Training or racing a triathlon requires you to hydrate and make sure you have enough electrolytes and carbohydrates to complete a race. For hydrating, there are many options available to you such as water with electrolyte tablets, sports drinks, and coconut water.
When you sweat you lose these minerals along with water, which is why it is so important to replace them when rehydrating from prolonged intense exercise. Drinking water alone will not replace these electrolytes and can lead to muscle cramps and increased fatigue. Electrolytes include sodium, potassium, chloride, calcium and other minerals vital to proper body function.
Due to food allergies, I have had an issue with what I eat and drink, specifically drinking during my training and races. I am like the canary bird in the coal mine, if the bird gets sick there is a problem, that can be said about me. If I react immediately to food or drinks then there is something that is not right with that food. My biggest problem I have with processed food, so I eat mostly natural food that has not been processed.
Trying different drinks for hydrating, I concluded or my body did that water and coconut water is the best option for me. So what is so good with coconut water, let’s look at the Coconut.
The coconut is a member of the palm tree family. It’s not a fruit, though it can be found in the produce section — and, despite its name, a coconut is not a tree nut. Because of that, coconut products are safe for those with tree nut allergies. The coconut also provides different products at different stages of its gestation.
Young baby coconuts look like green water balloons and are filled with water. Coconut water, unlike coconut milk, contains no fat and more potassium than a banana. The coconut water is potassium, a vitamin that is vital to proper nerve and cell function. People traditionally look to bananas as the go-to potassium food. However, one serving of coconut water has about the same amount of potassium and much less sugar than a banana. When compared to Gatorade, coconut water packs a staggering 13x the potassium.
Sodium has an infamous reputation because of its ties to high blood pressure, but when it comes to exercise, you lose quite a bit of sodium through sweat. It is important to replace that sodium because of its importance in proper nerve conduction. In extreme cases of sodium deficiency, a person can develop Hyponatremia, a serious acute condition in which nerve impulses are interrupted all around the body which can result in death.
Coconut water has a little over twice the sodium as Gatorade which can be a benefit if you sweat heavily during exercise. The electrolytes, with help from the potassium, help the body absorb water better. When you drink it actually goes straight into our bloodstream, so it’s extremely hydrating. Coconut water can be thought of as nature’s Gatorade because of “a mix of electrolytes” and for hundreds of years, the coconut has been a dietary staple for cultures all over the globe.
As coconuts mature, their shell thickens and the meat starts forming inside. The coconut water content starts falling, and the juice inside is now what we call coconut milk. Coconut milk is higher in fat and protein and makes a delicious addition to curries, stews, stir-fries, and soups. Coconut cream is simply really thick coconut milk.
Coconut water has many benefits. It’s full of potassium and electrolytes and has an osmolality identical to our own blood. Translation: it’s amazingly hydrating, and the water is absorbed almost immediately into our cells. Why turn to high-fructose, synthetic-vitamin laden drinks like Pedialyte or Gatorade when you can drink a traditional beverage straight from nature that tropical people have relied on for thousands of years?
Amazingly, coconut water is so close to natural blood plasma that soldiers in WWII were given direct infusions of coconut water when supplies of blood were low.
But watch out not all the coconut waters available in the supermarket may be good for you, many of the canned coconut waters contain added sugar, which you do not require. The best options are a fresh young coconut or the Zico brand of coconut water that does not have any added sugar.
My personal choice is a fresh young coconut – for an Olympic distance triathlon, I drink just before the start of the race 500 ml of coconut water, during the biker ride I carry one bottle of coconut water and water and after the race if I require I drink another 500 ml of coconut water. Try it it is an alternative to Gatorade.