Can eating watermelon make you fat?
Watermelon tastes delicious, but that candy-like sweetness might come with a hidden price. You need to know the truth about this popular summer fruit before you start munching away.
Here you’ll uncover all the facts on watermelon and whether it’s actually healthy or can cause you to gain weight. Then you can know if you can have watermelon in your diet without fear of it causing belly fat.
There is sugar in watermelon, and we all know having too much sugar can cause weight gain. You should know if eating watermelon can make your pant size bigger.
So keep reading to discover the breakdown on watermelon and whether it is healthy for you or is secretly causing you to pack on the pounds.
Does Watermelon Make You Fat
Quick Answer: Watermelon does contain sugar and is high on the glycemic index, but it’s low in calories, plus the fiber and water content drastically lower the glycemic load. So watermelon shouldn’t make you fat as long as you eat a small to moderate serving.
Watermelon is a healthy fruit that’s mostly water (92%) and contains nutrients like:
- Vitamin C
- Vitamin A
- Vitamins B1 and B6
Along with these nutrients, watermelon is low in calories, with 1 cup containing only 46 calories. This makes it one of the least calorie-dense foods. But there is also almost 10g of sugar in 1 cup of sliced watermelon.
So is the sugar in watermelon fattening?
Watermelon has a glycemic index of 72 out of 100, which is high. The glycemic index (GI) measures how quickly a food can raise your blood sugar levels. So, in general, the lower, the better since high GI foods can lead to weight gain and insulin resistance.
But watermelon’s glycemic load (GL) is relatively low, with only 7-8 per serving. The glycemic load considers how much food can affect your blood sugar but also considers the whole portion or serving size.
So while the GI of watermelon may be high, and it does contain a good amount of carbs, it’s relatively low GL and high water and fiber content make it much less likely to spike your blood sugar when eating reasonable amounts.
Does Watermelon Cause Belly Fat
At the end of the day, eating watermelon isn’t a driving force of belly fat. While overeating anything can contribute to belly fat, it’s usually many other issues that are the leading cause of stomach fat.
Suppose you’re eating too many calories and making poor choices like processed foods, seed oils, excess alcohol, sugar, and refined carbs. In that case, adding watermelon on top isn’t a good idea.
Watermelon can be a useful food to swap out for other unhealthier, calorie-dense, high-sugar foods. It can help to satisfy your sweet tooth and keep you feeling full so you can stick to your diet the rest of the time. Watermelon will be a better choice than a candy bar any day.
Metabolic flexibility is also essential when eating watermelon and other sugary fruits to prevent belly fat. Eating a large serving of this fruit may cause you to gain weight if your body can’t process the sugar properly.
Having metabolic flexibility is key; this means being able to switch between burning fat and carbs for fuel. Your metabolic flexibility will improve with better insulin sensitivity and lean body composition.
Watermelon could also make your belly appear bloated after eating. This is due to its high fiber and high water content. It could also be a sign you overate watermelon if it caused an upset stomach and/or bloating.
Can Watermelon Help You Lose Weight
Now that you know eating small to moderate amounts of watermelon shouldn’t make you fat… does that mean it can help you lose weight?
Eating watermelon can be a helpful appetite suppressant while dieting to help you drop pounds. Hunger is one of the most challenging parts of dieting, so the easier it is to curb hunger, the better your chances of getting results.
Watermelon is sweet and can help to satisfy your sweet tooth. If you’re craving sugar, it’ll be much healthier for your waistline to eat a slice of watermelon than eating a donut.
The sugar in fruits like watermelon is fructose, which your body processes differently than glucose or sucrose (table sugar). Your liver mainly processes fructose and is used to replenish glycogen stores (stored carbs for fuel). Consuming too much fructose, such as high-fructose corn syrup, can lead to fatty liver disease.
So if your diet is already full of sugars and carbs, adding more isn’t a great idea, even if it’s from watermelon. Eating a slice or two of watermelon is a minor deal as long as you’re not consuming too much sugar or carbs the rest of the day.
If your glycogen stores become full, your body will dump the rest of these sugars and carbs as fat. If you are diabetic or insulin resistant, then you have to be careful not to consume too much watermelon or fruits since they could contribute to weight gain because your body can efficiently use them for fuel.
Exercise, especially weight lifting, can deplete your glycogen stores and “free up space” for new glycogen formed from sugars and carbs. Your body prioritizes using glycogen for fuel before body fat, so if your glycogen stores are always full, it’ll be hard to burn body fat. So if you’re going to eat sugars and carbs, it’s best to exercise.
What Happens if You Eat Watermelon Everyday
If you really want to, you can eat watermelon every day as long as the rest of your diet is healthy and balanced. If you’re eating too many sugars and carbs in the rest of your diet, then adding watermelon on top of it every day probably isn’t the best idea.
Watermelon is mostly water, fiber, vitamins, minerals, and sugar. Having it every day isn’t a big deal and can have some health benefits from the nutrients. The sugar won’t be that big a deal, considering the glycemic load, as long as your portions are small to moderate size.
One cup of sliced watermelon is a healthy serving size equal to one or two slices. 2 cups of sliced watermelon would equal about 100 cal and 20g of sugar. This isn’t too much sugar, considering it helps you feel fuller while satisfying your sweet tooth.
The best time to eat watermelon for weight loss would be earlier in the day rather than at night. Eating watermelon earlier in the day allows you time to burn off the sugars for fuel. Eating watermelon at night can contribute to weight gain because the sugars won’t be burned for fuel and could instead be deposited as body fat.
Drinking water right after eating watermelon probably isn’t a good idea because it could upset your digestive tract. It’s believed that water consumed with fruits could upset the digestive process and cause an upset stomach. Watermelon already has a high water content, so you shouldn’t need more immediately.
Well, it is possible to lose weight only by eating only watermelon. But it’s definitely not advisable for you to do so. Your body needs other nutrients, such as protein and healthy fats, to go along with the sugar in watermelon to be healthy and contribute to weight loss.
Many try the watermelon-only diet because it helps them feel full and tastes sweet while also being low in calories. You could try the watermelon diet for 3 or even 5 days and expect some weight loss.
But it won’t be a healthy way to do so because, without protein, your body will start losing muscle mass over fat, contributing to you becoming “skinny fat.” For rapid weight loss, consuming a low-calorie and low-carb diet with high amounts of protein and fiber is best.
You can have fruit such as berries, avocados, and even a little watermelon. Just make sure you don’t eat a whole watermelon because, in the end, that is a lot of sugar, and it will outweigh many of the benefits of eating it. They could also contribute to insulin resistance, which will ultimately make you gain weight.
You can eat watermelon in the morning if you prefer. But it’s best to follow an intermittent fasting protocol instead. This is when you go long periods without eating, and it is easiest to skip breakfast. Your body will have an easier time burning fat as its fuel source since calories and sugars aren’t available.
Just have water, tea, and coffee mixed with C8-MCTs, which can help trigger the metabolic switch to start burning fat for fuel.
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So you don’t have to stress about eating fruits that are low in sugar or low on the glycemic load. As long as the rest of your diet is optimized, you should have some room to have fruits like watermelon.
Watermelon might contain some sugar, but satisfying your sweet tooth is healthier with watermelon than eating a cake. And if it helps you feel full, this can curb hunger, making it easier to stick to your overall diet.
Like with everything, moderation is key; stick to eating only a small portion of watermelon. Otherwise, the sugars can quickly add up to a lot. But watermelon is refreshing and delicious, so you shouldn’t worry about having a little bit here and there without it causing you to gain weight.
Josh holds a Bachelor’s degree in Exercise Physiology and Nutrition Science. He’s a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist (CSCS) by the National Strength and Conditioning Association and he’s a Certified Personal Trainer (CPT) by American Council on Exercise. He’s worked as a Strength and Conditioning Coach at the high school and college levels. He has over 15 years of experience as a personal trainer and nutrition coach. He strives to bring inspiration and results for people to live healthier lives through smart diet and exercise.