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Tested by us, for replacing all the electrolytes lost when running
Highlight the key electrolytes like sodium, magnesium, and potassium
Supplements to replenish everything from all-out efforts to everyday running
Running hydration is something every runner knows they need, but so many don’t know where to start. Anyone who’s run more than a 5K knows that there’s always Gatorade, the one that started it all. Which is fine if you’re a time traveler from 1992 and love added sugars to keep your pre-diabetes plans on track. But times have changed and we’ve learned a lot since then regarding nutrition, especially for endurance athletes.
Luckily for us, we’re in the middle of an arms race between nutrition brands to get you the best balance of electrolytes to keep your running game strong. Ten years ago you would’ve had a few options; today, it seems like a new hydration option pops up each week.
On one hand, it gives you plenty to pick from; on the other, it’s hard to sift through. Which is why we’re here. We put together this list of hydration supplements that we’ve tried through our own training. We break down which mix is best for which endeavor, from the night before a marathon to the morning after a workout, to, well … hangovers (you’re a runner, we know).
No matter which one you go with, make sure you go with something. It’s impossible to replenish the electrolytes you lose in the summer months with water only (anyone who’s run Summer GRIT knows what we’re talking about). You’ll feel better, your workouts will go smoother, and you won’t crash later in the day. Also, your fall marathon will thank you.
The night before all-out efforts
Okay, so if you don’t mind drinking ocean water, then boy, have we got a drink mix for you. Nobody lives up to the “high in sodium” accolade more than Skratch Hyper Hydrate. It has more sodium than an entire bag of potato chips. When you’re going all out for all day long, a normal hydration mix just can’t replace all the electrolytes you’re losing. This one can. We use this stuff the night before marathons to help keep us hydrated. It’s especially important and helpful to do this the night before a big race if the weather is predicted to be warm. Disregard the taste and gulp it down. During the race, go for the standard hydration.
During or after activity
Lemon-lime, Tart Orange, Tropical Mango
If you’ve heard of SaltStick, you’re probably thinking about the little electrolyte caps that look and taste a lot like chalk. Those are pretty good, but did you know SaltStick also makes a mix – aptly named DrinkMix? This formula helps keep you hydrated, avoid heat stress and prevent cramping with its solid ratio of electrolytes, cleanly-sourced ingredients and no sugar. It’s also the only on this list that Robbe actually uses as just a drink mix because it tastes really good (the Mango version, anyway).
Before, during, or after activity
[yellow title=”11 g added sugars (sugar free version available”/]
Seaberry, Strawberry Lemonade, Lemon Lime, White Peach (sugar free)
We actually added this one late, but it should’ve been one of the first, because it’s saved our lives a few times this summer. I say that figuratively, because it works great as a hangover bounceback or, of course– when you need to get those electrolyte levels up after a hard workout. It packs a wallop of sodium at 500 mg (one of the highest on this list), and offers a ton in the way of B Vitamins, which may save you after you’ve had a few too many. We also appreciate the sugar option for a workout boost, or sugar free if you’re looking to stay clean.
Ruby Red Grapefruit, Orange Pineapple, Raspberry, Salted Marg
We’ve given Gnarly rave reviews for their protein powder, but they go the full distance with their hydration as well. We took their limited edition Margarita flavor to the ultimate test (making margaritas) and felt great the next morning, thanks to the rehydrating properties of the mix. Of course, you’ll probably want this during your activity, so having a solid dose of electrolytes in the form of sodium and magnesium are imperative, and luckily, Gnarly Hydrate has both. For extra sodium, pick up the Margarita option, which has double the sodium of the baseline Hydrate mix.
Strawberry Lemonade, Citrus Fruit, Cherry Limeade, Mango Orange, and a ton more
The only thing longer than a treadmill mile is the 60 seconds it takes for your Nuun tablet to dissolve. But, we have to say, it’s worth it. Nuun drinks are some of the tastiest and with 300mg of sodium per serving, you’ll be rehydrated in no time. There’s also a handful of flavors with caffeine for that extra boost. Bonus points for vegan, kosher, gluten-free, non-GMO, and informed choice certifications. For those of you with zero chill, f you want something that does the job a bit quicker, opt for the Nuun Instant– a rapidly rehydrating mix with optimized electrolytes, vitamins, and minerals.
Pre or post all-out efforts
Raspberry Salt, Mango Chili, Watermelon Salt, Lemon Habenero, & more
We’ve had some salty mixes on here, and few hit the sodium highs like LMNT does. It’s simple: LMNT is a zero-sugar electrolyte drink mix, with everything you need and nothing you don’t. For those who don’t want those added sugars, LMNT delivers a truly meaningful dose of electrolytes without the sugar, junky fillers, or artificial coloring found in other sports drinks. The flavors are pretty solid too, so you don’t have to gag on ocean water to get your electrolytes fixed. On that note: don’t get the Raw Unflavored flavor, it’s hard to even get down. The others are pretty solid, though.
During activity, hangovers
Tropical variety, Fruit Punch, Decaf Green Tea, Watermelon, & more
It seems like every week we get another pitch from a hydration brand, and this is one of the new ones. But they’ve done their homework and everything is in its place for this hydration mix. Not only does it replace key electrolytes like sodium, magnesium, and potassium, it also provides a nice one-two punch of zinc and vitamin C for immune support and is naturally flavored. DripDrop also offers a Keto Zero version of the mix. The only thing weird about DripDrop is the portion sizes. The small stick says it’s supposed to be for 8 oz. of water, but it has the right amount of electrolytes as most other brands’ 16 oz. servings. I guess just pick up the 8 oz., and if you need more, add more.
Ultrarunning, long endurance events
Cola, Matcha, Raspberry, Tropical
Tailwind used to be the race day choice of both Meaghan and Thomas. The company started out as a fuel source for runners, but over the last five years, has really dug deep into the trail and ultrarunning scene. Their Endurance Fuel mix is specifically designed for long (very long) running events and endurance endeavors. Which is why it’s actually good that this mix has 25g of sugars, so it acts as a fuel source in addition to replenishing your electrolytes. The added caffeine is a nice bump as well. The mix is easy on the stomach and digests easily, meaning you’ll be fine to eat that grilled cheese and pierogi bowl at the mile 60 aid station.
Pre, post, or during activity
Blackberry, Lemon Lime, Blueberry Pomegranate, Orange
The nice thing about Osmo is they offer a few different drink mixes to supplement your workout, as well as your before and after routine. You’re taken care of on a full 360. Robbe used the Active Hydration mix for a bunch of his training cycle for the New York Marathon last fall, and it seemed to do the job (he can’t remember any terrible feeling runs, so it must have worked). The flavors could probably use a little facelift since they’re basically the same as the standard Gatorade mixes that have been around for decades. If you do use this as your hydration choice, spring for the Blueberry Pomegranate, it’s actually one of the better flavors we’ve tried. Also, it could use a little more sodium, but if you’re in cooler temps, this should work for you.
Post-workout on a hot day
More recovery than hydration, we’re just putting this on here because it tastes so good. Chill your Cheribundi in the fridge and enjoy the tart cherry juice joy that comes from crushing this pouch after a hard workout (it also comes in bottles). Packed with antioxidants, Cheribundi helps reduce soreness and rebuild muscles faster. But who cares about all that– it’s just a nice treat that you deserve.
Meaghan signed up for her first marathon three weeks before the race, because it was $10 more than the half she planned to run. She learned everything in running the hard way. Now a USATF & UESCA certified run coach, she loves encouraging friends to go for big goals as she continues to chase faster times. She enjoys a hot cup of coffee, a cold martini, and making bagels for friends and family.More from Meaghan