by Maria Adams, MS, MPH, RD
The grapefruit diet entails 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.
How Is This Diet Supposed to Work?
The premise of this diet is that grapefruit contains fat-burning properties. However, there is no research to support this theory.
What’s Involved? TOP
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 four meals per day, with grapefruit included at three 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.
What the Research Says TOP
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.
Bottom Line TOP
The original grapefruit diet is too restrictive in foods, calories, and nutrients, and thus 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.
American Dietetic Association
Choosing a Safe and Successful Weight-loss Program
Weight-control Information Network
Canada's Food Guide
Dietitians of Canada
Effectiveness of grapefruit diet studied at Vanderbilt Medical Center. Vanderbilt University Medical Center website. Available at: http://sitemason.vanderbilt.edu/newspub/crmQtG?id=26384 . Accessed May 14, 2007.
Fujioka K, Greenway F, Sheard J, Ying Y. The effects of grapefruit on weight and insulin resistance: relationship to the metabolic syndrome. J Med Food . 2006;9:49-54.
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 March 2013 by Dianne Scheinberg Rishikof MS, RD, LDN
Last Updated: 03/15/2013