Liquid IV Review: Are "Hydration Multipliers" Real?

Liquid IV Review: Are "Hydration Multipliers" Real?


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Liquid IV is an electrolyte powder company that makes a strange claim that their products "multiply hydration." The brand claims that one stick of Liquid IV has "3x the electrolytes of traditional sports drinks."

But are Liquid IV's health claims backed by legitimate scientific research? Do regular consumers even need "hydration multipliers"? Does Liquid IV contain any questionable additive ingredients? And how do real users rate its taste and effects?

In this article we’ll answer all of these questions and more as we review the hydration multiplier claims based on medical research, analyze every ingredient in Liquid IV to give our take on whether the product is healthy or not, and also review the ingredients in Liquid IV Energy and Liquid IV Sleep.

We'll share our experience using Liquid IV during exercise, compare the product to other electrolyte drinks, and publish a price breakdown featuring the retailer that sells Liquid IV for the best price.

Highly Questionable Health Claims

Liquid IV questionable health claim

Liquid IV questionable health claim 2

As shown above, Liquid IV claims that their product(s) can provide "faster hydration than water alone" and that one stick "can provide 2-3x the hydration of water alone."

To understand why Liquid IV’s claim of "hydration multiplication" is questionable and arguably unscientific, we have to first overview what hydration is. 

Hydration is simply the process of drinking water, or consuming water-containing foods like fresh fruit, to replace that lost during the day and maintain proper biological function.

There is no way to “multiply” hydration, and not even an explanation of what that would entail on Liquid IV’s site. We consider this to be a marketing claim and not a scientific claim.

Liquid IV’s formulation is rooted in a solution created to rapidly rehydrate patients with severe dehydration, usually caused by diarrhea, called Oral Rehydration Solution (ORS). The brand even states this on their blog.

Liquid IV's website links to a 1994 medical review showing that ORS has been effective for treating individuals with cholera or diarrhea.

We don't understand why a liquid solution used specifically to treat individuals with cholera and diarrhea would be beneficial or even necessary in healthy adults.

Liquid IV’s blog post on ORS previously stated that “A little-known fact about the human body is that we can drink all the water we want, but very little of that water actually gets absorbed and used by the body.” 

This was untrue, and had no source or citation. Liquid IV was claiming that humans have somehow been drinking water wrong for our entire existence, and removed that statement after our article was published.

But what's actually in Liquid IV and is the formulation healthy or unhealthy? We'll discuss in the next section.

Ingredient Analysis

Liquid IV ingredients

The ingredients in Liquid IV Hydration Multiplier are shown above.

Pure cane sugar is the first-listed ingredient, at a dose of 10 grams (g).

A 2018 medical review documents that sugar consumption in excess can have negative health effects including obesity and inflammatory diseases, and since many Americans already consume too much sugar from diet, it may be sensible to avoid dietary supplements containing sugar.

Vitamin B3, vitamin B5, vitamin B6 and vitamin B12 are included. We haven't come across any medical research suggesting that B-vitamin supplementation improves hydration.

Citric acid has been clinically shown to cause whole-body inflammation in some individuals, as we documented in our Waterdrop reviews article.

Natural flavors is a healthier option than artificial flavors, but a medical review published in the Environmental Health Perspectives journal suggests that some flavoring ingredients may be harmful to human health.

Overall, we consider Liquid IV likely to improve the rate of rehydration from a dehydrated state, because ORS is clinically proven to do so. However, we don't recommend this product due to the added sugar and questionable inactive ingredients.

We Tried Liquid IV – Our Experience

Liquid IV UGC

As one of the authors of this article (Calloway), I wanted to purchase and try Liquid IV myself to share my honest opinion.

I mixed one of the stick packs into a large water before playing basketball for a few hours.

I strongly disliked the taste. It's an artificial taste that's simply not pleasant in my opinion, although I mostly drink water and tea so it may not be as displeasing to some.

If I were to choose a commercial electrolyte drink, I would much prefer the taste of Gatorade to Liquid IV.

I didn't notice any improved energy or performance benefits. I usually drink water while I exercise and couldn't notice any difference in how I felt or in my endurance.

The product experience is good. Many stick pack and powder supplements I've tried don't open easily and can get all over the floor or your hands. The Liquid IV stick was effortless to peel and there was no spillage.

Overall, I would not personally buy this product again.

Where to Buy Liquid IV for the Best Price

Liquid IV is sold at a variety of online retailers. Here's a price-per-stick breakdown, accurate at the time of updating this article:

CVS: $1.80 (link)

Walgreens: $1.67 (link)

Target: $1.60 (link)

Brand website: $1.56 (link)

Walmart: $1.50 (plus shipping, link)

Amazon: $1.54 (free shipping, link to official Amazon listing)

Liquid IV is currently around 30% cheaper on Amazon than at other retail sites when factoring in shipping fees.

Real People Review Liquid IV 

A YouTube video published by "Vitality Vixens" reviewed the taste of every Liquid IV product and ranked the best flavors:

A TikTok creator named "MissKeiyanaNicole" claims that Liquid IV is useful for treating hangovers:

@misskeiyananicole Replying to @rociov5 #hangover #hangovercure #liquidiv #storytime #grwm #girltalk #dranktoomuch ♬ original sound - MissKeiyanaNicole

How Do Other Liquid IV Products Stack Up?

Liquid IV sells two other popular supplements: Energy Multiplier and Sleep Multiplier.

Liquid IV Energy ingredients list

The Energy supplement, ingredients shown above, has a very similar formulation to regular Liquid IV.

Organic matcha tea is a strange choice for an energy formulation, as it's rich in an amino acid called l-theanine, which was shown to induce relaxation in a 2008 clinical trial.

Guayusa extract was shown to have a stimulatory effect in a 2020 medical review, but we can’t determine if it will be effective in this product since Liquid IV doesn’t publish its dose.

We don't recommend this product due to the inclusion of added sugar and the questionable additives we referenced in the previous ingredient analysis.

The active ingredients in Sleep Multiplier are shown below.

Liquid IV Sleep active ingredients

Valerian root extract is an effective sleep aid as documented in an extensive meta-study published in the Journal of Evidence-Based Integrative Medicine.

It may be underdosed in this supplement at only 175 milligrams (mg), because the above-linked study reported the effective dosing range to be 300-600 mg per day.

L-theanine is an amino acid that can have a relaxing effect, but we cannot find any medical evidence that it improves sleep quality or duration at as low a dose as 50 mg.

Melatonin is an effective sleep aid, and is one of the most well studied supplements for sleep. 3 mg of melatonin is an effective dose, as we documented in our review of sleep supplement Peptiva.

We don't recommend Sleep Multiplier because it contains added sugar and other questionable inactive ingredients, but we do consider it likely to be effective for improving sleep due to the research-backed dose of melatonin.

Liquid IV vs. Pedialyte

Many consumers use Pedialyte to treat dehydration, and are often curious about whether Pedialyte or Liquid IV is a more effective and healthy option.

While we don't recommend either product, we consider Liquid IV to be a healthier and more effective choice than Pedialyte.

Liquid IV is based on ORS so it's proven to be effective for treating clinical dehydration, and while it contains added sugar, it's free of highly questionable additives like artificial colors and artificial sweeteners.

As we documented in our article on is Pedialyte bad for you, Pedialyte contains artificial colorants like Red 40 and artificial sweeteners like sucralose, while also containing added sugar.

Our Clean Electrolyte Picks

Vitacup Hydration Coffee Instant Sticks is our top electrolyte pick.

This product provides a modest amount of sodium, potassium and magnesium (electrolytes), and contains 100 mg of caffeine for an energy boost during workouts.

Most importantly, it's formulated with whole food ingredients like coconut water and himalayan pink mineral salt. There are no additive ingredients in this product that we consider questionable from a health perspective.

LMNT Unflavored Electrolyte Powder Packets is our top caffeine-free electrolyte pick.

The only ingredients in LMNT Unflavored are electrolytes: sodium, potassium and magnesium, making it a clean and simple formulation.

Pros and Cons of Liquid IV

Here are the pros and cons of Liquid IV in our opinion:

Pros:

  • Should treat severe dehydration
  • May treat diarrhea
  • Contains electrolytes
  • Easy-to-use packaging

Cons:

  • Brand makes questionable health claims
  • Contains a significant dose of added sugar
  • Contains citric acid
  • Contains flavoring ingredients
  • Nearly $2 per serving
  • Doesn't appear clinically tested
  • Tastes terribly synthetic (in the author's opinion)

Liquid IV FAQs

Here's our take on some frequently asked questions about Liquid IV products:

Is Liquid IV good for you?

Liquid IV is not good for you in our opinion. For the everyday consumer who is not in a life-threatening dehydration situation, we consider it to be unhealthy to consume processed cane sugar and flavoring agents.

Does Liquid IV have caffeine?

Liquid IV's most popular product, Hydration Multiplier, does not have any caffeine. The only Liquid IV product that contains caffeine is Liquid IV Energy Multiplier which contains 100 mg of caffeine per serving. This is equivalent to around one regular cup of coffee.

Does Liquid IV work for hangovers?

Liquid IV is likely to improve symptoms of hangover because part of the discomfort of a hangover is caused by dehydration. Headache, fatigue and irritability can all be caused by dehydration.

We would recommend using a sugar-free, flavoring-free electrolyte powder like LMNT to treat hangover symptoms (or just water) rather than Liquid IV.

Does Liquid IV cause side effects?

Liquid IV is unlikely to cause side effects in our opinion. While there are some inactive ingredients that are questionable from a health perspective, there are no ingredients in Liquid IV that we consider dangerous or likely to cause negative effects in otherwise healthy adults.

Liquid IV doesn't appear to have been studied in a clinical trial, so we can only make an educated guess about side effects based on its formulation.

How many Liquid IV can you drink in a day?

Liquid IV's FAQ page recommends one serving per day. While there would likely be no harm in consuming more than one serving over a short time period, we do not recommend doing so because consuming significant amounts of added sugar can be unhealthy.

How does Liquid IV work?

According to Liquid IV, the balance of electrolytes in their product causes water to enter the bloodstream more rapidly than would occur during standard digestion. We have not seen clinical evidence of this, and again, we do not see the value of this effect outside of circumstances like severe, clinical dehydration which should be treated with a doctor's guidance and not with dietary supplements.

Stay up-to-date on our research reviews

Conclusion

We don't currently recommend any Liquid IV supplements and we consider the brand's value proposition to be very strange.

Liquid IV claims to increase the speed of hydration beyond drinking water alone, but fails to publish any convincing evidence that healthy adults not experiencing diarrhea have any need to increase the speed of hydration.

There are several inactive ingredients in Liquid IV (refined cane sugar, citric acid, natural flavors) that may be questionable from a health perspective, and we don't understand the inclusion of B-vitamins, which don't appear to improve hydration status.

One of the authors of this article tried Liquid IV during intense exercise and didn't note any performance or energy benefits. He strongly disliked the taste.

Liquid IV is a healthier option than Pedialyte because it's free of artificial flavors and artificial dye.

For consumers intent on purchasing Liquid IV, Amazon currently has the best prices when considering shipping fees.