Coconut water is the fluid from the cavity of the coconut when it’s cracked open; it has a tangy, light, almond flavor. It is all natural, contains no fat, and is very low in calories at approximately 50 calories per 8 ounces. Coconut water consists of water, simple sugars, and the electrolytes potassium and magnesium. It contains more potassium than a banana and can help prevent muscle cramping and fatigue. Potassium works closely with sodium to maintain water balance and helps trigger muscles to contract and relax optimally.
Using coconut water for hydration during and after running is a healthy alternative to regular sports drinks. It is considered a natural sports drink because it can be used to replace the electrolytes you lose through sweating. It is of great advantage to runners pre- or post-run or during runs of about 60 minutes. Coconut water helps to prevent dehydration and also promotes heart health because diets high in potassium have been shown to help reduce the risk of high blood pressure and stroke. Coconut water is also high in magnesium and may be helpful in preventing kidney stones.
If you exercise long enough (60 minutes or more) to benefit from an electrolyte replacement drink, coconut water can be an excellent alternative to sports drinks like Gatorade or Powerade. Most sports drinks contain refined sugars, artificial flavoring, and food coloring, which are obviously not your best choice. If you exercise very hard for more than 60 minutes or in extremely hot conditions, then coconut water can enhance your performance. However, if you exercise for less than 60 minutes at a time, plain water is your best option for staying hydrated!
Nutritionist Natalie is a registered dietician and active member of the American Dietetic Association. She has worked for over ten years in the health club industry and now has her own nutritionist practice.