The best hydration and electrolyte powders for golfers
Chances are, you are not hydrating properly on the golf course and it may be impacting your game. Especially in extreme heat or recovering from an illness, staying hydrated will help you stay focused, prevent fatigue and keep your body feeling fresher longer. While not intended to replace your regular water intake, hydration powders are an excellent way to avoid dehydration by replacing electrolytes and even add some extra vitamins to fuel you through the round. We tested several hydration powders to evaluate which is the best for golf. Each product went through several evaluations on taste, ease-of-use, how the drink maintained taste and texture after being out in the hot sun and had our experts compare the nutrition facts and ingredients to figure out which were the best. Here are our results for best hydration and electrolyte powers for golfers.
Winners: Best Hydration and Electrolyte Powders for Golfers
Ultima Replenisher Electrolyte Hydration Powder (Lemonade)
This zero-calorie powder contains zero carbs, fat and sugar (does contain stevia). The lemonade flavor we tested was sweet, almost like a sorbet dessert with a touch of salt. Our reviewers described it as “refreshing” even after it sat out in the sun all day. There was some sediment after being mixed vigorously with water, but it didn’t impact the taste or texture in our trials.
Nuun Sport Hydration (Citrus Fruit)
The benefits of a tablet over powder packets is that golfers can store a tube of these in their golf bag to always have a boost of electrolytes on hand. You have to break the tablets to fit into most single-use water bottles, but we suggest reusable water bottles for a more sustainable hydration. Nuun has a slightly carbonated taste and takes longer to dissolve than some powders we tested, but the clean ingredients and nutritional values are what put this product among the top tested.
Liquid IV Hydration Multiplier (Tropical Punch)
While slightly more expensive per stick, Liquid IV is a fan-favorite for golfers on and off the course. It’s a tasty mix you can find at almost any grocery store. We won’t ignore the higher sugar content (11 grams added sugar), but will applaud the mix for containing high levels of sodium and potassium—two of the major electrolytes the body loses when it sweats.
Hydrant Hydrate Electrolyte Drink Mix (Blood Orange)
Hydrant’s flavors are subtle for those looking for a more flavored-water taste over a sports drink or juice-like drink. Our testers enjoyed the lightness of the blood-orange flavor, how quickly it dissolved in water and noted that the flavor almost improved after it sat in the sun for a full day.
DripDrop Electrolyte Powder (Hot)
Drip Drop offers both a hot and cold version of its electrolyte powders. We tested the açaí cold powder and cinnamon apple hot version. The thin packets design made them easy to pour into a water bottle without spilling powder, both dissolved quickly, and the flavors were strong and pleasant overall. Our testers preferred the hot version slightly over the cold for its unique flavor and noting it would be enjoyable to sip during chilly morning rounds to rehydrate after coffee.
Goodonya Hydrate Electrolyte + Mineral Powder
This powder does not come in sticks and our testers were split in the rankings. Some said they appreciated that it left less waste than single-use packets, while others lamented its lack of portability. During taste tests, it performed well as a thirst-quencher with a light citrus taste and dissolved clear, so it looked like water even with the powder mixed in. It is also one of few Certified Organic electrolyte powders on the market.
Gnarly Hydrate Drink Mix (Raspberry)
Testers described Gnarly’s raspberry flavor as pleasant, with a light floral taste. It has a more watery flavor with a slightly warming sensation, likely from the sodium. It’s low in sugar, with only 4 grams, and contains five B Vitamins to boost energy metabolism.
Everything you need to know about hydration
powders for golf
Now found in grocery stores and gym bags across the country, it’s easy to forget that hydration powders are a relatively new invention. The first sports drink traces its history to the 1920s, and the first dissolvable powder marketed for sports launched a few decades later. But what exactly is a hydration powder, and how do they work? In the sections that follow, we asked Dr. Liz Applegate, Distinguished Senior Lecturer and Director of Sports Nutrition Emerita at University of California Davis to weigh in on some of the pressing concerns golfers have when it comes to selecting the right hydration powder, and even deciding whether one is right for you at all.
What is a hydration powder, and how do they work?
“Hydration powders give you a transportable means of obtaining electrolytes and, in many cases, carbohydrates, that can be readily absorbed and utilized by your body,” Dr. Applegate said. “Hydration powders are essentially a collection of electrolytes, predominantly sodium, potassium, and chloride. Those are the major electrolytes, along with magnesium, that are found in your sweat.”
Our bodies produce sweat, particularly when we exercise, to cool themselves down. That means that the process of exercise depletes the body’s reserve of electrolytes, which are normally obtained through a balanced diet. According to Dr. Applegate, your body needs to lose about 1 liter of sweat for every 600 calories burned, depending slightly on the environmental conditions and body’s makeup, to keep cool.
“When that sweat evaporates from your skin, it takes away heat so your body stays cool,” Dr. Applegate explained. “The problem is, you lose both body fluid and some electrolytes.”
For anyone who’s accidentally tasted their sweat before, the fact that sweat contains sodium (which is salty) will not be a surprise. Different people’s sweat makeup has higher or lower concentrations of electrolytes, all of which factor into the efficacy and necessity of hydration powders.
The other aspect of hydration powders, Dr. Applegate explained, is that the dissolved electrolytes “encourage” a person to drink, so they not only “stimulate thirst” but “enhance glucose absorption.” Glucose is the carbohydrate that is usually found in sports drinks and electrolyte powders that have added sugars.
“You want all that” Dr. Applegate said, “the fluid, the electrolytes, and the carbohydrates to be absorbed into your system. And that whole setup does that quite well.”
So you mix the handy electrolyte powder (or dissolvable powers, or stick—all modes are equally functionable, Dr. Applegate said, and the exact method comes down to consumer preference) into your water bottle following the instructions and drink away, ensuring you stay hydrated and fueled during your round. “There you go,” she said, “you have this well-balanced drink that can encourage you to stay hydrated while you’re out on the course.”
What should I look for in a hydration powder?
A lot of consumers associate potassium when exercising and therefor think that’s a must-have in an energy drink. But actually, Dr. Applegate explained, potassium is “not a big player” in sweat. The big ingredients to focus on are sodium and chloride. You also want to check for factors like carbohydrates and added sweeteners. Many recreational golfers, who also have a protein bar or other snack in their golf bag, don’t need their sports drink to be caloric, they need it for the fluids and electrolytes. More rigorous exercise, and certain golfers, may need those carbs in their drink, in which case you want to look at the ingredient list to figure out which added sugar is being used, particularly if you have an aversion to artificial sweeteners.
Any other considerations, such as flavoring versus no flavor, added vitamins, caffeine, or fizzy powders come down to personal preference. The methodology of addition (say powder packets, dissolvable tablets, or droplets) also comes down to what’s most convenient for you on the course.
Even considerations like dyes in the powders aren’t too much of a concern for Dr. Applegate. As she explained, there are so many more concerning factors of our diets and lifestyles today, if the powder helps you drink more and stay healthy on the course, and continue to keep active and spend time outdoors, that’s the biggest plus.
Another bonus? Hydration powders can make drinking sufficient fluids while exercising more fun, and perhaps convince you to say no to that mid-round soda, or even partake in one fewer post-round bourbon.
Can I just have plain water?
“You can,” Dr. Applegate said, “but chances are you’re going to be out there a fairly long time, and when you get into three, four hours of golfing, it can lead you to a situation of potentially a bit of electrolyte depletion if you lose a lot in your sweat.”
And your body gets rid of excess electrolytes through urine, so, if mixed and used correctly, there’s no harm in the hydration powder to play it healthy and safe on the course.