Best Electrolytes for Runners – What Are They? Do We Really Need Them?

best-electrolytes-for-runners

Today, we’ll be looking at some of the best electrolytes for runners you can get.

We’re going to talk about what electrolytes are,

how they benefit us as runners,

how they taste

… for you to go and try yourself.

Hopefully, I’ll be answering all of your questions to do with electrolytes, but if you do have any others, please pop them in the comments below.

Best Electrolytes for Runners

Science Behind Electrolytes

So first off, a bit of science about what electrolytes are and how they benefit us as runners

Ah, the famous electrolytes. Sports drink commercials love talking about them, but what are they, why do we need them, and what happens if we don’t have enough?

Electrolytes are salts and every human being has them within their body and we take them usually by way of food. Electrolytes dissolve into positive and negative charges and conduct electricity in water.

They’re made up of minerals and they are lost frequently during sweat, which is why as runners we need to pay a bit more attention to them.

Common Electrolytes

The most common one is sodium chloride (NaCL), aka plain old table salt. These are the most common electrolytes lost through sweat. That is why most sports drinks will contain levels of sodium in them. It’s also why our sweat tastes a bit salty.

These are other common electrolytes in your body also known as ions:

  • Sodium ‘Na+’ (+)
  • Chloride ‘Cl’ (-)
  • Potassium ‘K’ (+)
  • Magnesium ‘Mg’ (2+)
  • Calcium ‘Ca’ (2+)
  • Phosphate ‘PO4’ (3-)

These charges are crucial because they control the flow of water in our cells and nerve impulses in our bodies. Ion channels in cell membranes regulate the flow of the positive and negative charges through cells.

Water follows these charges and always goes to the side that has a greater number of electrolytes. Thanks, osmosis!

Without the balancing act between electrolytes and water, our cells could shrivel up and die or burst from being too full.

In nerve cells, a positive ion moving through an ion channel sparks off an electrical impulse, signaling our bodies to function properly.

That’s right.

Electrolytes control the constant impulses in our bodies to keep our hearts beating, our lungs breathing, and our brains learning.

So yeah, electrolytes are pretty important.

When we’re working out, our bodies start to heat up. Ion channels in our cells dump electrolytes, aka salt, into the sweat gland. Thanks to osmosis, water follows closely behind.

This increases the pressure in the gland, so that salty mix gets pushed out onto the skin. When that water evaporates, it pulls heat off your body and cools you down, leaving a salty residue behind.

But if you lose too many electrolytes, your nerves won’t work properly, which can lead to problems with your heart, blood pressure, breathing and you’ll definitely not be performing your best.

So, you’d better reach for the bright orange sports drink and get those electrolytes back ASAP, right?!

Controversy

Well, maybe not. There’s been controversy recently on whether sports drinks are even necessary. People generally get enough electrolytes to replenish the ones lost in a workout from their diet.

If you’re working out for an hour or so, water will keep you hydrated and you probably don’t need those extra electrolytes or sugars.

But if you’re running in the heat, doing long-distance running, running a marathon or a triathlon, feel free to reach for that sports drink now and again. Your body will thank you.

The main things to remember is to replace lost electrolytes both during and after your runs. Some of the ones that we’re going to look at today are also beneficial to take on before your runs as well.

It’s also important to remember when you’re picking your electrolyte drink of choice that they can contain other elements that are beneficial to us as runners including caffeine.

So, we’ll be taking a look at some of the options that have caffeine in as well because some people do find that this can boost their running performance.

Then there’s all the different types of electrolyte products out there. You’ve got electrolyte tablets, salt sticks, electrolytes contained within gels, sports drinks, all kinds of different types of electrolytes that are available to you.

When you’re picking which one you want to use, consider what’s going to be the most useful for you and how you’re going to be able to take it on.

Is it going to be in a bottle or is it going to be in a gel format?  We have a whole range of electrolytes to go through.

Today, I’ll be going through taste tests, what’s in them, and giving you some tips on how to best pick out the electrolytes that work best for you.

SOS

sos-electrolyte-sports-drink

The first ones to test are these SOS sticks. The SOS come in little stick formats that you add to water. They say that they’re faster to dissolve than the tablet forms.

What’s really interesting about the SOS packet is that it suggests one stick to be mixed with water for daily maintenance or two sticks to be added to water if you’re going to be doing some exercise.

So things to note about SOS, they come in four different flavors. You can combine them in the single-serve stick packets or you can bulk buy and that works out a little bit cheaper, as well.

They have 10 calories per stick, they’re keto certified, and they’re also gluten and vegan-friendly.

Taste Test

sos-electrolyte-sports-drink-tastes-test

I’ve gone for the mango flavor. I’ve mixed it up in the sports bottle because it’s just easier to make sure that it all mixes properly with water by giving a good shake.

You can really taste the mango in this one. It’s a nice change from having an orange packet that is orange flavored when it comes to sports nutrition because you can get a little bit tired of orange flavored stuff.

You can taste the saltiness of it a little bit. One thing to note with electrolytes is that some of them can be a bit of an acquired taste.

This one, in particular, is not too salty and you can’t taste it too badly. There’s no bits in it and it’s mixed really nicely with the water.

The flavor itself doesn’t come across too strong with the one stick and yes, that would be quite pleasant out on a run as well and a bit refreshing.

High5

high5-electrolyte-sports-drink

These High5s contain five different electrolytes, magnesium, potassium, calcium, sodium, and chloride. They come in the effervescent tablet form and they also have these slow-release energy drink powder sachets that you can mix up, as well.

Taste Test

For the purpose of the taste test, I tasted their berry flavors. Although it’s an effervescent one, it hasn’t got loads of fizz coming through at all. In fact, it hasn’t really got much of a flavor coming through on this one.

So, the High5 products were all made with natural flavorings and they’re zero-calorie, as well.

They actually haven’t got a very strong taste of anything at all.
You can’t really taste the salt coming through, which for some people is a benefit bonus.
They’re particularly kind of plain and normal drink and don’t really taste like too much at all.

Nuun

nuun-electrolyte-sports-drink

NUUN do all kinds of different hydration products, but we’re specifically looking at their electrolyte range and their sports ones in particular.

They come in 15 different flavors, some with caffeine and some without. The tubes with the black caps have added caffeine.

The tubes come in packs of 10 and they are vegan-friendly, they are also gluten-free, and they are kosher, too. Each tablet contains 15 calories.

Taste Test

nuun-electrolyte-sports-drink-taste-test

I put my fruit punch flavor tablet in water and it took a couple of minutes for it to properly dissolve. It has a nice bright pink color.

Because this is an effervescent tablet, it has got a bit of a fizzy taste to it. Actually, it tastes a bit like pink lemonade.

As I was talking about on the previous one about tasting that salt coming through, which you will usually find with electrolytes because of the amount of sodium in it because that’s what you’re trying to replace, on this NUUN fruit punch tablet, the flavor comes through far more strongly than the salty side of it.

Precision Hydration

precision-hydration-electrolyte-sports-drink

This one is a really interesting one because of the philosophy behind Precision Hydration.

They don’t see hydration solutions as a one-size-fits-all. So, in order to order their products online, you first must undergo a sweat test.

That doesn’t mean sending them a little pot of your sweat, that would be pretty disgusting.

You just answer a few questions on their website about how often you exercise, what your goals are, and they basically work it all out and come back to you with your bespoke hydration strategy.

Image from Gyazo

From that, they then send you the best products that they believe are going to help you with your hydrating.

I have got the Precision Hydration 500, which is also available in the effervescent tablet forms as well as the single-serving sachets.

They also have some sweat salts which are chewable salt capsules. With the salt capsules, you’ll often find that when people are racing, they might prefer to take these instead of drinking large amounts of water with their electrolytes in. These are basically a water-free version.

precision-hydration-electrolyte-sports-drink-chewable

Another thing to note on the Precision Hydration products is that they have numbers on them, which then correlates to the amount of sodium that’s in them.

You’ve got the 500s which has 50 milligrams of sodium and you’ve got the 1500s which has 150 milligrams of sodium in. You dissolve those in 500 milliliters of water.

Again, these products are vegan-friendly, gluten-free, and dairy-free. Each of the tablets contains 10 calories.

Taste Test

precision-hydration-electrolyte-sports-drink-taste-test

I tasted the Precision Hydration 1500 effervescent tablets. It kind of has a bit of a berry flavor to it. It’s not an overly strong flavor and you can taste the salt coming through on that one.

The 1500 is one of the higher doses of sodium so that’s likely that that’s probably why it tastes a little bit on the salty side.

Even though it’s an effervescent tablet, it’s not really got that fizz side to it.

Veloforte

veloforte-electrolyte-sports-drink

The name Velo is a cycling brand but also popular in the running world. The interesting thing about Veloforte products is that they are 100% natural and they are made from all-natural ingredients.

They use dried coconut water and dried fruits in them and lots of different herbs and things.

Actually, their flavorings do have a bit of a savory taste to them, which can be quite nice if you’ve ever gone out on a run and just got sick of the taste of all the sweet kind of sticky gels and that kind of thing.

You’ve got things like sage, apricot, raspberry, rosehip…

With these ones, you do need to mix them in a bottle and give them a good shake because there are bits in them.

Veloforte have special bottles as well that have special nozzles that mean that the bits can get through easier.

I have used these on runs with my soft flasks in my hydration vest and you might not get all of the bits through in your own nozzle and you do have to give them a good clean out afterwards.

But that’s okay, you’re still getting all of the good stuff and all of the electrolytes through from the rest of the mix even if the bits don’t come through.

TerraCycle Recycling

veloforte-electrolyte-sports-drinks

Another thing to know about Veloforte is their packaging. Although it is made out of a foil and it’s not widely recycled, what you can do is actually send back your empty wrappers to Veloforte and they use a system called Terracycle.

They use all of the old wrappers and they make them into brand-new stuff like planters or playground equipment and things like that. That’s a really nice touch there from Veloforte.

The Veloforte products are vegan friendly, they’re gluten-free, and they’re also suitable for people with nuts allergies.

Taste Test

I mixed the Veloforte apricot and sage in the bottle.

What’s really nice about this one is that it tastes completely different to any other kind of sports nutrition really because of that sage in it and because it’s got that slightly savory side to it. It means that it’s not as sweet.

You can taste that sodium coming through, but it goes really nicely with the other flavors, as well. So it’s definitely something that I would consider using if I was sick of all the usual flavors for example.

You can taste those little bits as well of the dried fruit and that’s okay because it doesn’t make much of a difference to the overall feel of the product. They add a bit of texture to it.

From experience, when I’ve used some of the other flavors that have berries in, you get the little seeds and sometimes they get stuck in your teeth, which actually gives you something to do whilst you’re out in the long run by picking out the seeds from your teeth.

Active Root

active-root-electrolyte-sports-drink

The main electrolyte product that they do are the little sachets. They contain all-natural products. So, sea salt is for the electrolytes, root ginger is for settling stomachs, and natural cane sugar is for energy.

These are like some of the other sachet ones where you pour them into a bottle and mix them with water. Also, Active Root do the sports drinks sachets, which also act as electrolytes as they contain the sea salt, too and they do add different flavors.

The electrolyte one is just a natural ginger flavor whereas they’ve got peppermint and ginger, green tea and ginger, and original ginger flavor in the other ones.

Taste Test

After tasting it, if you don’t like ginger, this probably isn’t for you because it really has got that fiery ginger taste to it. I love ginger so I actually really do like this one. It’s really refreshing and it’s such a different flavor.

It doesn’t taste particularly salty even though it’s got those sea salts in it that act as those electrolytes to replenish the lost sodium.

It’s something that’s super tasty and I could imagine drinking that all day long and not ever getting that sort of taste fatigue that you can sometimes get with some products that perhaps maybe taste a little bit artificial.

So two thumbs up from me for the Active Root ginger electrolyte.

Science In Sport

science-in-sport-electrolyte-sports-drink

Science In Sport have a number of different options when it comes to electrolytes. They have the big bulk buy powder that you can buy in these tubs and then just use servings of that.

They also have the single-serve sachets of the powder and they put electrolytes in some of their gels, too.

Taste Test

science-in-sport-electrolyte-sports-drinks

They also have the standard effervescent tablets and that’s what I tasted with the pineapple and mango.

Although it’s an effervescent tablet, it doesn’t taste super fizzy. So if you’re not a fan of the fizziness, actually this one is quite flat.

It smells and tastes really fruity but not too strong of a taste coming through a bit. It’s like a watered-down squash maybe.

It’s not too salty, though and you can definitely taste the salt in it. But it’s something that you could probably get away with having along the way on your run or just drinking cold afterwards, as well.

The thing with Science In Sport products is that they are so easily available as lots of supermarkets stock them.

So, if you are trying to get some electrolytes in a hurry, chances are you might find the Science In Sport at your local shop.

Some of them do contain caffeine, they also have zero sugar in their effervescent tablets, and they contain added B vitamins, too.

If it’s a particularly hot day, you’re traveling, or you just want to top up your hydration a bit, there’s no harm in actually popping one of these tablets into a drink just on your everyday life.

You don’t have to necessarily be running to have them.

Hydrant

hydrant-electrolyte-sports-drink

This is a popular brand in the US, but less well-known in the UK for example. In fact, these are made in New York.

Their rapid hydration mix comes in three different flavors. You’ve got lime, grapefruit, and blood orange. They all contain natural flavorings and they’re all made out of natural fruit powders.

They don’t contain any artificial sweeteners and they’ve got cane sugar in them. Each serving is 25 calories.

Taste Test

I tasted the grapefruit stick. You can really tell that it’s powdered fruit. You can really taste the grapefruit and it tastes true to grapefruit.

Sometimes, when you have artificial flavors, especially fruit flavors, it can taste completely different to the fruit. This Hydrant has really got the sharpness of grapefruit in it.

It’s really refreshing and that’s something that I’d definitely like to drink in the morning or maybe just before I’m heading off on a long run.

Torq

torq-electrolyte-sports-drink

With these, you can get the pack that contains 30 servings, the individual stick servings where you get 10 servings, or the bottle with six different servings with three different flavors, lemon, tangerine, and watermelon.

Torq do a range of sports nutrition products. They recommend that the electrolytes are used for sessions of up to an hour, but if you’re going over an hour, you can then consider using some of their other products like gels, etc.

Taste Test

hydrant-electrolyte-sports-drinks

For the purposes of this article, I tasted the Torq tangerine. This one tastes really good and it’s kind of very ‘tangeriney’, which is probably what they’re going for.

Like the Hydrant, This Torq contains natural flavorings. It really comes through and tastes very strongly of tangerine. I’ve have had some taste tests where perhaps they’ve not tasted particularly strongly of anything, but the Torq tangerine is definitely a really strong flavor on the tangerine front.

Conclusion

So there you have it. These were some of the best electrolytes for runners that are out there at the moment that you could try if you’re in the market for an electrolyte drink.

What’s really important to note is that everyone is different when it comes to their sweat levels and the amount of electrolytes that they need to replace during and after running.

I can’t tell you exactly how much you should be drinking and when you should be drinking it. But, as a general rule of thumb, if it’s a hotter day, consider having electrolyte drinks during your run and if you’ve sweated a lot, which you’ll know yourself, then consider replacing your electrolytes through fluids that you take on your return from the run.

You can of course also try and make your own electrolyte drink at home. I have done that once and it was a disaster. It was disgusting.

But by using things like coconut water, fruit juices, sea salt, Himalayan rock salt and that kind of thing, you can play around with your own flavors and make your own electrolyte drink.

Let us know in the comments below if you do have any questions or maybe you’ve tried making your own electrolyte drink and you’ve got a recipe that I can try. I’d love to see it.

With everything that’s going on these months, keep running and stay safe ?

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