We all know that sports drinks are hydrating. They are designed to replenish electrolytes lost during exercise.The typical go-to are popular sports drinks like Gatorade®, especially since professional athletes constantly appear on television proclaiming the value they have for any and every workout. We know a pro athlete would never lie to the public, right? Think again! Most mass market sports drinks that claim to be so vital for providing hydration and electrolytes are in reality, full of corn syrup, food coloring and other additives. While they will surely give you an energetic rush of salt and sugar, they are typically lacking in the whole array of minerals and other beneficial nutrients.
Coconut water is what I like to call the black market sports drink. Now, don't get me wrong, there's absolutely nothing illegal about it! I jokingly consider it as such because it's an absolutely incredible beverage but most people aren't aware of it or know where to buy it. Fortunately, word is spreading not only about how it provides your body with essential vitamins, minerals and electrolytes, but also how you can now find it in just about any supermarket, and even gas stations!
Hydrate! Hydrate! Hydrate!
First of all, it's important to stress how essential electrolytes and water are post-exercise (at least the sport stars are right about that!). Optimum hydration leads to peak performance. When electrolytes dip due to the loss of fluids from sweating, dehydration can hit hard. You may experience symptoms such as headaches, dizziness, nausea, extreme thirst, low blood pressure and rapid heart rate. Extreme dehydration can be very dangerous.
Let's take a look at why it's vital to choose the right beverage after that morning run...
Coconut Water v. Sports Drinks
One cup or eight ounces of coconut water contains more nutritional benefits than the same amount of most popular sports drinks. Eight ounces of coconut water contains only 46 calories yet packs an electrolyte punch with 600 milligrams of potassium and 252 milligrams sodium. Both potassium and sodium are electrolytes that the body needs to maintain balanced nerve and muscle function. Here is the comparative breakdown in nutrition of both coconut water and a typical low-calorie sports drink:
Potassium— 600 mg coconut water v. 31 mg sports drink
Calcium— 56 mg coconut water v. 0 mg sports drink
Magnesium— 60 mg coconut water v. 0 mg sports drink
Dietary fiber— 2.6 grams coconut water v. 0 mg sports drink
Sodium— 252 mg coconut water v. 107 mg sports drink
Protein— 1.73 grams coconut water v. .12 grams sports drink
Carbohydrates— 8.9 grams coconut water v. 4.6 grams sports drink
Calories— 46 grams coconut water v. 19 grams sports drink
When placed side-by-side, it's easy to see how coconut water shines as the All-Star Beverage. Not to mention that coconut water is also about 95 percent water compared to the sports drink, which is only about 65 percent water.
Coconut water can also be used as a hangover remedy! It can help to replenish the body with lost nutrients and minerals due to the diuretic effects of alcohol.
For the breakfast of champions, coconut water can be combined with fruits and veggies, such as in this Green Smoothie. Start your day off right!
In general, it's a great idea to always keep a few bottles of coconut water in the fridge, as it's also super helpful after other types of dehydrating incidents such as a bad bout of "the runs" after eating food that doesn't agree with you, or during other illnesses where hydration is key.
Be sure to purchase coconut water with no other added ingredients, as some brands add sugar to this already naturally sweet beverage. I would also suggest trying out different brands, as they all seem to have varied tastes despite having one main ingredient.
So if you haven't tried it yet, grab some on your way to the gym and see what you think!