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The Watermelon Diet: What's the Deal?

The Watermelon Diet: What's the Deal?

By Stacey Feintuch

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You know that an apple a day keeps the doctor away. But apples aren't the only fruit that holds this coveted distinction. Watermelon—a tasty, refreshing, healthy and inexpensive fruit—falls into that category, too.

The invigorating summer fruit is high in water—about 92 percent—making it a good option for people looking to lose weight. Water promotes weight loss by flushing out toxins and curbing your appetite because chewing and swallowing it helps you feel like you're eating more calories than you are. Read about the best fruits for weight loss.

Consuming watermelon will ensure you're hydrated. And when you're getting plenty of water, your body can work optimally. Also, when you're hydrated, you won't mistake thirst for hunger and overeat unhealthy fare. Plus, this low-calorie fruit contains a natural sugar that helps curb a sweet tooth. This fruit that's a carb has 1.1 grams of fiber, which will help you feel fuller longer.

Research conducted at the University of Kentucky showed that eating watermelon may improve lipid profiles and lower fat accumulation. Even better, a study among athletes by the Universidad Politécnica de Cartagena in Spain found that watermelon juice helped reduce muscle soreness. That's great news if you're working out hard.

Thanks to all of watermelon's health benefits, the watermelon diet is the latest wellness trend. It's not an official diet, rather almost like a cleanse, since watermelon has such a high water content. Still, the diet claims it can boost weight loss and help get rid of your body's excess water, toxins, salts and other impurities.

You follow the diet all day for five days to a week. People like that format because it's structured without requiring a lengthy time commitment. And people are willing to try a diet eating something they love all day. It's not like being forced to munch on watermelon is a tough sell!

The diet has a few versions with specifics varying. A popular one is a cleanse of sorts. Here, in the first stage you only eat watermelon for three days. After that, you resume your normal diet or gradually add back other foods to your diet. Or, you may eat two meals a day and snack on watermelon in between. You may also try reducing portion sizes at meals and adding servings of watermelon.

For beverages, you can replace sugary fruit juices, soda and foods with watermelon and water. If you're craving dessert, snack on watermelon. Since it is about 6 percent sugar, it's healthier to eat a slice or two than eating cake, pie or ice cream. Plus, you reap its vitamins and minerals like vitamins C and A, beta carotene, potassium and lycopene. All these tactics will help you lower your calorie intake without feeling deprived.

Like all fad diets, the watermelon diet isn't a good long-term weight-loss solution. The diet is restrictive and doesn't include any dietary sources of protein. And since you're consuming so much water, you may suffer from diarrhea or bloating. That's why it's not recommended that pregnant women or anyone with a compromised immune system try this diet.

However, if you're generally healthy, you likely won't harm yourself if you follow the diet for a few days. While the diet can help jumpstart your weight-loss efforts, you need to have a plan in place for how you'll continue your weight-loss efforts when the diet is done. Learn about healthy fruits you should be eating.

Watermelon recipes
Check out a few of our watermelon recipes below.

Watermelon Gazpacho
Combine watermelon with some savory and spicy ingredients for a refreshing twist courtesy of this simple and quick gazpacho recipe.

Mango and Watermelon Salad
Enjoy this salad on its own. Or remove watercress and pair with grilled chicken or fish.

Watermelon, Arugula, Feta and Mint Salad
This unexpected combination dances on the palate thanks to the sweetness of watermelon, tartness of lime, saltiness of the feta and olives and semi-spicy herbaceous character of the arugula. Note: If possible, drain the watermelon cubes beforehand by placing them in a colander over a bowl in the refrigerator overnight.