Coconut water matches carb-electrolyte sports beverage for rehydration: Study

By Stephen Daniells

- Last updated on GMT

Coconut water matches carb-electrolyte sports beverage for rehydration: Study

Related tags: Coconut water, Coffee

The rehydrating powers of coconut water match those of a carbohydrate-electrolyte sports beverage, says a new study using the VitaCoco product.

Pure coconut water was just as effective as coconut water from concentrate and a carbohydrate-electrolyte sport drink at rehydrating exercise-trained men after a 60-minute bout of dehydrating exercise, according to findings published in the Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition​.

The new study was performed by scientists from Miami Research Associates and the University of Memphis, and the study was funded by the VitaCoco Company, New York.

Market potential

Coconut water has garnered a lot of consumer interest over the last two years or so. A 2010 report by New Nutrition Business​ hailed coconut water as “the fast-growing new category” ​ in sports beverages with retail sales already above $450m worldwide.

What makes coconut water interesting for brand owners is that it offers many of the same isotonic benefits as formulated sports drinks but in an all-natural form. No additions are necessary, not even sweetener.

The drink offers calcium, magnesium, and potassium to the sports enthusiast with the need for fortification.

New Nutrition Business​ said these benefits have been seized upon by start-up companies in Germany, the US and elsewhere, who are using new processing technologies and new brands to grow coconut water sales quickly and command premium prices.

Industry heavy weight have also invested heavily in the emerging sector, with the likes of Coca-Cola, PepsiCo, and some of Europe’s biggest brewing families putting money into coconut water.


The new study included 12 exercise-trained men with an average age of 26 and assigned them to receive approximately 125% of the body mass loss of pure coconut water (VitaCoco), coconut water from concentrate, bottled water or a carbohydrate-electrolyte sport drink equal to. This was the equivalent to about 2 liters per person.

Results showed that the men lost about 1.7 kg during the dehydrating exercise. Researchers found no differences between the beverages for exercise performance and measures of fluid retention.

“Additional study is needed with consideration for the inclusion of a more demanding dehydration protocol, aimed at reducing body mass beyond the 2% mark obtained in the present investigation may be warranted,”​ wrote the researchers, led by Dr Doug Kalman.

“Finally, while treadmill time to exhaustion is routinely used in laboratory studies, the use of a time trial test as the measure of exercise performance may be more appropriate. Investigators may consider these suggestions when designing future studies focused on the potential rehydrating ability of coconut water and other beverages.”

Source: Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition
2012, 9​:1 doi:10.1186/1550-2783-9-1
“Comparison of coconut water and a carbohydrate-electrolyte sport drink on measures of hydration and physical performance in exercise-trained men”
Authors: D.S. Kalman, S. Feldman, D.R. Krieger, R.J. Bloomer

Related topics: Research, Energy, Sports nutrition

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