Sports Drink Review

A woman carrying a water bottle runs with a group on a trail through the woods

A line-up of our favorite hydrating tabs and mixes

When it comes to hydration, drinking plain ol’ water isn’t always enough, especially in sweltering summer months. That’s because when you sweat, your lose key electrolytes like sodium, magnesium and potassium that you need for your muscles and nerves to carry out key functions. If you’re only working out for an hour or less, it’s generally pretty easy to replenish depleted stores during your post run meal (and whole food nutrition is always preferred). But, after long efforts or strenuous activity in the heat, adding an electrolyte mix to your water might be exactly what you need.


Best for: general post-workout and anytime hydration for busy folk on the go

Our favorite flavors: Strawberry Lemonade and Cherry Limeade

nuun has a variety of drink tablets that dissolve to create a lightly effervescent electrolyte drink mix designed for optimal hydration with electrolyte and vitamin replacement. They’re lightly flavored, are simple and easy to use (roughly one tab per bottle of water) and are extremely portable. What’s more, nuun uses clean ingredients without the added sugar, so you can feel good about replacing electrolytes without also overloading your bloodstream with the sweet stuff.

If you’re feeling overtrained or under the weather, try the latest tab, nuun immunity. It’s an immune-system boosting tab full of electrolytes, anti-inflammatories and anti-oxidants. It’s got ingredients like tumeric, ginger, elderberry, zinc and echinacea that are proven to help fight infection. Drink it cold or hot like tea.

Since nuun tabs are low calorie, you’ll need caloric replacement during long, hard bouts of endurance training. If you enjoy nuun and need something for long runs, nuun does make a powdered drink mix called nuun performance with the right amount of electrolytes and carbohydrates to fuel you for the long haul.


GU Tabs and Mixes

Best for: They’ve got something for everyone

Our favorite flavors: Vanilla Cream (Recovery Drink Mix) and Grape (Roctane Energy Drink Mix)

While you probably know GU best for their ever-expanding line of energy gels, the endurance sports-focused company makes a gamut of electrolyte and energy replacement products, too.

We’re excited about their new drink tabs (similar dissolving effervescent tabs like nuun). They each have 350 mg of sodium and 10 calories. Like nuun, they’re low calorie, easy to transport and convenient. Xylitol is used to sweeten the tabs, one of few low-calorie sweeteners that actually won’t upset your stomach or cause harm.

Unlike the tabs, Roctane Ultra Endurance Energy Mix packs a whopping 250 calories into a single serving, which means it well suited to high-intensity workouts. It’s also got a hefty dose of sodium and amino acids (including taurine). Good news: it’s sweetened with the easy to process combo of the simple sugars maltodextrin and fructose.

And, finally, you can even get your recovery drink from GU, too. And the Vanilla Cream is oh so good. It’s got whey protein isolate, dextrose, electrolytes and all the amino acids you need to speed recovery. It’s 190 calories per serving.


Skratch Labs Drink Mixes

Best for: anytime hydration and endurance runs and rides

Our favorite flavors: Raspberry and Passion Fruit

As the name suggests, Skratch Labs products were born when company founder, scientist and pro cycling coach, Dr. Allen Lim started making his own training foods and sports drinks because he was tired of the gut-turning artificial ingredients so prevalent in sports nutrition. He also wasn’t to keen on all the extra sugar most sports had. And so, he developed a recipe with substantially less sugar, substantially more electrolytes and real fruit flavors.

They have six different types of drink mixes ranging from a Wellness Hydration Mix (formulated as an illness recovery aid), to Anytime Hydration Mix (for yep, anytime) and even an exercise formula complete with simple sugars, electrolytes and real fruit to replace both calories and electrolytes during long efforts on the roads and trails.