skip to Main Content
$300 loan.
a class of coconut water and a sliced open coconut

Q: Coconut water seems to be everywhere lately, and I’ve heard it has similar benefits to sports drinks. Should I start drinking it, and, if so, when?

A: For general hydration purposes, you’re better off drinking plain old H2O, says Amanda Carlson-Phillips, RD, CSSD, vice president of performance nutrition and research at Athletes’ Performance in Phoenix.

First of all, coconut water can be a sneaky source of liquid calories. Most major brands contain at least 60 calories and 10 grams of sugar per serving (around 8 to 10 ounces), and if you’re concerned about body composition, that’s important to recognize. Cutting just 100 calories a day from sugar-sweetened liquids results in five times the weight loss of cutting 100 calories a day from solid foods, a 2009 American Journal of Clinical Nutrition study found.

And while the sugar in most brands of coconut water is natural, “it’s still sugar,” says Carlson-Phillips. “Your body still has to metabolize it.”

If you’re participating in a sporting event that lasts longer than 90 minutes, you may benefit from a sports drink to replenish lost electrolytes — but don’t substitute coconut water. “Coconut water is very high in potassium, but it’s very low in sodium,” Carlson-Phillips says. Potassium is a necessary electrolyte, but “the particular electrolyte you’re looking for in a sports drink is sodium. That’s what’s going to help with hydration and prevent cramping.”

So when, if ever, should you drink coconut water? “You need a combination of carbohydrates and protein after working out, so you can make it part of your postworkout nutrition solution,” says Carlson-Phillips, who suggests adding coconut water and protein powder to a smoothie to maximize recovery.

Nicole Radziszewski

Nicole Radziszewski is a writer and personal trainer in River Forest, Ill. She blogs at

Thoughts to share?

This Post Has 0 Comments

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

City and state are only displayed in our print magazine if your comment is chosen for publication.


More Like This

An image of ice tea being poured into a glass.

5 Healthy Beverages to Enjoy This Summer

By Callie Fredrickson
Warm weather is made for sipping on something cold and refreshing. Why not have your drink also benefit your health?
Back To Top