If you have ever travelled or lived in Thailand, it is hard not to fall in love with the ubiquitous coconut water. It has also come to be associated with being the beverage of tropical paradise. Now, if you didn’t know, coconut water is nature’s perfect drink to quench all sorts of thirsts, be it exercise-induced, heat-induced or spice-induced, and with sweet succulent flesh to pair with. The clunky exterior actually belie the many benefits of this wondrous .. erm.. nut?
First off, is the coconut a fruit, a seed or a nut? Loosely speaking, the coconut can be all three, but according to botanists, the coconut is what’s known as a dry drupe. A drupe is basically a fruit with a hard stony covering enclosing the seed, like a peach or prune. A rose by any other name would smell as sweet. So let’s just go with that, a dry drupe it is.
Key Benefits of Coconut Water for Muay Thai
Besides being naturally tasty, there are many benefits to the popular drink. Chief of which, is its hydrating quality. As an intensive workout, training Muay Thai will never fail to have you perspire excessively. And if you train in a hot climate like Thailand, it is even more vital to be rehydrated appropriately. Coconut consists of 95% water so it’s as close to drinking pure water as it gets. The subtly sweet flavor makes it more palatable than water, so it really is an ideal fluid replenishing drink.
When you exercise, you lose a good amount of electrolytes, made up of sodium and potassium, through perspiration. Sodium is responsible for maintaining the fluid in our body, keeping it hydrated while helping muscles to relax. Potassium also help to maintain proper fluid balance in our body and at the same time, it aids the storage of carbohydrates to (re)fuel the muscles. You can obviously see how important these electrolytes are for fitness enthusiasts. Sodium is pervasive in our foods but potassium is generally found only in fruits and vegetables, which can be lacking in some diets. This is why banana is so popular with athletes or bodybuilders as it is a rich source of potassium. But you know what is an even better source of potassium? That’s right! Coconut water!
It goes without saying that the best source of coconut water is from fresh coconuts. In Thailand and most tropical countries, you can get fresh coconut water everywhere and drink it right off the coconut. For my own convenience, I get cartons of coconut water so I can drink them at home or at the gym. After experimenting with many brands, I am a complete UFC coconut water convert. It has the right amount of sweetness and its taste is closest to that of fresh coconut water. Even its name bears semblance to the popular mixed martial arts brand. Can’t go wrong with that.
Negative Effects of Dehydration
Even if you weren’t cutting weight for a weigh-in, training Muay Thai on its own is a powerfully effective body dehydrator. The adult human body is around 50-65% water, and it needs fluid in order to function. Dehydration can result in some nasty effects and can even be potentially life-threatening.
In mild or moderate levels of dehydration, you can experience symptoms like headaches and fatigue. I personally experience headaches the following day after training if I do not hydrate adequately. So I always make sure that I drink plenty of water on training days.
In more severe levels, dehydration can lead to delusions, heat stroke and even death. Classic example: stranded in a desert. More related to Muay Thai, dehydration is one of the most common methods used by fighters in cutting weight. The recent death of Jordan Coe who died of heatstroke while cutting weight is a sad reminder of the dangers of dehydration.
In a nutshell, coconut water is the best sports drink for a quick after a workout. It should not completely replace normal water for your daily water needs, but it’s the goto drink for days when you need a rapid boost of H2O. Who needs happy hour when you can get high on life with Muay Thai and coconut water? Load up on some coconut water, and train like a nut!