Coconut water has become all the rage in recent years as a more natural form of hydration, especially surrounding exercise. If you’ve tried coconut water, you may have discovered that it also has a pretty steep price tag. So, is it worth it?
Here’s what you’ll find in an 8 oz serving of coconut water: 45 calories. 30 mg sodium. 470 mg potassium. 11g carbohydrate. 0 g protein.
While the ingredients may be “all natural” (just coconut water + vitamin C), there are a few issues when it comes to using coconut water for rehydration during/after exercise. The main one being sodium.
Most sports drinks heavily promote their ability to replenish electrolytes, like sodium and potassium, that are lost in sweat. Here’s the thing: the main electrolyte you lose and would need to replace is sodium. There is about 1000 mg sodium lost per liter of sweat, compared to about 200 mg of potassium per liter. When you compare this to the daily recommended amount of sodium (1,500 mg) and potassium (4,700 mg), you can see that it is much easier to replace potassium that sodium after exercise.
As you can see above, coconut water mainly provides potassium, with very little sodium. This makes it an inadequate form of post-exercise rehydration.
So, is coconut water a miracle rehydration beverage? No. Is it fine to drink because you like it? Of course – just be mindful of the calories it adds to your daily intake, as with all caloric beverages. If you’re exercising for greater than 60-90 minutes, in a hot/humid environment, or are a heavy or salty sweater (you have visible salt on your skin or clothes after working out), then I would recommend a sports drink for hydration surrounding exercise. Otherwise, water is more than adequate!