Skip to main content

The benefits of watermelon as a post-workout recovery food

Want to skip the post-workout smoothie? The benefits of watermelon will make you want to trade in that shake

A close-up of watermelon slices.
haroon33 / Shutterstock

Warmer weather offers some of the best times of the year to get outside and check out that fresh air, especially when it comes to fitness. Outdoor workouts, hiking in the mountains, swimming in the lakes, and camping under the stars are all ways to move your body and enjoy the weather. For that post-movement refreshment, there are seasonal fitness foods abound, and none more so than watermelon. The benefits of watermelon are great reasons to add this fruit to your post-workout routine.

Whether you’re an avid workout junkie or just the occasional gym-goer, post-workout nutrition is crucial for all things recovery, including helping muscles grow and improve athletic performance. While investing money each month on supplements or vitamins is great for most, adding in things like watermelon is a great way to shake up your post-workout routine. Let’s cut this melon’s secrets open and see why it’s a super fruit you should pay attention to.

Watermelon slice being held up in the air outside.
Beautytrend4u / Shutterstock

Watermelon nutritional info highlights

One of the main reasons why watermelon is such a fan hit is that it tastes so darn delicious, practically melting in your mouth. Aside from the great taste, it is good in terms of its nutritional profile. And clocking in at 84 calories per serving, it’s pretty easy to make it fit in your daily macros. 

The numbers to know

  • Calories: 84
  • Potassium: 314 mg
  • Carbs: 1 g
  • Sugars: 17 g
  • Vitamin C: 34% of your DV (daily value)
  • Iron: 3% DV
  • Vitamin B6: 5% DV
  • Magnesium: 7% DV
Grilled watermelon with a balsamic drizzle.
A Healthier Michigan / Flickr

Perks and drawbacks of eating watermelon after a workout

One of the main reasons why proper nutrition is crucial for workout recovery is the amount of sweat and electrolytes you lose during each session. One of the things you want to do is replenish what you lose. A great place to start is by having a serving of watermelon post-workout.

It’s an electrolyte and hydration powerhouse

For starters, a serving of watermelon is a great option for post-workout because it is almost 92% water. That is the perfect hydration boost you need after a tough sweat session, as you lose water in your body through sweating.

Secondly, it is an electrolyte powerhouse. Again, through sweating, you lose water and electrolytes. Electrolytes, which have an electrical charge, are responsible for helping regulate chemical processes and balance your bodily fluid levels, both in and out of the cells. An imbalance has serious ramifications, so replacing them post-workout is crucial. 

With its great boost of magnesium, potassium, and calcium, the electrolytes in watermelon help stave off muscle cramps that occur during intense workouts and will help boost immunity when you are under the weather.

Cons of eating watermelon for recovery

Just like all things in life, too much of a good thing can be bad, and the same could be said for watermelon. A lot of times, people mindlessly eat slices and pieces of watermelon while they are cutting it up. Next thing you know, you are 2.5 times over the actual serving.

While some carbs and sugars are good for recovery, too much is damaging as it is then stored as fat instead of being used as fuel. An overindulgence of anything with high sugars leads to feelings of sluggishness and tiredness. Watch your serving size.

Watermelon slices.
stevepb / Pixabay

The positive side effects of this watery fruit

Amino acid addition

Going hand in hand with hydration recovery are the muscle recovery properties found in watermelon’s nutritional amino acid profile. When most think of muscle recovery, they think of protein drinks and maybe some carbs. But amino acids are the building blocks of protein and watermelon has one that is quite beneficial in recovery — L-citrulline. 

L-citrulline is an amino acid that is responsible for plenty of health benefits like regulating a healthy immune system as well as maintaining heart health. It helps reduce high heart rates in athletes, post-workout. Not only that, but it has been shown to reduce muscle soreness during post-workout recovery.

Antioxidant boost

One of the negative side effects of working out is the inflammatory response that happens as a result of muscle breakdown. One of the best ways to combat inflammation is through the use of antioxidants, especially those from food sources.

Watermelon is a great choice in that regard, as it is a good source for a few different antioxidants such as lycopene, lutein, and zeaxanthin, all of which help fight off inflammation. It also fights oxidative stress and those free radicals that damage things like lipids, proteins, and nucleic acids. These antioxidants have also been found to be beneficial in combating illnesses like heart disease, strokes, and various types of cancers.

Added carb bonus

Another bonus of having watermelon as a recovery food is the added effect of post-workout carbs. The type of training you do will ultimately affect which energy system you use during workouts. That being said, if anaerobic training, your body will often start off using glucose as the energy source until it is depleted. Post-workout carb replacement is great for reviving those levels.

A plate of watermelon and tomato slices with Feta and balsamic sauce.
Kolpakova Svetlana / Shutterstock

Why you should eat watermelon, even if you didn’t workout

Don’t only stock up on the watermelon if you plan on working out. It’s one of those super fruits that you should have in your diet’s lineup no matter what because it can improve digestion. Watermelon helps with digestion by reducing that bloated feeling that makes you not want to do anything. You don’t want to work out when you feel too full anyway, but watermelon will boost the good bacteria in your gut to make digestion easier and faster.

Watermelon can also calm inflammation. CRP is an inflammatory marker that could be reduced by a steady consumption of watermelon. It’s also been known to lower your risk of developing rheumatoid arthritis, since watermelon contains carotenoid beta-cryptoxanthin.

This super fruit can improve blood flow and keep arteries healthy. Watermelon has the good amino acid citrulline, which produces another good amino acid arginine, which increases blood flow. Proper blood flow is good for your arteries, so you get a double win there.

In general, and in moderation, watermelon is a great post-workout option. With its great benefits from hydration to electrolyte replenishment to amino acid and antioxidant boosting, it is an ideal way to recover and raise your athletic performance. It’s also just a good, tasty way to improve your health anyway, even if you don’t work out. Every time you run to the store, make sure watermelon on your list so you don’t miss out on the benefits.

Editors' Recommendations

Jeff Turbett
Former Digital Trends Contributor
Jeff Turbett is a health and wellness coach with over three years of experience transforming clients lives and physical…
Get help getting fit: The 16 best workout apps for men
These workout apps will help you stay on track this year and crush any fitness goals
Workout app on a phone with running shoes

No matter if you're a seasoned fitness vet with over 20 years of experience or just starting out on your journey, everyone has the plan to go to the gym and work out until ya don't -- sometimes life happens, and things come up interfering with our plans of executing a solid workout. No matter if you established your own workout space at home or invested in high-quality budget home gym equipment like the best dumbbell deals or treadmills for 2023, working out at home can be your answer.

With the ability to be convenient, the no-excuses solution to fitting exercise into your busy schedule, at-home workouts can benefit everyone. However, if you're a beginner and prefer the direction and structure of workout classes or professionally designed exercise routines, working out at home can feel directionless and unmotivating. It can be hard to know exactly where to start. This is where the best workout apps can help you.

Read more
Need a low impact workout? Why you should consider water aerobics
These pool exercises may be the low impact workout you need
Man in water aerobics class.


If you want an effective exercise that’s easy on your joints and muscles, consider water aerobics. This low-impact workout allows you to challenge yourself whenever you want an intense regimen because it blends both light strength training and cardio every time you do it. The intensity level is up to you.

Read more
Can an OMAD diet help you with weight loss? What you need to know
One meal a day seems like an obvious way to lose weight, but does it work?
Red apple with measuring tape around it

In recent years, intermittent fasting has taken the dieting world by storm, offering a promising path to achieving desired results. Among its various forms, the OMAD diet, short for "one meal a day," has gained attention for its extreme approach to intermittent fasting. However, the question remains: is it a healthy choice? With limited research on this restrictive eating pattern, it's crucial to take a closer look before diving into the OMAD diet.

What is the OMAD diet?
The OMAD diet is as straightforward as it sounds: individuals who choose to follow it fast for 23 hours a day and consume all their daily calories within a one-hour eating window. While it may seem appealing as a quick fix for weight loss, the extreme nature of this regimen raises concerns about its long-term effects on health.

Read more