Coconut Water: Nature’s Gatorade?

Happy Summer! I’m hoping the warmer weather inspires more of us to dust off our sneakers and get active! But, considering we’re currently enduring an East coast heat wave, we need to take precaution and rehydrate properly when exercising under the mid-day sun.

A typical workout lasting less than 60 minutes usually only requires you to rehydrate with water. However, with more strenuous exercise (indoor or outdoor), it’s necessary to replace both water and electrolytes that are lost through profuse sweating.

Lately, coconut water has been touted as the ultimate post-workout hydration beverage! Coconut water is naturally packed with potassium, which plays a key role in fluid balance and muscle contraction. However, little potassium is actually lost in sweat. During intense physical activity, sodium becomes the more significant mineral to replenish. While pure coconut water straight from the fruit may contain adequate sodium, the amount of sodium in commercial brands of coconut water is not sufficient to replace what’s been excreted.

Electrolyte replacement beverages or “sports drinks” are specifically formulated for athletes. They contain the right proportions of sodium and carbohydrates for proper rehydration and easy digestion. For example, the carbohydrates (i.e. sugar) in Gatorade help the intestine better absorb sodium and fluids, which fights fatigue and prevents dehydration.

My take? Cool off with coconut water while lounging by the pool or after a light workout. When sweating for longer than 1 hour, choose a sports drink that has approximately 120 mg of sodium per 8 ounces. This will help replenish lost sodium and minimize the risk of cramping.  In addition, beverages containing about 6 grams of carbs per 8 ounces will be most effective in maximizing water absorption in the gut. That said, many sports drinks are made with about 14-16 grams of carbohydrates per cup. This quantity of carbs is unlikely to cause stomach upset and, with more calories, can offer an extra energy boost during a marathon workout.

Coconut Water:

Vita Coco

Coconut Water:



Original G


G2 – low cal


14 g

7 g

14 g

5 g


28 mg

91 mg

110 mg

110 mg


485 mg

325 mg

30 mg

30 mg

 *Nutrient quantities were calculated per 8 oz of each beverage.


Filed under Fruits and Vegetables, Medical Conditions, Supplements, Vitamins & Minerals

10 responses to “Coconut Water: Nature’s Gatorade?

  1. KC

    Mmmm…I love coconut water, but very interesting regarding its lack of electrolytes. Yoga Journal published some recipes a few months ago in how to make your own electrolyte-rich sports drink. Great blog and a good reminder that I need to try out those recipes this summer!

  2. Heather Hyland

    Really interesting and relevant blog, Megan! Now I feel better about sticking to my Gatorade after a long workout. Thanks for all the info and details!

  3. This is interesting. I didn’t know these good info about coconut water until now. But I do know this helps cleanse our kidneys. It’s a lot different than with a CME Program Medicine. Just what natural wonders could do!

  4. moderngirlnutrition

    Wow! The potassium levels are great! Plus no added sugar or icky dyes? What oculd be better? Thanks for sharing:)

  5. Zico makes a chocolate coconut water. Take THAT, chocolate milk. It’s actually divine. I love it.

  6. Vic

    You should checkout Zola coconut water in the Tetra Pak. It actually has more sodium than Gatorade. Zola 135mg of sodium per 8oz’s while Gatorade has 110mg. You also failed to mention all the artificial sweeteners, colors, and the fertilizing ingredient monopotassium phosphate. Oh and did I forget BVO? An ingredient banned in many countries… My bad!

  7. I tried coconut water a few times and I knew it was healthy, but not to this extent! I’ll stick to coconut water when I’m doing a less rigorous workout and Gatorade when it’s time for intense cardio.

    I always felt guilty for drinking Gatorade because of the amount of carbs and calories it contained, but after reading this It seems more sensible to me.

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