Conventional sports drinks are typically a mixture of carbohydrates, electrolytes, and water, along with other ingredients like minerals, vitamins, and more. While effective in replenishing the nutrients lost during strenuous exercise, drinking sports drinks in excess can have adverse effects on one's weight and overall health.1
Previous studies have already shown that the water from coconuts is a good alternative to commercial sports drinks.2 However, more research was needed to explore the use of coconut water for rehydration during exercise.
The trial involved 19 well-trained male and female cyclists who had been racing for a minimum of three years.
After completing a variety of pre-trial tests, participants began the experimental trials, which had two parts: a 90-minute sub-maximal cycling trial and a 20-kilometer time trial.
During the 90-minute cycling, participants drank 2.5 ml of fluid per kilogram of body mass of either a commercial sports drink or isocaloric coconut water. Since it was a randomized crossover trial, all participants completed two exercise trials while drinking both types of beverages.
Researchers recorded a variety of participants' physiological measurements. They also monitored their time trial performance and average power.
There were no statistically significant differences in physiological and performance variables between the coconut water and commercial sports drink trials. The physiological variables that were measured included blood glucose, lactate, sweat loss, and heart rate.
No serious side effects were reported during the trial.
What Does this Mean?
Theresults of this study have shown that isocaloric coconut water can be as hydrating as commercial sports drinks. It also provides similar benefits in terms of performance.
Coconut water contains less sugar and calories than most sports drinks, which can help with weight maintenance. It also contains some carbohydrates and good amounts of potassium, an essential mineral that's lost in sweat during intense exercise.
Most experts agree that for short, moderate-intensityworkouts, water is typically sufficient for rehydration. The findings of this trial add to the body of evidence that coconut water is an effective and more natural alternative to commercial drinks for long, high-intensity workouts.
- Sports Medicine, Coconut Water: A Sports Drink Alternative?, 2023
- Harvard T.H.. Chan. (n.d.). Sports Drinks. Retrieved January 11, 2024, from https://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/sports-drinks/
- Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition. (2012). Comparison of coconut water and a carbohydrate-electrolyte sport drink on measures of hydration and physical performance in exercise-trained men. Retrieved January 11, 2024, from https://jissn.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/1550-2783-9-1