The grapefruit diet requires eating grapefruit or drinking grapefruit juice at every meal. According to the American Dietetic Association, the grapefruit diet first became popular in 1950 and is also known as the Hollywood diet.
The premise of this diet is that grapefruit contains fat-burning properties. However, there is no research to support this theory.
There are many variations of this diet, but in general they all entail consuming grapefruit with meals. The older versions of this diet are also very restrictive in the foods that are allowed and are, therefore, very low in calories.
One common version of this diet consists of eating 4 meals per day, with grapefruit included at 3 of these meals. Other foods allowed on this particular version include as much black coffee as desired, eggs, and meat. A sample daily meal plan may look like this:
A newer variation of this diet, proposed in The Grapefruit Solution, has dieters following a weight loss plan of their choice, but with grapefruit added to their daily meal plans.
While there is no research to support the theory that grapefruit has fat-burning properties, a recent study conducted by the Scripps Clinic in California found that adding grapefruit to each meal for 12 weeks resulted in greater weight loss. Because this was a relatively small study and the first of its kind, more research is needed to support these results.
Most of the grapefruit diet plans are very low in calories and fall short on many essential vitamins and minerals. They are also very restrictive in the foods that are allowed. Thus, they are both unhealthy and unrealistic.
A concern with grapefruit in general is that it interacts with many different types of medications, possibly resulting in serious side effects. Use the Drug Interaction Database to find out whether grapefruit may interact with any of your medications.
The original grapefruit diet is too restrictive in foods, calories, and nutrients, so it is not recommended for anyone who wants to lose weight in a healthy way. And while some versions of this diet may be more sensible, they are still not based on solid research. Most of us should strive to eat at least three servings of fruit per day, and grapefruit can certainly contribute to these servings. But eating a variety of nutrient-rich foods—including a variety of fruits—is key to any healthful diet.
Eat Right—Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics
National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases
Fujioka K, Greenway F, et al. The effects of grapefruit on weight and insulin resistance: relationship to the metabolic syndrome. J Med Food. 2006;9(1):49-54.
Krumm S. Only consistency among fad diets is their failure to work. Journal-World. 2007 Mar 21.
Thomson DL, Ahrens MJ. The Grapefruit Solution: Lower Your Cholesterol, Lose Weight, and Achieve Optimal Health With Nature's Wonder Fruit. Linx Corp; 2004.
Last reviewed May 2016 by Dianne Scheinberg Rishikof MS, RD, LDN
Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.
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