Grapefruit Diet: is it dangerous?
The grapefruit diet is one of the long-existing diets in the world. People have been practising the diet since around the 1930’s (9). Interestingly, it has survived the test of time, and yet, dietitians and other health organisations still well appreciate its usefulness by today.
The diet has its foundation on the supposed unique ingredient that the grapefruit have. Theoretically, it is believed that when you consume grapes, they assist in burning fat, thereby leading to a loss in weight. Although there are no claims on who came up with this meal plan, it is much spoken about everywhere – online inclusive.
So, what is the grapefruit juice diet, and what is the best diet plan that you can practice? Details on these and more are in this article.
What is the grapefruit diet?
The diet is hinged on the consumption of grapefruits or its juice at every meal. It works well and fast for anyone looking for the best way to lose weight. While it cannot be disputed that it is nutritious, its capacity to aid weight loss is still being disputed. Some health professionals have refuted claims over time.
For instance, Connie Diekman, a past president of the American Dietetic Association, once said: “There is no evidence that grapefruit has fat-burning enzymes nor is it a magic bullet for weight loss.” At another time, Yale University director of the Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity, Kelly Brownell, PhD, also asserted that: “There is no scientific basis to the claim that grapefruit is special in this way. Grapefruit is a good food, but so are other healthy foods like vegetables and other fruits” (9).
However, anyone who is on this special diet should consume meals that have a combination of fruit and other foods with high protein and dietary fat while reducing sugar and other carbs. The diet is usually observed between 10 and 12 days, although it has different variations (7).
How much weight can you lose on the grapefruit diet?
In Dr. Ken Fujioka’s 12 week study on the effects of grapefruit on weight loss, 91obese men and women were divided into four groups. The groups consumed their usual diet with the addition at each meal of either: a glass of apple juice and a placebo pill, a glass of apple juice and a grapefruit pill, a glass of grapefruit juice and a placebo pill, or half a grapefruit and a placebo pill (4).
The participants who added half a grapefruit to every meal shed off 3.5 pounds (4). Also, those who drank the grapefruit juice three times each day shed off 2.4 pounds.
The study also compared the influence of weight on metabolic factors like insulin secretion, finding favorable results in the grapefruit group.
Besides the results of this study, there have been anecdotal reports by some dieters of losing over 10 pounds through the observance of the grapefruit diet.
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How does the grapefruit diet work?
The grapefruit diet is as generally described is low calorie and low carbohydrate, which can lead to weight loss with or without the addition of grapefruit.
Aside from any magical weight-loss properties, it should be noted that grapefruit has fibre and vitamin C that make it a good-for-you food. It’s low-calorie nature, high fibre and low glycemic index can make dieters feel fuller and therefore consume less calories (8).
What are the foods to eat?
If you choose to follow the traditional method or what is in grapefruit diet books, the most important thing is that you are expected to take the fruit alongside every meal, three times a day. If you are following prescriptions of The Grapefruit Solution, you will have to emulate their weight-loss plan and also eat the fruit always (7).
Specifically, you need to:
- Reduce your carbs and sugar intake, like pasta, potatoes, and rice.
- Eat protein-rich foods, as well as those that are rich in cholesterol or fat like red meat, pork, and eggs.
- Take grapefruit or its juice before you eat or when you are eating.
On the food to avoid, you have to stop taking things like white onion and celery.
Do you want to try out the meal plan (menu)? Then, here is a sample of what you could take:
- Black coffee, two slices of bacon, 8 ounces of grapefruit juice or half grapefruit and two eggs
- Dressed salad with enough meat (3-4 ounces) alongside 8 ounces of grapefruit juice or half grapefruit
- Meat or fish (3-4 ounces), salad or vegetables (green or red) and 8 ounces of grapefruit juice or half grapefruit
(Note that when you are taking vegetables, you should avoid the ones that contain starch, like: sweet potatoes, corn, beans and peas.)
- Skim milk (8 ounces)
A few more things you should note on how it works are:
- Any grapefruit juice that you will drink should not be sweet.
- If you want to take a snack, it should be after you have taken your dinner.
- Take as much as eight glasses of water every day.
- You can also take any butter and salad dressing of your choice.
- If you need a drink to refresh yourself, you can have squeeze grapefruit. You can also mix some orange juice if it tastes sour.
- Putting some additional to your fruit salad aside from grapes, such as mandarin oranges, pineapple and strawberries is not a bad idea.
Grapefruit belongs to the citrus family. It has different colors, including red, pink, and yellow. Its tastes could be sour or sweet depending on what you go for. It has many nutritional benefits as it is rich in vitamin A and C, and also contains folate.
Among several discovered grapefruit nutritional benefits, some of them include the following (1):
It may speed weight loss
Based on the research, drinking grapefruit juice or eating half a fresh grapefruit before each meal can help you lose weight. However, remember that it isn’t clear whether it is something special in grapefruit or if simply filling up on a low calorie, high fiber food helps you to eat less overall.
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It can help in reducing “bad” cholesterol
One study in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry (2006), found that supplementing the diet with fresh red grapefruit improved serum lipids, including “bad” LDL cholesterol and triglycerides, in patients with high blood lipid levels (5).
Capable of lowering blood pressure
The fruit’s impact on blood pressure is assumed to be due to its richness in potassium levels, which is capable of neutralising the ugly effects of sodium. However, there is a caution that anyone who is on blood-pressure-lowering pills should not take the fruit or its juice. The reason is that, depending on the drugs you are taking, it could have an adverse effect if you combine both.
Possibility of controlling blood sugar
Grapefruit is a low glycemic index (GI) food that does not raise blood sugar as quickly compared to some other foods that have a high glycemic index (GI) like watermelon, banana and white bagel. As published in the Journal of Medicinal Food, the 2006 Fujioka study showed that those who ate the fruit with a meal enjoyed a lower spike in insulin than those who took a placebo (6). This is likely because the fiber in the fresh fruit slowed down digestion and absorption of the nutrients in the meal.
It contains speedy healing power
Because of the presence of vitamin C in the fruit, it can aid the formation of new blood vessels and healthy scar tissue that is needed in the recovery process of any wounded person. However, anyone who wants to add minerals, vitamins or other herbal supplements to their diet have to seek counsel from their physicians before making a decision. This is because of the fruit’s ability to alter the metabolism of some drugs.
It could aid the prevention of cancer
The chances of cancer development in a person are lower when they feed on citrus fruits, like grapefruit, throughout the week. The fibre found in it can fight against colorectal cancer as well. The red and pink grapefruit can also reduce the risk of esophageal cancer because it contains the antioxidants beta-carotene and vitamin C.
Capable of boosting the immune system
Considering the heavy presence of vitamins A and C in the fruit, it can boost the immune system. Although the fruit may not guarantee you from being cold-free, the vitamins in it may help suppress the suffering you go through and how long the cold would stay.
Pros and cons of the grapefruit diet
As you may already know, there is hardly anything without its advantages and disadvantages. If you want to practice the diet, here are some of the benefits that you may enjoy and challenges you may likely face.
- Those who embark on this diet plan enjoy the possibility of taking more vitamin C and vitamin A compared to those who do not follow the meal plan.
- Research on the fruit’s consumption also showed that the people who consume more grapefruit take more magnesium and potassium. Aside from that, their general diet quality is also higher (2).
- The diet affects the body mass index (BMI), waist circumference, C-reactive protein (CRP), triglycerides and body weight of women. They enjoy higher high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol.
- Habitual fruit consumers are less prone to obesity.
- If you are under prescription, it is not advisable to observe the meal plan because of the interaction between grapefruit and several drugs (3).
- Those who suffer from abnormal heartbeat or high blood pressure should not observe the plan.
- Some people have argued that when you discontinue the diet, there is a chance of regaining weight.
- Because of the high level of potassium in the fruit, those who suffer from kidney infections are usually warned to be careful in their grapefruit intake (10).
- Due to the high level of acid found in grapefruit, patients who suffer from gastroesophageal reflux disease could have increased regurgitation and heartburn disturbance when they consume the fruit.
Although grapefruits are good for weight loss, you should bear in mind that there is nothing unique or magical on the capacity of a grapefruit diet to burn fats. Also, the red ones are sweeter and also contain vitamin A. Besides, the best type of fruit that you can consume should be the ones you enjoy most as a person.
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This article is intended for general informational purposes only and does not address individual circumstances. It is not a substitute for professional advice or help and should not be relied on to make decisions of any kind. Any action you take upon the information presented in this article is strictly at your own risk and responsibility!
- 21 Things You Should Know About Grapefruit (2019, health.com)
- Consumption of grapefruit is associated with higher nutrient intakes and diet quality among adults, and more favorable anthropometrics in women, NHANES 2003–2008 (2014, ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)
- Grapefruit Juice and Some Drugs Don’t Mix (2017, fda.gov)
- Grapefruit May Aid Weight Loss (2004, cabi.org)
- Red Grapefruit Positively Influences Serum Triglyceride Level in Patients Suffering From Coronary Atherosclerosis: Studies in Vitro and in Humans (2006, pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)
- The Effects of Grapefruit on Weight and Insulin Resistance: Relationship to the Metabolic Syndrome (2006, pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)
- The Grapefruit Diet (2019, webmd.com)
- The Grapefruit Diet (2010, health.com)
- The Grapefruit Diet: What It Is (n.d, medicinenet.com)
- Why is grapefruit good for you? (2019, medicalnewstoday.com)