Is papaya fattening or good for weight loss?

Papaya or pawpaw is an orange coloured fruit, best known for the large number of small black seeds that it contains. It is native to Mexico and Central America, but is enjoyed worldwide.

I have a papaya tree growing in my garden and therefore get the privilege of eating this fruit on a fairly regular basis. Papayas can be eaten on their own, mixed into salads or added to smoothies like this one.

You may be wondering if you should eat papaya when you are trying to lose weight. Let’s find out.

Nutritional information

The size of a papaya fruit can vary. The nutritional information below is for a small fruit, weighing approximately 157 g.

Calories 67
Fat 0.4 g
Cholesterol 0
Sodium 13 mg
Carbohydrates 17 g
Fiber 2.7 g
Sugar 12 g
Protein 0.7 g

From the table above it is very clear that papaya is a low calorie food. Calories are units of energy and all foods contain them, in differing amounts. Our healthy food finder tool shows you how many calories various foods contain per 100 g.

For example, 100 g of walnuts contain 654 calories, whereas 100 g of asparagus contains only 20 calories. This is because the walnuts are mainly made up of fat, which is very calorie dense, whereas the asparagus is mainly made up of water, which has 0 calories.

When it comes to maintaining and losing weight, keeping track of calories is very important. Your body obtains energy from food and it burns this energy throughout the day. The amount of energy you burn depends on your age, gender, current weight, height and activity levels.

If you want to maintain your current weight, you should be eating approximately the same number of calories as you are using up. To lose weight, you need to be in a calorie deficit. Doing so will make your body use its fat stores as a source of energy.

However the opposite is also true; if you eat more calories per day than you are using up, you will end up gaining weight. This is because your body will store the excess calories as fat.

You can use the calculator below to determine the number of calories you should be eating, depending on your goals.

Gender Age Weight Switch to lbs Height Switch to feet and inches Activity Level

This calculator will never show a number below 1000 calories per day. Please speak to a qualified health professional before attempting to eat less than that.

For example, a 50 year old man who weighs 80 kg, is 160 cm tall and exercises 1 – 3 days a week will need to eat approximately 2124 calories to maintain his current weight, 1699 calories to lose weight and 1274 calories to lose weight fast.

So eating a small sized papaya would contribute only 4 – 5% of daily calories for him, even when on a low calorie diet. It is generally not recommended to consume less than 1200 calories per day and you should always speak to a qualified medical professional before making drastic changes to your diet.

How else can papaya help with weight management?

Dietary fiber

Getting enough fiber is very important for your overall health. It helps keep your digestive system in check, maintains bowel health, lowers cholesterol levels and helps manage blood sugar levels.

Dietary fiber also helps you to manage your weight. Studies have found that simply increasing fiber intake leads to weight loss. For example this study involved 240 participants who all had metabolic syndrome – they were all overweight, had high blood pressure, high cholesterol levels and high blood sugar.

The volunteers were split into two groups. The first followed the American Heart Association’s (AHA) recommended diet where they tried to eat more fruits, vegetables, fish and lean protein, whilst cutting back on salt, sugar, fat and alcohol. The second group was asked to simply increase they fiber intake to 30 g or more per day.

Both groups ended up losing weight. Even though the AHA diet group did lose more weight, the study suggests that by simply adding more fiber to your diet, you can lose weight.

Even though papaya does not contain as much dietary fiber as other fiber rich foods like chia seeds, avocados, oats and kidney beans, eating it can help you increase the amount of fiber you get.

Water content

Most fruits and vegetables are mainly made up of water, and papaya is no different. In fact, 100 g of papaya contains 88 g of water. The consumption of water is important when trying to lose weight. Making a simple change such as replacing sodas with water can result in drastic changes in your weight.

Many people are chronically dehydrated and tend to mistake thirst for hunger. They in turn end up eating more than they should and therefore gain weight.

Not only does eating water dense foods such as papaya, celery, cucumber and tomatoes fill you up faster, it also helps to keep you hydrated.

Vitamin C content

Papaya contains large amounts of vitamin C. One small fruit provides you with 159% of your daily requirement, and as you may know, this vitamin is vital for a number of different bodily functions such as helping to heal wounds, preventing heart disease, assisting with iron absorption and protecting against certain types of cancer.

Studies have also shown that adequate vitamin C consumption can help with weight loss. It was found that individuals who consumed high amounts of vitamin C oxidized 30% more fat during exercise than individuals who consumed lower amounts of vitamin C. Being deficient in vitamin C could therefore make losing weight more difficult.


Weight loss comes down to eating the right foods and exercising regularly. Doing so will allow you to stay in a calorie deficit, thereby causing you to use stored fat as a source of energy.

Papaya is by no means a weight loss miracle food and eating it will not cause you to suddenly drop a dress size overnight. However it can definitely be eaten as part of a weight loss diet that is rich in protein, good carbohydrates and healthy fats.

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