Find out what doctors think about sugar-free electrolyte drinks

Electrolyte drinks have been all the rage for years, especially since they’re marketed by our favorite athletes who say they help them refuel after tough workouts and replenish their bodies to maintain consistent fitness. Commonly referred to as sports drinks, these options often contain calcium, potassium, sodium, and magnesium, which can help prevent dehydration, ward off feelings of fatigue, and even stave off muscle cramps that can come from dehydration. But many also come with added ingredients that aren’t necessarily the healthiest.

There are many sports drinks that contain no artificial ingredients, no sugar, no calories, and no carbohydrates, and that’s important. But a drink can be “sugar-free” and contain other ingredients that are bad for you.

We’ve done the research so you know what to look for in sugar-free electrolyte drinks.

No sugar, no artificial sweeteners

In ENDO 2018, researchers presented new data showing that “sucralose, a popular artificial sweetener, promotes metabolic dysregulation…low-calorie sweeteners promote metabolic dysfunction similar to that of regular sugar, despite the lack of calories.” This means that artificial sweeteners can cause just as much harm to your body as sugar. When researching products, be sure to read the labels.

Anything that contains artificial sweeteners, colors, or flavors like dextrose and sucralose should be avoided. These are in some electrolyte drinks like Powerade Zero and Gatorade. Experts say the healthiest sports drinks are those made with real, all-natural ingredients. This helps reduce calories while helping to fight bloating and gas.

Athletes taking a break after training drinking colorful energy drink or sports drinks

The Best Sugar-Free Electrolyte Drinks

HYDRATE is one example (although it contains one gram of sugar) that is only made up of six ingredients. Olympian Kris Buchanan created and you can mix it in water to help with dehydration. Coconut water is another good option. This tasty drink is low in sugar and contains electrolytes like sodium, potassium, calcium and magnesium. It is also low in calories and is a favorite among many athletes.

You can also buy electrolyte tablets like Nuun that you simply mix with water and drink. Most electrolyte tablets contain a mixture of calcium, sodium, potassium and magnesium, so do your homework as they vary in amount and should be based on your individual needs. You can buy Nuun on Amazon for less than $25 for 40 tablets. They come in four flavors.


Do you need an electrolyte drink?

Experts say that if you perform continuous, vigorous physical activity such as running, biking, or swimming for an hour or more, you may benefit from a drink with electrolytes. If you have the flu and have been suffering from vomiting or diarrhea for a long time, it may also be worth getting one checked out.

Finally, if you’re wondering if you’re dehydrated and in need of electrolytes, say after a hot yoga class, there are some things to watch out for that may be signs of dehydration. These include dry mouth, excessive thirst, lethargy, muscle weakness or fatigue, dark urine or dizziness. If you find this happening regularly, you’ll want to see your primary care physician to see if there are other causes.

According to Healthline, electrolytes are “minerals that help your body perform various vital functions, such as hydration, muscle contractions, pH balance, and nerve signaling.” They also stated that, for the most part, “a balanced diet and adequate water intake are sufficient to maintain electrolyte levels.” Still, if you experience any of the above symptoms or need to replenish during a prolonged workout, the above options are all good.

“When choosing a sports drink for a sweaty workout or over an hour of exercise, I recommend looking for a drink with at least 300 milligrams of potassium and at least 80 milligrams of sodium,” said Isabel Smith. , MS, RD, CDN. Very well suited, “A drink like coconut water – with minimal added flavors and colors – is my favorite.” Out of personal preference, you may need to play around with a variety of the above to find a type and flavor you like and see how your body reacts after a sweat session to decide if you want to invest long term.

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