Article edited for scientific accuracy by Illuminate Labs Blog Editor Taylor Graber MD
LMNT is an electrolyte drink mix which claims to have all the ingredients you need and none you don’t. We recently reviewed a more popular drink mix called Liquid IV very unfavorably, so we’re interested to see how this product stacks up in terms of health and nutrition.
In this article we’ll review the formulation of LMNT to determine if it’s healthy, review some of their health claims, as well as compare LMNT to Liquid IV.
We have no affiliation to LMNT or Liquid IV and make no money promoting either product, so this review is totally unbiased and based on research only.
LMNT has a core electrolyte formulation that’s the same for all of their products: 1000 mg sodium, 200 mg potassium, 60 mg magnesium.
All of the formulations are the same with the “raw unflavored” product containing no natural flavorings or stevia.
Overall we find this to be an effective formulation, since we know electrolyte drinks can enhance sports performance based on medical research.
There is no medically proven optimal electrolyte ratio, since need will depend on training and dehydration status. Someone competing in a triathlon will have a need for significantly more electrolytes than someone running two miles (who would probably need none at all).
We recommend that consumers tailor their electrolyte intake to their specific training regiment and needs, ideally with the help of a doctor. We don’t believe that most people need electrolyte mixes during workouts, but those competing in intense sports (like desert running) where they’re losing tons of fluid may benefit.
We appreciate that this product has 0 g added sugar, and would recommend the raw unflavored LMNT powder only, since we don’t recommend products containing “natural flavors”.
As we’ve covered in many other reviews, the term “natural flavors” is unregulated and any chemical could be included. Some may be harmful, some may be safe. We would prefer that manufacturers list exactly what flavoring agents they used on the ingredients label so consumers (and researchers like us) can determine whether the flavoring agents are safe.
Questionable Health Claims
LMNT claims on their product pages that their drink mixes provide electrolytes in the “optimal ratio.” They provide no proof or citation for this claim, so we will assume it’s false.
We haven’t come across any medical research indicating an optimal ratio for electrolytes or optimal electrolyte quantity, because as we discussed above it will depend on the individual and their training.
An Olympic athlete training for 6 hours daily will have different electrolyte needs than someone who uses an elliptical machine for 30 minutes after work.
LMNT also has a “Science” page on their site where they make some very questionable assertions about salt intake. The company looks at population level medical studies and claims that reduced salt intake is harmful to human health.
While we agree there are some questions about the relatively low recommendations for salt intake by bodies like the WHO, there is still significant medical research associating high salt intake with worse cardiovascular outcomes.
We don’t have a recommendation for salt intake and believe patients should discuss this with their doctor, but we want to make clear that the medical research on optimal salt intake is still developing and there isn’t a clear answer like LMNT makes it seem.
There are often issues conflating correlation and causation in population studies like the one LMNT references. People who are on an extremely restricted sodium diet are likely suffering from CVD issues. If this group has worse health outcomes, it’s not necessarily due to the restricted salt intake but because they’re a self-selected group of people in poor health. Healthy people don’t go on extremely restricted sodium diets.
Overall we find that LMNT makes some poorly argued health claims we don’t believe they’re credentialed or qualified to make. They sell a simple electrolyte powder and should focus on that instead of giving unconventional diet advice.
LMNT Vs. Liquid IV
We recommend LMNT over Liquid IV because it has a better formulation. LMNT contains only electrolytes, has no added sugar, and offers a version with no flavorings for more health conscious consumers.
Liquid IV contains a significant amount of added sugar, which we believe is unhealthy outside of the context of extreme endurance sports, which the vast majority of athletes don’t compete in. Liquid IV also contains natural flavors in all of their formulations.
Both Liquid IV and LMNT make health claims we disagree with, but at least LMNT’s claims are mostly grounded in medical research, while Liquid IV’s claim of “multiplying your hydration” is just egregiously inaccurate as we discussed in our review.
Overall we recommend LMNT’s unflavored packets for people engaging in extreme athletics where significant sweat is lost, but we believe that plain water is a better (and cheaper) option for the vast majority of athletes.
We find this brand to have a high quality formulation even if some of their health claims are unproven.