The Watermelon Diet: Is It Safe, And Will You Actually Lose Weight?

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The cabbage soup diet is a popular fad diet that promises rapid weight loss

While many people have heard of the cabbage soup diet, the watermelon diet is less frequently discussed.

So, what is the watermelon diet? Is watermelon good for weight loss? Does a watermelon cleanse or watermelon fast work for weight loss? And what are the benefits and risks of a watermelon cleanse?

In this article, we will discuss the watermelon diet or watermelon fast for weight loss, focusing on whether the watermelon cleanse is safe and effective or just another popular fad diet that should be avoided if true fat loss and improved health are your goals.

We will look at the following: 

  • What Is the Watermelon Diet?
  • Is Watermelon Good for Weight Loss?
  • Is the Watermelon Diet Healthy?

Let’s get started!

Sliced watermelon.

What Is the Watermelon Diet?

There are a few versions of the watermelon diet, but the basic watermelon diet can be equated to a watermelon cleanse as all you are supposed to eat is watermelon for a set duration of time.

Some watermelon diet plans dictate how much watermelon you are supposed to eat every day on the diet, whereas others do not place restrictions or serving sizes onto the watermelon diet program.

The watermelon diet may last from 3 to 7 days, depending on the version you are following, your weight loss goals, your other health conditions, among other factors. 

After following the watermelon diet protocol, you are supposed to gradually re-introduce all or some of the foods you were previously eating before you began the watermelon cleanse.

Some iterations have sort of a transition period in which you start adding light meals while still eating lots of watermelon before completely reverting back to your regular way of eating.

Since watermelon is low in calories and high in water and electrolytes such as potassium, the watermelon diet is considered a “detox diet“ or “cleanse“ rather than a long-term weight loss diet or a healthy, sustainable approach to eating.

The watermelon diet was particularly popularized by YouTubers, suggesting impressive watermelon diet weight loss results, such as dropping 13 pounds in just a week. 

Sliced watermelon.

Another major proponent of the watermelon diet is Gabi Butler, the star actress from the Netflix series “Cheer.”

Not only is the watermelon diet discussed on Cheer as a way to get “cheer-ready,” but actress Gabi Butler has also been a vocal advocate of watermelon fasting in her own life off-screen.

She claims that watermelon fasting is not only great for her physical appearance but also helps her mood and is “healthier“ than strict water fasting.

She also says it serves as essentially a watermelon cleanse to help her body get rid of toxins while still putting something in her stomach, unlike regular prolonged water fasting.

Nutritionists have concerns about role models such as Gabi Butler and other YouTube and TikTok stars promoting the watermelon cleanse because this type of cleanse or fasting is generally not safe nor recommended.

This is particularly true for teens and younger people who certainly need far more calories and nutrients than is provided on the watermelon diet cleanse. 

Preteens, teens, and young people who are looking for rapid weight loss results but have a limited understanding of their body’s nutritional needs and what constitutes a healthy diet will likely lack the knowledge and critical thinking skills to understand why the watermelon diet is not safe, particularly for growing bodies.

While the watermelon diet is generally not a healthy approach to weight loss, watermelon fasting is particularly concerning for adolescence because they need more calories for growth.

They also may have a higher risk of body dysmorphia, which means that they may believe they are overweight or need to lose weight when indeed, they do not. 

Sliced watermelon.

Is Watermelon Good for Weight Loss?

So, does the watermelon diet work for weight loss?

Social media reels about the watermelon cleanse suggest you can lose as much as 13 pounds in just a week on the watermelon diet. 

This is not only unrealistic for almost everyone but unsafe. 

Unless you are specifically being guided by a medical professional for some type of extreme and rapid weight loss, losing more than 1 to 2 pounds of fat per week is inadvisable and generally untenable.

Weight loss beyond about 2 pounds per week at the start of an extreme diet is generally due to the release of excess body water and not true fat loss.

Although some people do find that you can lose weight on the watermelon diet in the short term or that watermelon fasting can jumpstart weight loss, the watermelon cleanse is just a short-term severe caloric restriction cleanse and not a long-term approach to healthy weight loss.

To this end, the majority of people who try the watermelon diet for weight loss find that most, if not all, of the initial watermelon detox weight loss results are reversed, and weight is regained once the person resumes their normal way of eating.

A person eating watermelon.

Is the Watermelon Diet Healthy?

Although watermelon, and fruit in general, can and should be part of a healthy diet for most people, consuming only watermelon for an extended period of time is not healthy.

According to the USDA, watermelon provides very little nutrition aside from sugar, vitamin A, vitamin C, potassium, and traces of a few other vitamins and minerals; it is 90% water.

One cup of watermelon has about 46 calories and nearly 10 grams of sugar.

There is no protein, no fat, and very little fiber, so only eating watermelon will not provide your body with adequate nutrition.

However, there are health benefits to the compounds in watermelon, including vitamin A, vitamin C, lycopene, and citrulline

On the flip side, some people may wonder if watermelon fasting is better than water fasting.

The primary difference between watermelon fasting vs water fasting is that with water fasting, you are consuming only water.

A person eating watermelon.

As with watermelon fasting, water fasting is never recommended for children or teenagers because the growing body always needs calories, and even prolonged water fasting for healthy adults is often contraindicated.

That said, there is some evidence to suggest that water fasting can support weight loss and provide other health benefits as long as you have received clearance from your doctor and only fast for as long as your own personal healthcare provider recommends.

Watermelon fasting provides more calories than water fasting because you are consuming watermelon. 

Perhaps surprisingly, watermelon is actually relatively high in sugar, as essentially all of the calories in watermelon are coming directly from natural sugars. 

For this reason, a watermelon cleanse will not put your body in a state of ketosis or bring about many of the benefits of regular water fasting because you will be getting plenty of carbohydrates and simple sugars from the watermelon.

Moreover, the very low-calorie watermelon diet provides an insufficient number of calories for the average adult man or woman.

Two people eating watermelon.

Essentially, the watermelon diet provides significantly fewer calories than the standard daily recommended number for weight maintenance for average adults set forth in the 2020-2025 Dietary Guidelines for Americans

These guidelines suggest that adult women should consume 1,600 to 2,400 calories per day, and men should eat 2,000 to 3,000 calories per day.

While a caloric deficit is necessary to lose weight, a prolonged and significant caloric deficit can reduce your metabolic rate through a process known as adaptive thermogenesis

Over time, this can result in a weight loss plateau and eventual weight gain because your metabolic rate has dropped so significantly that you need very few calories to sustain your daily activities. 

A very low-calorie diet can also cause general low energy, irritability, hunger, hormonal disruptions, and difficulty sleeping, among other issues. 

Moreover, insufficient caloric intake, coupled with the fact that the watermelon diet protocol is so low in carbohydrates, can make it difficult to perform vigorous exercise. 

A person spooning out watermelon.

This can also compromise weight loss results because if you are less active, both through structured workouts as well as daily physical activity, you will burn fewer calories, which will then make it more difficult to achieve a caloric deficit. 

Furthermore, if you are an endurance athlete, such as a runner, cyclist, or triathlete, or you want to perform high-intensity workouts such as heavy weightlifting, plyometrics, sports, or HIIT workouts, your muscles likely will not have the fuel necessary to support the vigorous nature of your workouts. 

This will compromise your athletic performance. For this reason, the watermelon detox diet is not recommended for athletes hoping to support exercise performance.

If you are interested in improving your hydration as a means to help “cleanse“ your body, check out our 14-day lemon water challenge here.

A person biting into watermelon.
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Amber Sayer is a Fitness, Nutrition, and Wellness Writer and Editor, as well as a UESCA-certified running, endurance nutrition, and triathlon coach. She holds two Masters Degrees—one in Exercise Science and one in Prosthetics and Orthotics. As a Certified Personal Trainer and running coach for 12 years, Amber enjoys staying active and helping others do so as well. In her free time, she likes running, cycling, cooking, and tackling any type of puzzle.

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