Does The ‘Watermelon Diet’ Work For Weight Loss? How It Works And If It’s Safe, According To Experts

When you’re on a weight loss journey, it’s understandable to want to eat healthy foods that help you achieve your goals. If you want results fast, trends like the watermelon diet may sound particularly appealing. Watermelon has many health benefits, like possibly boosting your heart health and immunity, per a recent study. But what is the watermelon diet, exactly?

It appears that the diet started trending after cheerleader Gabi Butler spoke about it on season two of the Netflix docu-series Cheer. On the show, she claimed that she ate only watermelon for three days and that it helped her “flush out anything sitting in [her] stomach.” After the three-day “cleanse,” she resumed her normal routine.

Whether you heard about the watermelon diet on the show or perhaps saw it trending elsewhere online, you probably have questions. What does the fad diet involve? Does it work for weight loss? And more importantly, is it safe?

Ahead, nutrition experts share the benefits and risks of the watermelon diet and whether or not it’s recommended for weight loss.

Meet the experts: Keri Gans, RD, is a New York-based registered dietician and author of The Small Change Diet, a book about incorporating small changes and healthy habits to ensure a lifetime of good health. Samantha Cassetty, RD, is a New York-based registered dietician and co-author of Sugar Shock, a guidebook to reduce sugar intake and live a healthier life.

What is the watermelon diet, exactly?

The watermelon diet is a phenomenon that seemed to gain popularity in 2022 on social media and is not an official diet plan, says Samantha Cassetty, RD, a dietician and co-author of Sugar Shock. The origins of the diet are somewhat unknown and it appears there is no official “plan” to follow.

However, it is often framed as a cleanse or “detox” in which users eat only watermelon for a set amount of time. Duration varies—some TikTokers eat watermelon consecutively for three days in a row, while others claim to have followed the routine for 30 days or more.

Based on social media, it seems there are many ways to approach the watermelon diet. One TikTok user blended watermelon with lemon and fresh mint and consumed six bottles a day for seven days. Another user drank watermelon as juice for three days before returning to their regular diet and said they lost 1 kilogram in the process (they also called out how the diet gave them leg cramps, supposedly due to lack of nutrients).

People are drawn to the watermelon diet’s detox-like effect, however, the idea that it cleanses your system, so to speak, isn’t necessarily accurate.

“The idea is to clear toxins and kickstart weight loss without feeling too hungry, [but] you don’t need to consume a type of food to detox the body,” says Cassetty. “Your body is designed to eliminate toxins on [its] own—that’s what your kidney and liver do for you every day naturally,” she points out.

Benefits Of The Watermelon Diet

There is no scientific evidence to support a watermelon cleanse. That said, watermelon itself is a nutritious food packed with vitamins and antioxidants, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). It contains vitamin A, which can help your vision and immune system, per a study published in the Journal of Clinical Medicine—along with vitamin C and vitamin B6, which have similar immune-boosting benefits. Watermelon also contains lycopene, which has been linked to decreases in heart disease and certain cancers, per the USDA. Additionally, the amino acids in watermelon may help reduce blood pressure and support exercise performance, according to a recent study.

Watermelon is a low-calorie fruit that’s made of approximately 90 percent water, per the USDA—so if you’re trying to stay hydrated and achieve a calorie deficit, it might be a helpful snack for weight loss. Daily watermelon consumption may help reduce body weight and body mass index (BMI), per a study published in Nutrients, and eating it regularly may help you lose weight due to its low sodium, saturated fat and cholesterol, according to a recent study.

Risks Of The Watermelon Diet

Despite its benefits, the fruit-forward fad diet can come with harmful side effects. “Drastically reducing calorie intake may make you feel dizzy, lightheaded and nauseous,” Cassetty says. Eating tons of fruit can also overwhelm your GI system and potentially lead to gas, bloating and diarrhoea, she adds.

“[The watermelon diet] is not suitable if you are pregnant, nursing, or if you have a health condition, eating disorder, or history of disordered eating,” Cassetty says. It’s also not recommended if you work out a lot since watermelon doesn’t contain enough fuel for activity and recovery, she adds. The diet also negatively impacts your ability to respond to hunger cues, enjoy nourishing meals and can hinder your ability to learn what a well-balanced meal actually is, Cassetty says.

Ultimately, this is an extreme diet that experts recommend you avoid. “Any diet that aims to restrict sets the user up for ultimate failure,” says Keri Gans. The watermelon cleanse focuses on a “quick fix” rather than introducing sustainable healthy habits to kickstart weight loss, which in itself is problematic, she says.

Does the watermelon diet work for weight loss?

By only eating watermelon (which, again, is mostly water), you’ll likely see weight changes within a few days. However, the watermelon diet is a short-term solution and is not a sustainable weight loss practice. “You will [likely] lose water weight, but once you start eating other foods, all your weight will come back,” Gans says.

The trend can seem appealing for folks on a weight loss journey since it feels attainable and lasts a short time compared to other diet plans, says Cassetty. “[It] seems more approachable than other fasting protocols because it is very clear cut,” she says. “When eating feels overwhelming, having a clear plan feels doable.” But by eliminating other foods and only focusing on one, you aren’t learning anything about healthy eating habits, Gans adds.

The bottom line? Watermelon may work temporarily, but it shouldn’t be the only thing you’re consuming for weight loss. “Even though watermelon is a healthy food, it is not healthy to exist on watermelon alone—and that would be the same for any single food, whether it’s cake or kale,” Cassetty says. By only focusing on one item, you’re eliminating vital proteins and healthy fats, which are essential nutrients for the body, she says.

How To Jumpstart A Weight Loss Journey Instead

If weight loss is your main goal, there are healthier options out there than the watermelon diet, says Gans. Experts recommend shifting your mindset away from restricting foods and instead focusing on what you should include. “You can start by adding a fruit to your breakfast, then adding a vegetable to your lunch and dinner,” says Cassetty. This is especially helpful since most people don’t get enough fruits and veggies in general, she says.

Although Cassetty and Gans do not recommend the watermelon diet, eating the popular fruit could help accelerate weight loss if combined with other balanced food groups. For example, eating watermelon as a snack may help you eliminate cravings in between meals or function as a dessert substitute to help you cut back on sugar, they say. Ultimately, integrating watermelon into your diet can help with weight loss, but shouldn’t be viewed as the end-all, be-all solution.

This article by Lauren Dresner was originally published on

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