Is grapefruit good for your diet?

The so-called grapefruit diet is one of those mythic fad diets that seem to come and go every few years.

It is a poor diet – very low in calories, nutrient deficient, and cannot be sustained beyond a matter of days.

You might lose some water, some muscle, and a bit of fat – then gain it all back again.

grapefruit

What is the Grapefruit Diet?

The Grapefruit Diet has been around a long time – since at least the 1930s.

The premise of the Grapefruit Diet is based on an alleged ‘magical’ ingredient in grapefruits, that, when eaten with protein, theoretically triggers fat burning and causes weight loss. The diet is designed to promote fast weight loss. There isn’t one ‘Grapefruit diet’, but several versions – some allow other foods in varying amounts, and others which are basically just grapefruit with drinks. Unfortunately, the weight lost is primarily fluid and not fat – and generally returns as soon as the dieter comes off the diet.

The grapefruit diet restricts calories to no more than 800 calories a day if meat portions are small, so weight loss is likely. However, that’s way below an average man’s recommended 2,500 calories a day and 2,000 for an average women, so the approach may not be recommended. Also, if meat portions are large, then the added calories will make it harder to lose weight.

In a sustainable weight loss plan, aiming to lose 1 to 2lbs a week (0.5 to 1kg) is a realistic goal.

In most versions of the Grapefruit Diet a small variety of foods are required at breakfast, lunch, dinner and at bedtime. Dieters are encouraged to drink black coffee and plenty of water throughout the day. In effect, this diet is a low carb, high protein style diet.

Sample meal plan

Breakfast

2 eggs, 2 slices of bacon, black coffee, 1/2 grapefruit or a glass of grapefruit juice.

Lunch

Salad with salad dressing, unlimited meat and 1/2 grapefruit or a glass of grapefruit juice.

Dinner

Red or green vegetables (except starchy ones such as peas, beans, corn, sweet potatoes) or salad, unlimited meat or fish, and 1/2 grapefruit or 227ml grapefruit juice.

Bedtime snack

Glass of skimmed milk.

In the Grapefruit Diet you can use all the butter you want – but you don’t have any bread or other carb foods to add it to, so that helps control your calorie intake. You can also use salad dressing freely, and prepare foods in any method, including fried. Grapefruit juice must be unsweetened. Any food or drink not listed on the diet is not allowed. Snacking is only permitted after dinner. Drink eight glasses of water a day. Eat all of the approved foods.

What started the Grapefruit Diet fad?

The Scripps Clinic made a press release claiming that the humble grapefruit does assist in fat loss.

The 12-week pilot study, led by Dr. Ken Fujioka, monitored weight and metabolic factors, such as insulin secretion, of the 100 men and women who participated in the Scripps Clinic “Grapefruit Diet” study.

On average, participants who ate half a grapefruit with each meal lost 3.6 pounds, while those who drank a serving of grapefruit juice three times a day lost 3.3 pounds. However, many patients in the study lost more than 10 pounds.

However the study seemed isolated, and it was unclear just how much support came from the Florida citrus industry body. A further study was undertaken, and found that red grapefruit “significantly decreased blood levels of triglycerides.”

The grapefruit was consumed by patients who “had undergone coronary bypass surgery and had found that Zocor, or simvastatin, was ineffective.” (to be published in this journal)

…the study’s lead author said that eating red grapefruit would “most probably” help anyone with high cholesterol, not just heart patients.
The star ruby grapefruit has a yellow peel with a red blush and an intensely red pulp. It is very sweet and has few or no seeds.

The Grapefruit Diet fad version is a weight loss diet built solely around the humble grapefruit.

The grapefruit is a marvelous fruit – a natural simple carbohydrate high in fiber and vitamin C. But to use it as the sole foundation of a weight loss program is unwise. However recent research has discovered that the grapefruit has more to it than meets the eye.

A lot of the grapefruit diet plans that have been circulating are very low-calorie diet plans (VLCD’s) with a grapefruit thrown in. VLCD’s are not a good weight loss solution for many people. Most versions of the Grapefruit diet are identical to the Mayo Clinic Diet.

Grapefruit Diet 12-Day Meal Plan

12 days on – 2 days off

Breakfast
1/2 Grapefruit or 4 oz. Grapefruit Juice (unsweetened)
2 Eggs (any style)
2 Slices Bacon
Lunch
1/2 Grapefruit or 4 oz. Grapefruit Juice (unsweetened)
Meat (any style, any amount)
Salad (any kind of dressing)
Dinner
1/2 Grapefruit or 4 oz. Grapefruit Juice (unsweetened)
Meat (any style, any amount) (fish may be substituted for meat)
Vegetables (any green, yellow, or red vegetables cooked in butter or any seasoning)
Bed Time Snack
1 glass tomato juice or 1 glass Skim milk
Vegetables Allowed
Red onions, green onions, bell peppers, radishes, cucumbers, broccoli, spinach, lettuce, cabbage, carrots, peas.
Vegetables to Avoid
White onions, potatoes, celery.

Below is the outline of another version of a grapefruit fad diet – and it IS NOT RECOMMENDED. Note that there is also substantial evidence that grapefruit (unlike any other citrus fruit) can interfere with medication.

Instructions

  1. At any meal, you may eat until you are full – until you can’t eat anymore.
  2. Don’t eliminate anything from the diet, especially don’t skip bacon at breakfast or omit salads. It is the combination of foods that burn fat.
  3. The grapefruit is important because it acts as a catalyst that starts the burning process.
  4. Cut down on caffeine – it affects the insulin balance that hinders the burning process. Try to limit to 1 cup per meal at mealtime.
  5. Don’t eat between meals. If you eat the combination of food suggested you will not be hungry.
  6. Note that the diet completely eliminates sugar and starches, which the body stores excess in the form of fat. It doesn’t eliminate fat since fat doesn’t form fat; it helps burn it. You can fry food in butter and use butter generously on vegetables.
  7. Do not eat desserts, bread, and white vegetables or sweet potatoes. You may double or triple helpings of meat, salad, or vegetables. Eat until you are stuffed. The more you eat of the proper combination of food, the more you lose.

Does It Work?

The grapefruit diet works simply because of calorie restriction and doesn’t have much to much to do with the grapefruit itself. Grapefruit can be incorporated into any diet for the health benefits it offers, but calorie cutting is still the key to successful weight loss.