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February 27th, 2014 |

Coconut Water: Are you drinking the “right beverage” for your workout?

Many articles have been published on the importance of staying hydrated during physical activity. Markets have a wide array of beverages that promote “rehydration” benefits. But, how do you choose the best beverage for your workout?  Do you need Gatorade? Coconut water? Or plain water?

For the everyday exerciser, water is still the only recommended beverage within the scientific literature.

Researchers* have tested active adults’ and athletes’ hydration response to a generic sports drink, coconut water, and water after their exercise routine. All participants performed intense exercises that would dehydrate them. Following that exercise, participants consumed one of the three beverages. Their body weights were recorded prior to exercise, following exercise, and then in hourly intervals following the “rehydration beverage.” For a regular exercise regimen—less intense than an athlete—all beverages had the same effect on hydration.

Sports Drinks

Coconut Water

Pros*

  • Sports drinks are better than water during intense exercise that an elite athlete would take part in.
  • Sports drinks contain enough sodium to activate the body’s response to drink more fluids.
  • Coconut water comes from the juice of the coconut: it is all natural and contains no artificial ingredients.
  • Coconut water taste different from water and sports drinks.

Cons*

  • Sports drinks have only been proven beneficial in the elite athlete population, not for the average person going to the gym a few times a week. No evidence suggests sports drinks should be consumed for regular exercise.
  • Sport drinks have more calories than water. Watch the serving size because the calories add up quickly.
  • Coconut water can cause abdominal discomfort when it is used for rehydration.
  • Coconut water has no scientific evidence supporting it as a better rehydration beverage—the main claim of advertisements.

Whether or not you believe the hype about sports drinks and coconut water, the research states that the best beverage for your workout is still plain water. Drink water, stay hydrated.

*Research has been published in the Nutrition Journal, Journal of International Society of Sports Nutrition, and other peer-reviewed journals

 

By Stephanie Snell, guest blogger, Master’s Candidate in Nutrition at Tufts University