There’s not much worse than returning from a great run, only to be hit by a wave of nausea, dizziness, or headaches that ruins the rest of your day. This can happen even if you think you’ve drunk enough water during your run, and the effects can be lasting, cutting into your recovery.
Many times, these terrible feelings are simply caused by an electrolyte imbalance. Plain water is enough for short and easy runs, but electrolyte tablets (or powders) are a supplement all runners should keep handy. Something as simple as a nutrient deficiency in your body can cause some serious health complaints!
Electrolyte tablets are easy to slip into a vest or belt pocket and add to your water bottle on the run. It’s true that every runner reacts differently to supplements, so you may need to experiment a little to find the right one for you. Why carry tablets with you rather than just mix up a bottle prior to your run? Because if you end up refilling your bottle, you can mix a fresh batch of hydration while out on the road, keeping your electrolytes topped up for the duration.
While you will inevitable prefer one product over the others, everything we’ve reviewed is of good quality and will help you get that body balance back to how it should be.
Our first choice is the Nuun Sport Electrolyte Tablet. It’s available in a variety of flavors to suit every taste, contains a blend of optimal electrolytes, and is vegan, gluten-free, and low-calorie.
Here’s the full list of our top electrolyte tablets.
Top 3 Best and Favorites
GU Hydration Drink Tabs
Science in Sport Go Hydro Electrolyte Tablets
1. Nuun Sport
Nuun Sport electrolyte tablets are formulated with 4 of the main electrolytes that need replenishing after a good run.
In terms of ingredients, they’re suitable for just about anyone, being vegan, non-GMO, gluten-free, and even kosher!
If you like to count calories as part of your fitness, one of these fizzies will set you back all of 15 calories, with 2 grams of carbs. On the other hand, that means you can’t use Nuun as fuel, per se…you’ll need to get your fuel from a different source.
Drop one of these effervescent tabs into your water bottle, and it will be dissolved and ready to drink in less than 3 minutes, so you won’t lose any time getting those electrolytes back into your body.
The one thing that may deter some runners is that they’re sweetened with Stevia. Some may not enjoy the taste, and others may have had bad reactions to Stevia in the past.
If you’re happy with their sweetening choice, you can choose from watermelon, tri-berry, strawberry lemonade, lemon-lime, fruit punch, grape, and many other flavors.
We love that these tablets are so suitable for just about any runner out there, which is what wins them top spot!
- Many flavors to choose from
- 15 calories per tablet
- Contains 4 key electrolytes
- Dissolves in less than 3 minutes
- Some may not enjoy the taste of Stevia
2. GU Hydration Drink Tabs
The GU Hydration tabs are similar to our top choice. They come in four flavors: strawberry lemonade, tri-berry, orange, and lemon-lime. No matter what your taste preference, there’ll be something for you.
They’re slightly lower in calories than our first product, at 10 calories per tablet. That may not seem like anything to care much about, but when you’re counting (and drinking a few of these a day) every little bit can add up!
You’ll find a mix of sodium, potassium, and 3 grams of carbs in these tablets. They seem to be focused on replenishing sodium, which is one of the most important and most easily lost electrolytes.
This tab has been manufactured using their new formula, which has replaced sorbitol with Xylitol as a sweetener. They’re sufficiently sweet, but some runners may prefer something without Xylitol if their stomachs don’t enjoy it.
They’re also quick-dissolving, but a short waiting time is necessary before they’re fully dissolved.
- 4 different flavors
- Focused on replacing sodium
- 10 calories per tablet
- Some runners may not enjoy the taste of Xylitol
Best for Long Runs
3. Science in Sport Go Hydro Electrolyte Tablets
It’s always good to find supplements that are backed by science. You’ll find sodium, potassium, phosphorus, magnesium, calcium, and vitamin B6 in these fizzies, along with a few other useful things.
Green tea extract also adds a bit of a caffeine dose, which should spur you on nicely during a run.
They claim to be “lightly flavored,” so there should be only a subtle hint of fruitiness when you drink it. Some runners have mentioned that there’s a bit of a chalky residue left behind when drinking, but others seem to be fine with it, so you may have to try it for yourself and see if you’re happy.
The biggest complaint seems to be that the sweetener used in these tablets (sucralose) causes digestive upset in some people.
With 20 tablets per tube, you’re getting good value for money when buying this one!
- 20 tablets per tube
- Lightly flavored
- Scientifically proven effective sodium levels
- The sucralose sweetener may taste bad to some
- Some customers have complained of a chalky residue when drinking
4. Ultima Replenisher
If you dislike carrying around a chunky tube, or aren’t sure how to take a single tablet with you safely on a run, you may prefer these – small packets of powder.
They’re also perfectly suitable for just about any type of runner. The powder is vegan-friendly, gluten-, soy- and dairy-free, contains no caffeine, and is non-GMO.
It also has zero calories! It won’t make even a tiny dent in your eating if you’re counting. Stevia is the sweetener of choice. That might not suit everyone, but it is effective and calorie-free.
One dose of this powder contains calcium, magnesium, potassium, phosphorus, sodium, and chloride – the big 6 to keep you in the best shape.
It’s also super easy to just slip one packet into a pocket before heading out on your run.
- Zero calories
- Sweetened with Stevia
- Contains 6 major electrolytes
- The powder may form clumps in the packet and become hard to get out of the pouch
Top Tabs with Caffeine
5. Nuun Sport + Caffeine
If you’re the type of person who needs their coffee in the morning to wake up, a tablet with a splash of caffeine in it might work best for you! Even beyond your morning coffee, caffeine is a gentle stimulant that can give your performance a gentle nudge.
Nuun Sport + Caffeine tablets are pretty similar to our top choice, just with an added dose of the good stuff.
As well as containing a super electrolyte blend, there’s also a vitamin B blend and 40mg of caffeine, so you may be able to run further for longer on one of these!
In terms of dissolvability, a tab is said to take less than three minutes from being dropped into your water bottle to being ready to down.
They’re also safe to ingest whether you’re an omnivore, vegan, calorie-counter (15kcal each), or Kosher eater.
- Contain a nice dose of caffeine for extra energy
- Several flavors available
- Mix of electrolytes and vitamins
- Suitable for all runners
- Some may not like the taste of Stevia
Best with Carbs
6. SKRATCH LABS Wellness Hydration Drink Mix
If you like a powder rather than a tablet, this 20-pack will keep you hydrated for a couple of weeks. It’s recommended to use 1 to 2 servings per hour of exercise, so it really depends on how often you exercise as to how quickly you’ll get through 20 packets.
They’re small and easy to carry with you, whether you’re going for a run, a hike, or simply taking a flight and want one handy.
There is a small amount of sugar in each sachet (4g per 100g), but they’re mostly flavored by real fruit. This reduces the amount of sugar needed, and eliminates the need for artificial sweeteners or alternate sweeteners.
With a range of different flavors, you’ll get a real fruity taste (although subtle) while replacing all those lost electrolytes.
- Easy for travel purposes
- Flavored by real fruit
- Electrolyte profile to match what’s lost during exercise
- Variety of flavors to choose from
- Slightly pricey
Best for Recovery
7. Revival Rehydration and Recovery
Hydration is an essential part of health, whether you’re a runner or not! When you sweat, you’re not only losing electrolytes, but water too. Considering the human body is around 70% water, losing some of it can throw things off balance.
This powder is designed to replenish electrolytes and rehydrate you at the same time. According to the manufacturer, it has 3 to 5 times the hydrating power of water!
In addition to its rehydrating properties, it contains essential electrolytes and a mix of vitamins. Although it says it contains no added sugar, one of the ingredients is dextrose, which is sugar.
Be aware that the blue colored powder can cause staining on your lips and teeth!
- Available in 6-pack, 12-pack, and 30-pack
- No added sugar
- 3 – 5x the hydration effect of water
- Contains 5 vitamins and minerals
- Colors may stain lips and teeth
8. Fluid Tactical Hydration
At less than a dollar per packet, this is our best value choice. Runners on a budget, these powders are for you!
Simply empty one packet into 16 ounces of water and it’ll be ready to drink almost immediately. With a range of flavors (and samples of each in the 20-pack) you won’t get bored with the flavors, although some report a lingering aftertaste.
Each one contains 5g of carbs and 20 calories, made up of the electrolyte you need and some added sugar for taste.
- Range of flavors so you never get bored
- 5g carbs, 20 calories per sachet
- 1 packet per 16 ounces of water
- Less than a dollar per sachet
- May have a slight lingering aftertaste
9. Vega Sport Hydrator
Vegan products are becoming easier to find, but it can sometimes seem like an impossible task to find the right thing for you.
Two of our above products are vegan, but we’ve chosen Vega as our top vegan electrolyte powder because it’s super easy to use, has no sugar, and only 5 calories per serving.
It’s been independently certified as a suitable supplement for sport by NSF International, which is a great credit to the product and means that it contains no banned substances or contaminants.
It’s sweetened using Stevia and the natural flavoring of coconut water powder. Coconut is one of those ingredients that some people’s stomachs may be sensitive to, so it’s wise to give this a trial run at home before taking one out on the road with you.
- No sugar
- 5 calories per serving
- NSF certified for sport
- 4 electrolytes and added vitamins
- Coconut water powder may cause digestive upset in some runners
Top With Zero Sugar
10. HIGH5 Zero
If you’re on a low- or no-sugar diet, it can be tough to find suitable supplements. Thankfully, many products these days are making the switch to alternative sweeteners, and this is one of them.
It’s sweetened with sucralose, which means there are zero calories and no sugar at all per packet. The downside is that sucralose can cause an upset stomach if too much is taken, so you’ll need to do some experimenting to find your sweet spot.
With 20 tablets per tube, you’re getting good value for money.
- Zero calories
- 20 tablets per tube
- Subtle fruity taste
- Sucralose can cause a sensitive stomach if used too frequently
If you aren’t sold on keeping a stash of the best of the above-listed electrolyte tablets for running, why not read through some of the most commonly asked questions to get a better idea of why they’re great to have?
Why Do Runners Need Electrolytes?
To understand why electrolytes are so important, you’ll need to know what they are. Electrolytes are minerals that hold an electrical charge. When we ingest them, they help the body perform its various processes, like creating energy from the food we eat or moving muscles as we run.
They play a large role in everyday things like regulating blood pressure and hormones and making our general movements easy and painless. It’s easy to lose electrolytes through sweat, which is why they’re such an important thing in the exercise world.
When we lose them, for example after a heavy run in which we sweated a lot, we need to replenish! That’s why electrolyte tablets and drinks are a running essential. They get electrolytes back into the body quickly.
When Should I Take Them?
You don’t need to take electrolytes every time you do any bit of exercise. They’re recommended for high-intensity exercise or long runs (more than an hour), or if you just happen to sweat a lot in warm weather.
You can take them before or during your run or exercise. If you run with a hydration vest or belt, it’s easy to slip a couple of packets or tablets into a pocket to take in on the run.
There shouldn’t be a need to take them after your run. A good post-workout meal should set your electrolytes right!
What Can Happen If My Electrolytes Are Imbalanced (too low or too high)?
An electrolyte imbalance can have some nasty side effects. Even if you don’t have health effects, you may notice that your performance suffers. That can be your cardio performance on a run, strength during a gym session, or even mental performance when taking part in your sport or even doing work.
The symptoms you’ll most likely feel include dizziness and nausea, a headache, cramping, and feeling weak and lethargic.
At the first sign of these, electrolytes should be replenished. If they aren’t, it could make the problem worse.
The most severe cases of electrolyte imbalances can lead to seizures, comas, cardiac arrest, and death.
What Are The Most Important Electrolytes for Runners?
All electrolytes are important in the body. But some get depleted faster than others, and need to be replaced more often. These include:
- Sodium: Maintains blood pressure, supports nerves, regulates fluid balance.
- Chloride: Balances fluid in the cells, maintains blood volume and body pH.
- Potassium: Helps nerves and muscles do their jobs effectively.
- Magnesium: Plays a big role in nerve and muscle function, as well as blood sugar levels.
- Calcium: Helps muscles move correctly and carries messages to the brain through nerves.
A good electrolyte tablet, powder, or drink should replenish all of these.