You might be tempted to reach for coconut water the next time you’re thirsty. But does coconut water hydrate you better than a sports drink or even regular water? There have been a lot of words devoted to coconut water hydration, but, unfortunately, not a lot of scientific studies on the topic. What little research there is seems to suggest that it does about as good a job as regular water at keeping you hydrated.
Here’s a look at what coconut water actually is and how it may help provide you with the hydration you need.
What Is Coconut Water?
You’ve likely heard the hype touting the purported benefits of coconut water. You might know someone who swears by it. But, what is it? Coconut water is basically the clear liquid found inside a coconut. It has a sweet flavor, which is provided by its natural sugars. It’s also low in calories.1
Coconut water also contains some important nutrients, such as potassium, magnesium, and sodium. If you work out on a regular basis, you tend to lose these nutrients as you sweat. So, if you like to exercise, this type of water may help replenish what you lose. But plain water can do this as well.2
Coconut Water: The Facts
There are some potential advantages to drinking coconut water rather than a sports drink. For one, it doesn’t have as many calories. But while it’s low in calories, that doesn’t mean you can drink as much as regular water. Eleven ounces of plain coconut water can contain as many as 60 calories.3
It would be understandable if you would like to drink coconut water instead of regular H2O. After all, it tastes great. But only drink it plain – don’t buy any coconut water that has any added sugar or juice. If you do, that could be equivalent to having a soda – and that’s not a healthy option.
How Good Is Coconut Water When It Comes To Hydration?
Some studies suggest coconut water might do a slightly better job of rehydrating people than sports drinks. But when it comes to plain water, there really isn’t that much of a difference.4
Another study came to the same conclusion. However, it did show that people who drank fresh coconut water after exercise felt less full and experienced less stomach upset.5
A third study on the potential benefits of coconut water compared sports drinks and regular water with coconut water with added sodium. According to the results, the coconut water with sodium appeared to do a better job of rehydration than plain water.6
Why Is Proper Hydration So Important?
The human body is made up of about 60 percent water. Even the bones are 31 percent water. And your major organs are composed of a majority of water. Here’s a quick breakdown:
- Brain – 73 percent
- Heart – 73 percent
- Lungs – 83 percent
- Kidneys – 79 percent7
Water is also a critical component of many of the body’s most important functions. For example, sweating and respiration helps keep the body’s temperature regulated. Water is also a vital nutrient for every cell, and it transports proteins and carbohydrates through the bloodstream. Water also helps protect the spinal cord and brain, and provides lubrication to the joints.8
How To Make Sure You Stay Hydrated
Dehydration can lead to minor issues, such as a headache or swollen feet, or more serious health issues. The bottom line is this: staying well-hydrated helps support good health.9 If you’re unsure whether you’re getting enough water, talk to your doctor.10
How To Tell If You’re Dehydrated
The biggest sign that you’re not properly hydrated is thirst. But there are other red flags to pay attention to as well – not only in yourself, but in others. If you notice any of the following, seek medical attention.
- Signs of confusion or delirium, or a severe headache
- Severe fatigue, weakness, or dizziness
- An accelerated heart rate
- Loss of appetite while craving sugar-filled junk food
- Cramping muscles
- Flushed skin
- Dark urine
How To Get The Most Out Of Drinking Coconut Water
Even though regular water might do just as good a job of keeping you hydrated than coconut water, there are times you could very well feel like trying something different. If so, here are a few things to keep in mind.
- Don’t purchase coconut water without first reading the label. You only want 100 percent coconut water – not anything with added preservatives or sugars.
- Make sure you always drink after exercise, whether it’s coconut water or plain water.
- Just remember to drink it in moderation. Even though it’s low in calories, that doesn’t mean it has zero calories.
- If you have health issues, talk to a doctor before drinking coconut water or making any other type of change to your diet.14
The Verdict On Coconut Water And Hydration
While it doesn’t appear that coconut water does any better of a job at keeping you hydrated than plain water, it also looks like it won’t do any harm – as long as you drink it in moderation.