If you love the sweet and nutty taste of coconut, coconut water can certainly be an option to rehydrate after a sweaty workout. And, with its natural electrolytes and digestive-friendly composition (no gut-wrenching sweeteners or additives), it may even be a better alternative to sports drinks.
Chloride, sodium, and potassium are three essential electrolytes necessary for signaling the body’s senses — vision, hearing, touch, taste, and smell. Potassium is especially important for athletes as it maintains the body’s pH, transports nutrients to the cells, maintains healthy blood pressure, and preserves bone health. Coconut water is not only rich in potassium, but it also contains sodium and magnesium, which are vital for replacing nutrients lost via sweat and heavy exercise, according to Cleveland Clinic.
And it may be just as effective in rehydrating post-exercise, according to a clinical trial in the Journal of Physiological Anthropology and Applied Human Science. The researchers concluded its usage causes less nausea and stomach upset, and that it could be tolerated in larger amounts than both plain water and electrolyte-rich sports beverages.
Furthermore, unsweetened coconut water is low in calories, has no added sugars, and has a high water content. Compared to some commercial sports drinks, which are often high in added sugars, it can be a better option. And, for athletes who train hard (over an hour), coconut water enriched with sodium can be beneficial, says registered dietitian nutritionist Maxine Smith for Cleveland Clinic. However, she does caution that the electrolytes in coconut water can vary so sports drinks may be more reliable.