Grapefruit Diet: How It Works, Benefits, & Foods To Eat

Let’s unveil the grapefruit diet’s perks and truths associated with weight loss.

Medically reviewed by Tracy Tredoux, DipION, mBANT, CNHC, AFMCP Tracy Tredoux Tracy TredouxDipION, mBANT, CNHC, AFMCP facebook_icontwitter_iconinsta_icon
Written by , BPharm, Certified Health & Wellness Coach Moksha Gandhi BPharm, Certified Health & Wellness Coach linkedin_icon Experience: 2 years
Edited by , BA (Literature & Psychology), PG Diploma Arshiya Syeda BA (Literature & Psychology), PG Diploma linkedin_icon Experience: 7 years
Fact-checked by , BSc (Life Sciences), Certified Health & Nutrition Life Coach Himanshi Mahajan BSc (Life Sciences), Certified Health & Nutrition Life Coach linkedin_icon Experience: 2 years
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In the quest for quick weight loss, dietary plans have become the easiest way to achieve desired outcomes. The grapefruit diet is such a strategy that has piqued the interest of health enthusiasts. It is often associated with rapid weight loss and promises not only a reduced waistline but also other potential health benefits.

However, nutritionists and health experts do not recommend this fad diet, and its efficacy is not backed by scientific research. While grapefruit is definitely a nutritious fruit, does the diet really help to lose weight? This article delves into the world of the grapefruit diet, its principles, and its weight loss benefits. Read on to find answers to everything you need to know about the grapefruit diet.

protip_icon At A Glance: Grapefruit Diet
  • Principle: Including half a grapefruit in every meal along with other low-calorie foods.
  • Purpose: To lose weight, manage triglyceridei  A common type of fat found in your blood. It is derived from the foods you eat and the fat your body creates from excess calories. levels, and improve immunity.
  • Who It Is For: Individuals looking for a quick way to lose weight.
  • Duration: Short-term
  • Who Should Avoid: People who are underweight and have eating disorders, pregnant and breastfeeding women, and those on medications like corticosteroids, antihistaminesi  A class of medications that are commonly used to treat allergy symptoms and other conditions related to histamine release in the body. , etc.
  • Cons: May interact with drugs and the weight loss is temporary.

What Is The Grapefruit Diet?

Woman cutting grapefruit
Image: Shutterstock

The grapefruit diet is a weight loss plan that involves including half a grapefruit in every meal and adhering to an extremely strict low-calorie eating plan. Proponents of this diet claim that the fruit contains fat-burning enzymes that help lose weight quickly. The diet also focuses on eating foods full of protein, fat, and cholesterol while cutting carbs and sugar intake. However, there is no research supporting the claims for fat-burning enzymes in grapefruit.

Though it is known as a fad diet, many people resort to this diet for quick weight loss. Therefore, the result may vary from person to person.

protip_icon Trivia
The grapefruit diet has been around since the 1920s and 1930s. It was believed to be popular among actresses during the “Depression Era” and was also known as “The Hollywood Diet.”

The supporters of this diet believe you can lose up to 10 pounds in two weeks. But how does this fruit help you lose weight? Continue reading to find that out.

How Does The Grapefruit Diet Work?

This dietary regimen is structured with a low-carbohydrate and moderate-protein framework and restricts the total daily calorie intake between 800 to 1000 calories. People lose weight on this diet mainly because of reduced calorie intake.

Also, grapefruit juice is one of the relatively low-calorie fruit juices (100 ml of grapefruit juice contains an average of 39 kcal) with a moderate glycemic between 47-59 (1), (2). Both these factors may make you feel full and consume fewer calories.

According to a study published in the Journal of Medicinal Foods, it was found that the consumption of grapefruit before meals reduced insulin levels and promoted weight loss (3). Though researchers are uncertain about the mechanism behind it, grapefruit can be an important part of your weight loss journey.

The grapefruit diet may not just help you lose weight but also help improve your overall health. Read on to learn more.

Benefits Of The Grapefruit Diet

Grapefruit diet may improve blood pressure
Image: Shutterstock

1. May Improve Immunity

Grapefruit is loaded with vitamin C. A glass of grapefruit juice provides you with over 60% of the recommended daily intake of vitamin C (1). A hundred grams of grapefruit contains 31.2mg of vitamin C, an important antioxidant that boosts your immune system and may help treat chronic inflammation (4), (5). Therefore, the diet may support your immunity and increase your body’s disease-fighting abilities.

2. May Improve Nutrient Intake

Grapefruit is loaded with essential nutrients that nourish the body. One serving or half of the fruit provides vitamin C (100% of the DV), vitamin A (35% of the DV), dietary fiber (8% of the DV), and 5% of the daily value of minerals like calcium, magnesium, folate, thiamin, and niacin. It is also abundant in phytonutrients and antioxidants like carotenoids, naringin (a type of flavonoid), etc. Therefore, consuming grapefruit helps maintain nutrient balance and adequacy (6).

3. May Improve Blood Pressure Levels

Consuming half of a grapefruit three times a day for 6 weeks may have some impact on blood pressure levels. A study found that consuming grapefruit may reduce systolic blood pressurei  The top number in a pressure reading that depicts the pressure in your arteries when the heart beats and pumps blood out to the body. levels to some extent (7). However, the changes are not significant and the effects of grapefruit consumption on blood pressure levels require further evaluation.

4. May Help Manage Triglyceride Levels

Incorporating fresh red grapefruit into diets may be advantageous for individuals with high levels of lipids in their blood. According to a study, the antioxidants in grapefruit may help lower serum lipid levelsi  Refers to the concentration of fats in the bloodstream, including various types of molecules, such as cholesterol and triglycerides. , including triglyceride and total cholesterol levels. Therefore, the fruit may benefit people with hyperlipidemia and coronary atherosclerosisi  A condition in which the arteries that supply blood to the heart muscle become narrowed due to the buildup of fatty deposits and plaque.  (8).

The grapefruit diet primarily involves consuming grapefruit (juice or whole fruit) with every meal. However, the diet plan also involves consuming other foods. Let’s take a look at the foods you can eat while on this diet.

What Can You Eat On The Grapefruit Diet?

Woman drinking grapefruit juice
Image: Shutterstock

The basic idea behind this diet is to consume grapefruit before all three meals a day for 7 to 10 days or more. You can consume the fruit, its juice, or grapefruit supplements. The other foods you can include are:

  • Eggs and bacon
  • Meat
  • Salad
  • Cooked vegetables
  • Water, tea, or coffee
  • Skim milk

There are several versions of this diet and people often modify it according to their preferences. Though there is not sufficient information available on what to include and what not to include in this diet, here is a sample plan to help you gain some idea about how to plan your meals. Scroll down to check it out.

7-Day Sample Grapefruit Diet Plan

Sample grapefruit diet plan
Image: Shutterstock

Day 1

BreakfastLunchDinnerSnack
2 large boiled eggs with baby spinach, ½ grapefruit, and 2 slices of whole wheat bread with ½ teaspoon of little olive oilA bowl of zucchini noodles with beef meatballs and ½  grapefruit4-5 oz of roasted tilapia fillet with hazelnut, parsley, and lemon juice dressing, and ½  grapefruit1 medium-sized grapefruit and a handful of almonds

Day 2

BreakfastLunchDinnerSnack
A glass of grapefruit, strawberry, and apple smoothie with a scoop of plant-based protein powder.2 baked sweet potatoes served with half of a grapefruit and a side of roasted radishes and cucumbers1 serving of cod fillet with salsa sauce and ½  grapefruit1 cup of watermelon with a medium-sized grapefruit.

 Day 3

BreakfastLunchDinnerSnack
1 cup of low-fat yogurt with chia seeds, blueberries, protein granola, grapefruit, and ½ teaspoon of honey1 lettuce burger with ground beef, tomatoes, pickle, and onion and 1 medium-sized grapefruit.One large egg sandwich and 1/2 grapefruit.1 grapefruit and a cup of unsweetened almond milk

Day 4

BreakfastLunchDinnerSnack
1 cup avocado salad with a poached egg and a medium-sized grapefruit.1 bowl of cranberry chicken salad with mixed greens, and ½ grapefruit.1 bowl of kale salad with carrots, onion, and chickpeas, and 1 medium-sized grapefruit.A few almonds and a cup of watermelon

Day 5

BreakfastLunchDinnerSnack
1 cup of chia pudding topped with blueberries and grapefruit.1 serving of sausage potato pie, 1 cup of unsweetened soy milk, and ½ grapefruit1 yogurt granola bowl with a cup of watermelon, and ½ grapefruit6 baby carrots with some hummus, and ½ grapefruit

Day 6

BreakfastLunchDinnerSnack
2 slices of whole wheat avocado toast and ½ grapefruit1 bowl of tuna, egg, and asparagus salad, and ½ grapefruit1 bowl of black beans and brown rice, and ½ grapefruitA medium-sized grapefruit.

Day 7

BreakfastLunchDinnerSnack
2 cinnamon protein pancakes with 2 large boiled egg whites, and ½ grapefruit.1 bowl of grapefruit salad with cottage cheese, baby spinach, avocado, and honey1 bowl of balsamic lentils with pork fillets, and ½  grapefruit.1 cup of yogurt mixed with blackberries and watermelon.

Grapefruit is a nutritious fruit and the diet may have several benefits. However, it may not be a quick fix for burning fat. The diet may help with your weight loss efforts to some extent. Let’s understand how it may help.

Can The Grapefruit Diet Really Help With Weight Loss?

Grapefruit diet may help reduce weight
Image: Shutterstock

Consuming grapefruit and following the grapefruit diet may help with weight loss to some extent. However, it wouldn’t be reasonable to expect overnight and quick results as the diet won’t work like magic.

A study found an association between grapefruit consumption and satiety. It suggests that consuming a dense, dietary preload comprising of grapefruit and grapefruit juice while on a calorie-restricted diet could help with weight loss. Since grapefruit contains 91% water, consuming it as a preload before meals may boost satiety (9). This will reduce the amount of food consumed, helping you lose weight.

Another randomized control study found that consuming half of a ruby red grapefruit before each of three daily meals for 6 weeks could reduce the waist circumference and waist-to-hip ratio. However, the study suggests that fresh grapefruit or grapefruit juice may not independently affect weight or body composition parameters but may provide additional nutritional and health benefits as part of a reduced-calorie diet (6).

Therefore, the weight loss may be due to both caloric reduction as well as grapefruit consumption. While low-calorie diets may result in initial weight loss, they may not offer long-term results.

protip_icon Did You Know?
Novelist Fannie Hurst was a notable supporter of the grapefruit diet. After the 1930s, It was re-popularized in the 1980s and nicknamed the “10-day, 10-pounds-off diet”.

However, if you are following this diet, it is necessary to do it in the right way.
Since this diet is not recommended by nutritionists, it may pose multiple health risks. Keep reading to learn more.

Risks Of The Grapefruit Diet

The grapefruit diet may not be safe for everyone, especially for people who take certain medications. Grapefruit juice and grapefruit can affect the way your medicines work.
Some types of drugs that grapefruit juice can cause problems with are as follows (10):

  • Statin drugs
  • Drugs that treat high blood pressure like nifedipine
  • Organ-transplant rejection drugs like cyclosporine
  • Anti-anxiety drugs like buspirone
  • Corticosteroidsi  A class of synthetic drugs that mimic the effects of naturally occurring hormones produced by the adrenal glands. that treat Crohn’s diseasei  A chronic inflammatory bowel disease that affects the digestive tract. It causes damage to various parts of the gastrointestinal tract. or ulcerative colitisi  A chronic inflammatory bowel disease that affects the colon and rectum. Symptoms include abdominal pain, bloody diarrhea, and fatigue.
  • Drugs that treat abnormal heart rhythms like amiodarone
  • Antihistamines like fexofenadine

The severity of the interaction may not be the same for all. It depends on the person, the drug, and the amount of grapefruit juice you drink. As with most low-calorie diets, this diet also comes with the risk of affecting your metabolism and slowing it down to conserve energy. As a result, you may regain the lost weight quickly once reverting to your regular diet.

Also, most versions of the grapefruit diet limit calories, which means you may not get the sufficient amount of nutrients your body needs. Therefore, it may not be a good option to start the diet without consulting your doctor.

Infographic: Pros And Cons Of The Grapefruit Diet

To follow or not to follow the grapefruit diet is a decision to be made carefully, considering both its potential benefits and drawbacks. Though we have discussed everything in detail, it is best to revise the pros and cons before making the final choice. Check out the infographic below to learn more about the grapefruit diet.

pros and cons of the grapefruit diet (infographic)

Illustration: StyleCraze Design Team

The grapefruit diet’s core principle revolves around reduced calorie intake. Though it is unsustainable in the long run, it may help you lose weight to some extent. It offers potential health benefits, including immunity support, improved diet quality, better blood pressure management, and potential aid in managing triglyceride levels. However, it is essential to approach the grapefruit diet with caution. Nutrition experts generally do not endorse it, citing potential nutrient deficiencies and drug interactions. Therefore, before considering the grapefruit diet, consult your healthcare provider for safe and effective approaches.

Frequently Asked Questions

Are there different versions of the grapefruit diet?

Yes. There are several versions of the grapefruit diet. Besides the traditional one discussed in the article, there is a variation that involves a 3-day meal plan instead of 7, one that requires drinking grapefruit juice instead of whole grapefruit, one that can be followed for several weeks or even months, and another that allows for more flexibility in food choices while still incorporating grapefruit before meals.

Is exercise recommended with the grapefruit diet?

No. According to anecdotal evidence, exercise is not recommended with the grapefruit diet, as the restricted calorie intake may not provide sufficient energy to exercise.

Are there healthier alternatives to the grapefruit diet?

The healthier alternatives to the grapefruit diet may be following a balanced diet with consistent physical activity and exercise.

Key Takeaways

  • The grapefruit diet involves having half of a grapefruit before every meal along with restricted calories and moderate protein.
  • This diet may help you lose weight, reduce blood pressure and triglyceride levels, and improve immunity.
  • It is not a sustainable diet and may not be a healthy way of losing weight.
  • People taking blood pressure and anti-anxiety medications should avoid this diet as grapefruit may interact with these drugs.
grapefruit diet

Image: Stable Diffusion/StyleCraze Design Team

The grapefruit diet may help you lose weight but this fruit can interact with several medications. Check out the informative video before starting with the diet.

References

Articles on StyleCraze are backed by verified information from peer-reviewed and academic research papers, reputed organizations, research institutions, and medical associations to ensure accuracy and relevance. Read our editorial policy to learn more.

  1. [Grapefruit juice nutritional profile]
    https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/30592894/
  2. Fruit consumption and risk of type 2 diabetes: Results from three prospective longitudinal cohort studies
    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/pmc3978819/
  3. The effects of grapefruit on weight and insulin resistance: Relationship to the metabolic syndrome
    https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/16579728/
  4. Grapefruit
    raw
  5. Ascorbic acid: Its role in immune system and chronic inflammation diseases
    https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/24766384/
  6. Consumption of grapefruit is associated with higher nutrient intakes and diet quality among adults
    and more favorable anthropometrics in women
  7. The effects of daily consumption of grapefruit on body weight
    lipids
  8. Red grapefruit positively influences serum triglyceride level in patients suffering from coronary atherosclerosis: Studies in vitro and in humans
    https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/16506849/
  9. Effects of grapefruit
    grapefruit juice and water preloads on energy balance
  10. Grapefruit–medication interactions: Forbidden fruit or avoidable consequences?
    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3589309/
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Tracy Tredoux

Tracy TredouxDipION, mBANT, CNHC, AFMCP

Tracy is a fully qualified nutritional therapist with 10 years of experience specializing in gut and immune health. She is a Functional Diagnostic Nutrition Practitioner and uses her knowledge to address the root causes of illness rather than merely manage the symptoms. She motivates and supports her clients along their journey to achieve peak health and wellness through personalized dietary...read full bio

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