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There’s been a lot of hype in the sporting world that Coconut Water is a great sports drink substitute. Let’s check it out.?
Coconut Water is the water from within the cavity of a coconut and is not coconut milk from the flesh. The water from young coconuts are sweeter and has a higher fructose content than older coconuts. Many coconut drinks have added flavouring in the form of juice or sugar and added sodium, check out the info panel of commercial drinks.
Coconut Water has a similar carbohydrate content as sports drinks (4.7 carbs per 100ml). It also has a small quantity of protein and very little fat, it empties quickly from the stomach and is absorbed readily by the small intestine. It’s low in sodium (42mg per serve) and a good source of potassium.
Because Coconut Water is low in sodium it isn’t similar to a sports drink (110-265mg per serve). Sodium is used to replace salt lost in sweat and to enhance the fluid absorption from the intestine. Consuming a drink with sodium before running can increase blood volume which leads to improved endurance. During exercise especially in ultra running athletes should drink a sports drink with sodium to avoid hyponatremia. After exercise sodium in sports drink is important as full hydration doesn’t happen until all sodium losses have been replaced.
One small study showed coconut water was a good post exercise hydration drink. However if you are doing plenty of training a sports drink beats coconut water. Coconut water does contain small amount of minerals and vitamins but not really enough to get excited about from a nutritional standpoint.
Enjoy coconut water as a drink and a way to keep well hydrated during activities that result in mild sweat loss; but it’s not a substitute for a sports drink in endurance events.
Reference: Gold Medal Nutrition, Glen Varadwell