Saturday, February 27, 2010

Clean-eating running machine

I'm a runner. Did you know that? You might, if you've been reading for very long. I mention it here and there, beginning with my very first post. In the past few weeks I've been thinking about finding alternatives to the Gatorade, gels, and other non-clean fuels I use on long runs. My intake of these things is quite limited, typically once a week, but I think I could do better, especially if I want to save my sugary/caloric splurges for something more enjoyable. My long runs are also gradually getting longer as I begin training for spring and summer races, so my intake is likely to increase.

I'd heard about it here and there (I cannot remember where originally) and it's recently popped up in a lot of places, including this post from Danielle at Coffee Run, one of the blogs I read. Today I stumbled across Vita Coco brand at the grocery store and took it as a sign that I was supposed to try all four varieties they had, at $1.79 per 11oz container, before dropping $21 on a case on before even tasting it. Yeah, I can be a little impulsive.

The Vita Coco site is pretty neat; they answer a lot of questions regarding coconut water and its benefits, which include the following:

- Helps boost the immune system
- Helps regulate the intestines
- High in electrolytes
- More potassium than a banana (for a 1 cup serving)

You can also read the nutrition facts and ingredients for each flavor online, at the site linked above.

This weekend seemed like the perfect time to try it, since our group's long run didn't have water support along the route like it usually does--those who wanted some had to carry their own (remember my Amphipod bottle hiding in the pic of my oatmeal? That's what I used!). I started with the original flavor. I love that the artwork on the front of the package looks remarkably similar to this photo of a real young green coconut tapped and ready for drinking:

(photo from Wikipedia)

Cute, right? At first I thought it was an apple. Don't judge.

In Tosca Reno's book The Eat-Clean Diet for Family & Kids she poses a one-ingredient challenge for readers to scour food labels at the grocery store to find foods containing only one ingredient. Guess what? This original flavor of coconut water qualifies! The ingredients couldn't be simpler: natural coconut water. Refreshing.

I don't know what I was expecting when I tasted this (a thick, funky texture? a cloudy appearance?), but it was remarkably similar to, well, tap water... with a touch of sweetness. It did not taste overtly of coconut at all. That may come as a relief to some (I'll have The coconut-despising H taste) and a disappointment to others. It was merely a surprise to me. It reminded me of really diluted Gatorade/PowerAde.

Along with my coconut water, I decided to swap out my usual chocolate, vanilla, or espresso GU for a packet of buckwheat honey, which we keep on hand for soothing any coughs the little guy might have. That was... different. Sometimes he refuses to eat one, and now I see why. It tasted like manure! (Not that I've tasted actual horse feces, but you know--it tasted like manure smells.) I could only choke one down, and then I had to chase it with a big swig of VitaCoco and a GU chew to get rid of the taste. Blech. Looks like I'll be sticking with my tried-and-true on this one.

I still have three other flavors of coconut water to try. They all have fruit flavors added: passion fruit, peach-mango, and pineapple. Still no artificial stuff; the pineapple flavor contains coconut puree and pineapple puree. I'm holding out hope that it tastes like a pina colada. Wouldn't that be a treat in the middle of a long run? A girl can dream. :)

Have you tasted coconut water? What variety or brand is your favorite?


  1. I've had the Vita Coco w/ pineapple.... not quite a pina colada BUT pretty darn tasty. I should have it more often, I loved it after a long run during the summer.

  2. I wouldn't imagine any type honey would taste bad. I'll be sure to stay away from that!

    Is the calorie/carb content similar to gatorade?

  3. It was really sad, because I use a local raw honey several times a week and it tasted nothing like that!

    The whole 11oz was only 60 calories, with carbs/sugar at 11g. A quick search of Gatorade on showed a huge range of results depending on the flavor. I do know that I have such a hard time finding a Gatorade without HFCS in it, though, and that's something I try to avoid.