Coo Coo for Coconut Water
Yesterday, I was sitting out in the lobby, practically asleep after my first pathetic swimming workout and I was sipping on a lemon-lime Gatorade. I did not need this Gatorade. I had only swam 500 meters which took me far less than an hour, the amount of time of intense exercise usually recommended before even needing a specifically formulated sports drink. Some of my friends joined me on the couch and saw what I was drinking. “Is that healthy?” they asked. Truthfully, I was unsure how to answer that question. With everything I have learned about food and sports performance at this point, I know that our body processes all chemicals (glucose, potassium, sodium, ect.) the same, however there are often more nutrients and health benefits with whole foods. So, with Gatorade being the well balanced recovery drink specifically formulated for athletes, is there an equivalent natural product out there on the market?
The answer is yes and no. Many people would agree that coconut water would fill this alternate spot. However, when we compare coconut water stats with those of Gatorade, it doesn't quite match up. The commercial brands contain far less sodium than that of the fresh coconut water. “Eight ounces of coconut water has 46 calories, 9 grams of carbohydrates, 250 mg of sodium, 600 mg of potassium, 60 mg of magnesium, 45 mg of phosphorus, and 2 grams of protein” (Koslo). However, the commercial brands only have an average of 35-60 mg of sodium per eight ounces. Gatorade comes in at 70 calories per eight ounces, 19 grams of carbohydrate, 154 mg of sodium, and 42 mg potassium. Coconut water is very high in potassium, a mineral that is often deficient in American diets lacking in fruits and vegetables, but is less important for re-hydration than sodium. Koslo, a Registered Dietitian, says that “the sodium level in consumer coconut water is far too low for adequate electrolyte replacement.” She also makes the claim that “coconut water contains other beneficial components including vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and amino acids” (Koslo). So, should we make a trade-off for less sodium and more nutritious properties? Or will that sacrifice athletic performance?
The answer is unless you have fresh coconut water on hand, stick to the specially formulated sports drinks when trying to re-hydrate after intense activity lasting over 60 minutes. With sports nutrition, we are looking at performance in this case, because most athletes will be achieving their daily vitamin and mineral intake due to their increased diet. Of course this depends on if the athlete eats properly such as getting in their daily recommended servings of fruits and vegetables and other important food groups. Gatorade’s “formula has been shown to promote fluid absorption from the intestines and encourage fluid retention in order to prevent dehydration and prolong exercise” (Koslo). Gatorade is going to be supreme because it has years of research supporting it and it is constructed by man. However, coconut water would make a great addition to an athlete’s diet because of the increased potassium to prevent cramps as opposed to eating bananas or other potassium rich foods. It is also an alternative if an athlete is looking for a supplementary drink with lower sugar. Overall, the choice is yours. Experimenting with different drinks and finding what works for your fitness goals may be the best solution.
Koslo, Jennifer. "KAPLAN UNIVERSITY: Coconut Water: Is It Really “nature’s Sport Drink”?"KAPLAN UNIVERSITY: Coconut Water: Is It Really “nature’s Sport Drink”? Web. 25 Feb. 2015. <http://healthandwellness.kaplan.edu/articles/nutrition/Coconut water - Is it really natures sport drink.html>