Coconut Water for Athletic Performance vs Sports Drinks


“Coconut Water for Athletic
Performance vs. Sports Drinks” So far, I’ve reviewed the evidence
on coconut oil and coconut milk that suggest neither is good for you, but what about coconut water? When I first learned about athletes using coconut water as like natural Gatorade, I did a medical literature
search for athletes and coconut, and only came up with this,
a study of canine athletes. (Turns out feeding drug
or bomb sniffing dogs coconut oil can sometimes wipe out their ability to smell at all). But what about coconut
water and human athletes? Studies on coconut water as an electrolyte replacement
beverage date back decades, when coconut water was
compared to other beverages and found to be more suitable, but the other beverages
they compared it to were like Pepsi, Coke,
Sprite and 7-Up. You don’t really know until you… put it to the test. It was found to help in
cases of mild dehydration, due to childhood diarrhea, despite having an unbalanced
electrolyte composition, by which they meant the
sodium/potassium ratio was off. Coconut water has so much potassium that people with kidney disease can run into life-threatening
hyperkalemia– too much potassium in the blood, if you drink like 2 quarts
of coconut water and don’t have normal kidney function, which would otherwise just
flush the excess away. People may not realize coconut water has so much potassium; so, even if your doctor warned you about staying away from
high potassium foods, you may not realize
and run into problems. Even one quart a day may be too much for someone whose kidneys have been compromised by diabetes, for example. Cream of tartar is the same kind of thing. People don’t realize it’s
like 20% pure potassium. So, when they listen to websites claiming it’s some natural remedy, even young people with healthy kidneys can run into problems, if they take spoonfuls of the stuff, with cream of tartar overdose deaths dating back to the 1800s. But, what about rehydration
after exercise with fresh young coconut water? Yes, it can help replace
fluid loss from diarrhea; but what about fluid loss
from heavy exercise? We didn’t know… until this study. 90 minutes at about
90 degrees Fahrenheit until they lost up to
3% of their body weight. And then, they had them
drink coconut water, versus a sports beverage,
versus just plain water, and no significant difference in rehydration for any of them. Subsequent study findings
were more mixed. Some showed a sports drink
beat out water for hydration, but coconut water didn’t. Or, they both beat out
water but not each other. But the reason athletes
care about rehydration is that they care about performance, but there had never been any studies on not just measures of hydration, but on physical performance
until…this study. They tested water, versus coconut water, versus coconut water from concentrate, versus a standard sports drink. Then, they stuck people on a treadmill and timed how long they could
go before they collapsed. And, they discovered no significant
difference between any of them. Plain water did just as
good as coconut water, in fact, even better,
since those drinking the coconut water felt more
bloated with upset tummies. Now, this was all done
at room temperature, about 70 degrees. What about instead at over
90 degrees Fahrenheit? Then, the coconut water did
seem to beat out water, but time to exhaustion isn‘t
the same as performance. That’s something that’s routinely
used in laboratory studies, but doing something
like a time trial test would actually measure
speed and performance. But, there’s never been a head-to-head water versus coconut
water time trial until… now. Drinking coconut water, bikers make it 10k in 971 seconds, and on plain water
about 5 seconds faster, in other words, no significant difference. The first study on the use of
coconut water during exercise, and it looks like it’s no more beneficial than plain water. How’s the coconut water
industry going to spin this? They’re the ones that funded this study. They found no difference
between plain water, coconut water, and sports drinks. So, did the authors conclude VitaCoco is no better than water? No, they said coconut water… is just as good as sports beverages! A finding athletes and coaches will likely find of most importance, failing to note that not
only did plain water do just as well, it did better, because there was twice
as much stomach upset in the coconut water groups. But wait… if all the beverages did equally well, then this isn’t just a refutation of any special properties
to coconut water, but the sports drinks as well. If they did no better than water, are sports drinks just a waste of money? We’ll find out…next.

100 thoughts on “Coconut Water for Athletic Performance vs Sports Drinks

  • May 2, 2018 at 12:57 pm
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    I don't need 5 minutes to know to stay away from the foofoo water.

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  • May 2, 2018 at 1:00 pm
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    Thanks Doc I'm an Intermediate level Cyclist and I will be sticking to the water as always . If it isn't broke …. right?

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  • May 2, 2018 at 1:08 pm
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    I was wondering, waiting and hoping for this .. thank you!

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  • May 2, 2018 at 1:12 pm
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    what about drinking coconut water right out of the coco itself, natural?

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  • May 2, 2018 at 1:16 pm
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    This is life-changing for me, I used to drink a litre of coconut water a day. Thanks so much for spreading this golden information!

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  • May 2, 2018 at 1:22 pm
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    but coconut water tastes so damn good! :/

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  • May 2, 2018 at 1:27 pm
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    Wow Dr. G!

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  • May 2, 2018 at 1:35 pm
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    But I’m addicted to the coco!!

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  • May 2, 2018 at 1:36 pm
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    Untilll… NOOOOW

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  • May 2, 2018 at 1:42 pm
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    Got coconut milk?

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  • May 2, 2018 at 1:57 pm
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    After 18 years of being raw and studying food …… the only thing we humans should drink is water, nothing else.

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  • May 2, 2018 at 2:07 pm
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    Ooo juicy..I thought those electrolytes really made a difference. I guess this applies to smart water too

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  • May 2, 2018 at 2:09 pm
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    Dam, rip coconut water

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  • May 2, 2018 at 2:12 pm
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    What about it’s health effects?

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  • May 2, 2018 at 2:15 pm
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    Hey! Great video! Wanted to share my personal experience… I'm used to heavy workouts (1k+ calorie burn) and long workouts and for most of the time, water does the trick!
    When I use sports drinks is when I'm doing workouts longer than 1 hour per day (high intensity) bc the sugar / vitamins helps me push through my workout. I also use it when I've had just a long workout day. For example, if I do 2-3 sessions of hot yoga that day and I've lost a lot of water, even though I drink 1-2 liters during the workout of water, after I always need something else. I 've tried juice, plain water, coconut water, smoothies and nothing works as good as sports drinks for me. I will get very nauseous if i dont put something in my dystem except water and food/ coconut water only make it worse for me. However, I do drink coconut water just never immeduately and after workouts. I believe that sports drinks are mostly created for high intensity workouts and long duration… coconut water for me serves an entirely different purpose which is to hydrate you throughout your day when your salt needs are low and your potassium needs higher.
    The way I understand it is this… not sure if it's right…But after heavy water loss, your body is looking to push water back into your cells, so salt helps with this. However, during the day, your body needs more potassium than sodium about 2-3 to 1 so eating foods high in potassium low in salt helps maintain a good balance for your body.

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  • May 2, 2018 at 2:24 pm
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    Cool! Finally, some more great videos on performance & sports. Keep em' coming!

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  • May 2, 2018 at 2:25 pm
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    Bet all those potassium gotta be good for something 😏

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  • May 2, 2018 at 2:29 pm
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    5secs in a 10km TT is a big difference for a professional cyclist….it can be the difference between winning or not. Some Tours de France were won by just a few secs (after some 2000km of racing)!

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  • May 2, 2018 at 2:29 pm
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    I get the feeling there's more to it than this, at least for ellete athletes. Marathoners claim it reduces cramping better than just water. But not unlike most things in the human body, it's complicated. For most of us, probably not.

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  • May 2, 2018 at 2:36 pm
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    Those tests were done using processed coconut water, as it was done by the same companies that sells them. Need to do tests using freshly picked coconuts. Fresh fresh fresh!

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  • May 2, 2018 at 2:49 pm
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    Okay if the next episode doesn’t take into account loosing electrolytes or even mentioning cramping that takes place during intense exercise(CrossFit, gymnastics, marathon running, exc.) then I’ll still believe coconut water would be better for you. Also coconut water has sugars (not as much as sports drinks) which is needed especially when your glycogen stores are running low

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  • May 2, 2018 at 2:51 pm
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    Sport drinks suck.

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  • May 2, 2018 at 2:52 pm
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    Pickle juice works

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  • May 2, 2018 at 3:00 pm
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    I don't understand how does coconut water have too much potassium? If 1 cup has 600mg of potassium and for an adult we are supposed to receive 4,700mg daily.

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  • May 2, 2018 at 3:10 pm
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    Good for those with Bood Pressure and want to perform

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  • May 2, 2018 at 3:12 pm
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    great analysis!

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  • May 2, 2018 at 3:16 pm
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    Flaw in the reports! Should use real young coconut instead, not the pasteurised prepreprocessed life-less stale coconut water packaged in plastic film carton.

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  • May 2, 2018 at 3:21 pm
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    stating that coconut water has too much potassium and will overflow the body is simply nonsense! potassium is water soluble in the body will excrete what it doesn't use. Also potassium is the key element in the sodium potassium pump in each muscle cell. Most people that get cramps are lacking the one to 2% potassium needed in the cell to perform at a high level. therefore potassium is extremely important in aerobic and anaerobic activities.

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  • May 2, 2018 at 3:22 pm
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    Lol the whole point of sports drinks is to be used as an excuse for high performance to cover up the fact that they’ve been doping ……..but no matter how good your pharmaceuticals are you still need carbs 😉🌶🌶

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  • May 2, 2018 at 3:26 pm
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    The MDR for potassium is so high and coconut water is a good source of potassium. I can appreciate not drinking too much, but it is low sugar, and high potassium – seems like it can be valuable to drink for nutrients and a glucose boost. I would not expect it to be better than water or worse. I did not expect the potassium to be a problem. How much coconut water would you have to drink to be in the danger zone? Should there not be some kind of warning on the bottles? I don't drink a lot of coconut water, but I do drink it fairly regularly. How much is too much?

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  • May 2, 2018 at 3:36 pm
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    Great to know, i figured it was BS, but 5sec on a 10k TT is alot 👊🏾😆

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  • May 2, 2018 at 3:36 pm
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    Poor coconuts🥥 😔 is there anything good about them?

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  • May 2, 2018 at 3:40 pm
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    The time trials in the study are far too short to provide meaningful data. Show me a 9,700 second trial, and then let's talk about which is better.

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  • May 2, 2018 at 3:47 pm
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    Water is just as effective as coco water, scam.

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  • May 2, 2018 at 4:06 pm
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    Absurd. Mainly we're talking about the replacement of electrolytes here. Coconut water is high in sodium and you need to replace the sodium to avoid becoming hyponatremic. Now you are saying that drinking water that has little to no sodium is just as good?

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  • May 2, 2018 at 4:17 pm
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    Coconut water has always struck me as being glorified sugar water. The sugar content in some of them is crazy. You may as well be drinking soda for what it's worth. I've heard people claim it's more hydrating than water, to which I just roll my eyes and think, "That's not how this works. That's not how any of this works."

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  • May 2, 2018 at 4:28 pm
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    Tastes good after a workout! But why pick, drink some coconut water, eat some fruits… during exercise I like just water.

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  • May 2, 2018 at 4:40 pm
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    I can't stand the taste of coconut water for some reason. I like the taste of coconut cream & the oil for cooking & baking. Unfortunately I have always used it sparingly because I never read that it was a truly healthy alternative.

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  • May 2, 2018 at 4:46 pm
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    Wow! Good to know! Just drink water and green tea and hybiscus tea I guess.

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  • May 2, 2018 at 4:52 pm
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    Just drink water folks.

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  • May 2, 2018 at 5:19 pm
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    Coconut water destroys my stomach 🙁 anyone know why?

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  • May 2, 2018 at 5:22 pm
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    I don't drink coconut water (too expensive !) but if I was, it would not be for better hydration or performance, it would be for better *recovery*: what about cramps for ex., and "next day" heavy legs/sore muscles ?

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  • May 2, 2018 at 5:31 pm
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    Well, I love coconuts and they seem like such a natural food source, and I live on an island! Hopefully the next vid can say that it has some nutritional value

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  • May 2, 2018 at 5:57 pm
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    I’ve heard Coconut Water has been used after a workout to replace electrolytes?

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  • May 2, 2018 at 6:48 pm
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    Very interesting… Probably not what a lot of people wanted to hear! Thanks for always showing the science, Doc!

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  • May 2, 2018 at 7:04 pm
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    10k time trial is not long enough to see the benefits of drinking carbs.

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  • May 2, 2018 at 7:19 pm
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    Everyone know that Sport Drinks for short sessions or competitions are useless. Its only after 1+ hours of strenuous exercise that it matters.

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  • May 2, 2018 at 7:38 pm
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    I seem to remember Dr Greger saying that coconut water could used invasively as a substitute for human plasma, is that still true?

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  • May 2, 2018 at 7:54 pm
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    I'll go and finish my organic coconut water, y'all sleep.

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  • May 2, 2018 at 8:12 pm
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    OMG I am so in love with Coconut anything….I buy fresh baby coconut all the time…Coconut water is my second favorite drink!

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  • May 2, 2018 at 8:36 pm
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    Plain water for the win 😎✌️

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  • May 2, 2018 at 9:27 pm
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    so…….just drink water.

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  • May 2, 2018 at 9:35 pm
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    Stomach upset aside, what about all the electrolytes in coconut water that plain water doesn't have? Are they useless? Do they take longer to take effect and therefore not present their presence in the study? Is it a myth that they're even there? I don't get it. Something's still amiss here. Maybe it's placebo but Vita coco seems to quench my thirst better than water and the first time I drank it the difference seemed immediate and dramatic.

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  • May 2, 2018 at 9:48 pm
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    Dr. Gregor can you do a video on MCT oil from coconuts? I love this in my coffee with stevia.

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  • May 2, 2018 at 10:51 pm
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    Regardless of what’s better for you or not PLEASE be mindful in picking your coconut water brand. I traveled to Thailand and learned that monkeys are chained to trees and forced to pick coconuts for the rest of their lives for human consumption. It truly sickened me. I wish I knew which brands are safe but don’t so now I hardly drink it any more. Do your research please

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  • May 2, 2018 at 11:14 pm
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    Curious if you have seen the YouTube video released today called FoodGate: The Break-in, the Cover-up, & the Aftermath from University of California Television (UCTV) which makes many claims of the cause of obesity and diabetes. Most claims were not in line with Nutrition Facts videos.

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  • May 2, 2018 at 11:37 pm
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    I bet sports drinks are scams…….we'll see.

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  • May 2, 2018 at 11:52 pm
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    Ask yourself who is funding these studies?

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  • May 3, 2018 at 1:46 am
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    +vegetablepolice not gonna be happy loool

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  • May 3, 2018 at 1:46 am
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    Oh my gosh, I’ve wasted so much money on coconut water. 😑

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  • May 3, 2018 at 1:50 am
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    Big Coconut is going to get you Dr. Greger. Watch out.

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  • May 3, 2018 at 2:59 am
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    The Boss speaks……..always g00d stuff! (I am a runner and makes me think)

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  • May 3, 2018 at 3:11 am
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    I knew it!!! Thank you for the confirmation, Dr. Greger!!

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  • May 3, 2018 at 3:39 am
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    Scam vs scam

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  • May 3, 2018 at 3:48 am
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    I live in Taiwan, where I lose lots of water due to dehydration…I can buy coconut water straight from a coconut lady who chops off the top in front of me and pours out the fresh juice…since drinking it on a regular basis dehydration and subsequently headaches have decreased…I have also recently started eating a plant based diet so this could also have had some effect

    Were these particular studies carried on fresh coconut water or the processed ones? Could be a factor!

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  • May 3, 2018 at 4:33 am
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    For your English language videos, please give your measurements in metric. The vast majority of English speakers use metric and don't know imperial; it's 2018 after all. The studies are clearly in metric. It makes it very confusing for English speakers watching your video if you give measurements in a foreign system like imperial. Use metric.

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  • May 3, 2018 at 4:46 am
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    Coconut water keepsmy relative out of the hospital. Living in Phoenix, we have dry, HOT summers. He ended up in hospital twice for dehydration. C20 & Harmless Coconut Water brands are our Fav. for taste. HIGH in potassium! Healthier than junk sports drinks, which ha artificial colors& flavors & synthetic vitamins, Gmo sugar.

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  • May 3, 2018 at 5:24 am
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    These studies don't make any sense at all. They're seriously comparing the beverages by telling people to drink it and then run. I can think of at least one thousand factors to impact their running performance other than the beverages. What should have been said it's that coconut water has much higher nutrients density it's not like it has only potassium in its composition. It's ridiculous to compare with a processed drink.

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  • May 3, 2018 at 9:27 am
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    Isn’t the food and liquid intake burned during exercise from the day before?

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  • May 3, 2018 at 1:22 pm
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    Thank you, this topic is just what I needed! I hope you can expand upon ways to fix electrolytes depletion/imbalance during long distance running (20k, marathon).

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  • May 3, 2018 at 4:35 pm
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    Please Dr. Greger! I have a burning question about a recently discovered ANIMAL BASED superfood, the human sperm. I feel so energized eating it and it would make an awful lot of sense for it to be high in nutrients.

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  • May 3, 2018 at 4:52 pm
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    5 seconds is the difference in1st and 2nd 🙂

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  • May 3, 2018 at 5:29 pm
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    Thank you so much. ❤️

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  • May 3, 2018 at 5:59 pm
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    If its man made dont eat or drink it.these tests are on processed coconut water and should be of no interest to anybody.crap report.,,,!!!!

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  • May 3, 2018 at 7:34 pm
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    Well my delusion is crushed. I still love coconut water tho, and will continue to drink it. Thanks for the facts tho! I still think it’s great to rehydrate and get some cahbs in ya. Peace!

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  • May 3, 2018 at 9:12 pm
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    Hi! I remember Dr. Greger mentioning, in one of his Q&A videos, about 2 or 3 good books about raising vegan children. I forget what books those were and find myself pregnant now! I’ll take any suggestions he might have.. thank you in advance!!

    Reply
  • May 3, 2018 at 10:26 pm
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    I hope none of these food companies try starting trouble with you.

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  • May 4, 2018 at 8:45 am
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    Michael “put it to the test” Greger

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  • May 4, 2018 at 1:48 pm
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    It will make you thirsty and dehydrate if taken excessively

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  • May 4, 2018 at 4:07 pm
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    Coconut water is the most readily available dense source of magnesium.

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  • May 5, 2018 at 4:47 am
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    did you know only 20 percent of medical research is available to the public? the corps that fund these studies classify it and throw it away if it disrupts their buisnesses ect. so, even with research its really hard to come to a conclusion with many things.

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  • May 5, 2018 at 11:10 am
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    Sports drinks contain artificial colors and often fructose and have little to no potassium. Pure coconut water is way better for restoring potassium. Also, who the hell drinks 1 or 2 QUARTS?! A pint is plenty for me.

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  • May 5, 2018 at 11:29 pm
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    What's the benefit of coconut water . It's like Resveratrol

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  • May 6, 2018 at 7:45 am
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    Awh man and I love the taste of coconut. 😢

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  • May 7, 2018 at 3:26 am
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    If I'm doing just a 10km TT on my bike…I'm bringing nothing to eat or drink. Just be unused added weight.

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  • May 7, 2018 at 8:45 pm
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    Coconut water is the best thing you can drink but not in the can or bottle in the supermarket

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  • May 9, 2018 at 7:22 pm
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    Fantastic source of information as usual.. Thank you!

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  • May 18, 2018 at 11:54 am
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    Personally my best pre workout for a bike ride is just either fruit punch and/or some coffee. Don't even suggest the coffee though because over the long term it will just rob you of sleep.

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  • May 27, 2018 at 5:46 pm
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    What an idiot……. idiots follow idiots

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  • May 29, 2018 at 1:28 am
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    This video is pretty irrelevant for the vast majority of us, who do not have kidney disease and are not athletes. At the very least, I didn't hear any evidence that coconut water is bad for us. On the other hand, it is true that industry pushes things on us that we don't really need, plus we should eat mostly local foods that do not require vast amounts of fossil fuels to travel into our mouths.

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  • June 3, 2018 at 12:51 am
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    Wow I’m actually angry now. We’re being scammed daily and people die from misinformation.
    Thanks for the science.

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  • June 7, 2018 at 7:28 pm
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    Wow, I've been wasting money. :/

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  • June 8, 2018 at 12:47 pm
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    Freshest is bestest. Read the label before spending your hard earned $$$$ ..The bottling industry will stop at nothing to sell their stuff.

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  • June 16, 2018 at 5:47 pm
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    holy shit this was really interesting

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  • July 13, 2018 at 10:27 pm
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    I drink Chaokoh brand coconut water from Thailand. It tastes good.

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  • July 13, 2018 at 10:29 pm
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    So you're saying I should feed coconut oil to drug-sniffing dogs. Done.

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  • July 25, 2018 at 1:02 pm
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    People, drink water. No body needs cocowater, gatorades, etc… unless You do not run marathon twice a week or bike every day. All is just money & trash maker … drink water!

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  • July 27, 2018 at 3:09 pm
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    So should I consume it to meet my RDA of K?

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  • October 27, 2018 at 8:35 am
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    So easy to make a good test. During a 50 mile marathon, give 1/3 sports drinks, 1/3 water, and 1/3 coconut water then see how their times compared. Add research money to the prize pool. Or even a marathon.

    Reply

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