University of Memphis professor's research shows there is a natural drink alternative that packs a punch equivalent to that of manmade sports drinks – coconut water.
"If an individual is not doing excessive volumes of exercise in the heat, they could get away with simply drinking water. If they were engaged in high-volume or long-duration exercise, coconut water or a sports drink might be beneficial," said Richard Bloomer, director of the cardiorespiratory-metabolic lab at The U of M.
Bloomer's research was featured in the Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition. He collaborated with the minds of Miami Research Associates to conduct a six-month study to determine if coconut water is more beneficial for hydration and physical performance than artificial sports drinks.
Research concluded that few differences could be found between coconut water and bottled water or sports drinks.
"I think this study will distinguish The University in that we are willing to try natural products as opposed to manmade," said Ruth Williams, U of M director of the clinical nutrition masters dietetic internship program. "Coconut water is used in other countries such as Brazil and the Polynesian islands as a drink for maintaining rehydration and electrolyte balance."
Bloomer and Miami Research Associates utilized Vita Coco, an all-natural coconut water drink, to test their research. Williams said she would be willing to try coconut water as an alternative to sports drinks.
"Obviously Gatorade has the corner on the market. It's really filled with sugar—way too much sugar," said Carol Irwin, associate professor of physical education. "Assuming coconut water has lower sugar content, it would definitely be a much better option, for kids especially."
Bloomer said it's flattering to have his study recognized. He said the findings are conclusive and he has no intent to actively campaign to implement coconut water as a part of The University's sports programs.
"We've published multiple articles in international journals. For this particular journal the readership is quite wide, and they denoted that the article as highly accessed. This recognition is a good thing," Bloomer said.