Watermelon is naturally low in calories, making it an excellent food to include in a diet for weight loss. It’s also tasty, easy to prepare and convenient to eat, especially when it’s in season. However, despite watermelon’s notable nutritional profile, it’s not a magic fix for weight loss, and it’s not a substitute for other foods in a healthy, balanced diet.
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According to the United States Department of Agriculture, 1 cup of watermelon pieces has only 45 calories. That means it’s a natural fit for a low-calorie diet that can encourage weight loss. Eating fresh fruits such as watermelon isn’t only helpful for your waistline, either. Vitamins, minerals and nutrients found in fruits and veggies can help reduce your risk of cancer, heart disease, stroke, kidney stones, bone loss, high cholesterol and diabetes, among other serious health conditions.
According to the United States Department of Agriculture, a cup of watermelon pieces has approximately 1 g protein, 0.25 g fat, 11.5 g carbohydrates, 0.5 g fiber and 9.5 g sugar. Of the 150 g that make up a cup of watermelon, almost 140 are water, meaning that watermelon is a food with low energy density. Low energy-dense foods are high in water and fiber and low in fat and calories. They may also help you feel full and stay full for long periods of time, further aiding weight-loss efforts.
Slicing into a fresh watermelon and eating pieces of it raw may be the tastiest way to enjoy the fruit, but it’s far from the only way. If you want to reduce the total number of calories in a protein shake you’re making, for example, use watermelon as the sole fruit ingredient, don’t use any added sugar and thicken the shake with about half a cup of nonfat Greek yogurt. You can also use watermelon as the main attraction in a side salad or a naturally sweet dessert. It has hundreds fewer calories than nuts, seeds or chocolate cake, so it can help you gradually build a significant calorie deficit.
Watermelon has plenty of benefits for weight loss, but eating too much of it at the expense of other healthy food groups can take a toll. CNN.com’s physician nutrition specialist, Dr. Melina Jampolis, recommends limiting your daily fruit servings to three because fruit is higher in sugar and calories than some other whole foods and can occasionally contribute to weight gain. To safely and consistently shed pounds, reduce your daily calories, exercise regularly and eat watermelon along with other fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins and low-fat dairy products.