How to Add Electrolytes to Water: 6 Tips + If It’s Worth It

Craig Primack, MD, FACP, FAAP, FOMA

Reviewed by Craig Primack, MD, FACP, FAAP, FOMA

Written by Vanessa Gibbs

Published 05/06/2024

Electrolytes are minerals that have an electric charge when dissolved in water. Sounds exciting, right? Well, your body certainly thinks so. Electrolytes are an essential part of a healthy diet.

You can find electrolytes in many foods and drinks. Common electrolytes include:

  • Sodium

  • Potassium

  • Calcium

  • Chloride

  • Phosphate

  • Magnesium

You can develop an electrolyte imbalance if you’re sweating a lot or not drinking enough water. This can happen when it’s hot outside, when you’re engaged in intense physical activity, and when you’re sick.

Adding electrolytes to water can help you top up your levels.

Below, we cover why electrolytes are important, how to add electrolytes to water naturally, and how it can help.

Electrolytes are more than just a fancy buzzword in the health industry. These essential minerals help with many different bodily functions, including:

  • Balancing the amount of water in your body

  • Moving nutrients and waste in and out of your cells

  • Balancing your body’s pH level

  • Supporting nerve and muscle function

  • Regulating your blood pressure, heart rate, and heart rhythm

  • Keeping your bones and teeth healthy

You lose electrolytes in your breath, urine, and sweat. But, most of the time, you can get all of the electrolytes you need from food and drinks.

However, there are times you can experience an electrolyte imbalance, which is when you have too much or too little of certain electrolytes.

This can happen if you are:

  • Sweating a lot

  • Not drinking enough water

  • Drinking too much water

  • Experiencing severe vomiting or diarrhea

  • Taking certain medications

  • Experiencing heart, liver, or kidney problems

If you work out for more than an hour, or you’re working out in the heat, you may need to replenish your electrolytes by adding some to water. This can help speed up recovery and ensure you maintain fluid balance.

If you need to top up your electrolyte levels, you don’t need to buy sugary sports drinks to make it happen. Here are some natural electrolytes to add to water.

1. Electrolyte Powders

Head to your nearest pharmacy or retailer to find electrolyte powders, tablets, and drops. These products contain a mix of electrolytes like sodium, potassium, and magnesium.

You can mix powders or tablets into a glass of water yourself or buy a ready-to-go sports drink.

But keep an eye on the ingredients, some of these products contain added sugars and sweeteners.

2. Sea Salt

Yup, adding salt to your diet is sometimes beneficial. Who knew?

Adding a pinch of salt (sodium chloride) to your water can help replenish lost electrolytes.

But definitely don’t turn every glass of water into a salty one! Drinking salt water can make you very dehydrated. Most of us get too much sodium from our diets anyway.

Topping up your sodium levels may be helpful if you do endurance exercise, like running or biking long distances.

If you’re adding salt, go for sea salt over processed table salt. It not only contains sodium, but also trace amounts of magnesium, potassium, and calcium.

Himalayan salt is popular, but more research is needed to back up the many health claims around it.

3. Watermelon

A slice or two of watermelon makes a healthy snack. But if you’re specifically looking to spruce up your water, try adding a few watermelon chunks to water to transform regular water into electrolyte-infused water.

Watermelon contains the electrolytes potassium, magnesium, calcium, and phosphorus, and it’s a good source of vitamins, antioxidants, and fiber. Plus, it’s tasty!

The downside? It’s low in sodium, so if you’re lacking in this particular electrolyte you’ll need to find another source.

4. Lemon

Lemons contain calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, zinc, and sodium as well as plenty of vitamins, like vitamins C, A, E, B1, B2, and B3.

Add a couple of slices of lemon to your water, or dilute some lemon juice with plain old tap water.

Not a fan of lemons? You’ve got other citrus fruits to choose from. Oranges, mandarins, grapefruit, and limes also contain electrolytes and are easy to add to water.

5. Strawberries

Strawberries are another powerhouse fruit when it comes to electrolytes. They contain calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, zinc, and sodium. And just like other fruits, they have plenty of fiber and vitamins, too.

Try adding a few slices of strawberry to water to make your own electrolyte drink.

6. Coconut Water

Want water with electrolytes built-in? Coconut water is like nature’s sports drink. It contains sodium, potassium, and magnesium.

There’s not much research into whether coconut water is good for rehydration or athletic performance. But it’s safe to consume and tastes pretty good, too.

So, if you’re on the go and can’t make your own electrolyte water, coconut water is a natural alternative to the sugary sports drinks out there.

Prescribed online

Weight loss treatment that puts you first

Adding electrolytes to water probably won’t help you lose weight. But it can help you feel your best, which can support your weight loss efforts.

Generally speaking though, water is great for weight loss. Specifically, research has found that water can:

  • Suppress your appetite

  • Stimulate your metabolism

  • Help you burn fat

When you increase your fluid intake, you might eat less at meal times, and when you’re drinking water, you’re not drinking other high-calorie options like soda or fruit juices.

Beyond weight loss, research shows that staying hydrated can:

  • Boost mental performance

  • Increase your energy levels

  • Improve physical performance

  • Reduce your risk of health issues like kidney stones, headaches, and high blood pressure

So, keep a water bottle nearby. Staying hydrated can help you feel your best whether or not you’re trying to lose weight.

Remember that you might not need electrolytes to stay hydrated, though. Research shows that electrolyte water isn’t always more hydrating than plain water.

Learn more in our guide to drinking water for weight loss.

Having a good electrolyte balance is important, but you don’t need to down a Gatorade to make it happen. There are natural electrolytes to add to water if you need them.

Here’s our recap on how to add electrolytes to water:

  • Use salt, fruit, and powders to add electrolytes to water. A pinch of salt, many fruits — like lemons, watermelons, and strawberries — and electrolyte powders are quick and easy ways of adding electrolytes to your water. Out and about? Look for coconut water as a ready-made natural sports drink.

  • You might not need added electrolytes. You should be able to get all of the electrolytes you need from your day-to-day diet. But if you sweat a lot, do long workouts, or it’s hot out, adding electrolytes to your water can help top up low levels.

  • Electrolytes may not help with weight loss. We don’t know if adding electrolytes to water can help with weight loss, but we do know that water in general can help. Bottoms up!

Proper hydration is just one piece of the puzzle if you’re looking to lose weight. Beyond drinking more water, aim to eat nutritious foods and plenty of protein, incorporate more steps and general movement into your day (even walking can help!), and get enough sleep each night. Weight loss medication can also be useful for some.

If you want to explore your options, there are many weight loss treatments to consider.

15 Sources

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