It may come as a surprise that watermelon -- a juicy summer fruit and backyard barbecue favorite -- is actually good for you. It is sweet but doesn't pack a lot of calories per serving, and its high water content makes it filling and refreshing, but without any fat or cholesterol. It also boasts several valuable nutrients that support a healthy, fit body. Any food eaten in excess can undermine weight-loss efforts, but you'd have to eat a lot of watermelon for that to happen.
Low-Calorie Watermelon is Helpful For Losing Weight
Fruits and vegetables should make up a significant proportion of your low-calorie diet because they have lots of nutrients and few calories per serving, and they can be quite satisfying.
Two cups of cubed watermelon have 80 calories but no fat. Choosing watermelon over junk food can save you a lot of calories. For example, a serving of 10 to 15 barbecue-flavor potato chips, which equals 1 ounce, has 138 calories and 9 grams of fat; a 12-ounce can of soda has 160 calories; and a small, 3-inch round, glazed doughnut has 130 calories. You can quench your thirst and satisfy a sweet tooth with watermelon, all the while saving calories.
Even when compared to other healthy snacks, watermelon has few calories. A 1-ounce serving of roasted almonds -- which is approximately 22 kernels -- has 170 calories; a small box of raisins has 129. Although these foods offer some nutrients that watermelon does not offer, calories from those other foods do add up. Compared to these choices, you can have more watermelon for fewer calories.
Watermelon Helps Keep You Feeling Full
Watermelon is more than 90 percent water, which will fill you up but won't fill you out. A 2-cup serving gives you 1 gram of fiber, which slows digestion and keeps you feeling full longer.
Compared to leafy greens and broccoli, though, most fruits have approximately three times the number of calories per serving. Although you can enjoy large servings of watermelon without consuming a ton of calories, you do need to keep track of those calories to make sure you're not exceeding your daily total.
Watermelon Soothes Aching Muscles
An essential part of any weight-loss plan is physical activity. Cardiovascular work and weight training help you burn calories and build muscle, but these activities can make you a little sore, especially when you first start out or if you overdo the activity.
Watermelon may help soothe this soreness, according to a small study published in the Journal of Agricultural Food and Chemistry in 2013. Drinking 16 ounces of watermelon juice an hour before exercise helped athletes maintain a lower heart rate and they felt less muscle soreness the next day. Researchers surmise that this is because of a compound known as L-citrulline, which naturally occurs in watermelon. Your body converts L-citrulline into another essential amino acid, known as L-arginine, which enhances circulation and relaxes blood vessels. So, a dose of watermelon may help you recover quickly, which enables you to return to working out and burning calories sooner.
Watermelon's Nutrients Support Good Health
When you're reducing calories to lose weight, it's important to make sure the calories you do eat are rich in nutrients. Watermelon helps you do this, as it provides 25 percent of the daily value of vitamin C and 30 percent of vitamin A in each 2-cup serving. Watermelon also provides you with some calcium, iron and potassium, and is a good source of vitamin B-6, which supports your immune system.
Watermelon is also rich in the antioxidant lycopene. Lycopene is a plant compound that may reduce your risk of cancer, heart disease and macular degeneration, which is a type of vision loss that can occur with aging. Intake of lycopene is inadequate in many people's diets, so eating more watermelon to help with weight loss will also help you get ample quantities of this antioxidant.
- National Geographic: Five Reasons to Eat Watermelon
- Watermelon.org: Weight Loss Tips
- Watermelon.org: Nutrition Facts
- USDA Nutrient Database: Snacks, Potato Chips, Barbecue Flavor
- USDA Nutrient Database: Nuts, Almonds, Dry Roasted, With Salt Added
- USDA Nutrient Database: Raisins, Seedless
- USDA Nutrient Database: Beverages, Carbonated, Cola, Regular
- USDA Nutrient Database: Doughnuts, Yeast-Leavened, Glazed, Enriched (Includes Honey Buns)
- Nutricion Hospitalaria: Functional Properties and Health Benefits of Lycopene
- Journal of Agricultural Food and Chemistry: Watermelon Juice: Potential Functional Drink for Sore Muscle Relief in Athletes