I agree with Vivienne that water is best, but plain filtered water such as from a bottle or tap is not. The water of our evolutionary ancestors would've been loaded with minerals and electrolytes. When participating in sports and sweating heavily, your body will lose a large amount of sodium, potassium, and other electrolytes. Trying to replace sweat with nothing but water further exacerbates the issue by diluting what electrolytes are left in your system.
The best sports drink, then, is water with electrolytes added. The easiest thing to do is mix salt (both sodium- and potassium-based salts), magnesium, etc, with your tap water. There are a large number of DIY recipes out there... just Google "diy sports drink recipe" for a few options.
If that's not your thing, there are some retail options out there. One I know offhand is owater which is zero-carb and not too crazy with the additives. They use potassium and magnesium, so you might still want to add a small amount of sodium-based salt to balance it out.
Zico is from concentrate and really not worth the money. If you want legit good coconut water, I suggest springing for Vita Coco. They're the same price but a huge difference in taste and quality.
Vivienne's answer is right on point.
I stay away from sugar in general, but I do love the taste of coconut water. I wouldn't ever have it as more than an occasional indulgence though. Leaving aside the science of how much sugar is too much (from reading Conditioning Research, my understanding is the answer is "almost any"), our ancestral environment had very, very few sources of sugars. Fruits were not bred to their current levels of sweetness and (except in the jungle) are very seasonal. About the only "natural" source would have been wild honey, which is prized by hunter-gatherers worldwide but obviously is not that plentiful. So, drink your Zico, just not much more frequently than you would eat wild honey if you had to pull it out of an active hive by yourself.
It does contain a fair amount of sugar. You can actually ferment this out if you have water kefir grains. I bought some on ebay and fermented the water from young thai coconuts...which are like Zico, but sometimes cheaper and non pasteurized so it often has a better flavor...plus you get some delicious jelly too.
If you are interested in natural water, check out Find A Spring. Some are free!
I do NOT like Zico- I drink a LOT of coconut water and Vita Coco is the only one to buy. Water is fine for sports but coconut water is great drink when you want something other than water. If it is only about dollars and cents- gather rain water in a pail.
Then again - there is the philly standby- PICKLE JUICE after a good sweat
According to ZICO, and the nutrition information on their website, these drinks have 0 fat.
"The brown, hairy coconuts have fat but ZICO comes from young, green coconuts. The water is naturally fat free."
They do however have quite a bit of sugars in them. Around 14g per serving.
I think everyone missing the point Here. When asking the question"is tap water better for you than drinking coconut water?" My first question would be how much poisonous flouride is in your tap water. Seems like everyone is so hung up on sugar. Let's not forget that when anything unnaturally introduced to things as simple as water or coconut water. We should be asking ourselves why would you have to add anything at all?
I bought a new one yesterday Amy & Brian's Coconut Juice - just young coconut juice and it comes with the pulp or without. Grabbed the one with pulp and.. its GOOD! All the other coconut drinks skeeve me out.. a little slimy and tasting kind of like raw meat. I think it was around $2 for a 17.5oz can. Will get again for sure but more than likely only drink on those day's when my WOD's are particularly intense.
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