FOOD & COOKING

Best Hydration Drink: Searching for the Ultimate Hydration Product

Being active is becoming a part of the every-day life for almost everyone. Running, biking, swimming, hiking, or any combination of those activities are, literally, working their way into thousands of homes.

For people who are this active, they need the best hydration drink by their side to help them reach their full potential. They need to fuel their body with good food and beverage choices in order to perform to their highest levels.

Water is such a key nutrient that cleans, flushes, and hydrates our bodies but even water needs help to keep up with the demands we ask of our bodies. That’s where the best drink for hydration comes in.

They come in many brands, flavors, and uses, some specific to one sport and some more versatile, but they all have the same goal: hydrate the body under the toughest of conditions. The best hydration drink will aid you when you are running low on fuel. Between sets at the gym or on mile 18 of your marathon, it should be quick and easy to get a hold of and should pack enough punch for you to keep chugging along.

This is also a key issue in our everyday lives as well. It’s been proven that as a whole people are not drinking nearly enough water. We are drawn to sugar or caffeine in order to stay alert and awake when water would work the same way if it has a little boost of flavor and vitamins.

Healthy hydration drinks

Finding ways to stay hydrated the healthy way shouldn’t be this hard. There are plenty of options to choose from but first, you must evaluate the purpose that you are asking of this hydration supplement. Are you going on a strenuous hike or just walking to the store?

Will you be taking this for the last leg of your ultra-marathon or just to keep up with the kids at the park? Each scenario is absolutely a reason to stay hydrated but there are stronger hydration drinks than others and the price tag often correlates with that intensity.

Under The Lid: Qualities of The Best Hydration Drink

Sugars & Carbs

Too many people lose their minds when you talk to them about sugars and carbohydrates (carbs). This is such an important aspect because it is often misunderstood. Sugars and carbs both work together to give you energy.

Too much of either can be a bad thing and that’s why we evaluate this as a point because not everyone needs the same amount of either group. Marathoners or triathletes need more sugars and carbs to get them through their races, while the babysitter staying up late to watch kids might need the energy but without the lasting sugar and carbohydrate effects.

Under The Lid

Evaluation your own goals and needs will help you decide what kinds and what amount of carbs and sugars you will need in order to stay alert and hydrated. If you are hydrating and trying gain muscle a higher carb content hydration mix is a good choice. Distance runners who run for leisure may need the sugars during their runs but should eat carbs before the run and don’t necessarily need carbs during the run itself.

Main Ingredients

The ingredients list is also very important. Did you know that the order in which items are listed on the ingredients list is the measure of how much of those ingredients are in that mix? The first ingredient is always the highest that is found in the recipe.

That being said, making sure that the ingredients are good for you and are not cover-ups of “filler” items that won’t actually do you any good. A good rule to go by is that if you cannot read and understand the ingredients on the list, then being cautious is a good idea.

Bonk hydration drink ingredients

You should be able to identify, or at least look up, what that ingredient is to make sure it really is good for you. There is a lot of science that goes into these formulas and each ingredient should be put there to enhance the drink as a whole.

Multi-Health Attributes

This is something that is becoming more and more important for this day and age. With the many allergies and additional needs of many athletes worldwide it has been necessary for a business to respond and change with the needs of the consumer and the environment.

Gluten free products have had a huge growth spurt in the last 10-15 years due to more research showing the intolerance to gluten, often found in grains and bread. Dairy-free is another group that people have given huge importance to.

Vegan formulas are specialized for people who do not consume animal parts of any sort. Non-GMO is a group which emphasizes that the creation of their products are not made with Genetically Modified Organisms (GMO) during the process. The more people-friendly and health-friendly you can make your product the more people will accept and appreciate their needs being met.

Calories

Calories are an important part of every human’s life. We need them to keep ourselves sustained and with energy. Calories are not a bad thing! The thing to remember is that often topics that are demonized are only bad when used in excess. We need calories to survive.

Amara hydration drink calories

Taking calories into consideration when choosing a hydration drink that is right for you is important simply because each of us has different goals. Olympic weightlifters need more calories during their workout to continue to feed their body during exertion.

Some people are using the hydration beverage to stop drinking things like pop or other sugary drinks and need to watch the caloric intake in order to lose weight. For the different goals of many consumers, there has to be a variance of calories per scoop of each hydration drink.

Flavors

Flavor is an important factor only in the sense of personal preference. The point of using favors as a defining factor is whether the company is reaching for multiple flavors to bring in more consumers. You are much more willing to try that hydration drink again, even if you didn’t like the flavor you first chose because it has ten other flavors.

If you try it once and dislike it and it’s the only flavor produced then there is no way they are getting any more of your money. 

Drink It All In

Skratch Labs Exercise Hydration Drink

Skratch Labs Exercise Hydration Drink

Sugars & Carbs: 20g Sugars & 20g Carbohydrates

Main Ingredients: Cane Sugar, Dextrose, Sodium Citrate, Citric Acid, Magnesium Lactate, Calcium Citrate, Potassium citrate, Ascorbic Acid (Vitamin C)

Multi-Health Attributes: Non-GMO, Gluten Free, Dairy Free, Vegan

Flavors: Raspberry, Lemon & Lime, Orange, Pineapple, Matcha & Lemon, Apple & Cinnamon

Calories: 80 Calories per Scoop

Best Uses: Sports, Nutrition, Personal Care, Exercise, Weight Lifting, Cardio

Description: If you are bored with you current drink then Skratch Labs most likely has a flavor you will enjoy. With six flavors to choose from this brand will never let you get bored. This brand is also going to be highly sought after because of their added health attributes.

They feature so many flavors that are all non-GMO, Gluten and Dairy free, and Vegan. This opens up a wide range of consumers that other products don’t often think of. Although its first ingredient is cane sugar and each scoop contains about 20 g of those sugars, this is offset a bit by the other very important vitamins and minerals it does have such as sodium and potassium.

Both sodium and potassium help keep the good salts in your muscles and bloodstream and keep you from getting cramps in your muscles.

Hammer Gel Nutrition Heed Sports Energy Drink

Hammer Gel Nutrition Heed Sports Energy Drink

Sugars & Carbs: 2g Sugars & 27g Carbohydrates

Main Ingredients: Maltodextrin, Xylitol, Natural Flavor, Calcium Chelate, Potassium Chelate, Magnesium Chelate, Salt, L-Carnosine, Stevia, Glycine, Tyrosine, Manganese Chelate, Chromium Polynicotinate

Multi-Health Attributes: Gluten & Dairy Free

Flavors: Lemon & Lime, Mandarin Orange, Melon, Strawberry, Unflavored

Calories: 100 Calories per Scoop

Best Uses: Sports, Nutrition, Exercise, Weight Lifting, Cardio

Description: HEED Hammer Gel hydration drink packs a powerful punch. A high content of carbohydrates at 27 grams per serving is made for those really burning their bodies up. An added benefit is that there are very little sugars, only two grams per serving and no added artificial sugars or sweeteners.

This drink is designed like a real energy drink, but lacking the harmful ingredients that can actually take away from your workout when they’re used. This company is making sure that the sugars are not being used to “fill” or replace the carbohydrates when your body needs them most. They give you a solid boost of energy that will carry you through the toughest workouts.

With that in mind, the heavy carb content of this drink would not be the best for those trying specifically to lose weight unless you are really exerting yourself. For those who are not lifting or cross-training and using cardio only as a source of fat loss may want to steer clear of this.

Using a drink like this would be perfect before a workout for anyone, but use during a workout is for those giving their body a beating.

Gu Roctane Sports Gel

Gu Roctane Sports Gel

Sugars & Carbs: 6g Sugars & 21g Carbohydrates

Main Ingredients: Maltodextrin, Water, Fructose, L-Leucine, Taurine, Sodium Citrate, L-Valine, Citric Acid, Natural Flavors, Potassium Citrate, Calcium Carbonate, Beta-Alanine, Green Tea Leaf Extract (Contains Caffeine), L-Isoleucine, Sea Salt, Gellan Gum, Medium Chain Triglycerides, Sodium Benzoate, Potassium Sorbate

Multi-Health Attributes: Gluten Free, Vegan

Flavors: Vanilla & Orange, Blueberry & Pomegranate, Cherry & Lime, Pineapple, Lemonade, Strawberry & Kiwi, Chocolate & Coconut, Sea Salt Chocolate, Vanilla Spice

Calories: 100 Calories per Gel

Best Uses: Sports, Exercise, Weight Lifting, Distance Running, Cross-Training

Description: Maybe the most notable difference from other products in comparison is that the GU Roctane Sports Gel is so multi-functional.

It contains caffeine for energy, although resulting to using caffeine for energy is not always the most healthful choice, and that it includes what are called amino acids (leucine, valine, and isoleucine) that are used and blended into your drink to reduce fatigue and also decrease muscle damage that happens during your workout.

These gels are used for athletes putting their bodies to the ultimate test. You will find these gels used as a quick energy shot between heavy squat sets or on mile 25 of a marathon. They are not for the average yoga or cardio master.

At 100 calories per serving, you want to make sure you are doing enough activity to burn off what you take in so that none of that sugar is left over to be stored as fat. Another beauty to this gel is that it is so easy to carry with you. You don’t need to mix this in your bulky water bottle to reap the benefits.

Place it in a small pouch of your backpack or carry it on a long run for use at the optimal time.

Nuun All Day: Hydration Tablets

Nuun All Day: Hydration Tablets

Sugars & Carbs: 0g Sugars & 1g Carbohydrates

Main Ingredients: Vitamin A, Vitamin C, Vitamin D, Vitamin E, Magnesium, Riboflavin, Citric Acid, Sorbitol, Natural Flavors, Stevia Leaf Extract, Natural Color, Wheat Germ Oil

Multi-Health Attributes: No Caffeine

Flavors: Tangerine & Lime, Grape & Raspberry, Blueberry & Pomegranate, Grapefruit & Orange

Calories: ~8 Calories Per Tablet

Best Uses: Personal Care, Exercise, Sports, Cardio

Description: Nuun All Day is one of the best combinations for those who want a little bit of everything. Nuun All Day treats you to very little sugar, very few carbohydrates, no caffeine, and yet gives you almost all of your daily allowance of key vitamins and minerals all in one super convenient tablet that quickly dissolves into your bottle.

This is not the hydration drink needed for those trying to build muscle or sustain performance at a high level, but this drink is much more versatile. This is something you can drink at home, at work, in the car, watching TV, and during your exercise session.

It may not give you all the energy and carbs your body needs to do high-level exertion, but this will hydrate you and make you want to drink more! It has multiple flavors and 17 vitamins and minerals that will keep you coming back for more.

They come in slender tubes that are easy to take in a backpack or purse on the go. You won’t hassle with a large resealable bag with powder that flies all over with a gust of air. These tablets are one of the most convent ways for you to get your hydration needs met and a little more spring in your step.

Related: Nuun Active, Nuun Energy

Vfuel Endurance Drink Mix

Vfuel Endurance Drink Mix

Sugars & Carbs: 49g Sugars & 49g Carbohydrates

Main Ingredients: Non-GMO Dextrose, Sea Salt, Taurine, Glucuronolactone, Sodium Citrate, Ornithine Alpha-Ketoglutarate (OKG), Organic Black Cherry Flavor, Citrulline Malate, Potassium Chloride, Magnesium Aspartate, Organic Cola Flavor, Potassium Sorbate, Calcium Citrate, Potassium Aspartate

Multi-Health Attributes: Non-GMO

Flavors: Black Cherry Cola, Cool Lime, Ginger Twist, Tangerine Cream

Calories: 200 Calories per Packet

Best Uses: Sports, Exercise, Weight Lifting, Distance Running, Cross-Training

Description: VFuel Endurance drink is for just that: endurance. It is made and formulated for those putting stress on their bodies for a long time. With a whopping 49 grams of sugars and carbs, this drink packet is mixed into your drink to help you sustain peak performance for hours if necessary. This isn’t the leisurely drink mix for the yoga or simple cardio user.

It packs 200 calories into each packet and these are heavy-duty calories at that. With minimal fillers and the fact that it’s also loaded with amino acids used specifically for muscle building and helping recover from that damage, this is a drink for lifters, endurance athletes, marathoners, etc.

They have added specific ingredients to ensure that their formula is easy to digest and easy on your stomach while it works its internal magic to ensure you are in top performing shape every minute of your workout.

Tailwind Nutrition Endurance Fuel

Tailwind Nutrition Endurance Fuel

Sugars & Carbs: 25g Sugars & 25g Carbohydrates

Main Ingredients: Non-GMO Dextrose (Glucose), Non-GMO Sucrose, Citric Acid, Sodium Citrate, Sea Salt, Organic Flavor, Potassium Chloride, Magnesium Citrate, Calcium Carbonate

Multi-Health Attributes: Gluten, Dairy, Soy Free, Vegan

Flavors: Mandarin Orange, Berry, Lemon, Unflavored (Naked)

Calories: 100 Calories per Scoop

Best Uses: Sports, Exercise, Weight Lifting, Distance Running, Cross-Training

Description: Tailwind Endurance Fuel is one of the best combinations of energy, fuel, hydration, and electrolytes. It’s in the average range of calories per serving, but each serving holds most of its calories in the sugars and carbs. This is ideal for high-performance athletes of any type.

With the versatility to reach many athletes needs as well as those in high endurance areas, make it a force to be reckoned with. It features a tasty, and light flavor that isn’t overwhelming and keeps you wanting to drink more. It is also quick-dissolving with minimal film left behind on your water bottle like some mixes leave behind.

There are no dyes in any of their flavors either! For athletes needing more sustenance, they suggest more than one single scoop to get you through your workout which may be more inconvenient than just one quick scoop.

Bottoms Up!

Hundreds of flavors, uses, and names to remember! Don’t be too distracted by all of the things that each brand has to offer. There are so many to choose from where do we even start? The first and most important thing to remember when choosing the best drink for hydration is to evaluate why you are using it.

There are specific uses and goals that one should have before choosing a hydration drink. Your goals may range from big to small and everywhere in between, but knowing you own personal goals is the most important thing. Don’t buy the drink everyone else is using just to fit in.  Don’t just buy the drink you saw featured in that magazine once. Choose the hydrating drink that suits your individual needs best.

Are you a long distance runner? Are you a heavy weight lifter? Are you a CrossFit athlete? Are you a Yoga teacher? Are you just a super busy parent with a high-stress job? There is nothing better or worse about each of these roles, but each role has different needs.

Yoga teachers need to be flexible and relaxed and may not want a drink that makes them feel bloated or jittery so naturally steering clear of the heavy carb/sugar drinks and the drinks for energy that may contain caffeine is a good idea. If you are a marathoner or ultra marathoner, you want something that is quick energy during those miles that seem to last a lifetime.

hydration drinks on the table

A quick gel or tablet is easy to carry, but you need the carbs and sugars to keep your energy levels up so your pace doesn’t drop. Are you a bodybuilder or weight lifter? Choose something you can drink before, during, and after your workouts. You need the carbs to give you energy, you need the extra vitamins and minerals to help with recovery and repairing of muscle damage. You need something with some boost that will keep you focused and in the zone before you go under the bar.

Whatever your goal may be, there is a drink out there for you, but don’t forget the main purpose of these drinks is to hydrate you. Hydration is such a key component to being an all-around healthy individual. Studies have shown that we, as a society, do not drink enough water over the course of a day.

We are busy, active, and stressed people but our health should not suffer. Find a drink that matches your goals and is something that you want to keep drinking. Once you find the perfect drink for hydration that fits your goals then, well, bottoms up!

ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Rebecca J. Crawford
Rebecca J. Crawford

Rebecca lives in USA, but loves hiking all over the world. Her favourite is Everest Base Camp Trek in Nepal. It usually takes 16 days, but she likes to slow down, enjoy mountains, company of other adventurers and take more pictures, so it took her 28 days last time. Another passion of Rebecca is ocean, so all short and long hikes along the ocean shore bring a lot of joy.

  • Cheryl Murphy

    Gatorade used to be my drink of choice for ultra marathons but after a few hours of running, the strong taste can make me slightly nauseous. Tailwind has a much milder taste and it is not as syrupy as Gatorade. It also helps that you can mix it in whatever concentration you want. I generally use the caffeinated ones for my morning runs and when I race.

  • Judy Gray

    The GU Roctane Sports Gel is great in giving you an energy boost if you do workouts/sports for more than an hour. If you also run long distances this can give you the stamina and mental focus you need to finish your race. It’s also convenient that you can just swallow the gel than mix it in water. If you are very particular about taste, you can try the Chocolate Coconut flavor.

  • Rebecca J. Crawford

    Thanks for dropping by Cheryl! There are a lot of excellent hydration drink in the market today, but you still have to choose one based on taste preference. If worse comes to worst and you are thinking of other options, the DIY route is always open for you to try. Most are concerned with some high calorie options so always check the labels before buying.

  • Rebecca J. Crawford

    Thanks for the tip and the valuable input Judy! Hydrating our bodies are crucial during intense physical activities. We have to make sure that there’s enough water and other hydration beverages for that “deep thirst” that our body often feels.

  • Joyce Grant

    Nuun All Day Hydrating Vitamin & Electrolyte Tablets are my go to energy tabs. I used to be a big fun of Gatorade but since I discovered Nuun, I have not looked back. The tablets are easy to carry around so I have them on me wherever and its takes me less than 5 minutes to have my water ready for drinking. I like that the tablets only add a hint of flavour to my water without going overboard, but if you are looking for a strongly flavoured energy drink, then Nuun is not for you.

  • Rebecca J. Crawford

    Hi Joyce! I love the Nuun, especially since it’s low calorie – 8 calories per tablets! For people who are watching their weight or counting calories, this is good news! Don’t you just love their flavors? What more, they easily slip inside the purse, which is very convenient.

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