Is Coconut Water Ketogenic? Nutritionist Says It Depends

Keto (Low Carb) | Written by Nathan Petitpas | Updated on 5 July 2024

A person holding half of a freshly opened coconut contemplates whether coconut water is ketogenic, pouring its clear liquid into the blue sea on a tropical island surrounded by lush greenery on the rocks.

The clear liquid found in young green coconuts is fresh and has a subtle sweetness, but whether coconut water is suitable for a ketogenic diet is a question.1

This refreshing liquid is often marked as a healthy drink but to determine whether or not coconut water an acceptable beverage on keto, we’ll take a look at the carbohydrate content which is rather high and look into why a nutritionist says it depends.

What Are the Carbs in Coconut Water? Is Coconut Water Suitable for Keto?

Knowing the carb content of coconut water may be useful for tracking macros on many trending diets, but keeping a close eye on the carb content in foods and drinks is especially crucial on the ketogenic diet.2

One-hundred percent (100%) pure organic coconut water–not to be mistaken for coconut milk, which is water mixed with grated coconut meat or flesh and is high in fat–consists of very little fat, as it is about 94% water.

A freshly cut coconut in half, revealing its white flesh and a glass filled with clear coconut water, both placed on a table.

Source: Towfiqu barbhuiya from Unsplash3

To answer the question of whether coconut water is keto friendly, one must first determine the net carbs in coconut water. Net carbs are calculated by subtracting fiber content and sugar alcohols–if any–from the total carbs, but coconut water by itself does not contain either of these so the total carbs and net carbs are the same.

That being said, the carbs in just one cup of pure organic coconut water can still range from approximately 9-24g net carbs. The variation in the carb content is due to the type of coconut and the soil it grew in, but it seems the average cup of coconut water without any additives contains about 15g net carbs.

Since the daily carb limit for those on the keto diet ranges from about 20-50g, coconut water is not recommended for regular consumption or in large quantities if one aims to maintain ketosis.

Although a few sips or even half of a cup would not be enough to break ketosis, it’s inadvisable to have a full bottle or cup of coconut water on the ketogenic diet. Moderation is key here and one must be extra cautious not to exceed their daily total carb limit.

Can Coconut Water Kick Someone Out of Ketosis?

To answer the inquiry “can coconut water kick someone out of ketosis”, yes coconut water could very easily knock someone out of ketosis if they’re not careful. With just one serving nearing or even meeting one’s daily limit of carbs, small servings are vital on the keto low carb diet.

Note, however, that a few sips or half a serving would still be keto compliant.

Nutritional Value & Ingredients of Coconut Water

Now that we have established the carbs in pure organic coconut water, let’s move on to the ingredients of coconut water and its nutritional value. Each coconut can provide up to about 1 cup of coconut water, which includes many vitamins, minerals, and nutrients including calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, vitamin C, and antioxidants in each sip.

The following are approximate values as these can slightly vary depending on type of coconut.

Serving Size: 1 cup (240g)

  • 15g Net Carbs
  • 0.5g Fat
  • 1.7g Protein
  • 45 Calories

Health Benefits of Drinking Coconut Water

Having discussed whether coconut water is ketogenic, we will now explore the health benefits of coconut water.4 Although even pure coconut water is not good for keto in large amounts, it is abundant in health benefits.

  • High Electrolyte Content: Calcium, magnesium, and potassium are all electrolytes found in coconut water; these can help with maintaining strong bones and muscles, improving heart health, increasing brain function, and reducing inflammation throughout the body.
  • Lowers Blood Pressure: The high potassium levels in pure coconut water serve to reduce blood pressure; this can be very helpful for those with high blood pressure but those already on blood pressure medications should consult a doctor before drinking coconut water as it may actually lower blood pressure too much.
  • May Aid in Prevention of Kidney Stones: Sufficient water and potassium intake are important for avoiding or preventing kidney stones; as coconut water is rich in potassium and is almost entirely water, coconut water is one of the best drinks for kidney stone prevention.
  • Aids in Hydration: Low in calories and sodium, and at 94% water, pure coconut water has an amazing hydrating effect and the included vitamins, electrolytes, and nutrients make this a go to beverage for both hydrating and refueling.
  • Supports Skin Health: Coconut water has impressive antioxidant and antimicrobial properties, both of which can support skin health and aid in decreasing wrinkles for more youthful skin. Someone who drinks coconut water regularly may also notice clearer skin and decreased acne.

Is Coconut Water Good for Relieving Keto Flu Symptoms?

Coconut water might not be the best choice for those curious about how to get skinny fast on the keto diet due to being rather high in carbs, but this drink can help relieve and reduce keto flu symptoms.

The “keto flu” refers to a group of common symptoms experienced by many people starting the ketogenic diet and can include nausea, constipation, keto night sweats, headaches, irritability, fatigue, and intense sugar cravings.

The vitamins and antioxidants may help somewhat relieve such symptoms, but hydration from coconut water will help ease these discomforts even more. Additionally, the subtle sweetness of coconut water can at least stave off sugar cravings to an extent.

Nutritionist Weighs In: Is Coconut Water Keto-Friendly?

After consulting with a nutritionist to get their input on the question of whether coconut water is ketogenic, we learned that coconut water is typically not acceptable on a ketogenic diet due to the sheer number of carbs. However, the nutritionist we consulted with says it depends because the serving size and daily carb allowance should be considered as well.

To elaborate further, the nutritionist advised, “Coconut water is acceptable for consumption on the ketogenic diet, but only if these three conditions are met: first, that not more than 5-10% of a person’s daily caloric needs should be from carbohydrates; secondly, only one serving of coconut water maximum should be consumed per day as most of one’s daily carbs should come from whole foods; and lastly–the quality of the coconut water is important.

Only 100% pure coconut water is advised to ensure there are no hidden sugars or other non-ketogenic ingredients that could put one at risk of being kicked out of ketosis.”

Note that, as a general rule, someone on the keto diet should try their best to stick to 70-80% of their daily caloric intake coming from fat, 10-20% coming from protein, and the final 5-10% from carbs. Therefore, those who would are on the lower range of carbs should be sure to avoid coconut water altogether or have a smaller amount to avoid breaking ketosis.

Factors That Influence Whether Coconut Water Should Be Consumed on Keto or Not

While coconut water is great for rehydrating, it’s not ideal for those wanting to learn how to lose belly fat overnight since it’s fairly high in carbs and low in both fat and protein, making it unfit for the ketogenic diet unless consumed in moderation or in very small amounts.5

Whether coconut water should be consumed on keto or not all comes down to the caveats laid out by the nutritionist that we quoted above: caloric allotment, small serving sizes, and quality of the coconut water.

Since many coconut water brands and varieties try to sneak in added sugars, other sugary fruit juices, or artificial ingredients and preservatives, it would be wise to always check the nutrition label or ensure the can or bottle says “100% organic coconut water.”

A coconut lying on a sandy beach, with waves splashing against it, creating a beautiful pattern of water droplets around it.

Source: Josiah Weiss from Unsplash6

The ketogenic diet is extremely popular and has proven weight loss impacts including quite promising long term effects of a ketogenic diet in obese patients, but foods and drinks high in carbs are unsuitable for this diet and anyone on it must pay close attention to their carb limits as just one seemingly minor slip up may kick you out of ketosis.7

According to a nutritionist, coconut water can be considered ketogenic, but only if consumed in moderation and it’s 100% pure and organic.

Frequently Asked Questions

Does Coconut Water Fit into the Keto Diet Across All Brands and Types?

Keto and Coconut water are already a rather complicated duo, but some brands or varieties add sugars or other juices and additives to coconut water to make it sweeter or more flavorful; coconut water is only ketogenic if 100% organic–meaning it has no additives, preservatives, or other potentially harmful ingredients–and even then, only in moderation.

Is Coconut Meat Keto Approved?

Since coconut water is something to be cautious with on the keto diet, it may come as a surprise to most that coconut meat is keto approved. Although coconut flesh or coconut “meat” does have some carbs, thankfully these are almost entirely canceled out by the high fiber content in coconut meat.

For example, half of a cup of organic coconut meat has 6 grams of carbs but 4 grams of fiber, leaving only 2 grams of net carbs per half cup.

Another thing to note in relation to coconut meat and the ketogenic diet is that the coconut meat is high in fat and has at least some protein content as well, both of which are great for those trying to maintain ketosis.

Coconut Water's Impact on Insulin Levels: Suitable for Diabetics?

To answer the question of whether coconut water does not cause insulin spikes, no it will not. Anyone diabetic who enjoys sipping coconut water may be glad to hear that this light, refreshing drink has a low glycemic index, and therefore has very little impact on one’s blood sugar–meaning it can be safely consumed not only on the keto diet but also by someone diabetic.

The low sugar content of pure, organic coconut water means it does not cause insulin spikes and can be enjoyed by diabetics.

Is Coconut Water Good for Breaking an Intermittent Fast?

Not only is coconut water acceptable for breaking an intermittent fast, but it’s actually recommended. Due to being very low in calories, fat, and cholesterol, as well as its impressive water content and hydrating abilities, coconut water is recommended for breaking an intermittent fast.

The natural sugar, potassium, and magnesium content of pure coconut water will also provide some energy to refuel the body and replenish some electrolytes.


References

1Arnie Watkins. “Person Pouring Liquid on Their Hand.” Canva, Accessed 6 April 2023. <https://www.canva.com/photos/MADyRM7flII-person-pouring-liquid-on-their-hand/>

2Masood, W., Annamaraju, P., & Uppaluri, K. (2022, June 11). Ketogenic Diet. National Institute of Health. Retrieved February 14, 2023, from <https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK499830/>

3Towfiqu barbhuiya. “clear drinking glass with water photo – Free Fruit Image on Unsplash.” Unsplash, 11 August 2021, Accessed 6 April 2023. <https://unsplash.com/photos/o3Dunr7Vl-o>

4Vavrek, K. (2019, August 27). Is Coconut Water Healthy? Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center. Retrieved February 14, 2023, from <https://wexnermedical.osu.edu/blog/is-coconut-water-healthy>

5Harvard Medical School. (2020, August 31). Should you try the keto diet? Harvard Health Publishing. Retrieved February 14, 2023, from <https://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/should-you-try-the-keto-diet>

6Josiah Weiss. “coconut on beach with waves photo – Free Coconut Image on Unsplash.” Unsplash, 20 January 2018, Accessed 6 April 2023. <https://unsplash.com/photos/qMXXUvCH98Q>

7Dashti, H., Mathew, T., Hussein, T., Asfar, S., Behbahani, A., Khoursheed, M., Al-Sayer, H., Bo-Abbas, Y., & Al-Zaid, N. (2004). Long-term effects of a ketogenic diet in obese patients. National Institute of Health. Retrieved February 14, 2023, from <https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2716748/>

About the Author

Nathan Petitpas

Nathan has been a fitness enthusiast for the past 12 years and jumps between several types of training such as bodybuilding, powerlifting, cycling, gymnastics, and backcountry hiking. Due to the varying caloric needs of numerous sports, he has cycled between all types of diets and currently eats a whole food diet. In addition, Nathan lives with several injuries such as hip impingement, spondylolisthesis, and scoliosis, so he underwent self-rehabilitation and no longer lives with debilitating pain.