Different versions of the watermelon diet have been making the rounds on the internet. The diet basically consists of eating only watermelon for a set period of time. Common variations are three to seven days, after which you add some or all of the foods you normally eat, with or without watermelon. Since watermelon is a low-calorie food: a cup of diced watermelon contains about 46 calories, this diet is very low in calories. It is considered a cleansing or detox diet.
YouTubers who try it brag about losing a lot of weight 6kg in seven days, for example, and say they stop craving junk food, clear up their skin, have more mental clarity and energy, and feel lighter and less bloated.
How does the watermelon diet work?
The watermelon diet consists of eating only watermelon for a certain number of days. Some versions don’t have guidelines on how much watermelon to eat. Others recommend a certain amount. At the end of the days when you only ate watermelon, some versions add light meals along with lots of watermelon. For others, you go back to your usual diet. You can choose to repeat the watermelon diet whenever you feel the need for a cleanse or detox.
Proposed benefits of the watermelon diet
Overall, watermelon is a healthy food. Research shows that watermelon is over 90% water, making it a good source of hydration. Foods with a high water content may be more filling. The fruit does not contain any fat or cholesterol and contains only traces of sodium. Watermelon contains:
– Vitamin A, which helps maintain your vision, support your immune system and fight inflammation, according to a September 2018 article in the Journal of Clinical Medicine.
– Vitamin C, which can boost immunity and reduce your risk of chronic disease.
– Lycopene, an antioxidant that may help prevent DNA damage and benefit your immune system, according to research published in LWT in June 2020.
– Citrulline, an amino acid that may help lower blood pressure and improve exercise performance, according to a study published in January 2017 in Current Opinion in Clinical Nutrition & Metabolic Care.
So, no one questions the fact that watermelon is a healthy food. But when you make it your only food source, experts say you’re missing out on the benefits of a host of other nutrients. It is not healthy to make a single food your way of life. A healthy diet includes a range of foods.
Can you lose weight on a watermelon diet?
Every time you drastically reduce calories, you are likely to lose weight. The real question should be: Is the watermelon diet a safe and effective way to lose weight? This diet does not build lasting skills related to weight loss. Once you stop cleansing, you’re likely to regain that weight and potentially more, which isn’t helpful.
Still, cleanses can be appealing: If you’ve been eating an unhealthy diet for a while, you may feel like you need to make a 180° turn, and small changes don’t cross your mind. But using the watermelon diet to lose weight could be a sign of underlying issues: If you’re willing to go to this extreme to lose weight, it could be a sign that you have an unhealthy relationship with your body or with food.
What are the risks of the watermelon diet?
If you’re considering trying the watermelon diet, there are a few risks to consider. First, you may feel hungry, and hunger can cause headaches, make you irritable, and make it hard to concentrate. Constantly ignoring your body’s hunger signals is not a respectful way to treat yourself. Eating only watermelon can also cause gas, bloating, and diarrhea. If you exercise when you’re not consuming many calories or nutrients, you may feel dizzy, tired, or weak. And following the watermelon diet for an extended period of time can lead to loss of muscle tissue. The watermelon diet teaches you nothing about how to build lasting habits that will benefit your long-term physical and mental health.
And, if the idea of watermelon as a purifier intrigues you, it won’t give you the desired effect. The idea that you could eliminate toxins by eating watermelon exclusively is totally false. There is no validity to any type of “cleansing” with watermelon.
The watermelon diet, a fad cleansing diet, can lead to short-term weight loss. And while watermelon can be part of a healthy diet, eating it exclusively for days on end is not healthy. Enjoy watermelon before, after or during your meals, but not instead of them.
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