Coconut Water or Sports Drinks: Which is Better?

Coconut water splashing

Serious athletes and health buffs often have a bottle or two of their favorite sports drink with them when they train, compete, or simply try to stay fit. These energy drinks help keep them hydrated as well as energized, and to help replace the electrolytes that are lost with sweating. Popular sports drinks have these electrolytes in them, which is why these have become a regular sight around those who are into fitness.

Lately however, people have started seeing athletes and those who work out not carrying the brightly colored sports drinks that they usually have with them. Instead, you find a few of these health aficionados carrying what seems to be bottles and cartons that have images of coconuts on them. These are repackaged coconut water and some athletes seem to be favoring this over sports drinks lately, for a good reason.

Sports drinks are formulated to replace the electrolytes people lose when working out, and this is lost through sweat. Electrolytes keep your body running efficiently, since one function these have is to help maintain proper communication between your nerves, muscles, and your brain. What electrolytes do is to keep the electrical signals running properly through the body by helping maintain the proper voltage needed for movement.

Sports drinks have electrolytes in them, and these are the ones that people usually lose during a sweaty workout. Potassium, magnesium, sodium, and phosphorus are some of the electrolytes that you expend when sweating. These are added into the sports drinks that you see people carrying with them when they run, lift weights, and do other similar fitness activities.

While these do have these electrolytes, as well as the water needed for rehydration, these also have added sugar and food coloring to them. This is where coconut water comes in. It is considered a natural alternative to electrolyte filled sports drinks since these too have the same kinds of electrolytes in it. Potassium, magnesium, a bit of sodium, and phosphorus are found in coconut water. It also has some calcium in it and has fewer calories than most sports drinks.

Coconut water is fast becoming the favorite of many athletes because it has less sugar than their usual sports drinks, plus it does not have any food coloring in it. When choosing which coconut water to substitute however, make sure that you read the labels to ensure that you are getting the unsweetened kind. Coconut water has a natural sweetness to it, especially when it is derived from very young coconuts, so there really is no need for added sugar to improve its flavor.

If you are looking for a more natural way to replenish lost electrolytes, then coconut water is indeed the best choice for you. The main concern some athletes have with this source of hydration is the lower sodium and carbohydrate levels. It is suggested that when you do train a lot and perspire a lot while exercising, partner your coconut water with a handful of salty pretzels to compensate for the carbs and sodium that is lost in the process. This way, you get a natural hydrator without added sugar and the right amount of sodium as well as carbohydrates that can keep you energized for your workout.

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