Drinking water is essential, but it can be ineffective for hydration if you don’t have ample electrolytes in your system.
That’s where hydro tabs come in – and they’re especially useful during a heatwave or after exercise.
When we exercise and sweat, electrolytes leave the body and need to be replaced… fast!
Of course, adequate hydration is important at all times. Athletes are at particular risk of dehydration, which can significantly reduce their performance; therefore, hydro tabs are often used by endurance competitors.
In saying that, the elderly are at a heightened risk of dehydration and could benefit from an electrolyte boost.
So what are hydro tabs? Are they any good, and if so, when do you take them? These are all questions that we’ll be answering in this article.
What are Hydro Tabs?
Hydro tabs (a.k.a hydration tablets or electrolyte tablets) can be dissolved in drinking water. They contain five electrolytes that must be kept in balance for optimal health and hydration.
These electrolytes are sodium, potassium, chloride, magnesium and calcium. A lack of any one of these ion electrolytes can not only be a barrier to proper hydration but can also throw your systems out of whack.
When it comes to hydration, your cells cannot absorb water without the right balance of electrolytes!
Having a quick and easy way to replenish your electrolytes after exercise can therefore help your body recover more quickly.
For endurance athletes, hydro tabs are a lifesaver – plus they assist in optimal performance and recovery when added to water and consumed during exercise.
Are Hydro Tablets Any Good?
To figure this out, let’s look at the science.
In a study published in 2020, eight men and ten women between the age of 18-45 drank water only or water with electrolyte tablets.
One litre of fluid was consumed in one hour when they went to the research lab, roughly one week apart.
The study was designed to evaluate the efficacy of taking hydro tabs for fluid balance. The participants provided a urine sample for analysis, hourly for four hours post-exercise.
The researchers found that electrolyte tablets can lead to improved fluid balance when compared to drinking water alone.
Interestingly, taking stronger hydro tabs made no difference to fluid balance.
It’s important that you consume a balanced hydro tab. In the past, there was a focus on sodium intake to balance fluid levels.
While sodium will aid in the absorption of water, taking it alone as your electrolyte booster can lead to an imbalance in potassium levels.
The Best Time of Day to Take Hydration Tablets
Hydro tabs can be taken before, during and after exercise to maintain optimal hydration. About 500ml to 1 litre per hour is optimal, especially when exercising in sunlight or extreme heat.
Drop a hydro tab into your water bottle and you’re sorted, simple as that. Best taken when working in humid conditions, hydro tabs are important for maintaining performance. In a rested state, additional electrolytes are not necessary.
The main aim of hydro tabs is to reduce fluid loss. Therefore, the electrolyte drink should be taken at a rate that will replenish water and electrolytes that are released through sweat.
Electrolytes should be replenished during and after vigorous exercise. This will have the knock-on effect of better performance, wellbeing and hydration.
We should note, incidentally, that we offer a product called HydroTab. Confusingly, it is a little different to the hydro tabs discussed above! Although it contains magnesium, HydroTab isn’t so much concerned with boosting hydration as increasing the quantity of molecular hydrogen (h2), a novel antioxidant, within the water.
Interestingly, hydrogen-rich water has its own benefits for physical performance with one study noting its positive effect on muscle performance, lactate response, and delayed onset of muscle soreness (DOMS) following weight training.
The Bottom Line
Sweating during exercise or extreme heat can dehydrate the body. It’s not just the water that you’re losing; sweat also contains electrolytes.
Making sure that you drink enough water with the correct electrolyte balance can be hard. That’s why electrolyte tabs have been developed.
The tablets are naturally flavoured and typically effervescent – and so dissolve easily, allowing your body to rehydrate by restoring important electrolytes.
Written by best-selling author and integrative nutrition health coach Rowanna Watson, who has a passion for natural health. Rowanna is an expert in all areas of holistic health, plant-based nutrition, detoxification and personal development.
Water for Health Ltd began trading in 2007 with the goal of positively affecting the lives of many. We still retain that mission because we believe that proper hydration and nutrition can make a massive difference to people’s health and quality of life. Click here to find out more.
A lack of any one of the ion electrolytes can not only prevent proper hydration, but also throw your systems out of whack.