Have you been absorbed into the coconut water trend?
Natural, low in fat, and promises to rehydrate you more efficiently than water. Coconut water is the latest health craze to sweep the nation and it seems that you cant walk into a gym at the moment without spotting a few enthusiasts with a blue and green carton where their water bottle used to be. With coconut water growing more and more popular within the fitness community, we pursued all the factual information and found that it may not be as beneficial as its popularity suggests.
There still remains no substitute for water. If you are exercising for less than an hour, intermittently or not a particularly high intensity or in high temperatures, you can just stick to sipping good old-fashioned H2O. Nothing will help you rehydrate and maintain your sporting performance more.
Beyond these conditions, it is true that coconut water will hydrate you better than water. However, this is also true of carbohydrate sports drinks and in the studies that tested this, coconut water caused more stomach upset than the sports drinks.
It has even been proven that sports drinks are more efficient in rehydrating athletes. The low levels of sodium present in coconut water mean that it is less useful during long intensive exercise than purpose-designed sports drinks. You would have to add approximately 150mg of sodium (400mg salt) to your coconut water to gain the same benefits.
There is no evidence that coconut water assists in sporting performance. As well as rehydrating athletes more efficiently, the higher levels of carbohydrates and electrolytes in sports drinks means that athletes can maintain their sporting performance over long intensive exercise. These are claims that coconut water companies cannot currently make.
Coconut water won’t help if you are trying to lose fat. Although the sugar in coconut water is natural, it is still chemically identical to the added sugar you find in sports drinks. So if you are looking to cut down on your calorie intake, stick to natural water!
However, with so many people swearing by coconut water, surely it must have some benefits? And it does. Coconut water has very high levels of potassium and proves very effective in balancing out the effects of excessive sodium intake, an issue especially prevalent in western countries. It also possesses some antimicrobial effects, helping kill yeasts, viruses and parasites that are potentially harmful.
So what should we view coconut water as? Based on the information we’ve sourced, coconut water should be seen and used as a health drink rather than a sports supplement. When exercising, it falls short to both natural water and carbohydrate sports drinks. So only drink it when you’re are wearing flip-flops on the beach, and not in your trainers at the gym!