After a cushy, multi-decade regime, those well-entrenched sport drink giants we’ve all seen dominating the convenience store coolers are starting to sweat, and for good reason.
As was reinforced time and time again by the most innovative hydration brands at Expo East 2022, you no longer have to settle for a sucralose and red-dye-40 cocktail just to hydrate yourself more effectively than water.
In fact, most of the hydration brands we met were so clean and potent—shoutout to Biolyte and Trace Minerals—that they really do give you that “IV drip” experience they claim to provide.
Here’s what we mean, starting off with one of the most well-balanced, physician-formulated hydration drinks we’ve encountered to date.
Somehow, Biolyte has made the prospect of an IV drip seem fun and easy.
Of course, they weren’t jabbing anybody at the expo, but rather, touting their physician-formulated hydration drinks made to mimic the potency and electrolyte profile of an actual IV drip, which pack quite a punch in the electrolytes department.
If you haven’t caught the gist yet, these NSF-certified hydration bombs aren’t for the casually thirsty; think of them as more of a life raft for a nutritionally depleted body.
You’d have to drink six of the leading sports drinks to equal what’s in this one bottle.Brian Grudzinskas, Key Accounts Manager at Biolyte
“You’d have to drink six of the leading sports drinks to equal what’s in this one bottle,” explained Biolyte Key Accounts Manager Brian Grudzinskas to our team as he brandished a few of their colorfully labeled hydration drinks.
Much more than just salt and sugar (which, make no mistake, are both important to hydration and tissue recovery) Biolyte also contains liver-cleansing milk thistle, L-carnitine, ginger root extract, and plenty of vitamin B, among other savvy additions.
“Whether you’ve overdone it the night before or have had a huge workout the day of, this will get you hydrated,” Brian added, to which we would add that they’ve got a strong case for muscle soreness recovery and stress management as well.
You definitely won’t want to be kicking back multiple bottles (or even one) of Biolyte a day if you aren’t really “slaying” workouts, as the kids say, but for those who do put their bodies to the test, we can’t deny that Biolyte is bringing far more to the table nutritionally than the vast majority of drinks we’ve seen.
And hey, they were pretty good!
Immediately passing the vibe check with a jovial and welcoming attitude, the Liquid I.V. team was a fun booth to visit, and we dig where they’re going with the product(s).
Liquid I.V. is a powdered electrolyte mix that, according to Sales Marketing Coordinator Matt Perez, “Mixes the sugar and electrolytes with essential vitamins as well to get into your bloodstream,” which enhances hydration.
A closer look at the labels reveals that Perez’s claims are not lofty marketing-speak, but in fact grounded in a sound formulation, as Liquid I.V. products contain high concentrations of B vitamins, vitamin C, and several key electrolytes and nutrients.
The proprietary CTT® delivery system that Matt makes mention of relies on specific ratios of potassium, sodium, and glucose to “accelerate the absorption of solute and water into the bloodstream,” according to the brand website.
Speaking of glucose, Liquid I.V. keeps it to 11 grams of added sugar per stick (a full serving when mixed with 16oz of water), which is right around where we want electrolyte beverages to be, provided the micronutrients are in balance.
As for any comparisons to Biolyte, we’re throwing our hands up a bit, to be honest—both products are highly potent and comprehensive in how they alleviate various stressors on the body. Perhaps in-depth reviews of each brand will reveal a frontrunner.
We will say that Liquid I.V. seems to be maxing out the convenience factor, considering how the small package of powder is more portable than a bottle, and the rapidly growing list of flavors/varieties (even a powdered Green Apple kombucha!) is not to be easily outdone.
A visible wave of jitters and flushed-face claims of camera shyness immediately gave way to a very well-worded elevator pitch by Nuun Regional Manager Katie Flad as soon as we said “go,” so take a breath, Katie, ya done good!
As Katie explained, Nuun is an effervescent electrolyte tablet that—thanks to a growing product catalog—has several applications beyond general hydration covered.
“We have a sport line, we have vitamins, we have immunity and energy, we have something for everybody.”
They aren’t just talking about one or two flavors and varieties of each, either; the Nuun catalog is well flushed out in each of these categories.
Another layer of versatility that Nuun brings to the table is their three-tiered hydration scale (electrolyte levels 1, 2, and 3) that they integrate within the aforementioned categories.
For example, the sport tablets are set at electrolyte level 2, which is aptly dubbed the “sport hydration” level by Nuun.
We have a sport line, we have vitamins, we have immunity and energy, we have something for everybody.Katie Flad, Regional Manager at Nuun
If you’re not powerlifting and/or killing the cardio every day, the Nuun Daily Hydration selection is set at level 1 (what they call “wellness hydration”).
This distinction is hugely important for consumer convenience, education, and safety because many people ignore the fact that your electrolyte balance can be thrown off in either direction, not just in the case of deficiency (excessive/imbalanced electrolyte consumption can promote hypernatremia, hyperkalemia, etc. They’re no fun).
And even though we just informally gave Liquid IV the mantle in terms of the most convenient/portable hydration product, Nuun’s discrete ten-count tubes of hydration tablets just may have usurped it!
“Why is that guy at the Trace Minerals booth probing a potato?”
We had planned to give the Trace Minerals booth a visit either way, but this slap-up science experiment they had going on definitely enticed us a bit more.
Turns out, Trace Minerals Manager of Education and Training Dr. Darrin Starkey—a board-certified naturopathic physician—was using the unwitting spud and some other produce items to demonstrate just how lacking our food supply is in trace minerals.
We’re only as healthy as our soil is fertile.Dr. Darrin Starkey, Manager of Education and Training at Trace Minerals
The potato, banana, and other food items Dr. Starkey had on hand would barely illuminate the light at the other end of the probe, which was sensing the electrical energy from the ionized minerals in the foods, but a single drop of trace minerals into a beaker caused the bulb to burn much brighter.
As all good doctors do, Dr. Starkey was not hesitant to hit us with some inconvenient, but necessary truth bombs, explaining “We’re only as healthy as our soil is fertile,” later elaborating that even if you eat fruits and vegetables, it’s often not enough to meet your trace mineral requirements.
Another unfortunate, but highly important point he shared with us (can you tell we love the science types?) is that humans are not able to derive the nutrients they need from filtered, bottled, and/or distilled water—we need to put the minerals back into our diet.
Thankfully, modern manufacturing has made resolving this issue as simple as adding a few Trace Minerals drops to your water. Easy peasy.
Speaking of their drops, Trace Minerals has gone well beyond the catch-all option to provide a vast selection of targeted products, including concentrate-boosting mineral drops, liquid gut health formulas, ionic biotin and collagen, and several dozen more.
No crazy flavors, no over-hyped marketing claims, just—you know—saving lives and stuff.
And if that last bit about saving lives sounds a bit melodramatic, we’ll close with the final doctor-ism delivered with perfect dryness by Dr. Starkey: “The very definition of death, by the way, is not when our heart stops beating, but when all the electrical impulses in our brains stop.”
Subscribe now and never miss anything about the topics important to you and your health.