Revive Review: Coconut Water – Coconut or Coco-not?

Maybe you’ve seen coconut water advertised as a healthy natural re-hydration solution throughout the day or during exercise. While there is nothing wrong with using coconut water for general hydration, this natural fluid is not the optimal choice for hydration during intense exercise.

What is coconut water?

In remote tropical areas, coconut water is a widely available source of fluid and electrolytes that is extracted from the centre of immature coconuts. It is an excellent source of potassium, also containing other micronutrients such as calcium, magnesium and vitamin C. Although coconut water provides a small amount of carbohydrate and sodium, these amounts pail in comparison to the carbohydrate and sodium content of a commercial sport re-hydration solution.

Why is hydration important for health and performance?

The body requires enough fluid throughout the day to maintain blood sugar levels, keep organs healthy and prevent exhaustion and head fog/headaches. As we exercise we lose water and electrolytes (sodium and potassium) through breathing and sweat loss. Staying hydrated before, during and after activity is key to maintaining optimal sport performance in any sport or activity.

If dehydration occurs during activity there is a higher risk for mental and physical exhaustion, increased perceived exertion, and higher risk of injury.

What should a sport drink contain?

Re-hydration solutions need to replenish fluid and electrolyte losses. With higher intensity exercise there should also be carbohydrates present to prevent a loss of energy which also impedes performance. A sports drink should always contain water as the first ingredient. Then look for about 12-20g of carbohydrate per 250ml (1 cup) of solution. Because potassium and sodium are lost through sweat, there should be about 20-50mg of potassium and 112-175mg of sodium per 250ml (1 cup) of solution. There should be more sodium than potassium in sports drinks for optimal electrolyte replenishment.

Coconut water vs. Sports Drinks

Sports Drink Chart

Are sport drinks always necessary with activity?

Sport drinks are only necessary to use when engaging in intense activity that last longer than an hour. If you are training in a hot environment, wear heavy equipment, are a high volume sweater or have very salty sweat you may also benefit from incorporating sports drinks. If you are exercising at a moderate or low intensity or your activity lasts less than an hour you can hydrate with plain water rather than purchasing or making a sports drink.

Homemade sports drink recipe—using coconut water!

Makes ~ 4 cups

Mix together:

  • 1 cup of coconut water
  • 3 cups of water
  • ¼ cup dextrose corn sugar (from wine making section of Superstore)
  • ¼ tsp. of salt

Nutrition analysis per 250ml (1 cup): 48 kcal, 0g fat, 12.5g carbohydrate, 0g protein, 115mg potassium, 179mg of sodium