In this blog post, we’ll be taking a closer look at two popular electrolyte supplements – LMNT and Liquid IV – to help you decide which one is right for your needs (or if you need them at all).
And if you’re new around here: welcome! My name is Jamie; I’m a Registered Dietitian who believes in personalized solutions tailored to your unique needs, goals, and preferences.
Before we get into which is the best electrolyte powder let’s start at the beginning…what are electrolytes?
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What are electrolytes, exactly?
Before we talk about the pros and cons of these two electrolyte powders, it’s important to understand what we’re actually talking about. I think electrolytes are one of those things that we’re all quite familiar with the word…but couldn’t explain exactly what it means.
When we talk about electrolytes in nutrition, we’re talking about essential minerals in your body.
Electrolytes are key for several important bodily functions like nerve and muscle function, maintaining a proper acid-base balance, and keeping you nice and hydrated.
The electrolytes found in your body are sodium, potassium, chloride, calcium, magnesium, phosphate, and bicarbonate (1).
Are electrolytes needed for hydration?
Fun fact that you may not realize: electrolytes don’t directly hydrate you. Instead, they support your body in staying hydrated and re-hydrating if you need it.
On a normal daily basis, there are more than enough electrolytes around in your foods and drinks for proper hydration.
When you exercise and sweat, your body loses electrolytes. So, if you’re doing intense exercise for a while, you might do better with the support of an electrolyte drink, like LMNT or Liquid IV. By drinking those electrolytes when your supply in your body is running low you’re able to absorb more water, more quickly.
For the average person, electrolyte replacement drinks aren’t really necessary on a super regular basis unless you’re exercising or training intensely. If you’re a pretty average exerciser and you’re eating a well-balanced diet, it’s totally fine to stick to water.
If you’re exercising pretty intensely and losing a lot of sweat, dehydrated from the heat, or you’re sick and losing fluids via vomiting or diarrhea, an electrolyte drink can help you replenish electrolytes.
If you’re interested in incorporating an electrolyte drink, LMNT and Liquid IV are two popular choices. Let’s see what they’re all about!
What is LMNT?
LMNT was developed by Robb Wolf, a former research biochemist. LMNT is a sports drink that aims to replenish the body quickly with essential electrolytes.
LMNT is different from many sports drinks because it contains no added sugar, coloring, or artificial ingredients. Unlike the original Liquid IV formulation, it has no added sugar or artificial sweeteners; the sweetness comes from stevia (2).
The LMNT sports drink includes convenient packets that make it easy to add to your water bottle, even when on the go.
What is Liquid IV?
Liquid I.V. Hydration Multiplier is another super popular electrolyte drink that’s goal is to help you stay hydrated.
The original Liquid IV formulation contains sugar, electrolytes and vitamins to help with hydration and recovery after exercise. Liquid IV comes in a range of flavors and has branched out into other supplement products, too.
Liquid IV has recently also come out with a sugar-free version of their electrolyte replacement drink that has zero grams of added sugar and similar ingredients to their original version.
Their product line also includes versions with probiotics, immune support ingredients, melatonin for sleep, and even one formulated for kids.
Liquid IV is a great option with added vitamins and minerals perfect for athletes or anyone who may be experiencing mild dehydration.
How do the ingredients compare?
The key differences between the original Liquid IV and LMNT are that LMNT contains double the amount of sodium, and Liquid IV contains sugar. LMNT is sugar-free. Liquid IV also has added vitamins in all of their products.
In contrast, the original Liquid IV contains sugar, which may be beneficial if you’re using it before a workout to give you a burst of quick carbohydrates for energy.
Quick carbs right before intense workouts can actually boost your energy levels and improve athletic performance, so that’s a pro that may be overlooked. Liquid IV also has added vitamins, where LMNT does not. But, keep in mind, Liquid IV now has a sugar-free version too.
Liquid IV’s sugar-free version has zero grams of added sugar and is sweetened with allulose. In comparison with LMNT, the sugar-free Liquid IV has about half the amount of sodium, more potassium, plus added vitamin C, niacin, vitamin B12, vitamin B6, and pantothenic acid.
LMNT or the sugar-free version of Liquid IV are both ideal if you’re looking for something with no added sugar content.
|Liquid IV||Liquid IV Sugar-Free||LMNT|
|Sodium||500 mg||530 mg||1000 mg|
|Potassium||370 mg||380 mg||200 mg|
|Magnesium||0 mg||0 mg||60 mg|
|Sugar||11 g||0 g||0 g|
Vitamin C (100%)
Vitamin B 12 (110%)
Vitamin B 6 (110 %)
Pantothenic acid (110%)
Vitamin C (80%)
Vitamin B 12 (330%)
Vitamin B 6 (150%)
Pantothenic acid (230%)
What about taste?
Both LMNT and Liquid IV come in a variety of flavors, and they both do have a slightly salty taste due to the sodium content. Personally, I prefer the Liquid IV flavors overall, but many enjoy LMNT too.
LMNT also offers a raw unflavored option, so that may be the best option if you prefer something basic.
How about that sodium?
The recommendation for adults in the US is to have less than 2,300 mg of sodium per day, but on average, we’re having 4,300 mg per day.
One concerning thing that’s important to call out is LMNT’s marketing regarding sodium. There’s a header right on their homepage that says “More salt, not less.” and claims that the “science-backed-recommendation” is 4000-6000 mg of sodium daily.
Their “science”? One study from 2011 that claims 4000-600 mg is the “sweet spot” for cardiovascular disease risk reduction. What they’ve conveniently left out is that there are far more studies (and more recent) that show the opposite (3).
Your sodium intake is just one factor in your overall health, blood pressure, and your risk of heart disease. But, most of us certainly don’t need to look for ways to add sodium to our diet (4).
And, if you already have high blood pressure or a strong family history, it’s even more noteworthy.
Lots of the foods we’re eating on a daily basis contain salt, plus the salt we’re adding to our foods. It all adds up pretty quickly!
For competitive athletes or people who need higher amounts of sodium (like individuals with POTS), LMNT can be a good choice. For most of us, 1000mg of sodium is probably a bit of overkill.
Cost of LMNT vs Liquid IV
When it comes to cost, the difference between the two electrolyte drinks is nonexistent. Both LMNT and Liquid IV cost about the same per serving.
On Amazon, a box of 30 LMNT packets is about $45, or about $1.50 per packet.
Whereas, a container of 16 Liquid IV packets will run you about $24, or about $1.50 again.
And before we pick our winner, let’s consider if we need a sports drink at all.
Where to buy them
Do we even *need* a sports drink?
The question is- should these hydration drinks be incorporated into everyday use? For most people, no.
Unless you’re an elite athlete, exercising for longer than an hour on a regular basis, the fluid and electrolyte intake in your regular water, drinks, and food is probably enough for your activity level.
But if you like them, or feel better when you drink them, you’re not likely causing any harm as long as you’re being mindful of your overall sodium intake (and check with your doctor).
Electrolyte products might help keep you a tad more hydrated because of the electrolytes, or you might simply be drinking more fluids because the sports drink tastes better than plain water.
Overall, most things that can be promoted as a miracle drink just aren’t. There’s a time and a place for everything, and it’s not one-size-fits-all. If you like to stay up to date on trendy nutrition products, I’ve got you covered:
- Fairlife vs Premier Protein: Which Shakes are Best?
- AG1 Athletic Greens Review from a Dietitian
- Olipop vs. Poppi – A Dietitian’s Prebiotic Soda Review
- Is Celsius Bad for You? The Truth from a Dietitian
- Allulose vs. Monk Fruit: Which Sweetener is Better?
Good nutrition is all about the collection of all of your choices, and your relationship with those choices too. It’s highly personal and what works best for you might not be the best for someone else.
That’s a wrap
Choosing between LMNT and Liquid IV is entirely dependent on your lifestyle, dietary needs, and personal preference. The best option depends on you.
If you’re weary of the high sodium, Liquid IV is the way to go. If you want an unflavored version or your electrolyte needs are exceptionally high, you may find LMNT a better fit.
Both options offer an effective way to supplement the body with electrolytes that can boost hydration rehydration after physical activity if you need it.
Are they necessary on a regular basis? For most of us: nope. But if you like them, enjoy, just be mindful of your overall sodium intake throughout the day. If you’re exercising for a while, finding yourself dehydrated from heat, sickness (or maybe you’re hungover), it may be beneficial to work some electrolyte drinks in.
If you’re looking for science-based nutrition that you can personalize to your unique goals and tastebuds, I invite you to check out The Balanced Basics Handbook. If you’re ready for more flexibility and freedom around food but still want to be healthy, this is the comprehensive guide for you!