Coconut water backed as ‘excellent’ sports drink for light exercise

- Last updated on GMT

Coconut water deserves its popular reputation as nature’s sports drink, according to a new scientific analysis presented at the 244th National Meeting & Exposition of the American Chemical Society (ACS).

The analysis of the much-hyped natural drink concludes that the drink is perfect for those who are takig part in light exercise.

However, the researchers – led by Dr Chhandashri Bhattacharya – warned that people taking part in strenuous exercise might want to take it all with a grain of salt ― literally ― or stick with a more traditional sports drink like Gatorade.

"Coconut water is a natural drink that has everything your average sports drink has and more," ​said Bhattacharya.

"It has five times more potassium than Gatorade or Powerade. Whenever you get cramps in your muscles, potassium will help you to get rid of the cramps. It's a healthy drink that replenishes the nutrients that your body has lost during a moderate workout."

Bhattacharya's team analyzed coconut water, Gatorade and Powerade and found that coconut water contained up to 1,500 mg/liter of potassium, compared to up to 300 mg/liter for Powerade and Gatorade.

Coconut water, however, had 400 mg/liter of sodium compared to 600 for the other two drinks. It had comparable quantities of magnesium and carbohydrates as the other drinks. The price for all three beverages ranged from $2 to $3 for 8- to 12-oz containers, she said.

Coconut water's lower sodium content is where it fails as a good sports drink for people who engage in strenuous exercise that produces a lot of sweating, Bhattacharya said.

Sweating makes people lose more sodium than potassium, and coconut water alone can't replace that lost sodium.

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1 comment

Is more really better?

Posted by Dr Robert Child,

Coconut water seems to be 'doing the rounds' as the in vogue drink for sportsmen. Unfortunately the hype around coconut water doesn't match the science. It is not necessarily a good thing that coconut water has 'four times more potassium than Gatorade'. It would be interesting to see the science that shows "Whenever you get cramps in your muscles potassium will help you get rid of cramps".

As a nutritional biochemist to several World Champion athletes from cycling, it is clear that cramping has multiple underlying causes. As a result, consuming potassium rich drinks during exercise is unlikely to be more effective than conventional sports drinks. In fact, ingestion of potassium during some forms of exercise can actually be detrimental to health.

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