Electrolyte Drink

Electrolyte Drink: 5 Things to Know Before Buying

What is the best electrolyte drink? The answer to this question is not straightforward, because there is no single universal electrolyte drink. Each person needs a different type of electrolyte drink and a different concentration of electrolytes. Preferences such as taste or price can also play a role. However, we can precisely define the criteria that our ideal electrolyte drink should meet. After reading this article, you will have a clear idea about electrolyte drinks and will have an overview of what is available on the Czech market. This article is based on market analysis, which we conducted while preparing our products.

Electrolyte Drink and Its Parameters

The optimal electrolyte drink should:

  1. Contain a similar amount of electrolytes and ions as those we lose through sweat (primarily a sufficient amount of sodium).
  2. Contain only natural ingredients (no artificial sweeteners, flavors, stabilizers, and dyes) and the sources of ions should be in forms that are easily absorbed and do not burden the digestive system.
  3. Have a pleasant and refreshing taste (it is difficult to drink something that we do not like at all, but it is necessary to watch out for the sugar content).
  4. Be hypotonic (if hydration and replenishment of ions are our priority). Hypotonic drinks provide the fastest hydration and hydrate better than pure water.
  5. Be affordable.

1. Electrolyte Drink and Sodium Content

Important electrolytes of the human body: Sodium, Potassium, Calcium, Magnesium… Why do we start specifically with sodium? Sodium is the most important component of electrolyte drinks, it is one of the fundamental building blocks of an electrolyte drink and proper hydration. Sodium plays a critical role in the functioning of the organism, the regulation of bodily fluids, the transmission of nerve signals, muscle function, the regulation of blood pressure and volume, and it influences the absorption and transport of some nutrients, including glucose and amino acids. Therefore, it is absolutely essential for achieving the best performance. More about why sodium is so important can be read here: Why is sodium important for delivering the best performance. However, it cannot be simply said that a “stronger” drink is better, or that “the more sodium, the better”. The table below includes most electrolyte drinks available on the market and is sorted by the content of sodium in one liter of the prepared drink (according to the manufacturer’s instructions). Sodium needs to be replenished in the same amount as it is lost through sweat, thus maintaining its optimal level in the body. Here we encounter a conflict with our table, every manufacturer has a different sodium concentration. Which electrolyte drink should I then use?

Table 1: Amount of Sodium in 1 liter of the drink

Iontový nápoj - Obsah Sodíku
To answer the previous question (Which electrolyte drink should I then use?), at Iontmax in 2022, we conducted several hundred experimental measurements of human sweat samples. The aim of the experimental measurements was to develop a method (quick, inexpensive, and reliable) that would allow the collection, measurement, and determination of sodium concentration in human sweat. We managed to develop the method and procedure, and in 2023, we successfully carried out over 150 commercial measurements of sodium concentrations in sweat from more than 600 measured samples. Samples were collected and measured from a wide range of both athletic and non-athletic adult populations. The accuracy of our measurement (+/-10%) is sufficient and allows us to relatively quickly, inexpensively, and reliably answer the question of which electrolyte drink to use.

Histogram of sodium concentration in sweat in the population

Sodium Losses through Sweat in the Population​​

Results of the sodium concentration measurements in sweat, Iontmax 2023.

From the results of our measurements in 2023, it emerges that only a third of the tested athletes had a sodium concentration in their sweat lower than 600 mg/l. This means that the majority of available products on the market are targeted only at this group of athletes, and thus they have a relatively wide selection.

On the other hand, more than half of all tested athletes had a sodium concentration in their sweat higher than 800 mg/l, and one third of athletes even had a sodium concentration in their sweat higher than 1200 mg/l. Compared to our table, this means that more than half of the athletes have an extremely limited choice of electrolyte drinks on the market. Approximately 3% of the tested athletes practically have no option to choose the right electrolyte drink on the market.

Traditional manufacturers typically offer only one electrolyte drink with a certain sodium concentration. This does not allow for precise adaptation of the drink to the needs of individual athletes. A universal approach or one drink for all does not provide optimal hydration.

What if we increased the recommended dosage and thus adjusted the sodium concentration? With low-sugar drinks, this approach is possible, but it is necessary to carefully consider what happens when doubling the manufacturer’s recommended dose. The sodium concentration would double from 450 mg/l to 900 mg/l. But at the same time, the taste, amount of sugar, and other components in the drink, as well as the price, would double. This can cause inconveniences, such as an unacceptable taste, unsuitable osmolality (the drink would be hard to absorb and could cause dehydration – hypertonic), a high amount of sugar (digestive problems), and increased costs per liter of the drink.

Therefore, we developed Iontmax HydroDrink, which is based on measured data and precisely meets the needs of athletes. Four levels of sodium concentration from 500 mg/l to 2000 mg/l ensure complete coverage of the needs of the entire population. Iontmax HydroDrink has a balanced taste, contains an optimal amount of carbohydrates, is well absorbed – hypotonic, and always at an acceptable price. The table above clearly shows that IONTMAX HydroDrink precisely and individually (tailor-made) covers the sodium needs of the population.

The concentration of sodium in sweat can thus be measured: Find out the sodium concentration in sweat, or also estimated. As part of our measurements, we asked the athletes measured various questions related to the rate of sweating and observed phenomena. Based on these questions and the answers obtained, we compiled a short form in which you can answer similar questions and thus obtain an estimate of sodium losses through sweat along with a personal hydration plan completely free of charge.

If you want to know more about sodium measurement procedures and tools, click here

2. Electrolyte Drink and Its Absorption

Another important criterion for an optimal electrolyte drink is its composition, especially in terms of quick and easy absorbability. The more it contains artificial ingrediences (artificial colourants, artificial sweeteners, etc.), the harder the drink is to absorb and the more it burdens the athlete’s digestive system. Within this criterion, we will not delve into the exact composition of every electrolyte drink on the market nor assess the negative effects of individual substances, as that would be very lengthy and tedious. On the market, we find electrolyte drinks from both groups – some contain artificial colours and sweeteners, while others are completely natural. However, it is important to note that our Iontmax HydroDrink clearly belongs to the group of natural electrolyte drinks. It does not contain any artificially created substances, colours, or sweeteners. We transparently provide information about all the raw materials used, which come among others from the Swiss company Givaudan, operating in the market for more than 250 years.

The most important element for maintaining the right body electrolyte is sodium (sodium ions, Na+). It is important that sodium is easily absorbable, so we will look at the way sodium is added to the electrolyte drink. In our table, the source of sodium is clearly indicated for each electrolyte drink, always listed to the right of the total amount of sodium in one liter of the drink.

Manufacturers typically use one or a combination of several raw materials/ingredients, such as salt (sodium chloride, table salt), sea salt, sodium citrate (trisodium), sodium bicarbonate, and sodium gluconate. Most often, it involves the use of salt or a combination of salt and sodium citrate. The advantage of salts is their lower cost compared to citrates.

The absorbability of sodium from salt or sea salt is lower than the absorbability of sodium from the more expensive citrate. On the pages of one of the electrolyte drink manufacturers, there is an interesting article available that confirms this fact, and you can download it here.

Below we present a free translation of a fragment of the article:

“We increasingly observe the trend that sports drinks use salt (sodium chloride) as the main electrolyte source. Of course, when sweating, you lose sodium and also a bit of chloride, but from a physiological perspective, the absorption of sodium chloride is very low. Therefore, when consuming a sports drink with salt (or sea salt) you do not get everything you could. In one of the few studies of its kind, a group of scientists investigated what light activity does with the transport/absorption of water and salt in the body. They found that the intestinal absorption of sodium, chloride, and potassium varies at rest and at different intensities of performed activity. During light activity, they found a “significant” decrease in the intestinal absorption of water, sodium, chloride, and potassium, with chloride having the lowest absorption rate (1). At the other end is sodium citrate, which has been shown to help increase the absorption of fluids and other electrolytes (especially in combination with glucose).”

Only a few manufacturers use exclusively sodium citrate (trisodium citrate) as a source of sodium in their products. Iontmax HydroDrink belongs to this group, ensuring a high degree of hydration and electrolyte absorbability from the electrolyte drink.

Now you too can check the composition of the “electrolyte drink” you use, find out how much sodium it contains, and what source of sodium ions was used.

3. Electrolyte Drink and Taste Acceptability

Indeed, drinking something that tastes unpleasant to us can be challenging, like seawater. The same goes for electrolyte drinks for athletes, where taste is a key factor, sometimes even at the expense of other more important properties. Athletes often prefer tasty drinks that are refreshing. However, taste should not be the sole and deciding factor in choosing a drink. I hope that after reading this paragraph, your view on the importance of taste will change and you will choose Iontmax HydroDrink for hydration, while after training or a race, you can enjoy a beer or another favorite beverage or food.

Manufacturers of electrolyte drinks face the challenge of balancing the “taste trifecta” – salty, sweet, and sour. Ingredients that provide the necessary sodium content, such as salt or sodium citrate, are naturally salty. It’s important to eliminate, cover up, or mask this saltiness somehow, so the drink remains palatable. Sweet and sour components are ideal for masking saltiness, making the drink consumable. For example, saltwater is easier to drink if sugar and lemon are added.

General facts:

  1. the higher the concentration of sodium in the drink, the saltier it is
  2. the salty taste of ordinary salt is harder to hide compared to the salty taste of sodium citrate

Since it’s difficult to mask saltiness, most electrolyte drinks do not exceed a sodium concentration of 800 mg per liter. If you need more sodium, the choice of electrolyte drinks is limited.

Drinks with a higher sodium concentration above 1000 mg/l, especially those that use salt as a source of sodium ions, often have a salty taste. These drinks are often overloaded with high amounts of carbohydrates, sugars, and sweeteners to make the saltiness unnoticeable in the drink. In the table overviewing electrolyte drinks, the content of carbohydrates/sugars is always indicated for each drink.

Generally, masking saltiness increases the cost of producing the drink, as additional ingredients are needed.

The increase in ingredients and their quantity raises the osmolality of the drink (which we will discuss below in the paragraph about hypotonic drinks), along with it, the caloric load in the form of the total amount of consumed carbohydrates and sugars (grams per hour). Thus, the hydration drink practically becomes a nutrition drink (not for hydration). Simply put, it turns into a “gel”. Additionally, such a drink may exceed the maximum intake of carbohydrates, which can cause discomfort and digestive tract issues.

It’s important to separate nutrition from hydration. Therefore, be very careful with “electrolyte drinks” that contain high amounts of carbohydrates and sugars. The recommended total intake of carbohydrates per hour (e.g., during activities of 90 minutes or more) ranges from 60 to 90 g. The exact amount is very individual. There are individuals who do not tolerate even 60 g of carbohydrates per hour, while others can tolerate 140 g or even more.

Be sure to check how much sugar is in one liter of your favorite electrolyte drink. IONTMAX HydroDrink does not contain a high amount of carbohydrates (does not contain maltodextrin). Thanks to the low carbohydrate content, the high absorbability of the drink is guaranteed, which contributes to effective hydration of the body and minimizes the risk of stomach issues. Below is a table overviewing electrolyte drinks and the amount of carbohydrates and sugars they contain:

Table 2 - Amount of Carbohydrates and Sugar in 1 liter of the drink

Electrolyte drink - Sugar Content
Our Iontmax HydroDrink is designed to contain only a minimal amount of sugars. All our drinks are exclusively hypotonic. Taste: Original Iontmax. A highly refreshing taste with hints of citrus fruits and honey.

4. Electrolyte Drink: Hypotonic Drink

Overall, we can divide electrolyte drinks into three groups.

  1. Hypotonic electrolyte drinks have lower osmolality than body fluids, which means they contain a lower concentration of particles. These drinks are absorbed more quickly by the body, which is advantageous for hydration during intense physical activity. Hypotonic drinks are usually suitable for athletes who need rapid replenishment of fluids and electrolytes.
  2. Isotonic electrolyte drinks, which have a similar osmolality to body fluids. This means they contain the same concentration of particles as the body. Isotonic drinks contribute to maintaining fluid and electrolyte balance in the body, which is important for maintaining hydration during shorter sports activities. Their hydrating abilities and absorbability are lower than those of hypotonic drinks.
  3. Hypertonic drinks, characterized by higher osmolality than the osmolality of body fluids, meaning they contain a higher concentration of dissolved substances than is naturally present in the body. Hypertonic drinks are used as a treatment for restoring electrolyte balance and hydrating the body in cases of overall dehydration and high fluid loss (they are not intended for regular use in hydration during physical performance).


Iontmax HydroDrink is designed to be always hypotonic* (the osmolality of the mix is 147 mmol/kg), quickly absorbable with a high degree of hydration (*when prepared according to the manufacturer’s instructions i.e., 20g per 500ml of water).

5. Electrolyte Drink and Its Price

Price accessibility is a key priority for us. Though price perception varies from person to person, setting an acceptable price threshold is crucial. High-quality, precise hydration is essential not only for athletic performance but also for maintaining a healthy lifestyle. As such, it should be financially accessible to the wider public. Our objective is to deliver innovative hydration solutions that add value through a personalized approach, education, and increased awareness. We aim to reach beyond elite athletes and professionals, striving to stand out from potential competitors by offering solutions that are affordable for everyone.

The table below showcases the price accessibility of IONTMAX HydroDrink.

Table 3 - Price per 1 liter of the drink

Electrolyte drink - Price
We aim to expand and keep our electrolyte drink tables always up-to-date! If you find that an electrolyte drink is missing from the table, or if you’ve noticed any discrepancies, we apologize and would appreciate it if you let us know. We are happy to correct and update the tables.


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