A recent US study, published in the Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition,compared coconut water and a carbohydrate-electrolyte sport drink on measures of hydration and physical performance in exercise-trained men.
Following a 60-minute bout of exercise on a treadmill, the 12 men received bottled water, pure coconut water, coconut water from concentrate or a carbohydrate-electrolyte sport drink on four occasions in a random order. Hydration status and performance were determined during the recovery period. Subjective measures of thirst, bloatedness, refreshment, stomach upset and tiredness were also determined.
No differences were noted between either of the coconut water types and the sports drinks for any measures of fluid retention. Regarding exercise performance, no significant difference was noted between the bottled water, the two types of coconut water and the sports drinks. In fact, subjects in general reported feeling more bloated and experienced greater stomach upset after drinking the coconut waters.
The test concluded that all those drinks are capable of promoting rehydration and supporting subsequent exercise, and that for young, healthy men there is little difference between the four drinks in relation to hydration or exercise performance.
If you like the taste of coconut water and are happy to pay for it, there’s nothing harmful about drinking it. But if you’re drinking it for the claimed health benefits, you’ll be better off drinking water and eating a good range of fruit and vegetables.