Coconut water, also known as coconut juice, is the fluid that is naturally found inside young, still green, coconuts. You can find the juice in many grocery stores and health food stores, and it is widely consumed for its health properties. While coconut juice is low in calories, it is also high in sugar and saturated fat, which may offset its potential weight-loss benefits if it is not consumed in moderation.
Calorie Content and Weight Loss
A 1-cup serving of coconut water has only 46 calories, making it a relatively low-calorie drink that can be substituted for other sweet beverages. Drinking coconut water in place of a high-calorie drink, like flavored soda, can help you lose weight over time because you'll be consuming fewer calories in total. As 1 pound of body weight equals 3,500 calories, drinking coconut water once a week in place of a lemon-lime soda, which has 151 calories per 12-ounce can, can help you lose 1.6 pounds of body weight over the course of a year.
High in Sugar
While coconut water is fairly low in calories, it is high in sugars, with 6.3 grams per 1-cup serving. While the sugars are natural, a diet high in sugar can increase your chance of weight gain and obesity, according to the American Heart Association. As well, some commercially produced coconut water drinks may include added sugar, which can further raise the sugar level. The association suggests limiting your total calories per day from added sugar to a maximum of 100 for women and 150 for men. A 1-cup serving of coconut water has a little over 25 calories from sugar per serving, a high amount, especially considering the small serving size.
The fat content of coconut water is a little under 0.5 gram per cup, but most of it -- 0.4 gram or 88 percent of the total fat content -- is saturated fat. The American Heart Association suggests limiting your saturated fat intake to a maximum of 5 percent to 6 percent of your total calories. For a 2,000-calorie-per-day diet, that is roughly 11 to 13 grams of saturated fat. While coconut water only provides 3 percent to 4 percent of the total saturated fat recommendation, it is a high quantity given the small serving size. In some cases, you may drink more than 1 cup of coconut water, which will further raise your saturated fat intake. Eating a diet high in fat can make it harder for you to safely lose weight, and a diet high in saturated fat increases your risk of heart disease and stroke.
A 2006 issue of the “Journal of Medicinal Food” published an animal study on the benefits of coconut water and cholesterol levels. Scientists found that rats fed coconut water at a ratio of 4 milliliters per 100 grams of body weight showed lower overall “bad” cholesterol levels, namely low-density lipoproteins and triglycerides. In turn, the rats' healthy or “good” cholesterol -- high-density lipoprotein -- increased on the coconut water diet. While the results were promising, the amount consumed was significantly higher than the amount of coconut water consumed by most people, and scientists concluded that further long-term study on humans was needed, particularly research that took into consideration the practical consumption habits of coconut water.
- TheKitchn: What's the Difference? Coconut Water Vs. Juice
- USDA National Nutrient Database: Nuts, Coconut Water
- USDA National Nutrient Database: Carbonated Beverage, Lemon-Lime Soda
- Go Ask Alice!: How Many Calories Does It Take to Lose One Pound?
- American Heart Association: Sugar 101
- American Heart Association: Know Your Fats
- Journal of Medicinal Food: Beneficial Effects of Coconut Water Feeding on Lipid Metabolism in Cholesterol-Fed Rats