Which Drink Is Best For Hydration?

I'm Cait Crowell

I'm a Colorado-based girl who turned my passion for nutrition into a multiple 6 figure business. I love gluten free pizza, outdoor adventures, going down research rabbit holes, and being honest AF. I'm here to help you master your health and your business, one day at a time. 

hey there

Get My Free Digestive Health Guide 

Gimme that

Catch up on my podcast covering everything from gut health to relationships + beyond 

TOp categories

My best tips and tricks for running your biz without losing your shit

My secrets for putting it all together and leaving room for balance.

Simplifying the complex world of functional nutrition

We’ve been on a hydration kick here at What Cait Ate. Why? Great question. I really don’t know. What I do know is that I’ve received an ungodly amount of DM’s on Instagram from you guys asking about the nitty-gritty of hydration. Things like:

  • I was recently hospitalized for dehydration. I didn’t even know I was dehydrated! What can I do to support myself?
  • What’s the best way to stay hydrated?
  • Which drink is best for hydration?
  • How do you stay hydrated during the winter when you’re not really thirsty?
  • How do you and Stu go about staying hydrated? Whats your trick?

My first suggestion would be to check out my two previous blog posts about hydration if you haven’t already: Hydration Basics + How Much Water Am I Supposed To Drink Per Day?

Once you’ve read those, lets move onto a more direct question:

Which Drink Is Best For Hydration?

You might immediately be thinking of Gatorade or Powerade- and I understand why.

Most of us (myself included) grew up chugging these products after soccer games, gymnastics meets, track meets, etc. One thing I actually looked forward to when I would get sick growing up would be a nice fun trip to CVS with my mom to grab over the counter cold meds along with my icey blue twist top Gatorade bottle. Yes- I just said I actually looked forward to that.

Funny thing is- most of us never grow up and out of thinking these products are the Gold Standard for hydration. Reality is they’re actually the cheapest, most chemical-ridden forms of hydration you could come by.

Lets look at some of these ingredients, shall we?

In case you’re wondering- I just snapped this screenshot from their website. Like most processed foods, ingredients lists sound like a bunch of gibberish. So lets break this down:

  • Water– come on fam, we know what water is. But what about the quality of this water? Is it filtered? Is it full of chlorine and other weird chemicals like most city water? We don’t really know.
  • Sugar– ahhh yes. Sugar. AND- it’s listed as the NUMBER 2 INGREDIENT. If you didn’t know- ingredients lists note everything in order of what is in the product by weight from most to least. This means by weight, water is #1 and sugar is #1. We’re only 2 ingredients in, and you can conclude for yourself that Gatorade is essentially sugar water with some added chemicals.
  • Dextrose– Yet another form of sugar, but this one is man made.  Dextrose is a simple sugar that is made from Genetically Modified corn and is chemically identical to glucose. Sounds like something fun to put in our bodies for “hydration”….
  • Citric Acid– Citric acid is a compound originally derived from lemon juice. It’s produced today from a specific type of mold (sounds good for us, huh?) and used in a variety of applications.
  • Salt– FINALLY we’re getting to some electrolytes. It only took us 5 ingredients before we could get to the stuff that actually matters for hydration- electrolyte minerals. But lets take a closer look at “salt”. Mineral salt and table salt are two completely different things. Table salt is stripped of all its mineral compounds after it has been mined and typically is pumped full synthetic iodine. Table salt is nutritionally void in every sense of the term and is processed from beginning to end. MINERAL SALT on the other hand is salt found in its natural form mined in salt caves around the world-  it’s full of beneficial minerals, compounds, and is in a whole-food form that the body recognizes and craves. Sorry Gatorade, you’ve failed us again.
  • Sodium Citrate– this refers to an extracted form of sodium salts from citric acid. We already established that citric acid comes from mold. So we’ve got this mold which we then process and get citric acid from. Once we have this processed form of citric acid, then we process it some more and pull out the sodium salts to have sodium citrate. You can see the layers of processing it takes to create these man-made compounds and it ain’t pretty.
  • Monopotassium Phosphate– according to, “Monopotassium Phosphate is a soluble salt of potassium and the dihydrogen phosphate ion which is used as a fertilizer, a food additive and a fungicide. It is a source of phosphorus and potassium. It is also a buffering agent”. That sounds like something I want in my body! (I joke)
  • Modified Food Starch– Typically made from Genetically Modified Corn, modified food starch is made by altering the chemical composition of food physically, chemically, or enzymatically. Most companies add this ingredient to attain their desired texture, color, or viscosity of a product.
  • Natural Flavor– This refers to the sensory impression of a food- meaning the term “natural” has nothing to do with whether or not the ingredient comes from natural sources and everything to do with how our senses perceive the ingredient. This is the jack of all trades ingredient in most processed foods, and the term is all-encompassing. No one really knows what the hell a Natural Ingredient is- it could be anything from chemicals, to lab-made ingredients, to extracts, to God knows what.
  • Glycerol Ester of Rosin– an oil-soluble food additive often used in products that have citric oils. This rosin helps to avoid the oils from rising to the top of the beverage. So to combat one chemical from making the drink all funky, they add another chemical (this rosin chemically obtained from rosin acids in wood) to keep oils in suspension in water.
  • Blue 1– this is a man-made chemical color additive that has been connected to plenty of unsettling health problems over time. Several studies show that these dyes might inhibit cell respiration. “If the process of creating energy and respiration does not take place properly, there are many failures,” she notes. Both dyes, for instance, have been linked to ADHD, allergies, and asthma. In 2003, when Brilliant Blue was used as a dye in feeding tubes, the FDA issued a public health advisory because of side effects like blue-tinged skin, urine, and feces, as well as hypotension and death.(1)

All of this is flashy and scary and unsettling- but it’s the truth. And that sucks. Google some of this stuff for yourself if you’re still questioning- it’s always a good idea to get more information on something you have questions about.

The reality of these ingredients doesn’t need to make you scared of gatorade or wondering “holy shit why did I feed this to my children and consume it myself for so many years?!” Rather, it’s something to be aware of and something to understand.

Once we know better, we have room to do better.

So where the hell do we get the best, highest quality, hydration-focused beverage?

There’s a lot of options on the market in various price points when it comes to better quality hydration products. Stu and I have run the gamut over the last few years (his father has a business in the specialty running industry- we’ve seen it all) and we’ve landed on our absolute favorite: Ultima Replenisher.

Sure, sure- you might be looking at this blog post, seeing that its sponsored by Ultima, and thinking that maybe I’m just spewing information just for kicks. The reality is- I only share information with you guys that I have already researched, used myself for an extend period of time, and feel comfortable and confident suggesting to you. Lets take it another step and have the ingredients speak for themselves here.

I’ve tried all the flavors from Ultima and my favorite is a 3-way tie between the Orange, Pink Lemonade and Blue Raspberry. Shoot me, I have a hard time picking favorites when it comes to food.

I’ve got the orange container right here with me, and I just took a screenshot from their website of the ingredients list so here goes:

Looks longer and more intimidating at first, right? That’s fair. But if you look closer, you’ll see that Ultima is being as transparent as possible with it’s ingredients list. It appears longer and more complex because they’ve taken the time to explain to you where each of these ingredients comes from in the parenthesis after each item. 

The great thing- each ingredient comes from a whole-food form the body recognizes and will readily absorb and assimilate, making this beverage far from some fancy sugar water and extremely effective at hydrating your body on a cellular level. Simply put- Ultima does what it says it does. It’s not lying, hiding any weird ingredients or making false promises while hiding behind marketing terms.

The biggest reasons why I choose Ultima over other products:

  • No corn syrup- sweetened with stevia
  • No artificial colorings or flavors- bright colors come from real fruits + vegetables that taste + look great
  • ALL 6 electrolytes + support minerals: Potassium, Magnesium, Chloride, Calcium, Phosphorus, and Sodium
  • Each canister has 30-90 servings- it lasts forever and is extremely economical!
  • The flavor is delicious but not overpowering and not too sweet

Simply put- I trust this product and would feed it to all of my friends, my husband, my family, strangers on the street, and our future children. There’s nothing in this product that makes my eye brows turn up and second guess what it might be.


We buy Ultima off of Amazon because it’s just too easy and convenient for us.

As followers of What Cait Ate, Ultima wanted to offer you an exclusive code for 10% off any orders: “WCATEUR10

PS- it’s the holiday season. We’re all eating and drinking more than usual, maybe not feeling 100%, and grabbing for things that will make us feel better in the moment. If you’re looking for a quick way to feel BETTER, snag some Ultima and sip on it in the morning if/when you have a throbbing headache, after a long day of family shenanigans, or whenever you’re not feeling optimal. I aim for 1 scoop per day and take it from there.

Cheers fam!

+ show Comments

- Hide Comments

add a comment