Low calories, fat-free, no cholesterol, contains SO many nutrients, and very hydrating – what is not to love about coconut water?
Known as ‘mother-natures sports drink’ by companies worldwide, the demand for coconut water is increasing rapidly. It has been used religiously in many tropical regions to cure hangovers (*), certain cancers (*), and help with kidney stones (*).
But the true question is – does coconut water fit into the keto diet, and will it deliver all the nutrients and promises hyped up?
We all know the answer, but you want to know why right?
We’ll tell you ALL, so let’s study the nutritional facts behind coconut water together and get right to it!
What Is Coconut Water?
Coconut water is a naturally refreshing beverage that has a subtle sweetness and unique taste. It is full of naturally-containing sugars (don’t be alarmed!) and electrolytes, which are sure to give you a boost to your day.
Coconut water is not to be mistaken for other high-fat coconut products such as coconut milk, coconut meat, coconut cream, and coconut oil. It is the clear liquid found in the center of a young coconut.
Sounds pretty good, right? The fact that you can find it all the way from yoga studios to conventional vending machines should explain just how much the nations love this drink!
How Is Coconut Water Made?
Coconut water is made from the clear liquid found in most young, green coconuts. The best fact about it is that 95% of it is water. (*)
You’ve probably realized now that after countless trips to the grocery stores that there are multiple brands of coconut water. Given that you can drink the coconut water found in coconuts straight from the coconuts, you’ll be wondering what the difference could be between the brands?
We’ll list them for you! Most brands, when making coconut water, would:
- Harvest the coconut
- Wash the coconut
- Crack open the coconut.
- Thermal Pasteurize (to preserve flavor)
Certain higher-end brand such as Harmless Harvest like to add an extra ‘unique’ step to their process. So they can stand out. This process is known as ‘multi-step micro-filtration’ and is used instead of the common thermal pasteurization to extend the shelf life of their product.
Does Coconut Water Have Any Health Benefits?
Now that we have given you the brief of how coconut water is made – literally putting the liquid in a carton – we bet you’re wondering what the actual benefits are?
Does Coconut Water Live Up to Its Hype?
Below, you’ll find a list of the macronutrients contained in one cup of coconut water. Try to guess if it makes coconut water keto-friendly or not! (*)
- Calories: 46
- Total Fat: 0.5g
- Cholesterol: 0
- Total Carbs: 8.9g – Fiber: 2.6g – Net Carbs: 6.3g
- Protein: 1.7g
As you can see, one cup of coconut water contains nearly 9g of carbs, of which 6.3g are net carbs. This is because coconut water has a lot of naturally containing sugar, which is actually good for you!
Unfortunately for us, this means that having one serving of coconut water would put a slight dent into our keto-friendly net carb allowance.
But are these carbs worth it? We’ll get to this, we promise!
But first, we need to explain the benefits of the micronutrients (vitamins and minerals) present in coconut water.
Vitamins and Minerals
Coconut water is a fantastic source of vitamin C. It contains around 24mg per serving which is 32% of the daily allowance for women and 27% for men. (*)
It also contains a vitamin B called thiamine at around 8% of the total recommended intake. This will help with both bone strength and boost your mood.
The mineral content of coconut water is massive:
- Potassium – 404mg (16% of total intake for women, 12% for men) (*)
- Manganese – 0.5mg (28% of total intake for women, 22% for men)
- And in smaller amounts, coconut water contains calcium, iron, phosphorus, magnesium, and zinc.
Based on the facts we provided, having one cup of coconut water is essentially the tastiest multi-vitamin pill you can have!
But here’s the catch – mass-produced coconut water may contain added sugars and additives used to preserve the shelf life and flavor. This comes at a disadvantage when going through the keto diet, as certain preservatives can be detrimental to our health.
So make sure that when you buy coconut water, that you pick the most natural brand. Remember, READ THE LABEL. We can’t emphasize that enough.
Is Coconut Water Keto-Friendly?
Can I incorporate the net carbs from coconut water into my diet? Is coconut water ok for keto? These are all questions we get asked all the time.
Don’t be alarmed. We are here to answer everything for you and give you that detailed insight like no other has!
We’ll start with the answer you’re looking for. YES. Coconut water is keto-friendly. But only to a certain extent.
Before you conclude, yes, the net carb content for one cup is relatively high at 6.3g, but you need to think – are these carbs good for me?
The beauty of the keto diet is that we can choose which carbs we allow ourselves to use our allowance on. And what is better than coconut water?
The number of nutrients and vitamins alone in coconut water makes it the perfect drink not only to quench your thirst but also to give you those vitamins and minerals we lack due to the forbidden fruit in keto!
When looking at carb content alone, it is not keto-friendly, as it does take up to a third of your daily net carb allowance if you follow a strict keto diet.
So for most people, this doesn’t make it ideal when going through ketosis, but in certain circumstances, it may come as a savior!
If you stick to a smaller serving of around 100ml or 8oz, then you may comfortably fit coconut water into your keto diet.
The Ultimate Sports Drink
It just makes sense, right?
Containing nearly 10x the amount of potassium that is found in your generic nutrient-enriched sports beverage, and it is more hydrating.
If you are an athlete, bodybuilder, or fitness enthusiast and going through either the targeted or cyclical keto diets, then there is indeed a need for a drink like coconut water to not only help you carb-load but to replenish those lost electrolytes.
Can I Use It In My Smoothies?
Coconut water is an acquired taste. By acquired, we mean beautiful.
Since it contains the same consistency as natural water, it can be substituted in recipes to add a more nutty flavor to your smoothies!
Just remember, to make your smoothies keto, use fruits such as frozen berries which are low carb, and pack a fruity punch!
We’ll give you a quick step-by-step process on how to make our favorite keto-friendly coconut water-based smoothie:
- One cup coconut water (6.3g net carb)
- ½ cup frozen berries
- ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 cup of ice
- (for a healthier kick) 1 spoonful of protein powder
Now blend all the above using your favorite bullet-blender and enjoy the beautiful, refreshing fruity smoothie! Just be careful with the carb contents and only want this beverage to really treat yourself!
Is Natural Coconut Water The Same The Packaged Varieties?
You’ve guessed by now that we absolutely adore coconut water, despite the 6.3g of net carbs contained in one serving.
The question here is, is all coconut water made equal? How can I choose the most natural product?
Now, we don’t want to burst your bubble, but contrary to popular belief, packaged coconut water is NOT the same as natural coconut water. The clue is in the name, its packaging!
The main concern with store-bought coconut water is that it has higher sugar content. Why? We’ll tell you.
Most packaged coconut waters need some sort of preservatives to ensure the water remains fresh. Other manufacturers use concentrated coconut water, which is a syrup-like substance packed with carbs! (*)
So How Can I Pick The Best Coconut Water For Keto Diet?
There are three main components to buying coconut water:
- Minimum Pasteurization Time – it only required a few seconds to pasteurize coconut water, but some brands may do this for 4 minutes!
- No Added Sugar – this is a no-brainer. We are the keto family. We do not want sugar!
- Avoid Flavored Coconut Water – flavors come with a hefty sugary price, so it is best to avoid all flavored coconut water and stick to natural.
What’s The Bottom Line?
Coconut water, as a whole, is ultimately not keto-friendly, purely for the reason that it contains 6.3g net carbs per serving.
However, compared to other isotonic products seen in markets, it is the only natural product. None of the benefits are fortified and is, therefore, a clean drink.
Is it for this reason we consider coconut water keto-friendly? A simple 8 oz serving will not only keep you hydrated but provide you with ample nutrients to supplement your needs.
Better yet, if you are an athlete and cyclical or targeted keto-dieter, then coconut water is the ideal electrolyte replacement drink for you!
So go crazy, enjoy the odd glass of coconut water here and there, and don’t feel too guilty about it, as it is sufficient to use your carb allowance. Just don’t overdo it!