Watermelon is the perfect summer fruit. There’s nothing better than eating a juicy watermelon on a hot day.
But if you’re on a ketogenic diet, you might be wondering “is watermelon keto” and if it’ll knock you out of ketosis.
So in this post, I’ll talk about eating watermelon on keto, yummy watermelon keto-friendly recipes and some alternatives.
Can You Eat Watermelon On A Keto Diet?
A cup of watermelon contains 11 net grams of carbs, and because you must restrict carb intake to between 30 and 50 grams per day to stay in ketosis, you can eat watermelon on a keto diet.
Watermelon is also 92% water, so it hydrates you. This is why eating watermelon on a hot day is so refreshing.
However, keep in mind that watermelon’s glycemic index or GI is quite high. GI measures how fast a specific food elevates your blood sugar levels. Watermelon’s GI score is 72. This is higher than table sugar which has a GI score of 65.
But what makes watermelon compatible with keto diets is its glycemic load or GL score. The GL score measures the quantity of carbohydrates released into your bloodstream. Watermelon’s GL score is seven. For context, anything below 10 is healthy.
So although carbs in watermelon release fast, there aren’t many in your bloodstream.
Nutritional Value Of Watermelon
A cup serving of diced watermelon contains:
- 46 calories
- 11 net grams of carbs
- 9.4 grams of sugar
- 0.6 grams of fiber
- 0.9 grams of healthy fats
- 0.2 grams of protein
- 5% of your daily vitamin A needs
- 14% of your daily vitamin C needs
- 4% of your daily potassium needs
- 4% of your magnesium needs
Watermelon is packed with essential amino acids like citrulline, boosting athletic performance. So if you’re doing sports and don’t want to eat heavy before a game, snack on a few slices of watermelon.
It also has a high ORAC score, meaning it contains a good amount of antioxidants. These antioxidants, including lycopene, vitamin C and cucurbitacin, fights free radicals in your body. Free radicals are basically unstable compounds that cause inflammation.
This free radicals build-up can lead to chronic conditions like heart disease and cancer.
Fortunately, by eating watermelon, you’re feeding your body the antioxidants needed to thrive.
Health Benefits Of Watermelon
Here are some health benefits of fresh watermelon consumption.
Watermelon Seeds Contains Lots Of Zinc
Zinc is an essential nutrient necessary for testosterone production, immune function, healthy nerves and wound healing. Unfortunately, many Americans aren’t getting sufficient zinc because they mainly eat processed junk foods.
But by eating a few slices of watermelon with the seeds, you’re consuming a lot of zinc. An ounce of watermelon seeds contains 26% of your daily requirements of zinc.
You could also get a packet of watermelon seeds at your local farmers’ market. It’s quite cheap and makes for a nutrient-dense snack. I like roasting them in the oven at 325°F for about 10 to 20 minutes because it gives the seeds nice crispiness.
The best part is, that you don’t have to introduce a new zinc-rich food into your diet. Simply eat the seeds when you consume watermelon if you don’t already.
It Keeps You Hydrated
Watermelon is 92% water. So if you notice you aren’t drinking enough water, especially during hot days, start eating some watermelon. It’ll keep you hydrated. Or, if you’re an athlete, pack some watermelon in your lunch box. So if you just finished playing a game, you can snack on diced watermelon for extra hydration.
It’s also a far better diuretic than caffeine or alcohol because it comes from a natural source, so you’ll increase urination without stressing your kidneys.
It Helps You Recover From Keto Flu And Muscle Soreness
Because watermelon is full of electrolytes and amino acids like citrulline, it’ll help your muscles recover after a hard workout.
I like eating some watermelon before I work out. Not only does it keep me hydrated, but it gives my body some time to digest all the electrolytes and amino acids. So once my muscles break down, these nutrients are ready for use. This can help relieve delayed onset muscle soreness or DOMS.
One of the main reasons behind keto flu is the loss of electrolytes. But watermelon can help you recover quicker. By eating watermelon, you’re keeping your electrolyte levels topped up.
My Favorite Keto Watermelon Smoothie
This smoothie is the perfect summer drink. You’ll only need three ingredients:
- Half a watermelon
- One lime or lemon
- One tablespoon of xylitol or erythritol
First, cut open your watermelon and peel it. You’ll only need one half. Next, cut it into small pieces and toss them into a blender.
Cut one lime or lemon and squeeze into your blender. If you don’t have a whole lemon, you can use store-bought lemon juice. Just check that there are no additives.
Once you’ve squeezed your lemon, add a tablespoon of your favorite sweetener. This could be xylitol or erythritol. Blend and enjoy.
You can even turn this into a cocktail by simply adding a shot of vodka, rum or tequila.
Keto Alternatives To Watermelon
Most dieters think that fruit is entirely off-limits on keto. Although most fruits contain copious amounts of sugar, some low-carb fruits are healthy.
Cantaloupe or sweet melon is a fruit that looks just like watermelon, but it’s a bit smaller. One cup contains 54 calories, so it’s a tasty snack to help with weight loss. It also has 13 grams of total carbohydrates per cup.
So although it has slightly more carbs than watermelon, you can still eat it on a low-carb diet.
You can toss a few slices into a blender and make a delicious smoothie or cocktail.
It also contains beta-carotene, vitamin C, potassium and folate.
Also known as strawberry pear or pitahaya, dragon fruit has distinct red skin. It almost looks like a fireball.
One dragon fruit contains 12 grams of carbs and three grams of dietary fiber, giving it a net carb count of nine grams. It also has 60 calories.
This makes it another healthy alternative to watermelon. You can blend it into a smoothie, add it to your salsa or slice it into salads.
Dragon fruit contains essential nutrients like iron, calcium, vitamin C and antioxidants. So like watermelon, it fights free radicals in your body.
Chayote squash is a delicious, keto-friendly plant that belongs to the gourd family. One cup of chayote contains 4.5 grams of net carbs, which is even lower than watermelon. The calorie count is only 19 calories with 1.1 grams of protein.
But what makes chayote unique is that it’s high in fiber. Not only does this buffer the carbohydrate response, but it keeps you fuller for longer. This makes chayote the perfect watermelon alternative for weight loss.
A medically reviewed 2019 study found that eating chayote squash regularly reduced inflammation levels in overweight and obese adults.
Looking for more articles on foods that people have questions about on a ketogenic diet? Check out our “is it keto” guides on carrots, beets, honey, radishes, popcorn, quinoa and chickpeas.
Final Thoughts On Is Watermelon Keto Friendly
Watermelon is a delicious fruit, especially on hot days. It’s filled with water, so you’ll feel refreshed after eating it.
Watermelon is allowed on a ketogenic diet. One cup contains 11 grams of net carbs, and since you need to stay under 30 to 50 grams of daily carbs, it won’t kick you out of ketosis. It also offers nutrients like zinc, vitamin A and fiber that help with hormone regulation, clear skin and healthy digestion.
You can introduce watermelon into your healthy diet by eating a few slices every day or making a smoothie or cocktail with it.
But if you feel like spicing up your diet, experiment with keto-friendly fruits like cantaloupe, dragon fruit and chayote squash.