You’ve heard of these two brands before. Pedialyte and Liquid IV are two of the most recognized names in the electrolyte world, used thousands of times each day. Pedialyte is undeniably the original hydration supplement with its first appearance on store shelves dating back to the 1960’s!1 Over the years they’ve updated their branding and improved their formula to become, perhaps, the most recognizable electrolyte supplement on the market today. Though the initial formula was intended for children recovering from gastrointestinal issues, Pedialyte has evolved into a hangover or just “feel good” supplement for people of all ages.
Liquid IV, a relative newcomer to the scene, is advertised as a “hydration multiplier” and has gained a massive following since its debut in 2012.2 Feeling fatigued? Have a headache? Dealing with muscle cramps? Liquid IV can help with all of that, plus more. Based on our reviewer feedback, we certainly think the formula works well and it’s no wonder to us why it’s become such a popular product.
So the question is: which one is better? We’ve compared the two products head-to-head in a few categories that are most helpful to buyers. In this article you’ll find out how these two top-tier electrolytes stack up across the following categories and use cases: Ingredients, Everyday Hydration, Light Workouts, Heavy Workouts, Hangovers.
It’s interesting, and in many ways appropriate that both Pedialyte and Liquid IV have medical connotations in their names. Pedialyte is derived from “pedia” which is short for pediatrics, the practice of medical care for children. Liquid IV plays on the idea that the formula is intravenous or has a similar impact to intravenous hydration therapy that a hospital patient might receive. Disclaimer: Liquid IV is for oral consumption only!
Do the ingredients line up with the “medical” intention? The short answer is yes. Both products follow the science behind hydration and contain salt and sugar, the key nutrients that enable osmosis in the small intestines. For a deeper review of this process, check out our article: How Does Hydration Work?
At this point you’re probably wondering what the salt, sugar and other other contents of each product are. Here’s a breakdown of the ingredients within a full packet of each product:
|Pedialyte (Grape Flavor, 9g packet)3||Liquid IV (Lemon Lime, 16g packet)4|
|Vitamin C (mg)||0||73|
|Vitamin B6 (mg)||0||2.3|
|Vitamin B12 (mg)||0||6.8|
|Pantothenic Acid (mg)||0||11.4|
The first thing to note is the overall weight of Liquid IV is nearly double that of Pedialyte (16g vs. 9g) and this is nearly commensurate with the amount of water each brand recommends mixing with: Pedialyte suggests 8oz of water while Liquid IV suggests 16oz. This trend continues with most of the main ingredients; you’ll notice the calories, sodium, sugar, carbohydrates and potassium are about double in Liquid IV. Things get a bit more interesting as you work your way down the list and note that Chloride is absent in Liquid IV, but at the same time, Liquid IV contains high levels of several ingredients that aren’t available in Pedialyte: Vitamin C (140% daily value), Niacin (140% daily value), Vitamin B6 (280% daily value), Vitamin b12 (280% daily value) and Pantothenic Acid (230% daily value).
Another important item to note is the use of artificial colors, flavors and sweeteners in Pedialyte, all of which are absent in Liquid IV. Instead, Liquid IV uses pure cane sugar, stevia (a plant-derived ingredient) and natural flavors for taste and excludes ingredients to alter the color of the drink.
With all that said, which one has better ingredients? Without considering the specific use cases of each formula, we give the edge to Liquid IV. Though we’re unsure why Liquid IV lacks Chloride, a key anion that helps the body maintain fluid balance, we like that it contains a variety of other vitamins and minerals that contribute to the “Cellular Transport Technology;” the principle behind the rapid rehydration it provides.
The inclusion of artificial colors and flavors in Pedialyte also contribute to the decision. Even though the effects of such ingredients aren’t well documented, we feel that in this day and age these additives should be stripped from a product that’s marketed to improve wellness.
Winner: Liquid IV
At this point we’ve established that Liquid IV holds the edge in terms of ingredients, but this doesn’t mean it’s flat out the better option. Choosing one over the other comes down to what type of activity you find yourself doing when reaching for a hydration supplement. Thankfully the HydrationReview team has tested both products extensively with multiple users who provided performance feedback across a wide range of activities. We went back to the results logs and categorized the feedback into the following categories and compared results of each product. Keep reading to find out which product will help you boost your output!
Some days you might wake up not feeling right; a little drowsy, a lack of physical energy, perhaps a bit of brain fog. Maybe this feeling sets in later in the day, like after lunch. We’ve all been there and know this can be frustrating especially when life is calling and things must get done. Instead of pouring a second or third cup of coffee, boost your hydration levels to start feeling good again. If you want to speed up the process, electrolyte supplements like Liquid IV or Pedialyte will help.
Our team tested both products in a variety of “everyday” situations including during the morning, after lunch, during air travel and while out running errands. Ultimately, our reviewers wanted to feel physically energized and mentally alert so they could keep up with their busy days. The results were that both Pedialyte and Liquid IV worked well in these scenarios. Reviewers felt that the addition of these electrolyte supplements improved their general sense of well being more so than drinking an extra glass of water (or coffee for that matter).
In terms of morning and afternoon hydration, our team felt positive effects from both products. Review logs cited key terms including: alert, energized, focused, balanced, prepared. Reviewers didn’t discern any significant differences between the two products when used in these situations, however, there were some who preferred one taste over another.
Liquid IV and Pedialyte also helped our testers during long travel days. One team member provided the following feedback:
“As someone who gets dehydrated during flights I felt the difference when taking these electrolytes pre-flight…nowadays I can more easily get in the zone after landing and head straight into the office for meetings… would recommend traveling with a few of these in your suitcase.”
While the majority of the team preferred the taste of Liquid IV over Pedialyte, the performance of each product in low activity, everyday hydration situations was pretty much equal with positive effects cited for both products. If you’re ever feeling a bit fatigued during your office day, we recommend either of these products.
Anytime your heart rate increases, so does your rate of cellular respiration which depletes hydration levels in your body. Even if you don’t notice sweat rolling off your forehead, your body is still working and perspiring to keep you cool.These processes reduce hydration levels and it’s important to be mindful of this and to keep up your fluid intake.
For this comparison, we consider a light workout anything from a morning walk around the neighborhood to a bike ride to work. You may not be wearing your gym gear in these situations, but at the same time, your increase in heart rate is apparent. Our reviewers found ways to incorporate these light workouts throughout their days and drank Liquid IV and Pedialyte to see how each product impacted their sense of well being.
Starting with Liquid IV, reviewers reported modest improvements in energy when taken during the morning hours. This probably has to do with the cocktail of B vitamins and vitamin C that the body happily accepts in the morning. While the team appreciated the positive feelings, they were also critical of the taste and volume of liquid at this time of the day:
“I find the texture of liquid IV to be a bit heavier, and in the morning hours it’s sometimes too much to handle… To counter this I add more water to my bottle, but then I’m left with almost 30 oz which isn’t necessary or convenient.”
Other reviewers commented on the taste, noting the salty flavor wasn’t appealing after a light workout. Interestingly, this was in direct contrast to some of the feedback we received on the taste during a strenuous workout (more in the next section).
Moving on to Pedialyte, our team provided similar feedback, namely an improvement in their well being after taking the electrolyte post light workout. Reviewers were far less critical about the taste though. Even though some of the flavors can be a bit overpowering, a little extra water on top of the recommended 8 oz. did the trick. One reviewer even noted that she enjoyed drinking the fruit punch flavor after her brisk walk to the office. “The fruit punch actually paired well with the rather plain oatmeal that I make at the office.”
There’s nothing quite as satisfying as gulping down an electrolyte drink after a heavy sweat session. You know the feeling; sweat is dripping down your face, your mouth is parched and the sensation of drinking your favorite flavor electrolyte drink hits the spot. Which is best though, Pedialyte or Liquid IV?
Megan, a dedicated cyclist, decided to give Pedialyte a try during a week where she did intense indoor rides. She poured a packet of Pedialyte in her Camelbak Eddy+ and was off to the races. As for performance, she felt it gave her a slight pickup, but not much more than water:
“I didn’t notice a huge difference, honestly… If anything the taste was a bit too sweet for me and that’s with adding more water than what’s recommended.”
In the spirit of testing, Megan used Liquid IV during the second half of the week so she could make a fair comparison. Her feedback on Liquid IV was pretty telling:
“Liquid IV was clearly the winner for me. My output scores were noticeably higher (compared to Pedialyte) and I felt great even after finishing the rides… the salty taste is actually very satisfying after a heavy sweat.”
Other reviewers had similar experiences when comparing the effects of these two electrolytes. Whether it was an intense swim, a hard run or a kickboxing class, over 80% of our reviewers preferred Liquid IV over Pedialyte after a heavy sweat. The results are clear on this one; everything from physical feelings to actual output was better when using Liquid IV.
Winner: Liquid IV
If you’re hungover reading this on your phone as you lay on the couch just know we’ve all been there and can empathize. Hangovers are the worst, and us humans will do ANYTHING to soften the pain. The question is, can electrolytes help? We certainly think so, and this aligns with the feedback from our team.
Our reviewers are a work hard, play hard group and they’ve provided feedback on many electrolytes and how they improved their recovery time. As it turns out, Pedialyte and Liquid IV are some of the most highly rated amongst the group.
Pedialyte is probably the most commonly used electrolyte for hangovers. What started as a tonic for children has now become a product marketed mainly toward adults who can’t shake off a night out like they used to. Based on reviewer feedback, it does help reduce the pain and shortens the recovery window more so than water. As far as taste, several reviewers noted that Pedialyte on ice was extremely satisfying when nursing a hangover.
Liquid IV was another fan favorite. With its higher salt content, users felt that water was more quickly absorbed.
“I noticed a lot of noises coming from my gut after guzzling a Liquid IV after a long Saturday night. At first I thought something bad was going to happen and prepared myself for the worst, but after about 25 minutes I started to feel noticeably better… I went from rolling around in bed to standing up and getting my act together.”
Is Pedialyte or Liquid I.V. better for a hangover? Honestly, both work well and will probably come down to your taste preferences (or tolerances when feeling hungover). If you’re reading this hungover and don’t have access to any electrolytes, plan for your future by buying these products now. You can also try making your own homemade Pedialyte using this recipe assuming you can get off the couch.
Liquid IV vs. Pedialyte: Final Verdict
As with all things related to physiology, results will vary from person to person. While we think our feedback is directionally helpful in making a purchase decision, you won’t actually know which product is best for you until you give them a try. With that said though, based on our team’s feedback, the overall winner is Liquid IV. It’s got a wide range of use cases and a list of ingredients that support the science behind rapid hydration. You can’t go wrong by keeping a few sticks of this around your house or in your bag. Try some today
1Brown, Dalvin. “Pedialyte Pushes Further into the Adult Market with Flavored Water Drink Sparkling Rush.” USA Today, Gannett Satellite Information Network, 20 Dec. 2018, https://www.usatoday.com/story/money/business/2018/12/19/pedialyte-sparkling-rush-power-packs-hit-flavored-water-market/2362292002/.
2Unilever PLC. “Unilever to Acquire Liquid I.V.” Unilever, Unilever PLC, 15 Feb. 2022, https://www.unilever.com/news/press-and-media/press-releases/2020/unilever-to-acquire-liquid-iv/.
3.“Ingredients.” Abbot Labs, https://abbottstore.com/infant-and-child/pedialyte/pedialyte-powder-packs/pedialyte-powderpacks/pedialyte-powder-packs-variety-8-5g-stickpacks-8-pack-56090p8.html.
4“Liquid IV – Hydration Powder (Lemon Lime Flavor).” Myfitnesspal, https://www.myfitnesspal.com/food/calories/liquid-iv-hydration-powder-lemon-lime-flavor-416154627.