Thursday, March 29, 2007

Coconut Water - Nature's Electrolyte Replacement Drink?

A friend of mine recently turned me onto coconut water as a refreshing post-exercise drink. The taste is sweet but subtle, but what really wowed me was reading the ingredient label. Coconut water naturally has 650 mg of potassium (15x more than a banana), 25mg of magnesium, and 35 mg of sodium! All of this in a 10 oz, 60 calorie package. It's like nature's gatorade!

After digging around some more, I found that coconut water is similar to plasma and was even given to soldiers in WWII intravenously when plasma supplies were low (1). Some doctors give it to kids with digestive problems, similar to Pedialyte, since the stomach accepts it so well. And here's a bonus for your night time exercise - it's been shown to stimulate reproductive organs in men (bye-bye, Viagra) and increase libido in women over 60. Geez, why haven't I heard of this stuff before?

Coconut water really is "water", not "milk" even though it sometimes has a white color to it. It comes from the core of young green coconuts. I've noticed it can be hard to find in stores. I've been drinking the brands ONE (both the Natural and Acai flavors are nice) and Zico (turn your speakers down before clicking on this link) which I found at natural food stores. It appears you can also buy it online if you are interested.

I would recommend giving it a try, if anything just to add some variety to your drinks. I don't think it has quite enough sodium to be a race-ready electrolyte replacement drink, but it could certainly be part of your cocktail. And I think it would be a stellar hangover cure. ;-)

Happy running. I will see y'all at the Pony Express 100k on Sat!

- SD

(1) Campbell – Falck, D., et al. The intravenous use of coconut water. Am J Emerg Med 2000; 18 (1):108:111.


  1. BTW, I forgot to give a shout out to my friend Ughetta Manzone for turning me onto coconut water. Thanks, Ughetta!


    1. Hi Scott,

      I am happy to know that western guys like you discovered this "tropical tree of life" as we call it here in my country-Philippines. In the absence of IV fluids this is the best option and said to have save lots of American and Filipino lives during WWII. There are lots of varieties of these and the one that has the best taste is called "pilipog". The one you drank is preserved I assume, it tastes best when fresh from the tree and this particular variety. I grew up with all of this varieties in our farm. I hope you can visit here.

  2. Thanks for the comment on my blog. I sure hope I will be ready for Mohican. I love reading your blog, so much great info (coconut water!) I am thinking about doing TRT this summer. Maybe I will see you there.

  3. Sounds like a good drink to look into! Thanks so much for stopping by my blog :) I've really enjoyed reading yours since I'm also living in the bay area and love reading about the local races. I think I've read your reports from the TRT well over 10 times at this point, trying to learn what I can from those who have been there. It's so exciting that you'll be doing your first 100 there!

    I have a question, if you don't mind. I'm trying to figure out how to carry water for the race (I use a handheld now, but don't like the idea of having to hold something in both hands) so was looking into either a camelbak or a waist pack of some kind. How was it running with the camelbak when you did the TRT 50 M last year?

    Thanks again for stopping by:)


  4. Hi Scott,

    I drank tasty coconut water once in a while, but did not know it is full of ingredients. Thanks for the information.

    I actually drink directly from coconut fruits. They can be found in some Asian grocery stores in Bay Area such as Marina, Ranch99, etc. The coconut shell is very hard, but there is a soft spot that you can dig a hole.

    Your picture indicates there is some packaged coconut water. It'll be convenient to have them in drop bags.

    Good luck in Pony Express! (I'm hoping to finish 100K in Ruth Anderson)


  5. Addy -

    Thanks for stopping by. I really enjoyed using a Camelbak at the TRT last year and will use it again. It felt a bit heavy at times, took longer to refill at aid stations, but I never ran out of water even in the long stretches of the 50-mile course. It does feel hotter on the back, and can involve more chafing if you aren't constantly adjusting it. Just be sure to try it out beforehand. Also it's harder to guage how much you have been drinking per hour; I drank once per song on the iPod to make sure I didn't forget.

    I have run with hip packs before, but I often forget to drink if something isn't dangling in front of me, so it doesn't work as well for me. But it certainly works for a lot folks.

    For the TRT 100, I'm planning to use the Camelpak for the first 50 miles, then having handhelds ready in case I want to switch for the second loop. I've been surprised at how well my arms hold up carrying water bottles, and it's definitely easier to remember to drink.

    It's all based on your personal feel. But remember you have a drop bag atop the Red House loop, so feel free to stash a back up plan in there.

    Looking forward to meeting you there!


  6. Scott,

    I am 25 and new to the world of 26 and beyond. Thanks for all the tips. Good race last week by the way.


  7. I never realized the potent coconut water! In my village in India it used to be a daily drink to deal with the humid and hot temparatures of 90's..
    Now it explians it all.

    Thanks Scott, should keep this thing handy.


    I used to drink Gatorade and eat a Banana before running...

    Now I get my Hydration & my Potassium by drinking ONE.

    I am buying online @:

    Thanks for the tip!!



  10. coconut water is nature's gatorade!



  12. Hi, just wanted to tell you that coconut MILK and coconut WATER / JUICE are totally different. Coconut water (aka coconut juice) is the liquid that's in the coconut shell. It looks like water. Coconut milk is from the FLESH of the coconut. It's shredded / grated, and then you squeeze the milk out of the flesh. The milk is high in fat (although much better than any type of animal fat you could eat!) while the coconut water / juice is what is really high in vitamins, electrolytes, etc. I hope this info helps!


  13. Hmm...sounds interesting. How does it work with bodybuilding?

  14. Hi,

    I mix O.N.E. Coconut Water with Jay Robb Egg White protein powder!

    Works for me and tastes great!

  15. thanks josh!

    i have been drinking ONE coconut water for 3 weeks!

    My performance is is just getting better!

    Try it for yourself!

  16. I actually gravitated to coconut water when working in Jamaica which I do pretty regularly. It is made locally there and I just found it more refreshing than a soda. I guess my body was trying to tell me something and I actually paid attention. I would usually drink two small bottles at lunch. It is pretty expensive, about $1.50 a bottle which is a lot of money to a Jamaican

    It is so hot down there and I usually put in a lot of hours so I return home to Florida wiped out with aching muscles, I think I need to drink it morning, noon and night.

    BTW - I noticed that you claimed it didn't have enough sodium, but actually you have to be careful of drinks with too high concentrations of electrolytes as they can impede hydration, so the high concentration of potassium might be more of a concern than the low concentration of sodium.

  17. Hi,

    1 tetra pak of coconut water has approx 600mg of potassium.

    1 medium banana has 500 to 700mg.

    I would not consider this amount of potassium to be an issue for hydration at all.


  18. I LOVE O.N.E.!!!!

  19. Well, I'm from Zico and I'm not going to stay anonymous (as those promoting O.N.E. ;)

    The electrolytes (i.e. potassium and magnesium) in coconut water really are quite amazing in a functional aspect for high intensity and endurance athletes. Zico currently sponsors a professional football player who was in the hospital earlier this summer due to severe dehydration and cramping. He contacted me and I gave him enough Zico with instructions to drink about 5 servings throughout the day. He told me he hasn't needed an IV after practice since. I consider that an amazing result.

    Additionally, for you cooks out there, you can substitute Zico for nearly any recipe that calls for water to add a mildly sweet, unique flavor. It was the hit of the weekend at this year’s Cook Eat Drink Live event in Manhattan. Cook Franklin Becker of Brasserie called it “the find of the weekend” at the gourmet food event.

    Zico Pure Coconut Water’s naturally high potassium content makes it the perfect addition to mixed drinks because it adds a mildly sweet flavor and helps to fight hang-overs.

    John R. Ferrell
    Zico Operations Manager

  20. ZICO, please do not post corporare endorsaments!

  21. Keep posting...spread the word Zico!!!!

  22. keep posting...spread the word Zico!!!

  23. Hey Scott...

    Hit me up. I want to get you on a regular monthly supply of O.N.E. Coconut Water!

  24. Hey Scott,

    great blog on coconut water - natures best drink as far as I'm concerned. I live in the Caribbean so I have a fresh supply :-) I just wrote my enthusiatic love notes to coconut water on my latest - hope you can check it out. Happy running!


  25. In Trinidad and Tobago they mix it with their rum, which I found to be a nice change from Coca cola. They said it is healthy and helps keep you from getting a hangover from too much rum... nice. I wish I could find green coconuts here in the NW easier, then I'd make it myself.

  26. Hey ginjuice,

    I think it's fairly common throughout the Caribbean to mix coconut water with rum. In fact people add it to lots of alcoholic drinks (including gin) but as a non-drinker I find it a complete waste of good coconut water!

    Good luck in your quest to find more coconuts!



  27. Rum & Coconut Water!!!

    The thing that's best if you're feelin' glum

    Is coconut water with a little rum

    It could make you very tipsy, four for five

    Make you feel like a gypsy, four for five

    Coco got a lotta iron, four for five

    Make you strong like a lion!

  28. Coconut water is a refreshing beverage that comes from coconuts. It's a powerhouse of nutrition containing a complex blend of vitamins, minerals, amino acids, carbohydrates, antioxidants, enzymes, health enhancing growth hormones, and other phytonutrients. Because its electrolyte (ionic mineral) content is similar to human plasma, it has gained international acclaim as a natural sports drink for oral rehydration. As such, it has proven superior to commercial sports drinks. Unlike other beverages, it is completely compatible with the human body, in so much that it can be infused directly into the bloodstream. In fact, doctors have used coconut water successfully as an intravenous fluid for over 60 years. Coconut water's unique nutritional profile gives it the power to balance body chemistry, ward off disease, fight cancer, and retard aging. History and folklare credit coconut water with remarkable healing powers, which medical science is now confirming.

    Buy the great Coconut Water book at Amazon.

  29. Hi Scott,
    You should check out Vita Coco. If you get tired of the plain coconut water, Vita Coco has 4 other flavors to choose from...Pineapple, Peach and Mango, Passion Fruit and Tangerine. They're made with all natural fruit puree unlike Zico which uses fruit essence (?). You'll love it. Promise


    The problem with the flavored ones is that I don't know how much of the product is plain old juice... and how much is actualy coconut water!!!

    Anyone can help?

  31. Zico is the best coconut water out there because it has the least amount of calories, offers three flavors without preservatives or added sugar, and is packed with five essential electrolytes and 15 times the amount of potassium as normal sports drinks.

    To the reader above with concerns of fruit juice and essences. Fruit juice takes away from coconut water (defeats the purpose of drinking coconut water), but essences are plant extracts that add flavor, but not other fruit juices, preservatives, or sugar.

    Zico is the premium coconut water that doesn't add sugar, preservatives, or other fruit juices. Vitacoco is near the bottom. Vitacoco adds sugar and other juices to their coconut water, taking away from the overal nutritional content you would get from a full serving of coconut water. Zico is the way to go to get the best of coconut water.

  32. i can help. see the problem with adding "fruit juices" is that it takes away from what you're actually attempting to buy... coconut water! an essence is a slight flavor that adds just enough flavor without adding calories or suger. Vita Coco's Pineapple flavor does taste okay, but its 110 CALORIES!!!! i'd rather have a small meal, or TWO Zico flavored drinks. but give me just plain coconut water any day of the week. thanks ya'll

  33. Also Zico has a pretty sweet website that offers receipes on how to make smoothies and cocktails. I just tried a Zicohito, way delicious. Grab a tub cup, fill it 1/8 full with mint leaves (muddled up), then 2 lime slices squeezed and muddled up, put down some ice, then two ozs of rum, and fill with natural zico. Garnish with a lime slice.

  34. Tried this at Touch Night Club in Midtown last week...REALLY GOOD!!!

    Crush 10 mint leaves in a tall cool glass
    Squeeze half a lime into bottom of glass
    Add 1.5 oz. rum
    Fill glass with ice and ZICO Natural
    Stir, garnish with mint sprig and enjoy.

  35. Yay! I love coconut water! It's great for people who need low sodium diets - because the potassium helps balance it... No easier, yummier source of potassium...! Thank you baby coconuts.

  36. Hey Scott thanks for the info. I have been running marathons for a couple years now and I am thinking of using coconut water in my training. I bought a case of EQ (coconut water) from this website they have really good flavors. I was actually surprised because it tasted better than all the other drinks I'm using. Does anybody know what stores I can buy this stuff rather than online?

  37. REAL COCONUT WATER... As handy as a tetrapak can be.. it can nolonger deliver a living water. The action of real coconut water inthe body/mind is multi-faceted. Until you climb up a tree in the early morning relax in the crown and taste it fresh you'll never know!!.
    Once you do you'll request it at every event...Remember before you set out to take a COCOTAP.

  38. been using coconut water for some time now, for a real good tasting and healthy treat, blend up a big slice of watermelon and add the water from a young coconut (about 16 ozs of each)

  39. There are so many comments about O.N.E. and Zico but none about Vita Coco coconut water which surprises me. Out of O.N.E, Zico and Vita Coco, I think that Vita Coco is definitely the closest in taste to fresh coconut water. It's has the perfect balance of sweetness but is also incredibly refreshing. If you haven't tried Vita Coco I definitely suggest that you do.

  40. Just thought I would post something my son is doing....... He bought a health drink to get him all the best for running at £19 in UK and I bought a few fresh coconuts for my dog and me to help with our pain........ My dog is much better within a few hours of having the water and the oil from the nut and my son is now concidering he wasted his money! I do think coconut water is a pain killer......... Great stuff!

  41. I order my coconut water from Amazon. If you get a regular subscription, it is cheaper. I run marathons, and use it for a hydration drink. I love it!


  42. How much coconut water is acceptable to drink? I just bought a couple of fresh ones, cut 1 open and poured out the water in a bottle. Going to take it with me to work tomorrow. How often should I be drinking it for it's benefits???

  43. Vita coco is my personal favorite coconut water drink. It is more natural and better tasting than the other brands out there! I'm hooked.

  44. I like Vita Coco much better than Zico--it tastes better and is actually more hydrating! I work out every day and have tried every brand of coconut water and Vita Coco is the most refreshing.

  45. vita coco is by far better than zico. I don't even know why people compare them. Zico has unnatural ingredients in it, while vita coco is pure. Why would anyone choose zico over vita coco knowing that??

  46. Vita Coco is the greatest! I love drinking it after a long workout it is so refreshing! It tastes so good you would never know it's good for you too.

  47. I've tried almost all of the coconut water brands that are currently on the market (Zico, ONE, Naked, and Vita) and have to say that Vita Coco is by far the best. It's the only one that leaves me feeling completely rehydrated, and definitely tastes the best.

  48. Zico if your product is so good why do you put it in plastic containers? There is hardly anything more disgusting in this world than drinking out of plastic.

  49. Hi Scott,

    I'm in training for my first marathon, E2E on the West coast of BC, Canada and I've never used Gatorade or any of those drinks. I take a bottle filled with coconut juice and a bottle of water on my long runs. I've never eaten a gel either, and its middle of March, the marathon is the middle of June, should I start trying gels now and Gatorade or just keep at my current regime??

  50. I do rock climbing, bouldering and surfing. I've tasted coconut water straight from young coconuts in from many countries I have been to which includes Thailand, Cambodia, Philippines, Belize, Mexico, the island of Hawaii and out of the brands that can be purchased in tetra packs, i would say that Vita CoCo is the closest to natural tasting and probably closest to the fresh ones you can have straight from the tree. I also recommend the AAmy & Brian" brand, they too taste very close to the fresh ones form the fruit, but they are also a bit more expensive and comes in a can. Lately, it looks like the Vita Coco brand that i have been getting, their coconut water came from the Philippines. Still the best ones you can get are from the fruit itself, fresh but these are some of the best alternatives if you don't live in the tropics. Mahalo!

  51. Seems like there is a lot of Product promotion here. I'm looking to purchase coconut water for my office.

    Scott is there one you prefer?

  52. Ian -

    I personally drink Amy & Brian's, which I can get at the local grocery store in a tall boy can for the same price as the little Zico or ONE. However, it only comes in one flavor - natural. If I was buying for the office, I would recommend Zico. They have 4-5 nice subtle flavors that could please a lot of palettes.

    What a lucky office!


  53. Coconut water is becoming more and more popular every day.Many people don’t know where to buy coconut water. As many people become aware of the many benefits and additional flavors that coconut water is becoming available in, it is quickly becoming the choice hydrating refreshment. The only problem is, most people can’t go to there local grocery store and buy coconut water in there favorite brand.

  54. Coconut water is huge at the moment, Celeberities are desperate to be seen with ZICO and others like vita


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