Is Watermelon Good for Weight Loss?

<p>Anucha Muphasa / 500px / Getty Images</p>

Anucha Muphasa / 500px / Getty Images

Medically reviewed by Karina Tolentino, RD, CHWC

If you're trying to lose weight, watermelon is one of the best fruits to include in your diet. It's high in water yet low in calories, which can keep your appetite in check. Watermelon contains beneficial compounds that may help burn fat and improve digestion.

This article discusses everything you need to know about watermelon for weight loss, including its potential benefits and risks.

<p>Anucha Muphasa / 500px / Getty Images</p>

Anucha Muphasa / 500px / Getty Images

How Watermelon Helps You Lose Weight

Watermelon contains nutrients that may help with weight loss by promoting satiety, improving exercise performance, burning fat, and aiding digestion. It can also satisfy a sweet tooth.

Keeps You Full

Watermelon is 92% water, making it an excellent choice for staying hydrated. Dehydration can make you feel hungry instead of thirsty, causing unnecessary calorie intake when your body needs water.

Additionally, because watermelon is primarily made of water, it has a low-calorie density so you can eat a lot of it without taking in many calories. Studies show that people get full by the amount of food they take in, not the amount of calories they consume.

In one study, participants were given 2 cups of watermelon or low-fat cookies with the same calories daily for four weeks. Researchers found those in the watermelon group experienced decreased hunger, less food intake, and a lowered desire to eat. Watermelon consumption also significantly reduced body weight, body mass index (BMI), blood pressure, and waist-to-hip ratio.

Low in Calories

One cup of watermelon has 45 calories. Replacing high-calorie, ultra-processed snacks with watermelon can help you cut calories and lose weight while still feeling satisfied.

A study found consuming low-calorie, high-volume foods before a meal can reduce hunger and overall calorie intake, which may help with weight loss.

Relieves Sore Muscles from Exercise

Watermelon contains an amino acid called citrulline, which increases blood concentrations of L-arginine (an amino acid that helps the body build protein). This can increase nitric oxide production, improving blood flow and muscle oxygen delivery.

Nitric oxide also regulates various functions of skeletal muscles, including muscle contraction and repair. Increased nitric oxide from citrulline consumption may help decrease muscle soreness.

Intense exercise can cause ammonia and lactic acid to build up, leading to reduced exercise capacity and muscle fatigue. Some evidence suggests citrulline can reduce ammonia and blood lactate levels, which may help improve exercise performance and reduce muscle soreness.

Research found improvements in muscle soreness and recovery heart rate 24 hours after consuming 500 milliliters (mL) of natural watermelon juice.

Helps Curb a Sweet Tooth

Watermelon contains natural sugars, which can satisfy your sweet tooth with fewer calories than traditional desserts.

However, despite its sweetness, watermelon is lower in sugar than many other types of fruit. This may make it a better option for those watching their blood sugar.

One cup of watermelon has only 9 grams (g) of sugar, while a cup of grapes contains around 23 g.

Helps Burn Fat

Citrulline in watermelon can be metabolized to arginine. Some studies suggest that arginine supplementation may significantly reduce BMI, waist circumference, and fat mass. It may also help increase muscle mass. However, more research is needed to confirm these benefits.

This may be due to its potential to increase the development of brown adipose tissue and thermogenesis (the process of heat production). Brown adipose tissue, also known as brown fat, is a particular type of fat that can produce heat and increase the amount of calories the body burns.

Improves Digestion

With its high water content, watermelon may be beneficial for digestive health. Water keeps food moving through the digestive system, which may help reduce and prevent bloating. Additionally, water helps break down food so its nutrients can be absorbed.

Watermelon also contains small amounts of fiber, which helps clean out buildup in the digestive tract to improve gut health.

Risks of Eating Too Much Watermelon

While watermelon is incredibly nutritious, overeating it may cause unwanted side effects.

Watermelon is a high FODMAP (fermentable oligo-, di-, monosaccharides, and polyols) food. FODMAPs are short-chain carbohydrates (sugars) that are not easily absorbed in the gut. While many people don't have problems with FODMAPs, they can cause pain, bloating, constipation, and/or diarrhea in people with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).

Overeating watermelon may raise blood sugar in people with diabetes. It can also cause a rare condition called lycopenemia, which causes yellow-orange skin discoloration.

Who Should Avoid Watermelon?

Some people allergic to ragweed or grass pollen may react to watermelon. If you suffer from pollen allergies and experience hives, vomiting, or difficulty breathing after eating raw watermelon, you should avoid it, especially during allergy season.

Avoid eating watermelon if you are prone to migraines, as there is some evidence that it may trigger headaches in people with migraines. However, if you do not experience any symptoms after consuming watermelon, there's no need to avoid it.

Is the Watermelon Diet Healthy?

The watermelon diet is a low-calorie diet plan that involves eating only watermelon. While watermelon is a healthy food, there's no evidence that the watermelon diet offers any health benefits. Relying solely on watermelon, which is low in fat, protein, and several other essential nutrients, may lead to nutrient deficiencies, muscle loss, and fatigue, to name a few.

Ways to Incorporate Watermelon Into Your Diet

Watermelon is a versatile fruit that can easily be incorporated into your diet. Here are a few creative ways to enjoy watermelon:

  • Cut watermelon into cubes for a hydrating snack.

  • Grill sliced watermelon for a few minutes on each side, transforming it into a savory watermelon steak.

  • Toss watermelon chunks with feta cheese, cucumber, and fresh mint to create a watermelon salad.

  • Puree watermelon and pour the juice into ice pop molds, freezing until solid.

  • Make watermelon salsa by combining diced watermelon, red onion, cilantro, jalapeño, and lime juice.

Can You Eat Watermelon Every Day?

Most healthy adults can safely consume up to 2 cups of watermelon daily to meet their recommended daily fruit intake. However, it's a good idea to incorporate other fruits into your diet to supply your body with a broad range of nutrients.

Fruits Similar to Watermelon

Other water-rich fruits that are low in calories and may aid in weight loss include:

  • Strawberries

  • Cantaloupe

  • Cucumbers

  • Honeydew melons

  • Peaches

  • Oranges

  • Grapefruit


Watermelon has a high water content with very few calories, making it a filling snack that can help with weight loss. The fruit also contains beneficial compounds that may help reduce body fat, maintain lean muscle mass, and relieve muscle soreness.

However, it's important to note that while watermelon is a nutritious food, it should not be solely relied upon for weight loss. Instead, it should be incorporated into a healthy lifestyle with a balanced diet and regular physical activity.