Sport Drinks vs Water vs Coconut Water

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What is the best drink during your workout: sport drinks vs water vs coconut water

On today’s episode of Live Lean TV, I’m breaking down which is the best drink during your workout: sport drinks vs water vs coconut water.

Yes, it’s Food Wars time and we are analyzing the effectiveness of rehydration drinks during your workout.

It’s a head-to-head-to-head battle of: sports drinks vs water vs coconut water.

Side note: I hope you really enjoy this episode, because it’s filmed in Bermuda, and you wouldn’t believe how hard it was to find coconut water here!

So lets dig in and figure out which of these three rehydration drinks are best to consume during your workout, and which one should be in the garbage.

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Rehydration drinks are a very interesting and often confusing subject.

The answer really depends on you and the type of workouts you’re following.

If you just go to the gym to be social, while getting in a casual workout, some of these drinks are not for you.

However, if you’re running marathons or playing high intensity sports, some of these drinks are better suited for you.

Which rehydration drink is best for you?

When comparing sport drinks vs water vs coconut water, it’s important to first figure out your current fitness level and how intense your workouts are.

Lets start with water.

Option #1: Water

If you’re completing 30 minutes of a moderate intensity workout, that really doesn’t make you break a sweat, water is all you need.

It’s zero calories, so it doesn’t add any extra calories or sugar, and it will rehydrate your body.

However, water many not be the best for you if you’re running marathons, playing a high intensity sport, or your shirt is drenched in sweat from an hour of high-intensity exercises.

The reason is, water may not provide the right replenishment of lost electrolytes in your body.

Although there’s are many different electrolytes, the two major electrolytes that you lose during a sweaty workout is sodium and chloride.

You also lose electrolytes, potassium, magnesium, and calcium in smaller amounts.

Which leads me to rehydration drinks containing electrolytes.

Option #2: Coconut Water

Note: the type of coconut water that you see in the video is not a very good example coconut water.

As I mentioned before, I filmed this episode in Bermuda, and I couldn’t find the actual pure premium
version of coconut water, so I had to get a lower quality version.

Based on this, I don’t want to compare the ingredients and the nutritional information of this lower quality coconut water brand, especially since it has added sugar in it.

However, if you bought pure coconut water, here is the nutrition information.

Nutrition information of pure coconut water (11 oz serving)

Calories: 60 calories

Protein: 0g

Carbohydrates: 15g (15 grams of natural sugar)

Fat: 0g

Sodium: 40mg

Potassium: 680mg

Calcium: 5% (daily value)

Magnesium: 10% (daily value)

Coconut water is especially high in the electrolyte potassium:

  • An 11 oz serving of coconut water contains 680 mg of potassium
  • A medium banana contains 422mg of potassium
  • A 12 oz serving of gatorade only contains 45 mg of potassium

However, compared to a sports drink, coconut water doesn’t have as much sodium in it.

Replenishing sodium after a sweaty workout is key, as it’s an electrolyte lost during heavy sweating.

Sodium in coconut water vs sports drinks

  • 11 oz of coconut water contains 40 mg of sodium
  • 12 oz of gatorade contains 160 mg of sodium

So again, to decide if coconut water or a sports drink is better for you, you really need to figure out how intense (and sweaty) your workout is.

Sport Drinks vs Water vs Coconut Water

Option #3: Sport Drinks

All the advertisements say sport drinks are healthy, but are they right for you?

Lets take a look at the nutrition information.

Note: as mentioned in the video, you have to be careful with these sports drinks because even though the gatorade bottle in the video is 36 oz, the nutritional information is for a 12 oz serving size.

This means the 36 oz bottle in this video is actually 3 servings worth.

So it can be deceiving if you chug down the entire bottle.

If you did, you would have to multiply the nutritional information on the label by 3.

Nutrition information of sports drink (12 oz serving of gatorade)

Calories: 80 calories

Protein: 0g

Carbohydrates: 21g (sugar in the form of sucrose, dextrose, and a few other “science experiment” sounding ingredients)

Fat: 0g

Sodium: 160mg

Potassium: 45mg

Calcium: not listed

Magnesium: not listed

So the sports drink has more calories in it, plus more added sugar.

Conclusion: sport drinks vs water vs coconut water

The important thing is, if you’re running a marathon, or you’re doing crazy amounts of exercise that makes you sweat a lot, you’re going to burn off most of the extra calories and sugar in the sport drinks.

But what really bothers me is when I see adults, and kids, chugging sport drinks, while socializing, rather than sweating.

In other words, they’re not working hard enough to burn off the sugar, so they’re essentially just storing sugar as body fat.

Plus, they don’t need the electrolytes since they aren’t sweating.

If you’re sweating a lot at the gym from your intense workouts, a sports drink may be good for you to stay hydrated.

But don’t fall for the idea that these sports drinks are good for you at other times of the day.

If you’re drinking sports drinks to fill you up, stop the madness!

These sports drinks serve a purpose, but that purpose is not to fill you up.

If you compare drinking a whey protein shake vs. a high carbohydrate sports drink that is rich in dextrose, the protein drink can help keep you satiated, while the carbohydrate drink does not make you feel full.

After you drink a sports drink, you’ll still be as hungry as before, maybe even more hungrier, even though you took in a pile of calories from sugar.

And the winner is: sport drinks vs water vs coconut water

This is the first time an outcome like this has occurred, as I’m not throwing any of these rehydration drinks in the garbage.

The only way I would throw a sport drink out is:

  • if you’re not working hard to deserve it
  • or your goal is weight loss

Depending on the type of training you’re doing, each drink may be beneficial to your performance and recovery.

Stick with water if…

You’re just completing a typical 30-minute workout and you’re not working up much of a sweat (i.e. your shirts not drenched).

Stick with sport drinks if…

You’re already lean and compete in marathons or high-intensity workouts that make you sweat a lot.

Since coconut water doesn’t have as much sodium in it, which is essential to replace after a sweaty workout, a sports drink may be better suited for you.

Stick with coconut water if…

You sweat during your workouts, but your goal is fat loss.

Keeping your sugar content lower is important for weight loss.

Personally, I stick prefer to stick with coconut water or pure natural water.

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Also subscribe to our Live Lean TV YouTube channel and leave a comment below for what you want to see on future episodes.

Check out previous episodes of our Food Wars series here.


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Brad Gouthro is the founder of Live Lean TV, a media company focused on helping men and women “Live Lean” 365 days a year. Brad’s programs and content have helped millions of people all over the world learn how to get in shape, and more importantly, sustain it for life.

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