Because cucumbers are very low-calorie foods, eating many of them -- especially in place of higher-calorie alternatives -- generally won't cause weight gain. However, eating too many cucumbers means you could be lacking other essential nutrients your body requires daily to function properly. To help avoid nutrient deficiencies and maintain a healthy body weight, know your daily calorie needs and follow a healthy, balanced meal plan.
Calories in Cucumbers
An 8 1/4-inch long cucumber with its peel contains 45 calories, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference. The USDA also notes that 1 cup of sliced cucumbers with the skin contains just 16 calories. However, although cucumbers are so low in calories, they contain about 1 gram of fiber per cup and generous amounts of water, which help fill you up.
Although cucumbers are low-calorie foods, eating too many of them -- in addition to your usual calorie intake -- can cause you to gain weight if you’re eating more calories than you burn off. For example, if your usual calorie intake is 2,000 calories daily and you add five cucumbers, containing a total of 225 calories, you may start to notice slow, gradual weight gain. However, if you replace high-calorie alternatives, such as sweets, fried foods and other added sugars with cucumbers, you’ll reduce your overall calorie intake.
Eating too many cucumbers fills you up, making it difficult to get all the essential nutrients from a variety of different foods. Although cucumbers contain water, carbohydrates, fiber and potassium -- and high amounts of vitamin K -- they contain only trace amounts of protein, dietary fat and several essential vitamins and minerals. Although the Institute of Medicine has not established a tolerable upper intake level for vitamin K, Colorado State University Extension reports that consuming too much vitamin K can be toxic and alter your blood's ability to clot properly.
The amount of cucumbers, or a variety of other vegetables, you should eat daily is based on your weight-maintenance, or weight-loss, calorie needs. For example, the Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2010 suggest eating 2 cups of veggies when following a 1,600-calorie meal plan, 2.5 cups when eating 2,000 calories daily, 3 cups for a 2,400-calorie diet, 3.5 cups when consuming 2,800 calories daily and 4 cups of vegetables when following a 3,200-calorie meal plan. ChooseMyPlate.gov notes you can eat 2 cups of leafy green vegetables in place of 1 cup of other raw or cooked veggies.
- USDA National Nutrient Database: Cucumber, With Peel, Raw
- U.S. Department of Agriculture, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services: Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2010
- Harvard Medical School: Good Nutrition: Should Guidelines Differ for Men and Women?
- ChooseMyPlate.gov: What Counts as a Cup of Vegetables?
- Colorado State University Extension: Fat-Soluble Vitamins: A, D, E, and K