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The Benefits of Watermelon as a Post-Workout Recovery Food

Warmer weather offers, for many, some of the best times of the year, especially when it comes to fitness. Outdoor workouts, hiking in the mountains, swimming in the lakes, camping under the stars, and seasonal fitness foods abound — and none more so than watermelon.

Watermelon surprisingly can be a great option as part of 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 can be a great way to shake up your post-workout routine.

A close-up of watermelon slices.

Watermelon Nutritional Info Highlights

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

  • 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
Slices of watermelon on wooden cutting board beside a whole watermelon.

Electrolyte & Hydration Powerhouse

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.

A close-up of whole watermelons.

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 to help regulate chemical processes and balance your bodily fluid levels both in and out of the cells. Having imbalances can have serious ramifications, so replacing them post-workout is crucial. 

With its great boost of magnesium, potassium, and calcium, the electrolytes in watermelon can help stave off muscle cramps during intense workouts and help boost immunity when you are under the weather, to name just a few advantages. 

Amino Acid Addition

Also going hand in hand with hydration recovery, so can be said of 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 can be quite beneficial in recovery – L-citrulline. 

Quartered chunks of watermelon on ice.

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

An overhead shot of slices of watermelon arranged neatly on a blue wooden table.

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. Watermelon is a good source for a few different antioxidants such as lycopene, lutein, and zeaxanthin, all of which help fight off inflammation, and it can fight oxidative stress and 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

A close-up of a watermelon slice balanced on a wooden surface.

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

Cons of Eating Watermelon for Recovery

A close-up of watermelon slices served on a tray on a wooden table.

Just like all things in life, too much of a good thing can be bad. The same can be said for watermelon. A lot of times people mindlessly eat watermelon while they are cutting it up. Next thing you know, you are 2.5x over the actual serving. While some carbs and sugars are good for recovery, too much can be damaging as it is then stored as fat instead of being used as fuel. An overindulgence of anything with high sugars can lead to feelings of sluggishness and tiredness. That being said, it can be a great recovery option, just watch your serving size.

A Refreshingly Delicious Option for Your Post-Workout Needs

In general, and in moderation, watermelon is a great post-workout option. With its great benefits from hydration, electrolyte replenishment, amino acid, and antioxidant boosting, it can be the ideal way to recover and to raise your athletic performance. 

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