What To Look For In Electrolyte Powder – Electrolytes 101

We all know about the importance of proper hydration, but electrolytes are regularly left out of that discussion. You can be drinking a ton of H2O, but are you properly absorbing it? What are electrolytes and why are they important? What are the best electrolyte powders? Electrolytes 101 – here’s everything you need to know.

Let’s dive into all the details. Keep reading to learn more about drinks with electrolytes without sugar!

Electrolyte Powders 101

Note: This article contains affiliate links, meaning In On Around will make a small commission at no additional cost to you. This helps me maintain the site. As always, I value full transparency & only work with brands I love and trust.

What Are Electrolytes?

Electrolytes are minerals that are absolutely essential for many functions of the human body. To truly hydrate your cells, you need all electrolytes, like sodium, potassium, chlorides, calcium, and magnesium.

Did you know that we have an electric charge throughout our bodies?! Our cells are like mini batteries which generate electrical currents. Without minerals, we wouldn’t be able to generate this electric current in our cells.

Losing just 1.5% of your total water volume can lead to dehydration.

When you’re dehydrated, there’s an imbalance in water and electrolytes in your cells.

Sodium (Na+) and potassium (K+) are the two primary electrolytes. There’s oftentimes a lot of potassium inside the cell, while there’s a lot of sodium outside the cell. Their imbalance can lead to a host of issues, like fatigue, muscle cramping, brain dog, dizziness, headaches, dry mouth, and more – no fun! This is especially common amongst low-sodium keto dieters, otherwise known as the “keto flu.”

We excrete these electrolytes through our urine, sweat, vomit, or feces, so it’s incredibly important to ensure they’re properly balanced, especially if you’re an athlete or recovering from illness.

98% of U.S. adults are not consuming sufficient amounts of potassium.

Why Are Electrolytes Important?

Electrolyes are essential for:

  • Regulating heartbeat (… obviously, this is incredibly important)
  • Controlling inflammation
  • Enabling cellular communication
  • Balancing fluid & blood pressure
  • Hormone balance
  • Preventing muscle cramps

… and much more. Nerve, heart, and muscle function all rely on electrolytes.

You need electrolytes to remain properly hydrated!

When To Take Electrolytes

Proper electrolyte balance is important at all times, but it’s especially important if you…

  • Are ill or recovering from sickness
  • Were exposed to high levels of heat, especially for a long period of time
  • Had a high-intensity workout
  • Sweat a lot, like in the sauna
  • Feel super fatigued
  • Drank alcohol recently
  • Practice fasting
    • You can read more about intermittent fasting (and who should avoid it) here.

If you’re drinking a lot of water but are still thirsty, you may need more electrolytes.

Most of our electrolytes come from our food and water, but sometimes supplementation can help (especially if you’ve overexerted yourself). Aside from an IV (intravenous therapy), electrolyte powders can be a great way to rehydrate easily at home.

Do You Need Sugar To Stay Hydrated?

No, you do not need sugar to remain hydrated.

Sugar (glucose) can help with the absorption of certain electrolytes, however, it’s not necessary unless you’re very ill. Hospitals oftentimes use oral rehydration therapy (ORT) with glucose to help with specific illnesses.

Here’s the deal: Americans eat way too much added sugar. We don’t need to add it to everything, especially “healthy” electrolyte drinks. Sugar makes us sick! It increases your risk of obesity, cancer, diabetes, heart disease, and so much more.

To learn more about the health impacts of sugary drinks, read this article.

Americans eat too much sugar! You don’t need more of it in your “healthy” electrolyte drinks.

Why You Need Salt

Salt has been criticized for years, however, science is changing and it’s not as damaging to health as previously thought! Too much sodium was linked to high blood pressure, stroke, and heart disease, but we need salt (sodium) for our bodies to properly function. It’s one of the two most important electrolytes!

Salt is not the enemy – it’s essential. We need salt to survive.

Salt doesn’t always deserve its bad rap. Some studies have shown that low-salt diets can increase death from heart disease too. [1, 2, 3] Too low levels of salt can cause health issues, and too high levels of salt can cause health issues – balance is key.

Keep in mind, the quality of salt matters. To learn more about the best salt brands, check out: What Are The Healthiest Salt Brands? Minerals In Salt 101.

Ingredients To Avoid In Electrolyte Powders

So what ingredients should you avoid in electrolyte drinks and powders? Steer clear of the following:

  • Added Sugar
  • Artificial Flavors
  • Natural Flavors
  • Dyes (if your electrolyte powder looks neon, that’s a red flag!)
  • Maltodextrin – some people have difficulty digesting maltodextrin
  • Too low of sodium
  • Preservatives
  • Gluten
  • Soy
  • Dairy
  • GMOs

AVOID most marketed sports drinks – they have way too much sugar and not enough sodium or potassium. They can oftentimes do MORE harm than good. [4] Most pre-made preservatives contain preservatives to keep them shelf stable.

Always look for sugar-free and higher sodium content.

Bioavailability matters as well! Bioavailability refers to the most efficient form of a mineral that the body can easily utilize. For instance, magnesium is more bioavailable in its citrate, lactate, chloride, or aspartate form, versus the sulfate or oxide forms. [5]

The Healthiest Electrolyte Powders

Not all electrolyte powders are created equal!

Unfortunately, the majority of electrolyte powders or sports drinks on the market contain nasty, unnecessary ingredients. Here are the best, better, and worst options on the market. Let’s compare the brands:


Unflavored electrolyte powders have fewer sweeteners and undisclosed flavorings. These are the best options! Keep in mind, however, that by themselves they are less palatable (you may not like the taste as much). I recommend using them with a little splash of lemon juice, lime juice, or fresh fruit juice if you don’t like the taste.

  • LMNT – opt for unflavored
    • Ingredients (Unflavored): Salt, Magnesium Malate, Potassium Chloride.
    • Ingredients (Flavored): Salt, Citric Acid, Magnesium Malate, Potassium Chloride, Natural Flavors, Stevia Leaf Extract – The flavored options would fall under the “better” category since it doesn’t disclose the natural flavors used.
    • Their raw unflavored mix does not contain natural flavors, stevia, or citric acid – this is a much better alternative!
  • DIY electrolyte drink (see below – keep reading for recipe)


While these are “better” options, these brands either don’t disclose the mineral concentrate used, use flavoring or incorporate stevia. While stevia is usually fine in moderation, the science is still split on whether it can negatively impact gut health. To learn more about stevia, check out: Is Stevia Safe?

  • REDMOND Re-Lyte – opt for unflavored
    • Ingredients (Unflavored): Sea Salt, Potassium Citrate, Magnesium Malate, Magnesium Glycinate.
  • Nooma Hydration Mix
    • Ingredients: Organic Evaporated Coconut Water, Organic Mixed Berry Flavor, Himalayan Pink Salt, Organic Lemon Juice Powder, Organic Stevia Leaf Extract, Organic Cordyceps Mushroom Extract, Organic Ashwagandha Root Extract
  • NectarOrganic
    • Ingredients: Organic Lemon, Potassium Citrate, Non-GMO Citric Acid, Calcium Citrate, Magnesium Citrate, Himalayan Pink Salt, Organic Stevia.
  • Lite Show
    • Ingredients: Sea Water, Purified Water, Low-Sodium Sea Mineral Concentrate, Non-GMO Citric Acid, Potassium Chloride, Zinc Sulfate.
  • CureHydration
    • Ingredients: Coconut Water Powder, Organic Flavor, Non-GMO Citric Acid, Lemon Juice Powder, Pink Himalayan Salt, Sodium Citrate, Organic Stevia Extract, Monk Fruit Extract
  • Ultima
    • Ingredients: Non-GMO Citric Acid, Magnesium Citrate, Potassium Phosphate, Natural Orange Flavor, Potassium Aspartate, Calcium Citrate, Salt, Calcium Ascorbate, Rebaudioside-A (from Organic Stevia Leaf), Beta-carotene, Zinc Citrate and Manganese Citrate.
  • Seeking Health
    • Ingredients: Niacin, Magnesium, Sodium, Potassium, D-Ribose, Taurine, Creatine, Malic Acid, Natural Flavors, Calcium Silicate, Monk Fruit Extract, Natural Coloring.
    • Unecessary and undisclosed colorants


Many of these have added sugar, undisclosed flavorings, or artificial dyes.

  • PowerPaks By Trace Minerals
    • Ingredients: Vitamin C, Thiamin, Niacin, Vitamin B6, Folate, Vitamin B12, Pantothenic Acid, Calcium, Magnesium, Zinc, Selenium, Manganese, Chromium, Chloride, Sodium, Potassium, Xylitol, Citric Acid, Natural Flavors, Malic Acid, Steviol Glycosides, Turmeric Root Extract, Silicon Dioxide.
    • Contains sugar alcohols, which can irritate the gut in some people
  • Promix Hydration – Claims to use “whole food based ingredients” like Himalayan Pink salt, lemons, tapioca and lime, however the nutrition facts are different on the label.
    • Ingredients: Organic Cassava Dextrose (Sugar), Organic Cassava Maltodextrin, Lemon Juice, Lime Juice, Himalayan Pink Salt
    • Dextrose derived from cassava is added sugar.
  • Vital Proteins Hydrate
    • Ingredients: Bovine Collagen Peptides, Citric Acid, Natural Flavors, Tapioca Dextrose, Dipotassium Phosphate, Potassium Chloride, Magnesium Carbonate, Calcium Carbonate, Vitamin C, Sea Salt, Stevia Leaf RebM, Niacin, Pantothenic acid, Monk Fruit Extract, Vitamin B6, Vitamin B12.
    • May use GMO-based citric acid (I don’t see any Non-GMO seal on this product).
  • Nuun
    • Ingredients: Non-GMO Citric Acid, Dextrose, Sodium Bicarbonate, Potassium Bicarbonate, Sodium Carbonate, Natural Flavors, Malic Acid, Potassium Chloride, Magnesium Oxide, Calcium Carbonate, Stevia Leaf Extract, Avocado Oil, Beet Powder Color, Riboflavin (for color).
    • Contains added sugar (dextrose).
  • Pedialyte
    • Ingredients: Sodium (Sodium Chloride, Sodium Citrate), Potassium (Potassium Citrate), Chloride (Sodium Chloride), Water, Dextrose, Citric Acid, Artificial Grape Flavor, Sucralose, Acesulfame Potassium, FD&C Red No. 40 and FD&C Blue No. 1.
    • Contains artificial flavoring and synthetic lake dyes – yuck!
  • Liquid I.V.
    • Ingredients: Pure Cane Sugar, Dextrose, Citric Acid, Salt, Potassium Citrate, Sodium Citrate, Dipotassium Phosphate, Silicon Dioxide, Rebaudioside-a (Stevia Leaf Extract), Natural Flavors, Vitamin C (Ascorbic Acid), Vitamin B3 (Niacinamide), Vitamin B5 (D-Calcium Pantothenate), Vitamin B6 (Pyridoxine Hydrochloride), Vitamin B12 (Cyanocobalamin).
    • Contains added sugar and undisclosed flavoring.
  • Emergen-C
    • Ingredients: Fructose (Sugar), Citric Acid, Monobasic Potassium Phosphate, Monobasic Sodium Phosphate, Potassium Carbonate, Monobasic Calcium Phosphate, Ascorbic Acid (Vitamin C), Magnesium Carbonate, Beet Juice Concentrate (Color), Calcium Carbonate, Magnesium Hydroxide, Maltodextrin, Manganese Gluconate, Natural Flavors, Rebaudioside A (Stevia Leaf), Salt.
    • Contains added sugar
  • Vitalyte
    • Ingredients: Glucose, Fructose, Citric Acid, Sodium Chloride, Potassium Chloride, Ascorbic Acid (Vitamin C), Sodium Bicarbonate, Dipotassium Phosphate, Magnesium Citrate, Calcium Citrate, and Natural Lemon Flavor.
    • Contains added sugar
  • HydrantHydration
    • Ingredients: Cane Sugar, Blood Orange Juice Powder (Blood Orange Juice, Cane Sugar, Malic Acid), Sodium Citrate, Magnesium Gluconate, Potassium Citrate, Citric Acid, Salt, Natural Flavors, Zinc Gluconate.
    • First ingredient is added sugar

Gatorade, Powerade, Vitamin Water, and most other sports drinks would also fall under this category. While Cymbiotika’s Pure Hydration discloses the Natural Flavors (which is great), they use organic cane sugar which is best avoided in electrolyte drink powders.

DIY Electrolyte Drink

  1. Filtered water – find the best water purifier here
  2. Organic lemon, lime and/or orange
  3. Himalayan pink salt
  4. Organic coconut water
  5. Optional: 1-2 tsp of raw local honey

It should taste salty!

A moderate amount of organic coconut water can be beneficial, however, it is high in natural sugars. It’s best to only drink coconut water with a meal balanced with protein and healthy fat (to limit blood sugar spikes). Coconut water is also a great source of potassium (it has about 5x more than most sports drinks!) but is low in sodium. Always opt for unsweetened coconut water (which doesn’t have any added sugar, just natural sugar).

Read more about trace mineral drops here: The Best Mineral Drops For Reverse Osmosis Water

Other Ways To Improve Electrolytes

Eat a diet rich in organic fruits and vegetables! For healthy high-sodium foods, opt for foods like celery and beets. For high-potassium foods, opt for spinach, avocado, swiss chard, bok choy, white beans, and beets. A diverse diet with organic, real whole foods is best! As always, limit sugary foods and ultra-processed junk food, which delete potassium levels.

Final Thoughts

Electrolytes are important components to proper hydration and wellbeing… but not all electrolyte powders on the market are healthy. This is why it’s so important to do your due diligence and read the full ingredient lists before purchasing. When in doubt, opt of the brands listed above in the “best” electrolyte powder category.

Cheers to proper cellular hydration!

Electrolyte Powders 101 Pin

Frequently Asked Questions – Healthy Electrolyte Powders

Click on the below FAQs to learn more about what to look for in drinks with electrolytes without sugar.

What Are Electrolytes?

Electrolyte Powders

Electrolytes are minerals that are absolutely essential for many functions of the human body. To truly hydrate your cells, you need all electrolytes, like sodium, potassium, chlorides, calcium, and magnesium.

Why Are Electrolytes Important?

Electrolyte Powders

Electrolytes are important for regulating heartbeat, controlling inflammation, enabling cellular communication, hormone balance, and more.

Do You Need Sugar To Stay Hydrated?

Electrolyte Powders

No, you don’t need added sugar to remain hydrated. Sugar (glucose) can help with the absorption of certain electrolytes, however, it’s not usually necessary unless you’re very ill.

Are Sports Drinks Healthy?

Electrolyte Powders

No, many sports drinks are not healthy. Most sports drinks on the market contain high levels of sugar and not enough sodium or potassium for proper hydration. Many sports drinks contain artificial flavoring, dyes, and preservatives.

Have you tried electrolyte powders?

Let me know your thoughts in the comments below!

You can watch our web story here.


Want to read more? Check out my other articles here!

References on Electrolyte powder drink; Best electrolyte drink when sick; drinks with electrolytes without sugar from: LMNT, Harvard, Grist, Tailwind, Organika, Cleveland Clinic, Cure Hydration, Ener-C, Nutrition Facts, Sharp, A Sweat Life, Mommy Potamus, Cedars Sinai

Copyright In On Around LLC 2022 ©. The statements made on this website have not been evaluated by the FDA (U.S. Food & Drug Administration). They are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease. The information provided by this website should not be used as individual medical advice and you should always consult your doctor for individual recommendations and treatment. The information contained in this site is provided on an “as is” basis. Related to this site, there are no guarantees of completeness, accuracy, usefulness, or timeliness. In On Around LLC assumes no responsibility or liability for any errors or omissions in the content of this site.

About Catherine Power

Catherine Power is the Founder and CEO of In On Around. She is a Harvard-educated Ingredient Safety and Environmental Toxins expert. Catherine has a background in Food Science, Personal Care Quality, and Regulatory Compliance.

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