People who are looking to prevent electrolyte imbalance and dehydration, and athletes in particular, have many options when it comes to choosing an electrolyte supplement. While many of these supplements promise to offer optimal recovery and performance, there are substantial differences between different products. Nuun and Total Hydration are two popular electrolyte supplements that are designed with athletes in mind, but what are the pros and cons of each supplement?
The body needs to maintain the proper balance of fluids in order to function properly. In addition to regularly drinking water and other fluids, the body also needs to receive an adequate amount of electrolytes in order to maintain a balance of electrolytes and perform at its peak. Electrolytes are minerals with a positive or negative charge that conduct electricity when exposed to water, and they are commonly associated with nutrition and hydration. Electrolyte imbalance, due to loss of electrolytes through sweating, urination, vomiting, or diarrhea, or inadequate water intake, can cause the body to experience dehydration and a number of other serious health effects. Although dehydration is the result of the body losing more fluid than it takes in, water intake alone is not responsible for dehydration. There are seven different electrolytes in the body, including sodium, potassium, magnesium, chloride, calcium, phosphate, and bicarbonate, each of which helps to balance the fluid levels in the body. Common signs of dehydration include:
- Dry mouth
- Dark yellow urine
- Diminished urine input
Dehydration can be extremely dangerous when it is severe. Signs of severe dehydration include:
- Drop in blood pressure
- Reduced elasticity of the skin
- Quickening heart rate
- Sunken eyes
Nuun vs Total Hydration: Forms
Before exploring the differences between the formulas of Total Hydration and Nuun, it is important to recognize that the two electrolyte supplements are manufactured in different forms. Nuun was originally sold primarily in a tablet form, with one tube of Nuun containing ten tablets. Since the original tablets, the company has since expanded their offerings to include the option to purchase Nuun in a powdered form that comes in a packet. The company also makes powdered drink mix products called Nuun Prime, Nuun Endurance, and Nuun Recover that come in a canister. Whether using the tablets, the individual packets, or the powdered drink mixes, one serving of the formula is intended to be mixed with 16 ounces of water. Total Hydration is manufactured in the form of both a capsule and a concentrate. Unlike Nuun, which uses a variety of products that are dissolved in water, Total Hydration capsules are taken just as you would any other supplement and are swallowed with a glass of water. The Total Hydrate concentrate is added to water; three milliliters of the concentrate should be dissolved into 36 ounces of water, or one milliliter for every 24 ounces of water. The manufacturers of Total Hydration recommended that people do not consume more than eight servings, or 24 milliliters, of the concentrate in a 24 hour period. Total Hydration is given the advantage in this category because it is available in a variety of forms to meet the needs of different people, whereas Nuun can only be used when dissolved in water, regardless of its original form.
Nuun vs Total Hydration: Electrolytes
The body naturally contains seven electrolytes, including sodium, potassium, magnesium, phosphate, chloride, calcium, and bicarbonate. The three electrolytes found in the largest quantities in the body include sodium, potassium, and magnesium. The differences in the types and quantities of electrolytes included in both products are significant. One tablet of Nuun contains 300 mg, or 13 percent, of the daily value of sodium in one packet, as well as 150 mg, or 3 percent, of the daily value of potassium. The product also contains 25 mg of magnesium, or 6 percent of the daily value, 13 mg of calcium, or 1 percent of the daily value, and 40 mg of chloride, or 2 percent of the daily value. By contrast, Total Hydration includes 50 mg of sodium, of two percent of the daily value, 150 mg of potassium, or three percent of the daily value, 65 mg of magnesium, or 15 percent of the daily value, 475 mg of chloride, or 21 percent of the daily value, 3 mg of zinc, or 27 percent of the daily value, and 10 mg of calcium, or one percent of the daily value. In short, both formulas contain all of the electrolytes found in the body except bicarbonate and phosphate. However, Nuun contains more sodium, which is generally already found in the body in significant quantities due to the high salt intake in Western diets.
Nuun vs Total Hydration: Caffeine
When it comes to caffeine, there are some differences between Nuun and Total Hydration. Some Nuun products, including certain flavors of the tablets, contain caffeine, while the majority of the products do not. Consumers can tell which flavors consume caffeine because it is included in the flavor name when purchasing tablets from the Nuun website. By contrast, Total Hydration does not include any caffeine. Some people prefer caffeine in their electrolyte drinks while others do not, so whether this is positive or negative depends on your preference. It should be noted that supplements containing caffeine are more likely to cause a rapid heart rate, cause digestive upset, and increase anxiety. People who regularly use caffeine may not experience these effects at all, or the effects might be mild, while those who do not regularly consume caffeine may notice more substantial side effects. Total Hydration is accessible by everyone, regardless of their ability to tolerate caffeine, while some flavors of Nuun tablets may not be suitable for use by people with certain heart conditions. Caffeine is also considered to have a mild diuretic effect, which stands in contrast to Nuun’s goals of boosting hydration.
Nuun vs Total Hydration: Calories, Carbohydrates, and Sugar
Some people want to use an electrolyte supplement that also contains calories, carbohydrates, and sugar, while others do not. Many commercial sports drinks add these ingredients to provide fuel and added energy for endurance athletes or people who are working at a high intensity for an extended period of time in hot conditions, but they aren’t needed if your main goal is simply to rehydrate and restore the proper balance of fluids and electrolytes to your body. Nuun tablets contain 15 calories per tablet, while the individual packets contain 25 calories. One serving of Nuun Prime, which is intended to be used before the workout, contains 35 calories, while one serving of Nuun Endurance contains 60 calories and one serving of Nuun Recover contains 50 calories. By contrast, all of Total Hydration’s product offerings contain zero calories. In terms of carbohydrates, Nuun tablets contain two grams of carbohydrates per serving, including one gram of added sugar. Nuun individual packets contain seven grams of carbohydrates, including five grams of added sugar. Nuun Prime contains six grams of carbohydrates and four grams of added sugar per serving, while Nuun Endurance contains 16 grams of carbohydrates and 15 grams of added sugar; Nuun Recover contains five grams of carbohydrates and four grams of added sugar. By contrast, Total Hydration does not contain any carbohydrates or added sugars. Endurance athletes and those working out at a high intensity may benefit from the calories, carbohydrates, and sugars offered by Nuun in its various forms, but most people do not need these additional ingredients and would be better suited to the pure electrolytes, vitamins, and minerals offered by Total Hydration’s capsules and concentrates. People following a low carb or ketogenic diet, as well as diabetics and other people with blood sugar issues, may not be able to use some forms of Nuun due to the added sugars and carbohydrates contained in the formula. Therefore, Total Hydration is considered the more accessible of the two options.
Nuun vs Total Hydration: Allergens and Dietary Restrictions
Allergies to different foods, medications, and ingredients are on the rise in the United States, leading more people to choose products that are free of major allergens. Most people will use an electrolyte supplement at some point in their lives since everyone needs to hydrate, so products that are accessible to all people, including those that have allergies, will have a competitive advantage. Nuun’s products are vegan, kosher, do not contain GMOs, and are gluten free. By contrast, Total Hydration products are free of gluten, shellfish, sweeteners, yeast, starch, wheat, soy, milk, egg, and caffeine, and they are also vegan. Both products are made in the United States.
Nuun vs Total Hydration: Conclusion
After comparing each element of Nuun and Total Hydration, we see more pros associated with Total Hydration. Total Hydration is available in multiple forms, is free of more allergens, contains more varieties of electrolytes, and is accessible to more individuals due to its lack of added sugars, carbohydrates, calories, and caffeine. While both products will help you to rehydrate more quickly than water alone, Total Hydration offers a more accessible product.