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Thursday, 15 August 2013

Coconut water: Nature's sports drink?

By Bronwyn Ward

There is a lot of hype around this ‘super hydrating’ beverage. It has sponsors from Hollywood and claims to be nature’s alternative to sports drinks.

Coconut water is found in the cavity of the fresh coconut and is not like the full fat coconut milk or oil. It boasts five key electrolytes: calcium, sodium, magnesium, phosphorus and potassium. Making it ideal for re-hydration and restoring essential salts after exercise.  It does have a distinct taste and not everyone likes it. It can however be very refreshing and a pleasant change from water or sugary sports drinks.

There are many claims and counterclaims to the effectiveness of this drink. Recent research shows that it can out-perform both water and energy drinks for hydration over short bouts of activity. It also proved more tolerable meaning it was less likely to cause stomach upsets and nausea after exercise.

However, the low sugar content of this drink does mean that for longer periods of exercise (cycling, marathon running) it does not provide enough carbohydrate to keep you on form. Also the sodium content proved  insufficient for those who excessively sweat during long bouts of exercise.

So what to do? If you are worried about what’s in your sports drink than this does seem a good natural alternative. Be sure for long bouts of activity though to have something with you to eat such as salty nuts or a cheese sandwich (often favoured by Tour De France riders). With the jury still out on coconut water, but some positive research behind it, why not try and see if it’s for you?

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