Gatorade, Powerade, and the near-infinite variety of other dayglow, 'ade-based sports drinks are getting competition from an unlikely entrant: a coconut water-based hybrid sports drink. The drink, dubbed PowerCoco, has just 50 calories, no artificial flavors or colorings, and 10 grams of sugar per bottle (compared with 28 grams in a 16 oz Gatorade). PowerCoco is also notable for the high-profile, high-flying role of one of its executives.
New York Knicks forward Carmelo Anthony says he was named executive vice president of innovation for PowerCoco because he wasn't interested in being just a paid pretty face. "I didn't want to just do a regular endorsement deal that left me uninvolved with the actual product," he says. "I wanted to have a title and some input into what was actually going out to the consumer." For the most part, this involved consulting on new flavors and packaging, as well as outreach to consumers about living a more healthful lifestyle (hence making himself available for this article).
People who typically don't enjoy the often metallic, unsweetened taste of pure coconut water will be pleasantly surprised with the four, non-syrupy flavors of PowerCoco (lemon-lime, tangerine, grape, and tropical berry), which take some of that coco-edge off and taste more like a diet ice tea (besides cane sugar, the natural sweetener Stevia is used). Taste aside, PowerCoco president Steve Vasquez says the drink's creators believe potassium is a key component in cell rehydration, and so PowerCoco has a 2 to 1 ratio of potassium to sodium – another common electrolyte that is important in maintaining hydration. "We really packed in the electrolytes with the potassium," he says. During a full 90-minute workout, we found it refreshing and a nice substitute for energy drinks, and managed to feel unthirsty with only one bottle.
It's worth noting that some experts have expressed concern about the health claims made by some coconut water brands. A recent study by ConsumerLab.com, a product testing company, tested three brands that used coconut water in their drink, and found that only one lived up to the amount of sodium listed. And experts have long said that more sugary versions of sports drinks aren't recommended unless you're working out intensely – you know, like a pro basketball player – and, to the contrary, may even pack on pounds if you don't work off all those calories you consume. With its low sugar and calorie count, PowerCoco is a smarter, and tastier, alternative.