Crazy for Coconut Water

Fat-free, cholesterol-free, low calorie, potassium- packed, all-natural super water!!! Those are the claims of the oh-so-popular COCONUT water. Vita Coco and ZICO are among the top selling brands.

Vita Coco


Have you heard of this beverage yet? Have you seen gym-goers chugging it?As a runner, I hear often of the latest trends for athletes. Each seems to tout its benefits which are usually better than the last trend and are undoubtedly the greatest “super food” around. While loving to eat/drink food that is in its most natural state, I still have to be skeptical about people claiming that these “natural” foods (alone) provide everything that I need. Without even doing research, I can logically deduct that one food can not possibly meet all of my needs. Let’s analyze.


In 8-11 oz serving…

Calories: anywhere from 50-80 calories depending on the brand

Sugar:8-20 grams (yes, natural, but still sugar; some of the brands blend coconut water with juice which adds extra sugar too)

Sodium: typically from 20mg – 60mg (ZICO has about 120mg)

Potassium: 400-700mg (for reference, 1 medium banana contains just over 400mg)

green (young) coconuts ready for pickin'


This seems pretty good. Low-calorie as it claims and high in potassium. However, for an endurance athlete, the amount of sodium is not near enough to replenish the amount lost in sweat. While endurance athletes need to replace all electrolytes, sodium is most crucial. Additionally, high amounts of potassium at one time can cause GI distress (like diarrhea… not a favorite for runners).The ratio for electrolyte replacement in sports drinks (like Gatorade, etc) is more like 1:3, potassium:sodium. This is like 100-200mg of sodium and 30-60mg of potassium.


Bottom-line: Coconut water makes a fine beverage to replace other sweetened beverages like soda. As long as you have to calories to spare, go ahead and try it out… potassium is a great thing to increase in the diet. Coconut water will not hurt you. Will it help you? There are no reliable scientific studies to back up the claimed benefits like it being a super sports drink. For workouts less than 60 minutes long, I don’t have an issue. But for exercise lasting longer than that, when sodium replacement is VITAL, formulated sports drinks are actually a better choice… One option, however, is to drink the coconut water while being sure to get sodium from another source at the same time.


What’s your experience with coconut water? 🙂

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