The cucumber diet is a short-term diet that promises quick weight loss.
There are many versions of the diet, but most claim you can lose up to 15 pounds (7 kg) in 7 days.
While cucumbers are healthy, you may wonder how effective this diet really is.
This article reviews the pros and cons of the cucumber diet and whether it’s a sustainable way to lose weight.
Diet Review Scorecard
- Overall score: 2.0
- Fast Weight loss: 3
- Long-term weight loss: 1
- Easy to follow: 2
- Nutrition quality: 2
BOTTOM LINE: The cucumber diet aids short-term weight loss by restricting your calorie intake. However, the diet is lacking in nutrients, extremely restrictive, and ultimately unsustainable.
The cucumber diet is a short-term weight loss diet. Most versions of the diet claim that following it for 7–14 days can lead to a 15-pound (7-kg) weight loss.
In fact, proponents of the diet sometimes use the tagline, “7 days for 7 kilograms.”
The diet consists mainly of cucumbers, along with a few protein-rich foods, such as eggs, chicken, fish, and nuts.
It recommends replacing most foods with cucumbers, meaning even other fruits and vegetables should be kept to a minimum.
Since the diet lacks variety, following it for longer than 14 days is not recommended.
Finally, while many have touted its weight loss effects, no studies support these claims.
Summary The cucumber diet is a weight loss diet that promises to help you lose 15 pounds (7 kg) in 7–14 days. It comprises mainly cucumbers paired with some protein-rich foods.
There are no standard rules to this diet, aside from the recommendation to eat cucumbers at most meals.
The diet advises that whenever you feel hungry, you should eat a cucumber.
The theory is that because cucumbers are low in calories, you can eat as many as you want and still be in a calorie deficit.
Cucumbers are low in protein, a nutrient that your body needs to maintain the health of your skin, muscles, and joints. For this reason, the diet recommends pairing the cucumbers with some protein-rich foods (1, 2, 3).
Furthermore, you’re allowed to add some carbs to meals, such as toast, brown rice, or potatoes.
As the rules of the diet vary, you may choose to be more or less strict about the food you eat.
Summary To follow the cucumber diet, eat cucumbers whenever you feel hungry. You may add small portions of protein-rich foods, such as eggs, lean meat, cottage cheese, and nuts.
No studies have analyzed the cucumber diet specifically. However, you can expect to lose weight while following it, as it’s very low in calories.
However, this weight loss will only occur for 7–14 days — the length of the diet. It’s unlikely that you’ll lose a substantial amount of weight and keep it off once you resume your normal diet (4).
One analysis found that a very-low-calorie diet of less than 800 calories per day was not effective for long-term weight loss. The more restrictive the diet, the more difficult it was for participants to follow (6).
Though it may seem that consuming an endless amount of cucumbers would add up in calories, the average 10-ounce (300-gram) cucumber has only 45 calories. Even if you ate 10 cucumbers, this would only total 450 calories (7).
Also, cucumbers only provide a small number of nutrients, such as potassium, vitamin C, and vitamin K. They lack protein, fat, fiber, calcium, iron, and many other nutrients needed for good health (7).
Even if you add protein to each meal, it’s unlikely that you’ll meet your daily needs due to the limited variety of food.
Finally, most people regain the weight they lost after ending a strict weight loss program like this one, especially if the diet did not teach healthy eating behaviors, such as portion control and reading nutrition labels (5, 8).
To lose weight and improve your health, you’re better off eating a diet full of variety. Aim to eat many different whole grains, vegetables, fruits, healthy fats, and lean and plant-based protein.
Summary The cucumber diet is very low in calories and will likely lead to short-term weight loss. However, it’s likely that you will regain any weight lost after ending the diet.
While you may lose weight temporarily, the downsides of the diet outweigh any of its potential benefits.
It’s very restrictive
The cucumber diet restricts most food groups and encourages eating almost only cucumbers for up to two weeks.
This diet is not only nutritionally inadequate but also promotes negative eating behaviors, such as extreme dieting, that may lead to an unhealthy relationship with food.
Low in fat and protein
Cucumbers can be a good source of nutrition when coupled with a balanced diet.
However, cucumbers are naturally low in calories, as well as protein and fat, which are two essential macronutrients. A single 10-ounce (300-gram) cucumber only provides 2 grams of protein and 0.3 grams of fat (7).
Meanwhile, fat provides a concentrated source of calories, with 9 calories per gram. Furthermore, fats are important for nerve function, brain health, and the absorption of fat-soluble vitamins, such as vitamins A, D, E, and K (14, 15).
The diet suggests pairing cucumbers with protein-rich food sources, such as chicken or eggs, which will provide some protein and fat.
However, research shows that protein should be consumed at every meal to aid muscle maintenance and growth (12).
It’s not sustainable
The cucumber diet is not designed to be followed for longer than 7–14 days.
It cannot be sustained long-term, as it’s very low in calories and will not provide a complete source of nutrition.
For example, a typical day on the cucumber diet would provide approximately 800 calories. This would include around 6 cucumbers, a serving of chicken or fish, 2 eggs, 1 cup of cottage cheese, and a few other vegetables (7).
Keep in mind that some versions of the diet are even more restrictive.
As a result, you’re more likely to regain any lost weight — even if you continue to eat fewer calories than you did before you started the diet (16).
Finally, restricting food variety is not enjoyable or nutritious. While it’s important to keep desserts and other treats to a minimum, humans also enjoy food for its taste, memories, and celebrations.
Summary The cucumber diet is very restrictive and may promote disordered eating patterns. It’s low in protein, fat, and calories and not sustainable long term.
This diet requires you to eat cucumbers at every meal and most snacks.
Because the diet is low in protein, it recommends adding a source of protein to each meal.
Below is a list of foods allowed on the cucumber diet:
- Vegetables: cucumbers, tomatoes, spinach, celery, and other vegetables in small amounts
- Protein: chicken, lean beef, fish, eggs, Greek yogurt, cottage cheese, cheddar cheese
- Carbs: brown rice, potatoes, whole-wheat bread
- Fats: olive oil
There are no clear guidelines on beverages, but most versions of the diet recommend a low-calorie drink, such as water or tea.
Summary Cucumbers must be included at all meals. Protein-rich foods, such as chicken or eggs, should be added to each main meal. Stick to low-calorie drinks, such as water or tea.
While the diet does not require you to avoid any specific foods, it encourages replacing most food with cucumbers.
Here is a list of typical restrictions of the cucumber diet:
- Fruits: These are usually limited to smoothies or parts of a small meal.
- Cooking techniques: While these aren’t discussed, roasting proteins is preferred, as it’s a lower-calorie cooking method compared with deep-frying.
- High-sugar foods: Sweets like candy, desserts, and soda should be limited.
Summary No foods must be avoided on this diet. However, high-fat and high-sugar foods are typically limited or completely avoided.
Here is a three-day sample menu of the cucumber diet:
- Breakfast: 2 eggs with a side of cucumbers and herbs
- Snack: 2 cucumbers
- Lunch: cucumber salad with lemon juice and Greek yogurt
- Snack: 2 cucumbers
- Dinner: roasted chicken and cucumbers with a side of brown rice
- Breakfast: cucumber smoothie (cucumber blended with a green apple and spinach)
- Snack: 1 cucumber and a handful of almonds
- Lunch: 1 cucumber, 1 orange, and a few slices of cheese
- Snack: green tea
- Dinner: 1 cucumber and cottage cheese
- Breakfast: Whole-grain toast, cucumber, and cheese
- Snack: 2 cucumbers
- Lunch: cucumber salad with tomatoes and olive oil
- Snack: 1 green apple
- Dinner: seared salmon, cucumber, and roasted potatoes
In very strict versions of this diet, you can only have two cucumbers at each snack.
There is limited information available on portion sizes for non-cucumber foods.
Summary Emphasis is placed on eating mostly cucumbers at each meal.
Following the cucumber diet may result in weight loss if you can stick to it for at least one week.
However, once you resume your normal diet, you will likely regain all the weight you lost.
Furthermore, the diet is lacking in nutrients, extremely restrictive, and ultimately unsustainable.
If you are looking for sustainable, long-term weight loss, you are better off following a balanced, nutrient-dense diet that promotes a variety of food and avoids severe calorie restriction.