by Coach Erik N.
Coconut water can be an indispensable tool for martial artists who are doing serious fight training. We all know that it’s important to stay properly hydrated when exercising. Coconut water, for some fighters, is a much better choice than plain water.
There’s an old saying that states that good fighters don’t need water, and bad fighters don’t deserve it. This kind of philosophy is good for developing toughness in fighters, but it’s a bad idea for anyone training for more than an hour.
If you’re a hobbyist and you’re training only for an hour a couple of times a week, then water is fine for hydration during workouts. If you are training for competition and/or are putting in more than one hour per workout, then you need to hydrate with a sports drink or coconut water. You need a drink with carbs or sugar – a shot every 20 minutes to keep blood sugar from going down and reducing speed, mental focus and concentration.
I know personally, that when I attend two classes in a row, that my mental focus is completely shot by the end of the second class. For me, this is usually AFT, and so I end up messing up combinations and eating a lot of punches. This has become less of a problem since I started drinking coconut water.
Coconut Water and Electrolytes
For those who are training for more than an hour, you need to drink something with electrolytes. Electrolytes help the body absorb and use the water, versus it just flowing through us. Here are five primary electrolytes that you can get with coconut water:
1) Sodium – Arguably the most important electrolyte. Americans generally don’t have a problem getting enough sodium in their diets. However, your body can run low on sodium if you sweat a lot and don’t replace it.
2) Calcium – This is a key electrolyte for bone and teeth. Calcium also helps the movement of nutrients across cell membranes.
3) Magnesium – Reduces muscle cramps and improves transmission of nerve impulses.
4) Phosphorus – Important for bone and teeth health. Phosphorus can alleviate muscle pain after a long workout.
5) Potassium – Similar to magnesium, potassium is central to good nerve function and reduces muscle cramps.
Health Benefits of Coconut Water
We’ve already discussed how coconut water hydrates the body and replenishes electrolytes lost during intense and extended workouts. It doesn’t end there, though. Coconut water has other significant health benefits as well:
– It lowers blood pressure
– Lowers bad cholesterol and raises good cholesterol
– It helps relieve hangovers (not that any NWFA students need this, but just in case)
– Promotes weight loss
– It treats headaches
– Has anti-aging properties
Not All Coconut Waters Are Created Equal
So now that I’ve said all the good stuff about coconut water, here’s the catch. The coconut water that you drink is only as good as the company that produces it. Pepsi and Coca Cola are among the world’s top distributors of coconut water, and these guys are obviously not too concerned with the health and well-being of their customers. Read the label and make sure that there aren’t unnecessary sugars or other additives.
[If you are in the Portland, OR area and are looking for classes, come check us out at NWFighting.com.]