ACTIONETIX | Can Coconut Water Improve Performance?

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Crazy for Coconuts

At ACTIONETIX you know our focus is on increasing performance through various means of nutritional manipulation, scientific training techniques and designing supplement programs that are specific to each rider. We firmly believe that being better prepared both physically and mentally is your edge to not only maximize the enjoyment you get from the sport, but to completely outsmart your competitors. 

At a recent high level race in Canada, we ran into a gentleman that had emailed us before asking some questions about distance riding, and how after riding for longer times in the heat, his vision would start to get blurry and other negative physiological changes would happen. He then prompted us with a question of whether or not coconut water was good for hydration and as an electrolyte replacement. This was not the first time we had been asked about this drink. Having been a major importer of certain coconut waters into Canada, we had taken a keen interest in the drink and it’s benefits. Here was our response to the inquiry:

“Peter, coconut water in its simplest form is great – it has many of the needed attributes for hydration and electrolyte consumption. Naturally it is considered fairly high in potassium, but somewhat low in sodium. Your body always tries to maintain a balance of sodium and potassium in a 3:2 ratio. If one of these is lacking, your body will adjust the other down by forcing your body to secrete it in the urine. So, if you are going to use it [coconut water] as part of your hydration strategy, you have to ensure that as an athlete that sweats, you are also taking in a decent amount of salt in your diet as well.”

Below is the nutritional profile for ZICO Coconut Water, which is one of the more popular brands – note that sodium is very low and potassium quite high.

ZICO Coconut Water

Nutrition Facts

Serving size: 14 Fl. Oz. (414mL)

Ingredients: 100% natural coconut water from concentrate, natural flavors

Amount/Serving

% DV*

Total Fat 0 g 0%
Calories 60 3%
Calories from fat 0 0%
Cholesterol 0 mg 0%
Sodium 160 mg 7%


Amount/Serving


% DV*

Potassium 569 mg 16%
Total Carb 13 g 4%
Dietary Fiber 0 g 0%
Sugars 12 g  
Protein 0 g 0%

Amount/Serving

% DV*
Calcium 27 mg 3%
Phosphorus 30 mg 3%
Magnesium 35 mg 9%*
Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 cal. diet

Coconut water naturally has a lot going for it in comparison to many other traditional fluids that motocross/endurocross athletes normally use. Along with some needed carbohydrates and far more potassium than a banana, coconut water also naturally contains four other critical electrolytes – calcium, sodium, magnesium and phosphorous, making it a great option to be worked into any performance diet. Add the fact that many of the coconut water choices that are on the market today are also fat free, and you quickly understand that this drink can be a strong part of an athlete’s success.

After breaking down coconut water to this level, our advice is to consider it as part of your pre-practice or pre-race ritual. It also has many positive attributes to help with post race recovery. Mix in a scoop of whey protein isolate right after you finish racing and you have a strong formula for muscular recovery.