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Q&A: When Should I Drink Coconut Water?

Nutrition pros and FITNESS contributors Chris and Kara Mohr answer your pressing diet Q's...


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Q: As an avid gym goer, I'm looking for something to drink other than plain water.  But I don't want the calories in sports drinks.  Is coconut water a good replacement?  --Mary, New York

A: Fantastic question. It's been very, very hot across the entire country this summer, so hydration is key!

Let's talk general hydration tips, first.  It's smart to have a plan in place because you can quickly get dehydrated, with the temps as high as they've been.  So definitely have something to drink before you exercise.  Carry something with you during and then throughout the rest of the day as well.

Now, what to drink is the other piece to the puzzle. Coconut water has certainly grown in popularity...

Assuming you're like a large chunk of the population and out for a basic (30-60 minute) jog, walk or maybe getting on your bike, coconut water can certainly work for you.  We tell this same thing to the women in our morning boot camps, who are exercising for one hour with us daily.

Coconut water is a great alternative to the high-calorie, high-sugar options you see on beverage shelves.  It is lower in calories than many sports drinks and high in potassium, one of the important electrolytes that is lost in sweat.  The average gym-goer who’s hitting the weights a few times a week, maybe adding in some cardio or intervals, doesn’t really need the extra calories or sodium that you find in some sports drinks.

We both enjoy coconut water pre-workout, with a scoop of whey protein.  But if it were a more intense, longer workout (60+ minutes) and we didn’t have the time to sit down and have a more substantial meal, we’d likely use a sports drink with that same scoop of whey protein.

The question then is which brand is best? We personally use, like, and trust Vita Coco because it’s pure coconut water that’s not from concentrate.  Some brands offer less than 10 percent coconut water and are instead loaded with added sugar, so  make sure you read the label. Here’s another hint — make sure it’s cold.  It tastes better and is more refreshing!