Coconut water is fast gaining popularity as a post-workout drink. Touted as a better alternative to commercial sports drinks, it ensures post-workout hydration which is crucial for proper recovery and building stamina and endurance. Moreover, it is low in calories, fat-free, and cholesterol-free. But does this make coconut water after workout a panacea? Read on to know how coconut water is different from traditional recovery drinks and the benefits of drinking coconut water after workout.
Nutritional Facts of Coconut Water
Coconut water must not be confused with coconut milk. Unlike coconut milk which is made from the water and flesh of mature coconuts, coconut water is a clear fluid that accumulates in the centre of young and green coconuts. Although 95% of coconut water is simple water, it is loaded with electrolytes, minerals, and vitamins, making it worth more than simple plain water.
One glass (approximately 250 ml) of coconut water contains:
- 48 calories
- 266 mg sodium
- 634 mg potassium
- 15 mg magnesium
- 10 grams carbohydrates
- 1.8-gram proteins
- 0-gram fats
It also contains:
- Vitamin C
- Vitamin B6
Benefits of Coconut Water After Workout
Coconut water is often compared to water and other commercial sports drinks as a post-workout beverage. And this is not without reason. The basic role of coconut water mimics that of water. It rehydrates the body after a strenuous workout. When compared to commercial sports drinks, coconut water replenishes the lost electrolytes that aid in faster recovery and help maintain endurance. The benefits of drinking coconut water after workout are:
1. Aids in Rehydration
Fitness enthusiasts must maintain a proper fluid balance. Profuse sweating leads to loss of body fluids, resulting in episodes of dizziness, weakness, muscle cramps, reduced energy, and compromised performance. Drinking coconut water pre workout and post-workout helps keep the body properly hydrated.
2. Replenishes Electrolytes
Hydration alone is not sufficient. The body loses electrolytes, the ions in the blood via fluid loss in urine and sweating. Electrolyte imbalance can cause serious repercussions like fatigue, confusion, shortness of breath, blood pressure changes, muscle stiffness and cramping, etc. Unlike water, coconut water contains good quantities of sodium, potassium, and magnesium among other micronutrients. With 95% water and naturally occurring ideal nutrient composition, coconut water helps rehydrate and replace the lost nutrients with utmost ease.
3. Maintain Muscle Function
The potassium component of coconut water is extremely crucial to maintaining the body’s muscle functions. Potassium helps in optimal muscle contraction and helps transmit electrical signals sent by muscles to the brain. Therefore, people who have low potassium levels are prone to muscle weakness and cramps.
4. Regulates Body Function
Magnesium is potent for managing muscle and nerve functioning in the body. It helps the muscles relax after a strenuous workout session. Magnesium deficiency can lead to sore muscles, nausea, weakness, and fatigue. This can hinder athletic performance.
5. 100% Natural
Although commercial sports drinks promise to restore the electrolyte amounts ideally, they are high in calories and have added sugar. These traits make commercial sports drinks fare poorly among fitness enthusiasts who are conscious about their diet and calorie intake. Coconut water, on the other hand, is 100% natural with no additives or artificial ingredients.
Other Benefits of Coconut Water
Besides drinking coconut water after workout, it can also be substituted as a recreational drink. The other benefits of drinking coconut water are:
- Aids Weight Loss – Coconut water has no fats and added sugar. Furthermore, it is extremely low on calories, thus, a refreshing beverage that aids weight loss too.
- Prevents Kidney Stones – Coconut water hydrates the body. This helps flush out the entire system thereby preventing the formation of kidney stones.
- Reduces Infection Risk – Coconut water has antimicrobial properties which help fight infections.
- Ensures Healthier and Youthful Skin – Coconut water helps neutralise the effect of free radicals. As it helps the body’s antioxidant system, it helps reduce pigmentation and dry skin.
- Helps Protect Heart – Coconut water is fat-free and cholesterol-free. This helps regulate blood pressure, making coconut water an extremely heart-friendly beverage.
When to Take Coconut Water?
Nutritionists as well as fitness experts propagate the use of coconut water to boost hydration. Thankfully, coconut water can be enjoyed any time of the day. On an empty stomach, with a meal, coconut water pre workout or coconut water post workout; one may take their pick as per personal choice and convenience.
While coconut water pre workout reduces the risk of dehydration, drinking coconut water post workout makes for an ideal recovery drink that helps replenish electrolytes the natural way. Drinking coconut water post workout also aids in muscle recovery which is important for building and maintaining endurance.
Coconut Water Daily Intake
While there are no set guidelines, taking up to two glasses of coconut water per day is considered ideal. Excessive consumption of coconut water may lead to an increased intake of sodium and potassium. Be cautious if you have blood pressure or kidney issues.
How to Consume Coconut Water?
Coconut water can be consumed directly. Consider refrigerating it to enhance the taste. But those who do not like the taste of coconut water can adopt different ways to incorporate it into their daily diet like:
- Blend it with fruits to make a smoothie
- Mix it with other drinks to enhance the taste
- Use it to make your favourite curry
- Use it as a base in puddings
Precautions on Taking Coconut Water
Though coconut water after workout acts as a magic potion as it helps replenish the lost nutrients quickly, it is not recommended for certain people. These include:
- People with cystic fibrosis
- People with high potassium levels
- People with low blood pressure
- People with kidney problems
- People scheduled for a surgery
- Pregnant women
- Breastfeeding mothers
How To Pick the Right Coconut Water?
If you happen to live by the coastal regions (the natural habitat of coconut palm trees), you can enjoy the freshly picked coconuts.
Tips to Pick Fresh Coconut for Coconut Water:
- Overripe coconuts have less water content. So, go in for young and medium ones.
- Avoid coconuts that have grey, brown, or yellow-green patches as these are mature or stale.
Tips to Pick Packed Coconut Water:
- Read the label carefully for no added preservatives or sugars
- Read the expiry date as stale coconut water may taste odd
- Pick the coconut water pack that has no other fillers or flavours
Coconut water pre workout helps you stay hydrated during resistance training and endurance exercise. It also helps replenish the lost nutrients quickly after exercising. No wonder, the use of coconut water after workout is equally laudable. But make sure you limit yourself to not more than two glasses of coconut water per day as excessive intake can impact the body’s electrolyte balance negatively.