Why are increasing numbers of athletes and yoga enthusiasts switching to coconut water? Often referred to as nature’s sports drink, coconut water provides sufficient potassium and electrolytes, which work wonders after racing, rigorous training and heavy drinking. It is also beneficial to women recovering from childbirth and for general child development. Wake upHad a rough night? A big race? Coconut water refreshes, re-hydrates and replenishes.In Sanskrit, the coconut palm is known as kalpa vriksha, meaning “tree which gives all that is necessary for living,” since nearly all parts of the tree can be used in some manner or another.Although it takes up to a year for coconuts to mature, the trees bloom up to 13 times a year, so fruit is constantly forming, yielding a continuous harvest year-round. An average harvest from one tree runs about 60-120 coconuts, which have many uses, including milk, meat, sugar and oil, as well as conveniently functioning as a bowl and cup.Keep movingWith five essential electrolytes and more potassium than a banana, coconut water prevents cramping and optimizes muscle performance.The coconut’s name is a bit of a misnomer, since it is botanically classified as a drupe and not a nut. Being the largest seed known, its thin, almost clear coconut water has a distinct almond flavor, packed with electrolytes, low acidity and zero fat.NutritionCoconut water contains five essential electrolytes — potassium, sodium, magnesium, calcium and phosphorous — that your body needs to keep nerves firing, keep muscles moving, and to manage stress. It also contains low acidity (4.8 ph), which is easy on your stomach, with lower acidity than sports drinks and juices, and with zero fat and no added sugar.Coconut water’s headiest claim is that it is rich in potassium, which helps regulate blood pressure by counteracting the limiting effects of sodium, and in turn, helps to prevent related issues like stroke, heart attack and the common hangover. PerformanceCoconut water, stored inside young coconuts, has long been a staple liquid of Southeast Asian nations, where the fruit is also harvested for its flesh, oil and milk. During the Pacific War of 1941-45, both sides in the conflict regularly used coconut water as a universal donor — siphoned directly from the nut — to give emergency plasma transfusions to wounded soldiers. TasteCoconut water is best straight from the coconut, but if none are available, choose those processed and packaged in a manner that captures and retains the unique nutty flavor and most nutritional benefits.With the growing number of athletes and yoga enthusiasts realizing the benefits of coconut water, many are attracted to its clear, nut-flavored juice, others for its fat-free, cholesterol-free, low-calorie, super-hydrating, and high dose of natural electrolytes. So, if you’re looking for an alternative to that sugary sports drink, enjoy the benefits of nature’s most honest sport drink first hand.— Team rider Forrest Huisman is the author of this week’s Marc Pro-Strava Racing column. For more information about the Truckee-based cycling team, visit http://marcpro-strava.com.