Coconut Water – Nature’s Sports Recovery Drink

The many benefits of coconut water have really started to gain attention over the last year or so, and you can now get it in most health food stores, I actually bought some in a supermarket yesterday, which is a huge change from when I first learned about it about nine years ago and couldn’t find it anywhere.

I make sure I always have some in the fridge, as it’s particularly good after a tough workout, when you are more prone to dehydration.

What Is Coconut Water

Coconut water does come from coconuts, but not from the hard brown shelled ones. Coconut water comes from young green coconuts. When coconuts are young they contain a clear sweet tasting liquid, which as the coconut matures becomes the edible hard white  “meat” we associate with coconut.

In tropical regions such as Brazil, Southeast Asia, the Caribbean and Hawaii you can buy fresh young coconuts on the beaches and on the streets, the vendor simply hacks an opening with a machete and sticks a straw in it. Now you can’t get much more fresh than that!

What’s So Great About Coconut Water?

Where to start? Coconut water contains high levels of naturally occurring electrolytes. Electrolytes are dissolved mineral salts responsible for regulating the fluid balance between different body compartments and for conducting electrical impulses needed to cause muscle contraction (think of a heart beat). When we sweat we don’t just lose water, we lose electrolytes, hence the salty taste associated with sweat. The electrolytes coconut water contains are sodium, magnesium, calcium, phosphorous and potassium.


Levels of potassium found in coconut water are particularly impressive. Potassium is required by the body for proper nerve and muscle function, it prevents muscle cramping and regulates blood pressure. Potassium is also involved in the storage of glycogen in muscles, which we use as fuel. A deficiency in potassium can cause muscle weakness, which is not good if you are working out or involved in sports, and if you’re sweating and loosing electrolytes a sports recovery drink can be useful.

Potassium is fairly abundant in a balanced diet, so it’s quite likely you are getting enough, but if you are sweating a lot it’s a good idea to replenish your stores. Usually an athletes would reach for a banana to get a potassium boost, however coconut water contains as much potassium as two bananas, plus being a liquid means you will absorb it much quicker, which is important after physical activity.

Danger’s Of Dehydration

When being physically active, whether it’s exercising, running for a bus, carrying heavy boxes up a flight of stairs or pushing a car up and down the street to get it started (like I did on Friday, now that’s a workout! 🙂 ), we sweat. This is the body’s way of maintaining a constant inner core temperature. The more you sweat, the more you risk becoming dehydrated.

These are some of the general sign’s and symptoms of dehydration:

  • Lungs, heart and circulation become strained
  • Increase in thickness of blood
  • Activity becomes harder
  • Performance, during sports or exercise, suffers
  • Dizziness
  • Weakness

…but it doesn’t stop there…

Dehydration And Building Lean Muscle

When you are dehydrated you feel weak and tired and so do your muscles. Dehydrated muscles can’t function properly, they aren’t as metabolically active as they should be, meaning you aren’t getting the most out of your workout, and you certainly won’t be building any muscle in the long run.

Sports Recovery Drinks

There are tons of sports recovery drinks on the market, all claiming to be the best, of course. These drinks are usually just sugary water with some crazy coloring added (I think the blue ones look the scariest, who knows what they use to get that color?!). What I like about coconut water is that it’s completely natural, as long as you check the ingredients, usually it’s just 100% coconut water, and it’s what I use after working out.

But You Don’t Have To Be An Athlete To Benefit From Coconut Water

Coconut water can, and has been, safely injected into the human blood stream for use as an intravenous fluid in times of emergencies during war, particularly in developing countries.

It can also help cure a hangover. The feeling you get the morning after a night out is largely down to your body being dehydrated, as alcohol is a diuretic, meaning it causes you to lose fluids at a faster rate than normal. So having some coconut water in the fridge the morning after will definitely help speed up the recovery.

This is the brand I get, and it's probably the easiest to find. It's funny because as it turns out, I knew about the health benefits coconut water before the guys that own this company did. And now it's worth millions. I could have been a millionaire!

Taste And Storage Considerations

This time of year is a great time to give coconut water a try, as the rise in temperature can easily cause you to becoming dehydrated, especially if you’re active. If you do decide to try coconut water just be aware that as it’s natural the taste takes a little getting used to. It’s kind like sweet water, and keeping it chilled helps.

You can now get it with tropical juices added, like pineapple, acai & pomegranate, peach & mango, or tangerine. Just be aware that the added fruit juice will add more calories and fructose. I think the natural plain version is best (why mess with nature?) so my advice would be to try the plain version first and see how you find it.

The benefits of coconut water diminish rapidly once opened, so I usually get the small cartons and drink the whole thing at once or keep it in the fridge and spread it over the day. 24 hours is the life span once you open it.

So To Recap, Coconut Water is

  • full of electrolytes
  • provides natural hydration
  • 15 times better at hydrating the body than regular sports drinks
  • more potassium than 2 bananas
  • 100% natural
  • alternative to artificial commercial sports drinks
  • fat-free
  • and helps cure a hangover

As you can see coconut water is awesome! Like I said, I make sure I always have some in the fridge, and never bother with those crazy colored artificial sports drinks. If you do decide to try it, let me know what you think!

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