Liquid I.V. is all the rage, but does it stand up to science? As a registered dietitian, I’m sharing my Liquid IV review. Per usual, my goal is not to tell you what I think you should do. Instead, I’ll share some of the science to help you confidently decide if Liquid IV is a fit for you and your needs.
What is Liquid IV?
Liquid IV Hydration Multiplier is a powdered electrolyte supplement. They use the “breakthrough science of Cellular Transport Technology (CTT)” to deliver water, electrolytes, and essential nutrients into your bloodstream faster and more efficiently than water alone.
Liquid IV Ingredients
Liquid IV ingredients include dextrose, pure cane sugar, natural flavors, stevia leaf extract, mined salt, sodium citrate, potassium citrate, ascorbic acid (vitamin C), B vitamins (B3, B5, B6, B12), citric acid, dipotassium phosphate, silicon dioxide.
The main functional ingredients here are sugar and sodium, which is an electrolyte, along with potassium.
There are also additional ingredients in other Liquid IV varieties:
- Liquid IV Energy Multiplier: contains guayasa and matcha, both caffeinated teas.
- Sleep Multiplier: contains valerian root, L-theanine, and melatonin.
- Immune Support: contains additional vitamin C, zinc, and Wellmune - Liquid IV’s “proprietary, naturally sourced beta glucan.”
Liquid IV Nutrition Facts
Depending on the flavor, most Liquid IV sticks contain 40-50 calories. Most contain 11 grams added sugar and 380 mg sodium (or 17% daily value for sodium, based on a 2,000 calorie daily diet).
How Does Liquid IV Work?
All you need is one stick of Liquid IV Hydration Multiplier and 16 ounces of water. Pour the electrolyte powder into the water and shake or stir.
Liquid IV works as an oral rehydration solution, modeled after the World Health Organization’s Oral Rehydration Solution, utilizing Liquid IV’s cellular transport technology.
WHO’s Oral Rehydration Solution
The World Health Organization’s Oral Rehydration Therapy (ORT) was created to reverse potentially fatal dehydration from diarrhea. In cases of severe or infectious diarrhea, normal sodium absorption can be impaired, so adding glucose (sugar) becomes incredibly helpful to improve absorption and thus rehydration.
Traditional ORT contains specific amounts of glucose, sodium chloride, and potassium, designed to create a liquid with a specific osmolarity, which is what helps faster absorption. This helps increase hydration and replenish electrolytes.
In developing countries, ORT has been very helpful in reducing deaths and helping many children recover from diseases like cholera or dysentery.
Also note that there is some research that has suggested a solution with lower osmolarity (compared to the WHO ORT solution) may be more advantageous for severe non-cholera diarrhea.)
Cellular Transport Technology - What is it?
Cellular Transport Technology (CTT) is a delivery system that helps water and other key nutrients absorb into the bloodstream faster and more efficiently than drinking water alone.
Basically, Liquid IV’s CTT is their specific combination of sodium, potassium, glucose, and water, modeled off of WHO’s Oral Rehydration Solution.
Is it Science-Based?
The good news is that Liquid IV is science-based.
Sodium/ glucose cotransporter protein 1 (SGLT1) is the mechanism responsible for glucose reabsorption in the small intestine. With sodium-dependent glucose transporters (SGLTs), sodium and glucose are co-transported by an electromagnetic gradient across the intestinal membrane. Aiding in rehydration, water essentially follows sodium and glucose through SGLT1.
Benefits of Liquid IV
Liquid IV claims multiple health benefits, such as improved performance, optimized travel, burning more calories, enhanced mental clarity, and reduced signs of aging.
But is this true?
Well - yes and no.
These claims are benefits of proper hydration - not explicitly with Liquid IV itself.
Yes, Liquid IV can support adequate hydration, which may support mentioned health benefits. But these benefits are the same even if you hydrate with plain water.
It’s important to note that with most of these individual benefits, adequate hydration alone is always just one small piece of the puzzle. Yes, adequate hydration may support burning more calories - but not a significant amount. And sure, staying hydrated may help reduce signs of aging in your skin, but will also be part of a bigger picture, with rest, stress management, nutrition, genetics, and more.
Does it actually hydrate faster than water alone?
Examining the science of how Liquid IV works, yes, Liquid IV hydrates faster than water alone. Because it’s based off of the World Health Organization’s Oral Rehydration Solution, it’s literally designed to rehydrate faster and more efficiently.
(Note that this doesn’t mean everyone needs faster rehydrating, just that it can help accomplish that when truly needed.)
Liquid IV Side Effects
Most individuals likely will not experience negative side effects from consuming Liquid IV occasionally.
That said, side effect risks increase especially with regular, frequent consumption. Liquid IV is a high sodium supplement, and it is possible to have too much sodium in your body.
Possible side effects may include:
- Convulsions (seizures)
- Fast heartbeat
- High blood pressure
- Muscle twitching
- Swelling of feet or lower legs
Before starting any new dietary supplement, including Liquid IV, it’s always a good idea to discuss with your doctor.
I especially recommend doing so if you have any medical conditions where you may be sensitive to sodium, potassium, or blood sugar concerns, such as blood pressure concerns, kidney disorders, diabetes, gestational diabetes, and insulin resistance, among others.
How Does it Stack Up to Its Competition?
Liquid IV claims to have 3x the electrolytes of sports drinks - but does it really? While this will depend on the sports drink or electrolyte beverage you’re comparing it to, Liquid IV does have more electrolytes than some major sports drinks brands.
Check out how they stack up against their competition:
Liquid IV vs Gatorade
Compared to Gatorade, Liquid IV has less calories and sugar, but higher amounts of the electrolytes sodium and potassium. Liquid IV also contains B vitamins, too.
Liquid IV vs Pedialyte
Pedialyte and Liquid IV are both based on the World Health Organization’s oral rehydration solution, so they’re nearly identical in terms of electrolytes, minerals, salts, and sugars. Liquid IV additionally contains B vitamins, vitamin A, and vitamin C that Pedialyte does not have.
Drip Drop vs Liquid IV
Looking at each stick (to mix with 16 ounces of water), Drip Drop contains more sodium, potassium, and sugar than Liquid IV.
Waterboy vs Liquid IV
Compared to Liquid IV, Waterboy has more electrolytes, more vitamin B12 and vitamin C, but less calories and no sugar.
LMNT vs Liquid IV
LMNT contains more sodium, but less potassium than Liquid IV. Additionally, LMNT contains no sugar or any sort of flavoring.
What Does Liquid IV Taste Like?
Liquid IV tastes sweet, but noticeably salty, due to the high sodium (an electrolyte) content. It also comes in a variety of flavors, like lemon lime, acai berry, passion fruit, strawberry, concord grape, and (my personal favorites!) golden cherry and the tangerine immune support.
How Many Liquid IVs Can You Drink in a Day?
Liquid IV says on their website that it’s a “daily” beverage, but as a registered dietitian I have to say that's not likely necessary.
One packet of Liquid IV Hydration Multiplier provides 510 mg of sodium, or 22% of the daily value. Most folks are already not lacking sodium in their diets, so this can really add up. And if you’re someone who is sensitive to sodium or has health concerns with sodium, this is something to be especially aware of.
The sugar content is something else that can also quickly add up from one packet of Liquid IV. One packet has 11 grams of sugar. The American Heart Association recommends limiting daily added sugar to 36 grams daily for men and 25 grams daily for women. For an adult woman, one packet of Liquid IV already contains 44% of the recommended daily limit for sugar. This is something that can also really add up to be aware of.
Speak with your doctor and/ or dietitian if you need further help deciding if and how much Liquid IV is appropriate for you.
Where to Buy Liquid IV
You can buy Liquid IV through their store, on Amazon, or at many retailers, such as Walmart, Target, Costco, Sam’s Club, and other various grocery and nutrition stores.
How Much Does it Cost?
On the Liquid IV website, a 16-pack bundle starts at $24.47 ($1.53 per stick). Pricing varies at other retailers, but at the type of publishing this post, Amazon starts at $23.95 for a 16-pack ($1.50 per stick) and Walmart is at $8.98 for a 6-pack ($1.50 per stick).
Note that you can find additional deals - on the Liquid IV website you can sign up for their email list and get 20% off your first order. And on Amazon, sometimes the price can vary, and there may also be additional coupons to clip and you can do the subscribe and save option if you use it regularly.
Can You Drink Liquid IV While Pregnant?
On their Facebook page, Liquid IV did respond to a question stating that, “Our Hydration Multiplier is safe for mommies and moms-to-be! If you have any medical concerns, we recommend that you reach out to your doctor.”
Potential medical concerns I would absolutely address with your doctor before consuming include insulin resistance, gestational diabetes, and pre-eclampsia, among others.
Liquid IV for Hangovers
One popular reason some love Liquid IV is because anecdotally they swear it helps hangovers.
While we don’t have clinical studies looking at Liquid IV as a hangover cure, we can look at the science of hangovers and the science of Liquid IV and compare the two.
Obviously drinking alcohol in excess can lead to a hangover, but why exactly? Well, we know there are a lot of effects that could lead to hangover symptoms:
- Dehydration (alcohol is a diuretic, which means you pee more and you may dehydrate easier while drinking alcohol)
- Electrolyte imbalances (alcohol consumption can lead to electrolyte imbalances)
- Low blood sugar (the production of glucose - or sugar - is limited while you’re drinking alcohol)
Looking at the science, Liquid IV can help with all three of these effects.
Is Liquid IV Safe?
Generally speaking, Liquid IV is safe for most healthy individuals to consume in moderation. As with any dietary supplement, it’s a good idea to discuss with your doctor before using (especially if you have any health conditions).
Does Liquid IV Really Work?
The science doesn’t lie - Liquid IV does work to aid in faster hydration! As it’s based on the World Health Organization’s oral health solution, it’s designed to reverse severe dehydration (when normal sodium absorption is impaired). Adding sugar to the electrolyte beverage leads to faster absorption and rehydration.
That said - is it necessary?
Not really, unless you're severely dehydrated.
Is Liquid IV Worth it?
You need to decide for yourself if Liquid IV is worth it to you - but after this Liquid IV review, I hope you feel more confident in doing so! It does work! But it's marketed to health-conscious wellness enthusiasts looking to optimize performance. And while it likely won't hinder or harm, most significant benefits are really observed in cases of severe dehydration.
Final Thoughts: Liquid IV Review Recap
As a registered dietitian who's reviewed the evidence, my final thoughts on Liquid IV are these:
- It's science-based.
- It's based on the World Health Organization's oral rehydration solution.
- Liquid IV can aid in faster rehydration
- They have an excellent marketing team that markets it heavily in the wellness world.
- It is not not necessary for the vast majority of people.
- Plain water hydrates fine for even the average active individual.
- If you're sweat heavily when active, nursing a hangover, or in another particularly dehydrated situation, Liquid IV likely won’t hurt, and may even help.