Should You Give Into the Coconut Water Fad?

By Nicole German (RD, LD)

coconut water healthSome parts of the world are moving into the warmer months and the heat is on!

This means more sweating and fluid loss if exercising outside.

Instead of an unnatural sports drink like Powerade or Gatorade, why not try natural coconut water?

Afterall, it’s everywhere and there’s good reason to give into the coconut water fad.

Nutritional Benefits

  • Excellent electrolyte source: Over 500 mg potassium per serving (more than a banana), and also contains sodium, magnesium, calcium, and phosphorus. 2000-3500 mg of potassium is recommended daily.
  • No added sugar: Naturally occurring sugars
  • Lower acidity
  • Detoxifying
  • Prevents dehydration
  • Heart healthy: Due to the high levels of potassium
  • Prevent or helps improve kidney stones

Just because this beverage sounds like a natural health elixir doesn’t mean you should drink it all day long. More is not always better. Those with any kidney conditions or concerns should never consume high potassium drinks or foods without discussing with their doctor first.

Watch the Calories

Even though the beverage is labeled as a type of “water” this does not mean low calorie. One 8.5 oz. serving is about 45 calories, and 15 g carbohydrate (11 g sugar).

It is recommended to drink a “sports beverage” only after 60 minutes of exercise. Any duration that is shorter is considered not long enough to lose enough calories/fluid/electrolytes to consider a supplemental beverage.

Coconut water is ideal for higher sweat activities like Bikram yoga, cycling, or high heat exercise.

Brand to Buy

Vita Coco sent me a few free samples of their coconut water to try. I like their brand because it is all natural and made with pure coconut water and some vitamin C to keep it fresh. They also have some flavors with some fruit puree added. This adds about 9 grams of sugar per serving.

There are other brands out there like Zico or O.N.E. coconut water that are very similar. It just depends on your personal preference.

Have you tried coconut water for your sport’s beverage?


  1. Nico

    Be careful, 9 out of 10 of them have added sugar! Read the label carefully. I found a great one that I used to drink when I lived in the Cayman Islands, no added sugar, but with pulp, so there were yummy bits of coconut in there. I can’t remember the name 🙁

    Haven’t drunk coconut water since I moved from there to Australia, but it’s going into winter now over here, so I don’t need as much rehydration.

    Hmmm… I am REALLY craving some coconut water now 🙂

  2. Ben

    In Southeast Asia, fresh coconut water is pretty common after a long day of hike. It freshens you up and stop your thirst. However, it is not really encouraged because of its high carbs content. I guess the best drink to take is just pure water with some lemon. It is neutral in ph and is diuretic.

  3. DJ

    The is nothing wrong with Gatorade and it is scientifically proven. Just because something is ‘natural’ does not make it healthy. Cocnut water is ridiculously high in carbs and sugar. Definitely not good.

    • Jim

      Actually Gatorade has 14g sugar per 8 fl. oz (slightly more than the coconut water). But yeah, used in the right context (lots of fluid loss) most of these electrolyte drinks will do the trick.

  4. Heather

    Have they found coconut water that tastes decent?

    I was so disappointed in it – I love coconut everything else.

    Couldn’t even swallow it.

  5. Emily watson

    Hello Nichole,
    Coconut water indeed is really healthy because at the end of the day it is a natural food and it is any day better than having a unnatural drink and especially during the months of summer it can really help prevent acidity.

  6. Jim

    Gatorade is slightly higher in sugar, and has way less potassium.

    Haven’t seen coconut water in my part of the world (yet), so I’m looking forward to trying it.

    • ted

      Open your eyes Jim, It’s already in your part of the world! 🙂

      • admin

        Maybe that shows how often I buy drinks.

        Pretty much never.

  7. Spectra

    I’ve never tried it, but I’d be willing to buy it in place of say, Gatorade or Powerade for when I’m sick and dehydrated.

  8. Sue Knorr

    Sports drinks have never been my choice for recovery. I’ll take a Zone shake, and some extra water if I need it, over coconut water any day.