Electrolyte powder sales rise in Atlanta metro
Electrolyte supplements have become a shockingly big market in metro Atlanta, even though they're not supported by significant scientific evidence.
Why it matters: Although influencers and marketers consider electrolyte powders hydration hacks, doctors say that regularly drinking them instead of plain water is a waste of money.
By the numbers: Almost three times as many electrolyte powders have sold in metro Atlanta this year compared to 2019, according to consumer research company NIQ.
- Even if you've never purchased products like LMNT, Liquid IV, Sqwincher or DripDrop, you've probably seen their products online, at the gym, or in a store.
- Videos about trace mineral drops have more than 13 million views on TikTok.
What they're saying: "Eat a handful of berries or a handful of mixed nuts... and save your money," says Mark Loafman, chair of family medicine at Cook County Health in Illinois.
- "The truth of the matter is the Western diet has enough electrolytes in it [as is]," with an average of more than 3 grams of sodium daily, says Grant Lipman, emergency medicine physician at Washington Hospital Healthcare and founder of GOES Health.
Between the lines: When you exercise, you lose electrolytes like sodium, and your body can help replace some of that as long as you stay adequately hydrated.
- If you wanted a liquid with enough sodium to replace what you lose through a strenuous workout, "you'd have to take two or three chicken bouillon cubes, put that in a cup of water, and drink that," Lipman says.
Yes, but: There could be times when it makes sense to reach for an electrolyte drink.
- You might use a sports drink mix because it's easily available and tastes good.
- When it comes to plain water, Lipman says: "I just don't have a great palette for it."
And if you're hungover and vomiting, "there's a lot of anecdotal evidence" that sipping an electrolyte drink with a little sugar in it can help, according to Loafman.
Reality check: There's a term for how to stay adequately hydrated: "Drink to thirst."
- Lipman says the idea is that when you get a little dehydrated, your body will tell you you're thirsty. That's when you drink.
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