Ok, I've been a big fan of coconut water for almost 2 years now. I run it in my bottles on the bike, sip it pre-race, and for recovery. A lot of the time I mix it with some juices, plain water, and a dash of salt to make a more potent sports drink. However, just plain coconut water with nothing added, ounce for ounce, is way more energy sustaining when it comes to your standard Gatorade, Powerade, etc. Once you get into the 'flavored' varieties, you can start to increase the acidity levels (processed juice concentrates can make it more acidic and not sit so well in your stomache), some have added sugar or other additives as well. However, for the most part, Zico coconut water flavored with juices still seem natural and don't look like they have processed juices or sugars added (watch out for other brands and things labeled Coconut juice, or "drink"). When I saw that ZICO was making chocolate coconut water I thought--no thanks. I LOVE CHOCOLATE, but in water? Two flavors I love, but can't stomach when training are coffee and chocolate. I have tried to tolerate the Espresso and Chocolate varieties of energy gels and I think both are nasty and cause me to get that burpy indigestion feeling.
The other day my wife picked up a bottle of Zico Chocolate for me. She knows I drink the regular so when she was at Target and they were giving out samples she reluctantly tried it--and LIKED it so she grabbed a bottle. I took a sip and as the kids say "OMG!" Seriously, move over chocolate milk. I thought Silk Chocolate Milk was the best chocolate drink ever. Its now second best. I don't think I'll drink Zico Chocolate during races, but after...for sure. I didn't drink the whole bottle the other day as I wanted to save a little for pre-workout just to see how it sat. Last night I drank about 4 oz (a 14 oz serving of Zico Chocolate is 110 calories; original is only 60 cals per serving) then went for a short jog. I wasn't pushing it, but did turn a 7:21 pace over 4 miles. NO ISSUES with the Zico. Hmmm...? Could this actually work during long rides/runs? Maybe just a small amount to stimulate the taste buds??? There is a touch of added cane sugar, vanilla, and coconut cream, but not enough to make it too rich or too thick--just enough to make it a little silky/creamy for a smoothe taste. Also, the amount they did add didn't make it a fatty drink--they kept the fat low at 2 grams per 14 oz bottle, but even so, cocount is good fat.
You gotta try some. I can honestly say I think its the best thing since sliced bread. (Why is sliced bread the end-all-be-all of 'best things' anyway?)