I grew up on the island of Puerto Rico, where it is blazing hot almost all year round. My father used to chop down a young coconut from the palm in front of our house and place it in the freezer so it would get very cold. Then he’d make a hole in the coconut and stick a straw in it so we could drink the thirst-quenching coconut water. Little did I know back then that I would rediscover this refreshing beverage in my search for healthy alternatives to high-sugar sports drinks.

I came across coconut water in a health food store in Delray Beach. I was feeling dehydrated, and I wanted something more flavorful than plain water. Coconut water, as I later found out, contains potassium, sodium, magnesium, calcium, and phosphorous – electrolytes that keep your system hydrated and balanced. It’s low in carbohydrates and contains no artificial sweeteners. It helps boost your immune system and eases stomach pains. Plus, it’s a natural cure for a hangover. And these are just a few of its many benefits.Note that I am not a licensed nutritionist.

You should always consult your doctor prior to beginning any nutritional program. But if you are a big Gatorade or PowerAde drinker, or if you just want something tastier than water, you should try coconut water. I drink it almost every day, and so do my clients.Drink about eight ounces of coconut water before, during, or after your workout to reduce muscle protein breakdown and allow for more fat loss. You can also drink it after a night of drinking, if you have a stomachache, if you have diarrhea, or in the morning instead of high-sugar fruit juice.

[Ed. Note: Yarixa Ferrao is the certified personal trainer and founder of “Get Fit in 6” who has been whipping some Early to Rise staffers into shape. Coach Yari’s e-course newsletter series explains the exercise and nutrition secrets that can help you burn fat. Click here to sign up.]

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Yarixa Ferrao is a Certified Personal Trainer. She was voted “America’s Next Fitness Phenom” in 2008. Coach Yari is an expert in functional training, weight loss, sports performance, and cellulite. She is the founder of Get Fit in 6, a six-week life transformation program for both women and men in Delray Beach, Florida. Coach Yari is the author of the e-book, Cellulite and the Featured Fitness Instructor on Dr. Al Sears World Renowned P.A.C.E Program exercise video.

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