There has been a big push on coconut water, especially in the fitness industry. Many fitness gurus swear by it, calling it a miracle drink and suggesting that it can cure cancer, you feel younger, and replace all valuable nutrients lost to you while exercising. The 2010 Malibu International Marathon even replaced its glucose-laden Gatorade and Powerade drinks with coconut water, to stay with their tropical theme. Is coconut water everything people claim it is?
What is it?
Coconut water is the water taken from the center of the coconut. It is not the same as coconut milk which is rich in fat and calories. Coconut water is being used for a healthy sports drink because it is relatively low in calories and has no added or refined sugars, especially when compared to current sports drinks on the market. It is high in potassium, about 700mg per serving which is more than a banana, while still having moderate amounts of other electrolytes like sodium, magnesium, and phosphorus. Sounds like the perfect drink, right?
So is it the perfect drink?
For many exercisers and athletes, coconut water is a great beverage. There is certainly nothing wrong with it, and the low calorie content is ideal for anyone trying to lose weight. However, According to The American Council on Exercise , high intensity or long distance endurance athletes need more than coconut water has to offer. After one to two hours of prolonged significant activity, the body sweats out valuable sodium stores which need to be replenished. After the first hour of exercise, the body needs 30 to 60 grams of carbohydrate to provide working muscles with energy; carbohydrates that coconut water does not offer. The experts at ACE suggest that if you want to drink coconut water while engaging in prolonged exercise, you should combine it with a sodium and carbohydrate snack like pretzels.
The Bottom Line:
Know what type of activity you are engaging in and be prepared to fuel your body properly. Coconut water is great for activities less than an hour in length. Higher intensity exercise, sports competitions, and distance cardiovascular activity require more sodium and carbohydrates, so be prepared.
Natalie Digate Muth, MD. RD., ” Nutrition Spotlight: Fueling for Performance…With Coconut Water? “, The American Council on Exercise
Jennifer LaRue Huget, ” Is that right? Coconut water is “natures sports drink”? “, Washington Post