For athletes and people who are avid gym goers, nutrition and rehydration are two very important factors in getting the most from your workout and also being in tip top shape. Of course, sports drinks offer people of this vein plenty of benefits but what if there was a natural equivalent? Well, there is – coconut water. Coconut water was once only available in health stores, however nowadays it truly is the drink of choice for athletes and people who push their bodies. It’s also widespread and readily available in most corner shops and supermarkets. But why has this occurred, why is it so popular and what are its real benefits?
Coconut is fantastic for rehydration purposes and do you know why? Well, it’s packed with potassium, a vital ingredient in the fight against dehydration. Coconut water is shown to have around 470mg of the mineral in a 225ml serving of the drink – this is around 15 times the amount the nearest sports drink has. As potassium has a far higher serving of this mineral it helps maintain proper fluid balance after sport and in doing so limits the incidence of cramping.
We hear regularly from sports drink manufacturers about the high level of electrolytes in their drinks – another aid for performance and a benefit afterwards too in rehydration terms. However, coconut has a higher level of sodium and electrolytes and equally as importantly it’s naturally occurring. We would doubt that there are too many nutritionists that would choose a neon coloured sports drink with a lower electrolyte count than a natural drink like coconut water. For example a 225ml serving of coconut water has around 230mg of sodium compared to 130g in the equivalent amount of Gatorade. In addition, coconut water also comes with high levels of magnesium and calcium to help you recover after a workout.
The Bad Stuff
Sports drinks may help you last for longer and they are beneficial most certainly; however they are also full of empty sugary calories. For instance, a 225ml serving of a sports drink will have around 200 calories, while the equivalent coconut water serving will have fewer than 50. In addition, a large proportion of the sports drink’s calories will come from nastiness such as corn flower and fructose. Coconut water also has dietary fibre, 2grams of protein per serving and is less acidic than the alternative.
Of course, coconut water is full of a range of other amazing nutrients too and is filled with amino acids – perfect for muscle development. It also contains organic acids, enzymes and antioxidants. It’s rich in B Vitamins and also has elements of zinc, sulphur and iodine – these aid cell functions. It’s also rich in plant hormones, known as cytokines. These have anti-aging and also anti-cancer properties – another benefit of the drink.
Coconut water is known in Hawaii, where it’s abundant, as the ‘dew from the heavens’ thanks to its rehydrating and health renewing properties. For people who enjoy working out it has a whole host of nutritional benefits and is a very impressive addition to diets and replacement for sports drinks. If you don’t like the taste of coconut water, just whip it up into your favorite recipe.
Cormac Reynolds has written for a variety of health and healthy eating websites. He loves trekking and also sports, as well as getting out and about.