Drink Mix 250kcal 16g Na and
Powder $27 $1.78 7/10
10. Hi-Lyte Electrolyte Powder 0g 0g Ca, Na,
K, and
Powder $44.99 $0.50 7/10
11. LMNT Electrolyte Drink Mix 5kcal 0g Ca, Na,
K, and
Powder $45 $1.50 7/10

*Note: We intentionally excluded Vega, Gatorade, Powerade, and Propel for various reasons.

ultima replenisher scooped

Best Overall Electrolyte Powder:

Liquid I.V. Hydration Multiplier Electrolyte Powder

Price: $24.47

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liquid iv - best electrolyte replacement drink, powders, supplements and tablets


✅ B vitamins

✅ High sodium

✅ Excellent flavor balance


❌ On the expensive side


  • Type: Powder
  • Calories: 45kcal per serving
  • Sugar: 11g
  • Electrolytes: Sodium (Na), Potassium (K), and Phosphate (Pi)

Each single-serving stick of Liquid IV is equal to drinking 2-3 bottles of water and triple the electrolytes of a sports drink. No other electrolyte powder on our list can make that claim. We like that the energy provided by the B-Vitamins offers a nice alternative to caffeinated electrolyte mixes. We enjoyed that the extra salt makes the taste a refreshing balance of sweet and salty. We don’t like that it’s on the expensive side, but the stellar mix of electrolytes along with a few additional calories make this our best overall pick. Liquid IV also matches each purchase by donating a serving to someone in need.

Best Budget Electrolyte Powder:

Salt Stick Caps

Price: $20.99 (20 servings)

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salt stick caps - best electrolyte replacement drink, powders, supplements and tablets


✅ Easy to use

✅ Lightweight

✅ Best budget buy


❌ No flavor

❌ Doesn't provide hydration


  • Type: Powder
  • Calories: 0kcal per serving
  • Sugar: 0g
  • Electrolytes: Calcium (Ca), Sodium (Na), Potassium (K), Phosphate (Pi), Magnesium (Mag), and Chloride (Cl)

While we don’t find the Salt Stick Capsules to be as fun or tasty to consume as other replacements on the list they are our best budget buy. The pill form is an easy, lightweight option that works even if you don’t have water. And we think these are a good option if you want to schedule specific doses. The pills provide dense levels of four main electrolytes - Sodium, Potassium, Magnesium, and Calcium. If you're on a budget Salt Stick Capsules are significantly cheaper than other electrolyte powders on our list at $0.24 per serving.

Best Value Electrolyte Powder:

NUUN Tablets

Price: $7.49

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nuun tabs - best electrolyte replacement drink, powders, supplements and tablets


✅ Wide range of flavors

✅ 5 electrolyte mix

✅ Easy to use on the go


❌ Bulky packaging


  • Type: Tablet
  • Calories: 15kcal per serving
  • Sugar: 1g
  • Electrolytes: Calcium (Ca), Sodium (Na), Potassium (K), Magnesium (Mag), and Chloride (Cl)

Drop a tablet in your water and watch it fizz away. Nuun tablets come in a pop-top bottle, which we think is rather bulky. We often repackage these into a plastic bag to save weight. Nuun champions its simple ingredients, including fruit powders and leaf extracts. The 5 electrolyte mix is the second most of the products we reviewed. Nuun also has a wide product range, several flavor variations ranging from 10-60 calories, optional caffeine, and electrolyte combinations. For its high scores all around we name Nuun as our best-value electrolyte powder.

Best Tasting Electrolyte Powder:


Price: $35.95

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skratch labs hydration mix - best electrolyte replacement drink, powders, supplements and tablets


Great fruit flavor

Well-balanced electrolyte mix

Has high calories


No single packet option

❌ Expensive per serving


  • Type: Powder
  • Calories: 80kcal per serving
  • Sugar: 19g
  • Electrolytes: Calcium (Ca), Sodium (Na), Potassium (K), and Magnesium (Mag)

Dubbed the "all-natural sports drink" Skratch Labs is our pick for tastiest electrolyte powder. We like that each serving contains 80 calories and 20 grams of sugar. Depending on your needs, these high levels could be a deal breaker or music to your ears. It comes packaged in bulk, which means we either had to measure it out on the trail or package up ahead of time. The price is our biggest complaint. Skratch Labs is the second most expensive mix (per serving) that we reviewed.

Highest Energy (Most Calories):


Price: $30

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gu hydration drink mix - best electrolyte replacement drink, powders, supplements and tablets



Rich taste


Only 2 electrolytes

❌ Expensive

❌ Bulk powder only


  • Type: Powder
  • Calories: 250kcal per serving
  • Sugar: 16g
  • Electrolytes: Sodium (Na) and Potassium (K)

The GU Energy Mix is a high-calorie electrolyte energy drink mix for endurance athletes. Most servings provide around 70 calories and 9 grams of sugar. Others (like Roctane) get up to a whopping 250 calories and 16 grams of sugar. We don’t like that it only provides two types of electrolytes and comes in bulk powder only. We also find it to be on the expensive side. But if you consider the calories you won’t need to find elsewhere we find it to be a good buy.

Best Sugar-Free Electrolyte Powder and Most Electrolytes:


Price: $20.99 (20 servings)

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ultima replenisher mix - best electrolyte replacement drink, powders, supplements and tablets


Most electrolytes

✅ Single-serve packets

Best sugar-free powder


Low sodium

❌ No calories


  • Type: Powder
  • Calories: 0kcal per serving
  • Sugar: 0g
  • Electrolytes: Calcium (Ca), Sodium (Na), Potassium (K), Phosphate (Pi), Magnesium (Mag), and Chloride (Cl)

We found the Ultima Replenisher to be another great all-natural energy mix. We like the easy single-serve packets. And our favorite thing about Ultima Replenisher is the long list of electrolytes, vitamins, and minerals that it provides. They prioritized Magnesium over Sodium making this a low Sodium mix. Also, there are 0 calories and 0 g of sugar. We recommend this if you want to cut the carbs and sodium while still getting a big dose of electrolytes.

The Other Noteworthy Models

Hydrant Hydrate Electrolyte Drink Mix

Price: $37.49 (30 servings)

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Hydrant Hydrate Electrolyte Drink Mix


✅ Large flavor range

All-natural ingredients


Low calories


  • Type: Powder
  • Calories: 20-25kcal per serving
  • Sugar: 3-4g
  • Electrolytes: Sodium (Na), Potassium (K), and Magnesium (Mag)

Hydrant Hydrate Electrolyte Mix is focused on providing a wide range of flavors, 14 to be exact. And we like that they’re flavored with real fruit juice. Each mix contains 260 mg of sodium, 30mg of magnesium, 200mg of potassium, and 2mg of zinc. We found the flavor to be on the neutral side but can be made stronger by adding less water. Outside of flavor, Hydrant scores in the middle of the road for the rest of our categories.

Tailwind Nutrition Endurance Fuel

Price: $2.50

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Tailwind Nutrition - best electrolyte replacement drink, powders, supplements and tablets


5 electrolytes

Good for sensitive stomachs

Single-serving packaging




  • Type: Powder
  • Calories: 100kcal per serving
  • Sugar: 25g
  • Electrolytes: Calcium (Ca), Sodium (Na), Potassium (K), and Magnesium (Mag)

Packing a decent calorie load Tailwind Endurance Fuel provides a fast-acting energy boost. Designed to be easy on the stomach the flavors are light and refreshing with no “gut bomb” feeling. We like that it packs 5 electrolytes in the mix and no artificial ingredients. We found the individual packages to be easy to pack in and out. However, we don’t like that this is the most expensive mix on our list.

Dr. Price Electrolyte Mix

Price: $40 (30 servings)

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Dr Price Electrolyte Mix


70+ trace elements

Least expensive powder


Slight artificial taste


  • Type: Powder
  • Calories: 5kcal per serving
  • Sugar: 0g
  • Electrolytes: Calcium (Ca), Sodium (Na), Potassium (K), and Magnesium (Mag)

Dr. Price Electrolyte Mix focuses on replenishing the two main electrolytes by having 200mg of sodium and 330 mg of potassium along with 70 other trace elements. As a sugar-free option, we liked the stevia extract for a touch of sweetness. While we didn’t notice this, many reviews noted an artificial taste. It scores big points being the cheapest powdered electrolyte on our list.

Hi-Lyte Electrolyte Powder

Price: $44.99 (90 servings)

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Hi-Lyte Electrolyte Powder





Mixed flavor reviews


  • Type: Powder
  • Calories: 0kcal per serving
  • Sugar: 0g
  • Electrolytes: Calcium (Ca), Sodium (Na), Potassium (K), and Chloride (Cl)

Hi-Lyte’s sugar-free electrolyte powder's low price makes it a great choice for thru-hikers or ultra-endurance athletes who want to bulk buy. With no sugar, 160mg of sodium, 310 mg of potassium, and 78 mg of calcium we like it for those long days under the sun. While weight isn’t a major factor for us, we couldn’t help but notice that each scoop weighs only 3.5g. Great for long trips. We found the mixed flavor reviews are the major drawback to the Hi-Lyte.

LMNT Electrolyte Drink Mix

Price: $45 (30 servings)

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lmnt electrolyte drink mix - best electrolyte replacement drink, powders, supplements and tablets


Great hot weather recharge



❌ Expensive

❌ Salty taste


  • Type: Powder
  • Calories: 5kcal per serving
  • Sugar: 0g
  • Electrolytes: Calcium (Ca), Sodium (Na), Potassium (K), and Magnesium (Mag)

The LMNT sugar-free electrolyte powder is made from all-natural ingredients. Each single-serving packet has 1000mg sodium, 200mg potassium, and 60mg magnesium. We love that this is over double the amounts found in average electrolyte drinks. The mix creates a “recharge” drink that replenishes the body, especially in hot weather. We recommend the LMNT for athletes or any following a low-carb, keto, or paleo lifestyle where sodium and electrolytes are easier excreted.

Key Factors To Consider When Choosing

Electrolyte Mix

Losing too many electrolytes through excess sweating can cause headaches, muscle cramps, fatigue, dehydration, and even seizures. Electrolytes are found naturally in foods, but after long days of backpacking replenishing your electrolytes with a supplement is a good idea. Later in this article, we’ll cover more of the science behind what each main electrolyte does.

Mixes with the most types of electrolytes:


High-sugar and high-calorie options often have the strongest, sweetest flavors. Other electrolyte replacements add a hint of flavor, which make them easier to drink quickly. With powders and tablets, you can adjust your water ratio to find the perfect balance to fit your taste. “Flavorless” electrolyte replacements typically taste slightly salty with a slight mineral taste.

Best Tasting Mixes:


For backpacking, single-serve electrolyte packets are the easiest, cleanest option. However, the individual packages do create extra waste. Tablets and pills are just as easy, but they may require repackaging to save weight and bulk (think bulky Nuun tubes). Bulk powders are the least practical on long trips. They will need to be repackaged and measured in the field.

Best Packaged Mixes:


The price per serving can range widely. We recommend thinking of your intended use when assessing electrolyte replacements. Higher calorie options are the most expensive, rivaling the cost of an energy bar. This can be a cost-effective way of hitting your caloric and electrolyte intake in one shot. For shorter activities or simply focusing on hydrating cost per serving is much cheaper.

Most affordable electrolyte mixes:

Best Value Buy:

Premium electrolyte mixes:

Premium electrolyte mixes come packed with extra calories. They are like an energy bar and an electrolyte mix rolled into one.

Other Things to Consider

Types of Electrolyte Replacements


Electrolyte powder is easier to dissolve than tablets, however some powders dissolve better than others. Additionally, they don’t require fancy blending. They’re sold in bulk or boxes of single-serving packets that are often flavored, which is great in disguising the taste of “less-than-fresh” water.

Powders also allow you to cater to your taste a bit more. If you are looking for more or less flavor you can adjust your ratio, something you can’t really do with tablets. On the downside, you’ll need at least 8 oz of clean water (usually more). Also, no matter how hard you shake or stir, there’s always some powdery stuff that gets left behind.

tailwind electrolytes in a bag


Packed in durable cases, tablets are easy to use. Just drop, fizz, wait and drink. No stirring or shaking required. They’re also known to be easier to digest for sensitive stomachs. Tablets can run more expensive compared to purchasing bulk powders. You also have to wait for tablets to dissolve.

drinking electrolytes


Pills (i.e. salt tablets) are convenient, lightweight, and packable. You can take them anywhere and you can pop them on-the-go throughout a long-distance activity. Pills also relieve cramps, nausea, dizziness, and other early effects of dehydration super-fast. Note that some may experience stomach irritation, bloating, or other digestive issues as a side effect. Pills may also cause you to become thirstier, so you’ll need to up your water intake, which can end up diluting the pills.


You can buy electrolyte drinks anywhere—gas stations, convenience shops, grocery stores. They’re inexpensive, pre-made, and ready-to-drink. However, they are bulky and inconvenient to carry long distances. They’re also single-use and typically loaded with unnecessary sugars and preservatives. Many have as much sugar as a can of soda.

different types of electrolyte replacements - powder, drink, pill and tab



If you’re unsure if you’re getting enough electrolytes, then you can request an Electrolyte Profile. These tests measure carbon dioxide, chloride, potassium, and sodium in your blood to see how your body's performing.

Along with adequate electrolytes, we also need plenty of minerals to keep us going.

Electrolytes qualify as “macro-minerals” which we need a larger amount of. But to keep our muscles, bones, and brains healthy, our bodies also require “micro-minerals” or “trace minerals”.

Trace Minerals include the following (Min. requirement listed):

  • Chromium: 25-35 mcg
  • Copper: 900 mcg
  • Iodine: 150 mcg
  • Iron: 8-18 mg
  • Manganese: 1.5-2.5 mg
  • Selenium: 55 mcg
  • Zinc: 8-11 mg
Salt stick's trace minerals


Sugar, and particularly glucose, is the easiest and fastest way for our body to create energy. It also helps our bodies absorb liquids quicker into our bloodstream. The main issue with sugar is maintaining our blood sugar levels. If we are too low in blood sugar we will “bonk”, the feeling of hitting a wall, as our bodies are shutting down.

Our bodies all have a unique balance of burning available sugar through our diet and burning fat stores in our body. Many people forgo sugar to avoid the immediate, short-lasting boost we get from it and instead want to focus on longer term endurance energy levels.

drinking electrolytes

Natural sweeteners allow us to have that sweet taste without the physiological effects of sugar intake. There are a variety of natural sweeteners now available, with the most popular being Stevia and monk fruit extract.

Artificial sweeteners can be a bit harder to digest and can cause headaches, heartburn, and GI issues. Avoid artificial sweeteners in your electrolyte replacements or you may run into some side-effects out in the field. Some of the most popular being Sucralose and Aspartame.


Several electrolyte replacements will have caffeinated options. There have been numerous studies that have shown caffeine intake improving aerobic endurance performance. However, large doses of caffeine can increase your risk of dehydration so make sure you keep the caffeine levels low and are staying hydrated. Caffeinated options are usually only used for activities lasting 3+ hours.

Some caffeine alternatives for energy boosts are taurine, guarana and vitamin B-12.




A LOT of replacements for sale are chemically fortified, contain heavily refined sugars, artificial sweeteners (like harmful aspartame) and artificial coloring. 

Re-fuel with natural, clean products without colorants, fillers, nitrates, high fructose syrup, glucose, artificial flavors, and sweeteners. Or really anything that sounds like a chemical.

Also, try to avoid drinks with too much sugar. A small amount of sugar isn’t a bad thing though. Our bodies and bloodstreams absorb liquids quicker when a small level of sugar is present.

Sugar-free options are okay as long as they’re clean. If they’re not, they’re often stocked with artificial sweeteners and preservatives that cause headaches, heartburn, and GI issues.

gu electrolytes in a bag



Electrolyte replacements range from 0 to 100’s of calories.

The higher calorie options are a solid choice when your energy levels need an extra boost—like during long active stretches, where your body could use a pick-me-up. High-calorie electrolyte drinks can give your body calories that it can convert to energy, all while you keep moving.



There is a huge range of dissolvability in electrolyte replacements. Tablets tend to take the longest as it is one solid pill, decreasing the surface area with the water. Powders dissolve the fastest, meaning you can start drinking only a few seconds after adding the powder. Typically, the more calories or larger the scoop, the longer it takes to dissolve.

5 Main Electrolytes

There are a lot of electrolytes—mainly salts, acids and bases. However, there are only a handful that naturally occur in body fluid. These are:

CALCIUM (Ca): Critical to maintaining general bone health, an important consideration with the constant stress backpacking, cycling, running, etc places on your bones. Calcium also ensures your blood properly clots - very important when cut. Calcium is naturally present in cheese, yogurt and milk.

POTASSIUM (K): This mineral is essential for a lot of organs to function properly, including regulating your heartbeat and kidneys. It also helps with maintain fluid levels, ph balance, and prevent muscle cramps. Potassium is naturally present in bananas, coconut water, dates, sweet potatoes, and avocados.

SODIUM (Na): Sodium is vital in regulating body fluid volumes. Specifically, regulating water levels, blood pressure and blood volume. The major positively charged ion - called "cation". Sodium is naturally present in salt (particularly sea salt), chicken, beets, and pickles.

best electrolyte replacement label instructions and ingredients

CHLORIDE (Cl): Works hand in hand with Sodium in regulating your body fluid as well as cell balance. The major negative charged ion - called "anion". Chloride is naturally present in salt (particular sea salt), seaweed, celery, and tomatoes.

MAGNESIUM (Mg): Acts a vehicle in transporting other electrolytes like potassium and calcium through cell membranes. Makes it crucial for the nervous and muscular systems as well as well heart rhythm. Magnesium is naturally present in spinach and leafy greens, nuts and seeds, and dark chocolate.

Other important electrolytes are Bicarbonate (HCO3) and Phospate (HPO4). See all FDA recommended daily values.


How to Use Electrolyte Supplements


The rate at which an individual loses electrolytes varies drastically. Activity, intensity, humidity, elevation, gender, and weight all play a role in depletion rates which makes estimations so difficult and relatively, inaccurate. We also sweat with varying concentration levels of electrolytes. That being said, for sodium, a general rule of thumb is to replace 80-240 mg per hour. See another depletion study.

For endurance activities like long-distance backpacking, running, and cycling, most athletes consume electrolytes before, during, AND after activity. Note you may not need to proactively replace electrolytes if you are doing moderate physical or are active for less than an hour.

best electrolyte replacement powder in nalgene

Potential Side Effects

Too much of anything is bad news, and this rule applies to hydrating and consuming electrolytes, too. Overdo it and you’ll flush your system of valuable nutrients and be in a whole world of problems.

Take sodium, for example. Salt is already in many everyday foods, so it's easy to get too much which can cause bloating, kidney stones and even increased risk of cardiovascular disease.

Overconsumption of other electrolytes like calcium, magnesium, and potassium can result in laxative effects and nausea, lethargy, headaches, confusion, and even affect heart and muscle functions.

To stay within the proper levels of hydration, it’s recommended to drink two cups of fluid a few hours before exercise, 4-6 oz every half-hour throughout an activity, and at least 12 oz of water following exercise.


bottle of natural electrolyte replacement - coconut water

1. COCONUT WATER: Coconut water is often called "nature's Gatorade" and contains an array of essential electrolyte minerals like potassium, sodium, calcium, phosphorus, and magnesium. Coconut Water also naturally has more potassium than a banana. 

2. FRUIT JUICES: Fruit Juices (Orange, Watermelon) have high sources of magnesium, phosphorus, and potassium along with vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants.

3. SMOOTHIES: Lastly, smoothies are a healthy pre- or post-workout meal/snack that provides a great dose of electrolytes from fruits and veggies. You can add a dash of salt (you won’t even taste it) for an additional 150 mg of sodium.


Why electrolyte replacements?

We lose electrolytes when we lose bodily fluids—dehydration, diarrhea, vomiting, etc. During exercise and intense physical activity, we lose large amounts of electrolytes through sweating.

ALL of our common electrolytes are depleted when we sweat. Sweat is mostly water which makes hydration essential. However, sweat also contains large amounts of sodium and chloride as well as small amounts of potassium, calcium, magnesium, phosphate and bicarbonate. Go for a long run on a hot day or hike up a big mountain and you can sweat out a huge amount of these electrolytes.

Losing too many electrolytes will lead to an imbalance. An improper balance can cause headaches, muscle cramps, fatigue, dehydration and even seizures. Going for an extended period of time with an imbalance can lead to some seriously nasty problems like this long list of deadly diseases.

Can I drink electrolyte water everyday?

Drinking electrolyte water everyday is generally okay. However, drinking multiple electrolyte drinks a day can lead to high sodium, increasing your risk of heart disease and high blood pressure.

When should you drink electrolyte powder?

You should drink electrolyte powder during or after intense exercise and sweating.

What is the best electrolyte replacement?

The best electrolyte replacement is the Liquid I.V. Hydration Multiplier Electrolyte Powder.

Which powder has the most electrolytes?

The powder that has the most electrolytes is Ultima Replenisher.

📷 Some of the photos in this post were taken by Jonathan Davis (@meowhikes)

Justin Sprecher photo

About Justin Sprecher

Justin is a thru-hiker and writer with a passion for wild backcountry. He's thru-hiked the Pacific Northwest Trail, LASHed the Great Divide Trail and Arizona Trail, and clocked up 1,000s of miles on long-distance trails around the world.

About Greenbelly

After thru-hiking the Appalachian Trail, Chris Cage created Greenbelly to provide fast, filling and balanced meals to backpackers. Chris also wrote How to Hike the Appalachian Trail.

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