Hydration is one of the most important things when it comes to running and working out in the summer. Runners and athletes spend a lot of time talking about hydration - types of bottles, belts, drinks, powders, tablets, and all kinds of things liquid related!
During most of my "career" (aka - year) as a runner, it was NOT summer so I was totally content hydrating with plain old water. I've (luckily) never struggled to drink plenty of water, so hydration wasn't an issue.
Summer, however, is completely different. I seriously crave Gatorade!!! Specifically, grape Gatorade. But the amount of artificial junk - mostly in the form of food dyes - in Gatorade makes me steer clear of it.
In the interest of keeping myself hydrated AND satisfying the sports drink craving, I've been on a quest to find the perfect hydration alternative all summer! I thought I'd share my thoughts and opinions with you, since some of you are probably doing the same hunt!
- Coconut Water aka "Nature's Hydration" - Coconut water offers a great alternative to traditional sports drinks. It's high in potassium, which is an essential electrolyte. It is low in calories (40-50 calories per cup) and doesn't contain anything artificial. Coconut water does not, however, provide the sports drink flavor I am looking for. I love it and I think it's great hydration, but it just wasn't hitting the spot. Also, it's not as convenient as the other options I've tried.
- Propel Zero Powder (by Gatorade) - When it comes to flavor, these little beauties are exactly what I'm looking for. I like fact that it comes in individual "sticks" of powder that mix easily into plain water. The problem with Propel is that it contains Sucralose (Splenda) and that's an artificial sweetener I don't use. (you can read more about why I choose not to use sucralose here!)
- Nuun Hydration - As you can see by the picture, I've tried several flavors of this stuff! I've enjoyed all of them so far (except Watermelon)! Nuun comes in tablets that remind me of Alka-Seltzer tablets. You drop them into water and they fizz and dissolve, leaving you with a tasty beverage. I like Nuun because it isn't overly sweet and doesn't taste fake. The convenience factor of the tablets is awesome too! Nuun is sweetened with sorbitol (a sugar alcohol) and acesulfame potassium (an artificial sweetener). It contains no artificial colors or dyes. I like Nuun a lot, but the presence of artificial sweetener (one that hasn't undergone a lot of testing) makes me hesitant to use it as my go-to hydration tool.
- Vega Sport Electrolyte Hydrator - This comes in a packet similar to the Propel. (it's the far left one in the picture) They come in 2 flavors: Lemon-lime and Pomegranate-Berry. It contains no artificial sweeteners, colors, or other additives. It's sweetened with Stevia. It tastes great and has the convenience of the individual packets. The downside is that it does take a little longer to dissolve than the Propel sticks - which is normal with Stevia.
So - what was my winner? NUUN. While the Vega Sport really has everything I'm looking for, I just love the convenience of NUUN!
Also - see that "fancy" plastic blue water bottle in the picture? That's my super high-tech hydration bottle. It cost about $3 at my local grocery store. It's not fancy, but it has a handle type center and it works for me!
(P.S. Nobody gave me their products for free - though I wish they had - I bought all of these with my own cash just to try!)