Coconut Water vs Sports Drinks
Before considering which is your preferred post work-out drink, remember any exercise under 60 minutes is generally better off with good old water!
Unsweetened Coconut water is a natural choice and around 50% lower in calories (around 25kcal / 100ml) than traditional sports drinks (often around 50kcal / 100ml). This may be good for a weight loss client but not a high level exerciser who needs the extra energy found in a sports drink. Coconut water is also free from the sugar and artificial sweeteners, flavourings and colourings that are often found in commercial sports drinks. Some sports drinks however are fortified with additional vitamins and minerals beyond those naturally existing in coconut water.
Sports drinks are a better source of one of the vital electrolytes lost through sweating during a tough work out: sodium, but coconut water is a better source of another; potassium. Most of us get more than enough sodium from salt in our diets but many of us do not get adequate potassium.
So if you're looking to replace electrolytes and replenish your energy after a long run, a speed session, or just a tough workout, a traditional sports drink is still going to be the best bet to rehydrate. If you're looking to cut calories and keep your fluids au natural, coconut water is a fine choice. Just be sure to reach for unsweetened varieties!