Friday Feast: Gatorade, Coconut Water & Replacing Electrolytes

Last week on RAD Living I talked about how I need to better listen to my body and keep myself hydrated.  I thought I was being smart about my hydration this summer, but boy was I wrong.  Water alone was not keeping me hydrated enough for the July heat or to push me through strenuous workouts.

So recently I’ve been trying to to stay away from sugars, which means avoiding any kind of sports drinks.  I turned to coconut water for extra hydration and electrolytes, but it didn’t seem to be doing the trick.  Plus, I find myself struggling with the taste.


After a tough workout, I felt drained.  Also, my left calf muscle seriously cramped up on the last run, which is something that has never happened to me before.  I had drank about 50 oz of water and a coconut water earlier in the day so I thought I would be fine.  Well I guess the heat and humidity that day and the whole week prior with the heatwave we were having had caught up with me.  That night I went to bed with a headache and woke up with one the next morning.  I was very thirsty and was also feeling very dizzy and lightheaded.  Clearly my body was craving something more… electrolytes, sodium in particular.

So what are electrolytes?  They are a variety of minerals in the body that regulate how much water is in our system, as well as how our muscles function.  So they are VERY important when you exercise on a regular basis.  We lose electrolytes when we sweat making it even more important to replenish them after a difficult workout. Some of the most common electrolytes are sodium, potassium, calcium and magnesium.  If you’re a “salty sweater” like I am, getting that sodium back in crucial.

Gatorade is probably the most commonly known “thirst quencher” that athletes use to re-hydrate.  I actually had to turn to this to get myself properly hydrated in these past few weeks.  It really does work well.  With double the amount of sodium than coconut water, it’s a quick way to replenish those electrolytes.  However, you are putting a TON of other crap in your system along with it, particularly the sugar, yellow 6 (wtf is that?!?) and the brominated vegetable oil.  YUK! So it’s working to keep me hydrated, but what else is it doing to my body???


Because I don’t want to make drinking Gatorade a habit, I started researching other electrolyte replacements and found some great resources on one of my favorite sites, Organic Authority.  Just this week there was a post on healthy electrolyte replacements and I also found one on delicious ways to re-hydrate. Guess what the number one item was in both articles?  Coconut water.  Sigh.

So I decided I need to give this another try.  I’ve sampled a few different brands and I found that I like Vita Coco the best. It has the most mellow coconut flavor and also comes in a variety of different flavors to cut that coconut water taste, which I still don’t love.  I’ve also found that it is much better when served over ice instead of straight from the container.  I actually brought some out to a restaurant the other night to re-hydrate after a tough CrossFit WOD.  I hope my friends weren’t too embarrassed by me 🙂

I also like the idea of adding salt and fruit to plain water as a way of making your own “sports drink.”  I know I need more sodium so I will have to try that going forward.  I have also heard Nuun is really great and I need to try that as well.  I will probably still drink Gatorade on occasion during very hot days or tough workouts, but I’m hoping that some of these alternative will do the trick in the future so I can stay away from some of this artificial junk.

How do you re-hydrate?  Do you like the taste of coconut water?

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  • I tried VitaCoco for the first time this week, the one with pineapple flavoring. It was… drinkable. Can’t say my mouth was full of joy with every sip, but I think it’s worth it just to keep yucky ingredients at bay! Who knows, maybe with exposure we can develop a taste for it…

    • That’s the one flavor I still haven’t tried, but it’s in my fridge! I’ve found that if I had ice and make it super cold it’s much easier to drink.

  • I love Nuun! Drinking some strawberry lemonade right now to pre-hydrate for my post-work run (Ok, ok, I just like the taste, but “pre-hydrate” sounds so legit!). I definitely encourage you to check it out! If (when) you find a flavor you love, you can get it via Subscribe & Save on Amazon for a really reasonable price – way less than you’d spend on Coconut Water or Gatorade 🙂

  • well, I just stick to water or PowerAde Zero..But I don’t workout half as hard as you do!…I HATE the coconut water:( I can’t get it down, the taste repulses me:(
    I like the idea of the Nuun, but it’s pricey!

  • Living in the tropics, I go through at least a case of Vita Coco a month. The best however was one morning running through the streets of Santo Domingo and finding a guy on a corner selling coconut water right from the coconut. Did 4 more miles after that with no problem.

  • I hate water and nuun isn’t flavored enough for me, so I don’t like it. My preferred choice is Gatorade G2. It just works. I also drink Zico coconut water in the chocolate flavor. It has a slight coconut water taste, but nothing like the rest.

  • I agree with the comment above me: The Zico Chocolate variety is much more tasty than most 😛 I typically will use coconut water to re-hydrate, but will use it in smoothies/green shakes which mask a lot of the flavor!

  • I haven’t tried running with Coconut Water yet but I was debating it, instead of Gatorade. Unfortunately Nuun KILLLLS my stomach. Like keeled over in the fetal position with stomach cramps due to the slight fizziness in it. Sad b/c it actually kinda tastes good. Powerade doesn’t agree with me either. But the taste of coconut water to me is just ‘ok’ too. I do like the Zico passion fruit flavor. And Starbucks just started selling bottles of coconut water with pineapple juice in it. That’s actually pretty yummy!

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