When it comes to drinking coconut water for weight loss, things can easily get a bit confusing.
Under the right circumstances, coconut water can be a powerful weapon in your weight loss arsenal.
But if you make one critical mistake a lot of people make, coconut water can just as easily make you gain weight.
In this guide, I'll put all the potential benefits of coconut water for weight loss into proper perspective.
After you read the guide all the way through, you'll be able to make an informed decision on whether or not you should be spend your hard-earned money on coconut water.
Before we get started, here's a quick overview of everything that I'll cover in this guide:
All the benefits of coconut water for weight loss
Proper hydration of your body (which is just a fancy way of saying you're drinking enough fluids), is one of the most often praised weight loss benefits of coconut water.
And it's tough to argue against this one (until you look at this benefit from another angle), because proper hydration has actually been proven to help with weight loss.
It's not that hydration can help you get rid of extra body fat directly. But if you fail to drink enough fluids, your body will enter a dehydrated state (which in turn causes your metabolism to slow down).
As long as you remain in that dehydrated state, you will be burning calories at a slower rate than usual. Naturally, this is a big no-no if you're trying to get rid of some extra body fat.
And yes, coconut water has been scientifically proven as a great way to keep your body hydrated. This study confirms it can do just as good of a job as plain water (which is the golden standard for a hydrating drink).
But hydration alone isn't exactly a benefit worth writing home about (I'll explain why in a minute).
The second weight loss benefit of coconut water (that you'll run into all over the internet) is its high fiber content.
Fiber is another awesome weight loss buzzword.
Fiber contains zero calories. Fiber can help you feel fuller and keeps you satisfied longer. Fiber is great for your digestion and your colon health.
Most juices (and drinks in general) are very poor in fiber. That's simply because the whole idea behind juicing is to remove the solid part of the fruit (the fiber) and extract just the liquid part (the juice).
But even though coconut water is as fluid as they get, it is still a bright and shiny exception when it comes to fiber. Coconut water is actually one of the highest fiber containing drinks in existence.
But just like hydration, high-fiber content of coconut water may not be enough to really move the needle when it comes to weight loss (I'll get to that soon).
I hope you're not already sold on coconut water, because I have one more weight loss benefit of coconut water for you.
Coconut water contains zero cholesterol and is extremely low in fat.
Apart from a few radical theories, everybody knows low-fat (and especially low-cholesterol) stuff is always your best bet when it comes to losing weight.
So really, what's not to like about coconut water?
The problem is, it is pretty easy to present benefits without showing you the bigger picture. Especially if someone has a goal of making you open up your wallet and spend your hard-earned money on things that won't give you the results you were hoping for.
Now, let's make sure this doesn't happen to you with coconut water.
What they really should have told you about coconut water
You've seen the benefits. Now it's time to take a look behind the scenes.
While hydration really is important for weight loss, you can stay hydrated in a million different ways. Just about any drink, soup, or fruit can help you stay properly hydrated.
It is actually quite possible to remain properly hydrated without ever even drinking anything. (HINT: There's a good reason why the word "watermelon" begins with "water").
I'm not saying you can be careless about your fluid intake. I'm just saying coconut water really isn't anything special in this department.
With a few exceptions (like coffee, alcohol, or some sodas) just about any drink, smoothie, or "watery" food can do the exact same job. Some of those can do it at a fraction of coconut water's price.
When I was trying to sell you on coconut water's high fiber content, I described coconut water as "one of the highest fiber containing drinks in existence".
Yes, coconut water actually contains an incredibly high amount of fiber when compared to other drinks. But it is far less impressive when compared to solid foods.
You should definitely try to get in as much fiber as possible if you're looking to lose weight.
But you can achieve that far easier with solid foods (like fruits and vegetables), than trying to get there with drinks.
If you wanted to make a meaningful contribution towards your daily fiber intake, you would have to drink huge amounts of coconut water (but this would lead to another problem, which I'll explain later on).
Many low-calorie solid foods contain at least twice as much fiber than most drinks in existence. And those foods can offer way better results than coconut water ever can (again, at the fraction of the cost).
What about the low-fat and the low-cholesterol argument? That's got to be at least half-good, right?
I'm sorry, but the low-cholesterol argument would be pretty laughable when it comes to drinks, if only it weren't used to empty the wallets of unsuspecting people.
Plants (fruits and vegetables) do not contain cholesterol. So you only have to worry about cholesterol with foods that come from animals (meat, eggs, cheese...).
So, unless you're drinking some milk, egg, or butter based drink (yes, some people drink coffee with butter for breakfast), just about any other drink will contain zero cholesterol.
And pretty much the same is true for the low-fat argument (as long as you stay away from high-fat stuff like milk, nuts, seeds and oils).
Since a huge majority of drinks contain zero fats and zero cholesterol as it is, coconut water will have a tough time delivering its weight loss bang for the buck in this department.
But we're not done yet (things are about to get ugly now).
Break this simple rule and coconut water WILL make you gain fat
This might surprise you, but even if your brand of coconut water is pure, organic, raw, young, and fresh, the calories in it still matter (very much so).
At the end of the day, if you eat more calories than you burn, you won't lose weight.
When it comes to calories, coconut water is no exception. One cup of coconut water contains about 45 calories (which is just below 20 calories per 100 grams).
While coconut water is a low-fat drink (only about 4 calories per cup come from fats), most of the calories it contains are in a form of sugars.
If you compare coconut water to other drinks, it is actually pretty low in calories (yes, you could do much worse, especially with alcohol-containing drinks). But that still doesn't get it completely off the hook.
There's one more danger I need to warn you about.
Many coconut water producers add sugar to coconut water. In its natural form, coconut water is not really all that sweet. If they throw in a little sugar, most people will simply think that this particular brand tastes better that the no-sugar-added brands.
Adding sugar to coconut water is a cheap way to improve the taste (and possibly increase sales), but unfortunately, that can bring a whole lot of extra calories to the table.
I'll explain how to properly use coconut water for weight loss in a minute. But first, let's take a look at another hidden fattening property of coconut water.
Coconut water can also cause some non-fat weight gains
Sodium is another ingredient of coconut water that's frowned upon in weight loss circles.
Sodium won't cause body fat gains, but it will make you retain more water. If you have too much sodium in your diet, your body is forced to hold on to more water than necessary (meaning that the number on the scale has nowhere to go but up).
Body fat gains or water weight gains. I'm sure you didn't sign up for any kind of weight gains.
Just how bad is this sodium problem, anyway?
I won't go into details here, but I have done a personal experiment where it only took me two days to gain 4 pounds (1.8 kilograms) of weight by adding more sodium to my diet.
While you won't get anywhere near that much sodium just from coconut water, our diets contain way too much sodium as it is.
I'll let you decide whether the extra sodium in the coconut water is really worth it, but I do have some good news here.
ConsumerLab discovered that some brands of coconut water contain far less sodium than what the manufacturer wrote on the product label.
If you're a hardcore athlete, who's been using coconut water as a sports drink (to replenish the sodium lost during your intense workouts), then I'm really sorry if you have been taken for a ride.
But if you're looking to lose some weight, these kinds of lies are actually doing you a favor (by now you know that drinking down less sodium is actually a good thing for your weight).
Can coconut water really boost your metabolism?
The verdict on coconut water isn't final yet (but it will be soon). To provide you with top-quality information, I have to consider ALL the arguments, no matter how weak I personally think they are.
This study has shown that coconut water could actually boost the metabolism of fats.
The good news is that if you eat a very high-fat (and high-cholesterol) diet, coconut water might actually be able to help you get rid of some of that artery-hardening stuff.
The bad news is, that study was done on rats.
Data from rat studies can be both right and wrong when it comes to us humans (here's a scientific article about that). This means you have no way of knowing whether coconut water can actually help you out if you're asking for all kinds of health problems by eating a high-fat and high-cholesterol diet.
This leaves me with little choice but to appeal to your common sense.
Your best bet would be to stop eating those artery-clogging fats in the first place.
Dealing with your bad diet would eliminate the problem at the very core. And I'm sure you see how this will always beat any kind of anti-fat, rat-study based coconut water strategy.
Another major problem with drinking coconut water for fat loss
As you saw, coconut water does have some calories in it. And while it's true that the number isn't huge, those calories could be bringing another potential problem to the table.
You see, science has proven that sugar can boost your appetite.
So, because most of the calories in coconut water come from sugar, coconut water has the potential to boost your appetite.
If you're struggling to get rid of that stubborn body fat, then eating as few hunger-boosting foods as possible, is probably a good idea.
If you ask me, this isn't a major issue on its own, simply because coconut water doesn't have too much sugar in it.
But it's still something you should keep in mind, especially, if you notice that drinking coconut water makes you hungry for more food than usual.
How to effectively use coconut water for weight loss?
The first thing you absolutely must do before parting with your hard-earned money is read the food label (nutrition facts) on any coconut water product.
Like I said, coconut water should contain somewhere around 45 calories per cup (about 240 grams), or about 20 calories per 100 grams.
After seeing the proof of just how much weight sodium can make you gain, I'm sure you understand the need to check the sodium content as well.
Sodium can be all over the place with different coconut water brands. From as low as 10 mg to as high as 150 mg per cup, so try to get a brand with as little sodium as possible (unless you have a really specific need for sodium).
The ultimate decision you need to make, is whether the calories contained in coconut water are actually worth it. It's true that coconut water is a low-calorie drink, but there are still many alternatives with less or zero calories.
Unsweetened (or artificially sweetened) teas, diet sodas, pure water, mineral water, flavored water, energy drinks, even coffee.
I know there are plenty of health reasons why you shouldn't be drinking some of that stuff. But all I'm saying is that there are plenty of healthy & low-calorie alternatives you can consider as well.
The very least you can do is take a look at what else is available the next time you're in your favorite store.
If you're looking to replace some of the high-calorie drinks (stuff like really sweet juices/sodas, milk-shakes, and frappuccinos) with coconut water, then you will do great.
But if you want to start drinking coconut water on top of your normal diet, then coconut water can (and will) only lead to faster weight gains.
To sum this whole article up in one question: Is the taste of coconut water really worth the price tag, the extra calories (let's not forget sodium), and a few general weight loss benefits (you can easily achieve with much cheaper alternatives)?
The final verdict on using coconut water for weight loss
If you're going to use coconut water instead of some high calorie stuff that you've been drinking so far, then it might help you lose weight.
But ultimately, it still brings calories to the table. And while it's true that it doesn't bring a whole lot of them, there are still many alternative drinks that contain less or no calories.
Any other benefits coconut water might offer for weight loss can easily be achieved with other foods or drinks.
Want to get hydrated? Plain water can do the job just as effectively. Want to add more fiber in your diet? Pick any green vegetable and you'll get in a lot more fiber than with coconut water (and you'll eat very few calories as well).
At this time, there are also no studies that could prove or disprove what coconut water will do to your weight.
So all in all, especially if I consider the price tag of coconut water, coconut water will probably not deliver the biggest weight loss bang for your buck.
1. Saat M, Singh R, Sirisinghe RG, Nawawi M. Rehydration after exercise with fresh young coconut water, carbohydrate-electrolyte beverage and plain water. J Physiol Anthropol 2002;21:93-104.
2. Sandhya VG, Rajamohan T. Beneficial effects of coconut water feeding on lipid metabolism in cholesterol-fed rats. J Med Food 2006;9:400-407.
3. Blundell JE, Green S, Burley V. Carbohydrates and human appetite. Am J Clin Nutr 1994;59:728S-34S.