The clear liquid that you get when you crack open a coconut is delightfully refreshing. And that alone is reason enough to want to reach for a glassful! But apart from being a drink that’s healthy and can be had guilt-free, coconut water could also help you on your weight-loss journey. Here’s how this exotic juice stacks up!
A single cup of coconut water has nutrients like:1
- 60 mg of magnesium: 15%
- 48 mg of phosphorus: 6.8%
- 600 mg of potassium: 12.7%
- 252 mg of sodium: 10.9%
- 7 mcg folate: 1.75%
- 2.6 gm dietary fiber: 8.6%
It also has small amounts of calcium, iron, zinc, B vitamins, and vitamin C. And to boot, there’s hardly any fat. In other words, drinking coconut water could be that perfect in-between drink. It can be a once-off refreshing, nutrient-rich alternative to a glass of plain water. You can also happily use it to replace a glass of juice which has nutrients but also comes with more sugar and calories. And that’s precisely what makes coconut water such a great ally for anyone who’s trying to lose weight.
id="coconut-water-is-a-low-calorie-drink">1. It Is Low In Calories
- 1 cup of orange juice: 117 calories
- 1 cup of coconut water: 44–46 calories
When you are trying to lose weight, being able to have healthy snacks and drinks can make a big difference. Coconut water plies you with nutrients you need without loading on a lot of calories. Each cupful has just about 44 to 46 calories.2 3 Trade out fruit juices like orange juice which amounts to around 117 calories per cup for a refreshing glass of coconut water and you’ll find you have calories to spare for the day.4 It can even help create a greater calorie deficit (where you consume fewer calories than you burn per day). A calorie deficit of just about 500 per day can help you lose anywhere between 1–2 pounds per week.5
2. Its Fiber Content Keeps You Full Longer
Fiber is known to help keep you full for longer.6 And a cup of coconut water contains about 2.6 gm of dietary fiber when you have it freshly tapped from the nut.7 This means you are less likely to get the munchies soon after drinking coconut water. Researchers even say that having additional fiber when you are obese could make a significant difference to your weight-loss efforts.8 Ready-to-drink coconut water may not have these benefits if it is stripped of its fiber during packaging, so do check the label to be sure.
id="coconut-water-doubles-up-as-a-low-fat-drink">3. It Is Low In Fat
- 1 cup of chocolate milkshake: 81 g fat
- 1 cup of coconut water: 0.48 g fat
For someone who’s got their eye on the calories and fat, coconut water is a godsend. Unlike a yogurt smoothie, milkshake, or even a chocolate drink, coconut water is virtually fat-free. Each serving of a cup of fresh coconut water has as little as 0.48 gm of fat in it.9 A chocolate milkshake, on the other hand, would have about 8.10 gm of fat in a similar serving.10 Many unsweetened coconut water drinks available off-the-shelf will have no fat at all. Which means you can indulge in this drink without worrying about its fat content eating into your allowance for the day.
id="it-is-a-healthier-alternative-to-sports-drinks-after-a-workout">4. It Is A Healthier Alternative To Sports Drinks
If you are doing very strenuous workouts or sweat a lot, you will need to replace lost electrolytes after a workout. Most people find it convenient to do this with a sports beverage that contains the right balance of electrolytes and water. Coconut water can step in just as easily here, helping rehydrate you after you exercise and replacing some of the lost salts.
In one study, coconut water was found to be as effective as sports drinks in rehydrating test subjects post-exercise. There were also other benefits to picking coconut water over such beverages. Unlike some sports drinks which cause a feeling of fullness or nausea, coconut water didn’t have any such adverse effects. This meant people could also drink more of it comfortably to rehydrate.11 And of course, there’s also the fact that it is completely natural!
Watch The Sugar And Carb Intake, Though
While coconut water is loaded with goodness, you also need to be aware that it is not carb- or sugar-free. So if you need to watch your sugar and carb intake, due to a problem like metabolic disorder or diabetes, you shouldn’t go overboard. Ensure that you factor in the coconut water consumed when you’re tracking your carbs and sugar intake for the day.
- 1 cup of orange juice: 20.83 gm sugar | 25.79 gm carbs
- 1 cup of fresh coconut water: 6.26 gm sugar | 8.9 gm carbs
A glass or two a day should be fine. Just be aware that in spite of the reference to “water” in its name, it isn’t carb-free like plain water. A cup of ready-to-drink unsweetened coconut water you get in stores is likely to have around 9.60 gm of sugar and 10.39 gm of carbohydrates.12
If you tap your own fresh coconut water, it may have around 6.26 gm of sugar and 8.90 gm of carbs.13 While a cup of fresh orange juice has much more sugar and carbs (20.83 gm of sugar and 25.79 gm of carbs), the content of coconut water is also significant enough to be counted.14
And Mind That Potassium To Avert Heart Problems
Stick to a maximum of 2–3 cups of coconut water a day.
While coconut water’s nutrient content makes it a healthy drink, having too much can also prove problematic because of the potassium in it.15 Excess potassium in the body can be dangerous, especially if you have kidney disease. This can cause an issue called hyperkalemia, characterized by like nausea, numbness, tingling, and muscle weakness. It can progress into a heart problem and may even become life-threatening if it continues unchecked.16 Stick to a maximum of 2–3 cups of coconut water a day and you should be fine.
Best Ways To Have Coconut Water
While refreshing and hydrating and a good alternative to sweetened juices and milkshake, coconut water should never replace plain water in your diet.
You can drink your coconut water plain and freshly tapped from the nut or out of a bottle or can. If you’re choosing the latter, be sure to pick a brand that has no added sweeteners or you may unwittingly rack up more calories and sugar than you want. Here are some healthy ideas on how else you can use coconut water:
- Try coconut water with a squeeze of lime/lemon. You can even add a touch of honey for sweetness.
- Dilute a fruit juice with coconut water to make it healthier.
- Set cut fruit into popsicles made of coconut water for a summery treat.
- Coconut water curries, with the water as a base, can make for lighter alternatives to heavy coconut milk-based gravies.
- Coconut water vinaigrette made from lemon juice, coconut water, salt, pepper, and olive oil makes a refreshing dressing for salads.
|↑1, ↑3, ↑7, ↑13||Nuts, coconut water (liquid from coconuts). United States Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service.|
|↑2||Beverages, Coconut water, ready-to-drink, unsweetened . United States Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service.|
|↑4||Orange juice, canned, unsweetened. United States Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service.|
|↑5||Work out how much weight you need to lose.
|↑6||Chambers, Lucy, Keri McCrickerd, and Martin R. Yeomans. “Optimising foods for satiety.” Trends in Food Science & Technology 41, no. 2 (2015): 149-160.|
|↑8||Anderson, James W., Pat Baird, Richard H. Davis, Stefanie Ferreri, Mary Knudtson, Ashraf Koraym, Valerie Waters, and Christine L. Williams. “Health benefits of dietary fiber.” Nutrition reviews 67, no. 4 (2009): 188-205.|
|↑9||Nuts, coconut water (liquid from coconuts). United States Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service.|
|↑10||Milk shakes, thick chocolate. United States Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service.|
|↑11||Saat, Mohamed, Rabindarjeet Singh, Roland Gamini Sirisinghe, and Mohd Nawawi. “Rehydration after exercise with fresh young coconut water, carbohydrate-electrolyte beverage and plain water.” Journal of physiological anthropology and applied human science 21, no. 2 (2002): 93-104.|
|↑12||Beverages, Coconut water, ready-to-drink, unsweetened .
|↑14||Orange juice, raw. United States Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service.|
|↑15||Hakimian, Justin, Seth H. Goldbarg, Chong H. Park, and Todd C. Kerwin. “Death by coconut.” Circulation: Arrhythmia and Electrophysiology 7, no. 1 (2014): 180-181.|
|↑16||What is Hyperkalemia?.