Do you drink coconut water? Many fitness nuts and healthy living enthusiasts swear by the stuff, especially as a post-workout recovery drink.
Coconut water, which is simply the liquid that comes from inside green coconuts, has a lot going for it. It’s free of the food coloring and added sugars that many so-called sports drinks contain, and it tends to be reasonable in calories (around 60 for 14 fluid ounces). It’s not too sweet and has a light, almost nutty flavor.
But a brand new report reveals that many coconut waters don’t live up to their claims, especially when it comes to providing adequate nutrients for recovery after exercise. ConsumerLab.com looked at the electrolyte content of three popular coconut waters. Their discovery? While all three contained adequate amounts of potassium, only one of the three* contained as much sodium as it claimed to. (Contrary to popular belief, it’s sodium, not potassium, which is most responsible for preventing mineral loss during a workout.)
What’s more, the two that failed to meet their claims didn’t contain enough sodium—period—to be effective at restoring electrolyte levels. “Because they are mostly water, all coconut waters can provide hydration, but those that provide more sodium, at least 110 mg of sodium per cup, will be the best choice for replenishing electrolytes,” says ConsumerLab.com president Tod Cooperman, M.D
Most Americans aren’t wanting for sodium; we get a ton of it from our diets, and plain old H20 is more than enough to prevent dehydration. But if you’re a serious exerciser who, say, runs long distances or spends an hour or more at the gym, drinking a sports drink that contains adequate sodium during or after your workout can help you avoid muscle weakness and that wobbly feeling. And I don’t know about you, but I’d much rather drink straight coconut juice than a beverage chock full of high fructose corn syrup and red dye #40.
*Unfortunately, I can’t reveal which one made the cut, but visit ConsumerLab.com for more information. I will say that as a consumer, I’ve noticed that when it comes to coconut water, you get what you pay for: the pricier ones tend to taste better and their nutrition info stacks up best, too.