The 5 Best Hydration Drinks for Athletes, According to Experts

The 5 Best Hydration Drinks for Athletes, According to Experts

For most people, simply drinking more water throughout the day can go a long way to improving hydration and enjoying all of the countless health benefits that come along with it. For athletes, however, proper hydration often means more than just drinking water—it's replacing lost electrolytes you sweat out during a game or training session.

When you exercise or train, especially in a hot environment, your body loses water through sweat, leading to dehydration, which can have negative impacts on athletic performance, such as fatigue, reduced endurance, impaired focus, and even muscle cramps. That's where hydration drinks come into play, offering a convenient and effective way to replenish electrolytes and fluids.

Typically, hydration drinks like our Hydrate48 powder are specially formulated to provide rapid hydration beyond that offered by plain water. To achieve this, they contain a carefully-curated mixture of water and electrolytes like sodium and potassium, which play a crucial role in regulating fluid balance, muscle contractions, and nerve impulses.

Nowadays, the challenge is less about finding good options for electrolyte drinks and more about how to identify the best hydration drinks for athletes. With so many brands competing for the top spot, it can seem all but impossible to sort through ingredients and reviews, so we've taken the time to compare our Hydrate48 to four of the best competitors on the market.


When we set out to design Hydrate48, we did so with one clear, basic philosophy: simple is better. Unlike other sports drinks or electrolyte powders, we chose to include only the ingredients necessary for proper hydration. This meant cutting out added sugars, artificial flavors, unnecessary stimulants, or anything else that didn't directly impact how well our product performs at keeping you hydrated.

By streamlining our formula this way, we allowed ourselves to focus on perfecting the balance of electrolytes in Hydrate48 to provide you with the ideal mix of sodium, potassium, magnesium, calcium, and chloride. When you add a serving of our Hydrate48 electrolyte drink mix to your training routine, you can replenish electrolytes lost during exercise, maximize your performance at the gym or on the track, and take your fitness to the next level.


  • Ideal balance of electrolytes
  • No added sugar
  • Natural flavors
  • Minimal calories
  • Mixes perfectly with all types of liquids


  • Fewer flavors than some competitors
  • No sugar means less of an energy boost than with a sports drink

Bottom Line

If hydration is your main goal, Hydrate48 is simply one of the best electrolyte drinks on the market. Rather than wasting time, space, and money adding unnecessary ingredients to our formula, we focus on what matters most for keeping you hydrated during even the most grueling workouts.

Liquid I.V.

Liquid I.V. has been a staple of the hydration industry since the company was first founded in 2012, providing a solid product at a competitive price for athletes and casual users alike. With a well-balanced mix of electrolytes to help you perfect things like potassium and sodium intake, Liquid I.V.'s convenient powder packets make it simple to throw a few in your gym bag or car and have on hand when they're needed.

Still, Liquid I.V.'s formulas include added sugar and carbohydrates, which means they land between a true electrolyte powder and a sports drink as a product.


  • Non-GMO
  • Well-designed mix of electrolytes
  • Gluten-Free
  • Multiple flavors to choose from


  • Uses added sugar to achieve flavors
  • Relatively high in sodium

Bottom Line

Liquid I.V. has become a well-recognized name in the hydration industry due to its effective formula and clear branding. While it may help prevent dehydration and electrolyte imbalance, its use of added sugars makes it less of a pure hydration product than a supplement like Hydrate48.

Gatorade Fit

For decades, Gatorade has been one of the biggest names in the sports drink industry, and in recent years has made the shift to providing more advanced products tailored for power and endurance athletes. Its line of Gatorade Fit drinks, which was only released in early 2022, pivots from the brand's sugary origins to instead provide a sugar-free electrolyte drink meant to enable better performance in the gym or on the field.

Despite the fact that Gatorade Fit is only currently available in premixed bottles, it's still a solid choice for those who need a quick boost of hydration while out shopping before or after a workout.


  • No added sugar
  • Offers several delicious flavors
  • Comes from a trusted brand
  • Uses natural sources of flavor and electrolytes


  • Provides relatively little potassium
  • Only available in premixed bottles
  • More expensive per serving

Bottom Line

Thankfully, Gatorade Fit breaks from tradition by focusing on performance over sugar-fueled flavors. Its premixed bottles are great to keep in the fridge or grab while on the go, though we'd prefer a powder option to add to pre-workout or a water bottle. Additionally, while the added vitamins and antioxidants are useful, they take up space that could be used for a more potent electrolyte formula.


Unlike most sports or electrolyte drinks on the market, which generally come either as a liquid or in powder packets, Nuun instead comes in a compact tablet format. This makes it exceptionally convenient to carry in a gym bag or store in a locker, and users can simply add one tablet to a bottle of water or pre-workout and have impressive hydration for even the most intense sessions.

That said, some users have reported issues with getting the tablets to dissolve quickly or fully, and the electrolyte formula may include more sodium than is necessary or healthy.


  • Comes in a convenient tablet format
  • Focuses primarily on electrolytes over other benefits
  • Can be added to many different liquids


  • Slight issues dissolving quickly
  • Includes too much sodium
  • Performance versions are more expensive

Bottom Line

Nuun innovates on current hydration options by offering its product in tablet form, which allows users an impressive level of convenience. Still, we wish the company had taken more time to streamline its formula and potentially reduce the amount of sodium in each serving.

Elm & Rye

Featured in Men's Magazine and other online forums, Elm & Rye is a sleek new supplement company that seems to be tailored primarily for young men. In addition to its hydration powder and gummies, the company also sells a vast array of other supplements, from pre-workout to collagen peptides.

Despite the diversity of their product list and the unquestionable appeal of their packaging, however, Elm & Rye seems to fundamentally misunderstand what a hydration product should be. Instead of focusing their electrolyte formula on, well, electrolytes, they instead use up space providing vitamins that you would otherwise get from a daily multivitamin.


  • Includes vitamin C and B vitamins
  • Offers three delicious flavors
  • Simplified formula


  • Does not include sodium, magnesium, calcium, or chloride
  • More expensive than competitors

Bottom Line

Although Elm & Rye has enjoyed viral popularity due to its sleek packaging and modern branding, the simple fact is that its hydration mix simply isn't an electrolyte drink. Because it adds a vitamin complex instead of crucial electrolytes like calcium, magnesium, or even sodium, it's more of a multivitamin than it is a hydration product. While their mix does contain potassium, the bare-bones 60mg offered isn't enough to offset the electrolytes lost during even moderate exercise.

If you're looking for the best electrolyte drink on the market, look elsewhere because even basic coconut water would likely provide more electrolytes than Elm & Rye's mixture.

Electrolyte Drinks vs. Sports Drinks

If you asked most people, they would struggle to define the key differences between a sports drink and an electrolyte drink. And while they may appear identical at first glance, it's important to recognize the situations in which you want to use one over the other and how to decide which is right for you.

Electrolyte Drinks

As the name might suggest, electrolyte drinks are meant to help people who lose electrolytes through exercise, illness, or sweating in hot temperatures. Electrolytes like sodium, potassium, calcium, and magnesium are essential for sustaining muscular function and maintaining correct hydration. Electrolyte drinks can help prevent dehydration and muscle cramps by replenishing these vital minerals, allowing you to perform at the highest levels, even in the most challenging circumstances.

Sports drinks, on the other hand, are primarily intended to provide you with a rapid energy boost. To achieve this, they often contain added sugars for the body to use as a quick source of energy. While many sports drinks provide hydration as well, they don't focus as much on replenishing electrolytes. Instead, these products are best for exercises like sprinting or high-intensity interval training that call for quick bursts of energy.

Simply put, even the best sports drinks will usually offer less hydrating power than a decent electrolyte mix, although they may be useful for keeping you going through an intense workout. In addition to their exercise benefits, the best electrolyte drinks may even provide other benefits, such as helping reduce high blood pressure, balance the pH level of your blood, and reduce your risk for heart disease.

Why Athletes Should Choose Hydrate48

If you're an athlete—either professional or amateur—chances are that you're already taking a number of supplements such as pre-workout powder, whey protein, vitamins, or countless others. If that's the case, you likely don't need your hydration powder to include anything beyond the electrolytes and other ingredients necessary to keep you hydrated during an intense workout.

It's for these exact reasons that we designed Hydrate48 to include only those ingredients you need most for hydration, without any sugars, unnecessary vitamin compounds, or stimulants. When you take our product, you can rest assured that you're giving your body only what it needs to keep its electrolytes in balance—and nothing else.