Thanks to celebrities and professional athletes I probably don’t have to reveal what beverage I’m referring to when I say nature’s sports drink…that’s right; you guessed it – coconut water! To give you some background information, coconut water is the liquid found in immature coconuts. The nutritional information varies depending on the maturity of the plant but in general coconut water, compared to a man-made sports drink, contains less sodium, more potassium and slightly less carbohydrates. So, is it for you?
Nature’s sports drink is for you if you are a lighter exerciser. In other words, if you’re not profusely sweating in a vigorous activity for longer than 60 minutes. Unfortunately there is just not enough sodium in coconut water to replenish the body. Sodium (in this situation) is really important because even a little drop in blood sodium can cause problems. I’m not saying potassium is not important because it is since most people do not eat enough fruits and vegetables in their diet to reach their daily requirement. However, when we’re talking about exercise sodium is the focus.
Bringing it together, if you’re an athlete performing in continuous physical activity for longer than 60 minutes then a man-made sports drink, like Gatorade, is for you. Less than 60 minutes will not result in severe carbohydrate and electrolyte depletion; therefore, water or coconut water will maintain your fluid balance. If you are not exercising and just looking to quench your thirst then water is your friend! Save sports drinks for the purpose they were intended – hydration during and after exercise. The extra calories are just not worth it!
If you hate the taste of water, here are some tips to making it a little tastier:
- Squirt a fresh lemon or lime into your water or add a splash from purchased lemon or lime juice
- Try naturally flavored seltzer water, if you like carbonation
- Add a small splash of 100% juice to a large container of water or plain seltzer
- Purchase the calorie-free versions of Gatorade or nutrient-enhanced water if you desire the sweetness and flavor of these products, but realize that these calorie-free versions do contain artificial sweeteners
Image courtesy of AmabilysPalazzo