Best Electrolyte Powders Of 2022, According To Experts – Forbes Health

To understand what electrolyte powder is and the benefits it provides, it’s important to first understand that electrolytes are essential minerals (like sodium, calcium and potassium, among many others) that perform many different functions in the body, including keeping you hydrated, balancing your pH levels and more. “When electrolytes are dissolved in water, they naturally have either a positive or a negative charge. This allows them to conduct electricity,” says Wendy Lord, a registered dietitian in Johannesburg, South Africa. “The optimal electrolyte balance ensures that nerve impulses are transmitted successfully from one nerve to another, and that muscle fibers contract normally. Electrolytes are also essential for maintaining the amount of fluid in the body.”

Electrolyte powder contains electrolytes (and sometimes a carbohydrate) and is generally mixed with water. These powders are simply the powdered form of the electrolyte drinks we often see athletes chugging, and electrolyte solutions are also used as a treatment for those suffering from dehydration due to health issues.

Most of us can maintain a stable level of these key minerals in our bodies through the foods we eat and beverages we drink on a regular, low-activity day, but, “when people lose fluid from their bodies, they also lose essential minerals, ” says Lord. “If you have been ill with vomiting and diarrhea, or you have engaged in some strenuous physical activity that resulted in you sweating a lot, you may need to replace the electrolytes that have been lost along with the fluid.”

Electrolyte powders are a simple and effective way to provide the body with the minerals it needs. “In other words, it’s an immediate gap-stop for vital functions that are put under constant demand in normal daily function—and under extra pressure when we’re active,” says Kirsten Screen, a registered dietitian and certified dietitian nutrition coach.

As an integrative performance dietitian in Charlotte, North Carolina, Screen helps her clients find the right nutrition—including electrolyte powders—to meet the demands of their active lifestyles. The fact that the products recommended by our panelists differed greatly aligns with what she knows to be true. “Different electrolyte powders provide different compositions of these minerals, particularly sodium, potassium and magnesium,” she says.

Benefits of Electrolyte Powder

The real benefit of using electrolyte powder is it’s a simple and effective way to provide the body with the minerals it needs to replenish enzymes, support hormones and regulate fluid balance, says Screen—particularly in situations where, without that boost, we would experience electrolyte depletion.

“Electrolyte powders fill a gap and extend time to exhaustion of processes within the body,” she adds. “For example, when we’re working out and constantly losing sodium through sweat, breath and urine, electrolyte powders replenish that sodium so we don’t bonk [also known as ‘hitting the wall’ due to severe depletion of glycogen stores]—or worse, go into true hyponatremia and require medical attention.”

During exercise, and especially if we’re training for a challenging goal and want to improve our performance, keeping processes governed by electrolyte balance working properly is key to working out for as long and hard as we need in order to achieve certain goals. “Electrolyte powders provide a steady resource of solute (minerals) so our bodies can hold on to solvent (fluid) more efficiently and thus keep us hydrated,” says Screen.

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