The ads suggest coconut water is the perfect sports drink. What do ya' think?
Coconut water is marketed as being “100% pure” and “all natural.” Almost true. It has only two ingredients: coconut water (the watery liquid inside a green coconut) -- but also quite a bit of vitamin C that has been added to the drink. Not "all natural."
Coconut water is naturally rich in potassium (good) but has a high price tag (about $3 for a 17-ounce carton; bad).
Here’s how it compares (in portions commonly consumed by thirsty athletes) to Gatorade and orange juice:
Because serious athletes have a higher need for sodium than potassium during sweaty exercise (and you will simply flush the excess vitamin C down the toilet), I’d suggest you choose a higher-sodium sports drink during endurance workouts and spend your money on orange juice and other natural foods afterwards. That is, unless you happen to prefer the taste and digestibility of coconut water, which research suggests is not always the case (1)
1) Kalman, D, S Feldman, DKrieger, R Bloomer. Comparison of coconut water and a carbohydrate-electrolytesport drink on measures of hydration and physical performance inexercise-trained men. J Int Soc Sports Nutr 2012; 9:1
The American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) is the worlds largest sports medicine and exercise science organization. At ACSM's 2009 Annual Meeting, over 5,000 exercise scientists, sports dietitians, physicians and health professionals gathered to share their research. Here are a few of the nutrition highlights related to fluids. More highlights are available at http://www.acsm.org (click on news releases).
Just rinsing your mouth with a sports drink may help you run faster! After an overnight fast (13-15 hours without food) and before and during a one hour time trial, 10 trained runners rinsed their mouth for five seconds with a sports drink or a placebo, and then spit it out. With the sports drink mouth rinse, they were able to run 365 meters longer in the time trial.
An effective sports drink needs to be rapidly absorbed. Adding sodium (40-165 mg) to the beverage does not significantly slow absorption.
Athletes who exercise in the heat might wonder if they can hyper-hydrate. Yes; more fluid is retained when a sports drink has a higher sodium content. Drinking a sports drink with double and triple the standard amount of sodium contributed to retaining 25% and 35% more water (12 and 17 ounces; 340 and 480 ml) than the standard sports drink.
About 25% of athletic trainers use pickle juice to treat muscle cramps. Some report 1 to 2 ounces of pickle juice relieves cramps within 35 seconds. The mechanism is illusive because rapid relief must mean that pickle juice empties from the stomach very quickly. Yet, research indicates pickle juice empties very slowly from the stomach.