Does the watermelon diet work?

What is the watermelon diet?

The watermelon diet is a fad diet that involves eating watermelon as a major part of your daily food intake, often claiming that eating mostly watermelon will lead to quick weight loss. The diet rose in popularity in the early 2010s after several celebrities claimed they had success with it.

The basic premise of the watermelon diet is that you eat watermelon in place of other foods for your main meals and snacks. There are several versions of the diet, but a typical one may involve:

  • Eating watermelon for breakfast instead of traditional breakfast foods
  • Watermelon for lunch with a small side salad or other vegetables
  • Watermelon for dinner with a small portion of protein like chicken or fish
  • Watermelon as a snack whenever you feel hungry

Some versions of the diet allow you to also incorporate small amounts of protein, dairy, grains, and other fruits and vegetables. But watermelon makes up the bulk of the diet, upwards of 80% of your daily calories.

Does the watermelon diet lead to weight loss?

Proponents of the watermelon diet claim you can lose significant weight quickly by following this plan. But does the research actually support these claims?

There have been no major scientific studies examining the watermelon diet specifically. However, we can analyze the diet based on the nutritional composition of watermelon and what we know about successful weight loss techniques in general.

Watermelon is low in calories, with only 45 calories per cup. It’s also high in water content, over 90%, meaning it can help you feel full and hydrated. Eating a diet very high in watermelon means you will likely reduce your overall calorie intake significantly, which could lead to short-term weight loss.

However, the watermelon diet is an extreme fad diet that eliminates or restricts many healthy foods. Most nutritionists do not recommend following fad crash diets for extended periods. Severely restricting calories or entire food groups can cause nutritional deficiencies, low energy, and disordered eating patterns over time.

While you may see quick weight loss initially, it will be mostly water weight that is quickly regained once you stop the diet. And eliminating food groups long-term can make weight maintenance quite difficult as well.

So in summary, while you may lose some weight in the first few days due to calorie restriction, the watermelon diet does not promote sustainable long-term weight loss for most people.

What are the claimed benefits of the watermelon diet?

Advocates of the watermelon diet believe it provides these key benefits:

  • Rapid weight loss – Due to the low calorie intake
  • Body cleansing or detox – Due to watermelon’s high water content
  • More energy – Due to watermelon’s nutrients
  • Anti-inflammatory effects – From watermelon nutrients like lycopene
  • Better heart health – Again due to lycopene and other nutrients
  • Improved skin, hair, and nails – Due to vitamin A and hydration

However, there is limited evidence that the watermelon diet provides most of these extensive benefits, at least not any more than a generally healthy, balanced diet would.

The calorie restriction may lead to rapid water weight loss at first. And watermelon does provide some key nutrients that could promote energy, heart health, and healthy hair, skin, and nails. But these benefits are unlikely to be much greater than from eating watermelon as part of a varied diet.

There is no scientific basis for watermelon providing any sort of “detox” or “cleanse” effect. And other fruits and vegetables likely provide anti-inflammatory benefits as well.

Overall, while watermelon is certainly a healthy fruit, there is little unique benefit to gaining most of your nutrients from watermelon alone for an extended period.

What are the downsides of the watermelon diet?

While the watermelon diet may have limited benefits, there are some significant downsides to be aware of:

  • Nutritional deficiencies – Watermelon lacks protein, healthy fats, and many important vitamins and minerals. A diet so heavily based on watermelon will be very nutrient deficient.
  • Blood sugar crashes – Watermelon has a high glycemic index. Eating a lot of it could lead to energy crashes as blood sugar spikes and plummets.
  • Limited satisfaction – The limited food variety of this diet makes it hard to follow for long.
  • Weight regain – As soon as you stop the diet, it’s likely any lost weight will return.
  • Disordered eating patterns – Severely restricting food groups can promote an unhealthy relationship with food.

In general, fad crash diets like the watermelon diet are not sustainable or healthy strategies for weight management. You are better off developing balanced eating habits you can follow life-long.

Is watermelon good for you to include in a healthy diet?

While a watermelon-centric diet has limited benefit, incorporating some watermelon into a varied diet can be very healthy. Watermelon provides beneficial nutrients like:

  • Vitamin C – Boosts immunity and acts as an antioxidant
  • Vitamin A – Important for skin, eye, and cellular health
  • Lycopene – A potent antioxidant that may lower heart disease risk
  • Potassium – Helps control blood pressure
  • Water – Helps you stay hydrated

Enjoying watermelon occasionally is a great way to get more fruit into your diet and stay hydrated. But it should be combined with adequate protein, healthy fats, fiber, and other important nutrients. Some healthy ways to work watermelon into your diet include:

  • Fruit salad – Combine with other fruits and yogurt for breakfast
  • Salsa – Dice up with tomatoes, onion, lime juice, and cilantro
  • Smoothies – Blend with yogurt and other fruit
  • Watermelon pizza – Top wedges with cheese, nuts, or other savory toppings
  • Salad – Toss watermelon with greens, feta, and balsamic vinaigrette
  • Snack – Fresh watermelon slices on their own or with lime and chili salt

Who should avoid the watermelon diet?

Due to the very restrictive nature and risk of nutritional deficiencies, the watermelon diet is not recommended for:

  • Children or teenagers
  • Pregnant or breastfeeding women
  • Those with diabetes or blood sugar regulation issues
  • Anyone with kidney disease or on dialysis
  • People prone to disordered eating patterns or eating disorders
  • Anyone with food sensitivities that restrict fruit intake
  • People who require very high protein diets
  • Those taking certain medications that require food intake
  • People with active gastrointestinal issues like diarrhea

In general, the watermelon diet is not a safe or sustainable eating pattern for a majority of people. Even healthy adults should not follow it strictly for more than a few days at most.

What are expert opinions on the watermelon diet?

Most nutrition experts and qualified dietitians do not recommend the watermelon diet, for a few key reasons:

  • It is too low in calories and protein for most people.
  • It lacks variety and eliminates many healthy foods.
  • Rapid weight loss is mostly water weight that is regained.
  • It promotes unsustainable, restrictive eating that can lead to cravings and binges when stopped.

Registered dietician Sonya Angelone, a spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, cautions:

“You’ll likely lose weight quickly on this diet, but it’s mostly water weight and not body fat. If you go back to eating the way you did before once it’s over, the weight will just come back.”

Most experts consider fad diets like this one to be ineffective and possibly counterproductive for long-term weight management and well-being.

As nutrition professor Marc Silverman explains:

“Eating mostly one food, whatever it is, just isn’t healthy or sustainable. For successful weight loss, make gradual changes to adopt balanced eating habits you can enjoy long-term.”

What is a healthier, more sustainable approach for weight loss?

Instead of extreme short-term diets, nutritionists recommend a gradual lifestyle approach for successful, long-lasting weight management. This involves principles like:

  • Mindful eating – Paying attention to hunger cues, eating slowly, and enjoying your food.
  • Moderation – Allowing yourself to enjoy all foods in moderation as part of a varied diet.
  • Balance – Eating a balanced mix of lean proteins, fiber, whole grains, fruits, vegetables, and healthy fats.
  • Portion control – Consuming appropriate portion sizes rather than overeating.
  • Exercise – Including regular physical activity for metabolism and fitness.
  • Hydration – Drinking water instead of sugary beverages.

With this balanced approach, you can lose weight sustainably and improve your overall health without feeling deprived. Allowing for nutritional variety and learning positive habits ensures the weight stays off.

Make changes gradually, focus on overall well-being, and be patient with yourself in the process. Pursuing short-term fad diets usually leads to frustration and weight cycling in the long-run. But balanced healthy eating can help you reach your goals in a positive way.

Sample watermelon diet meal plan

If you do decide to try the watermelon diet, make sure to consult your doctor first, especially if you have any underlying health conditions. Here is a sample one day meal plan, though this is not recommended for extended periods:

Meal Sample Menu
Breakfast 2 cups watermelon
6 oz plain yogurt
Snack 1 cup watermelon
Lunch 3 cups watermelon
3 oz grilled chicken breast
Side salad with vinaigrette
Snack Watermelon smoothie – blend 2 cups watermelon with 1 cup milk and ice
Dinner 4 cups watermelon
4 oz salmon
1 cup steamed broccoli
Snack 1 cup watermelon

This provides around 1200 calories along with some protein and vegetables to support health. But for sustained weight loss, the meal plan would need more variety and balance long-term.


In summary, the watermelon diet is a very low-calorie and low-variety diet focused on eating watermelon as a majority of daily food intake. While it may lead to short-term water weight loss, it is difficult to follow for extended periods and unlikely to promote lasting weight management. It can also increase risks for nutritional deficiencies. While watermelon is a healthy component to include in moderation as part of a varied diet, the watermelon diet itself has limited benefit and potential downsides. Most nutrition experts advise against following crash diets like this one. Better results can be achieved through balanced healthy eating and lifestyle habits you can sustain in the long-run. But incorporating some tasty watermelon into your routine can be one enjoyable part of healthy eating.

Leave a Comment