Review: The Grapefruit Diet
The traditional Grapefruit Diet gained widespread popularity in the 1980s. The weight loss plan involved a dramatic reduction in calorie intake—dieters were encouraged to consume no more than 800 calories per day.
The main thrust of the diet involved eating large amounts of “fat-burning” grapefruit in order to rev up one’s metabolism. Dieters could eat protein each day—mostly boiled eggs—an occasional piece of dry toast, and as much black coffee as one’s heart desired.
Some nutrition experts, however, scoffed at the diet, saying that the fat-burning qualities of grapefruit were more myth than reality. They maintained that any weight loss on the Grapefruit Diet was the result of restricted calorie intake, rather than the supposed medicinal qualities of grapefruit.
Makes sense to me. With caloric intake limited to 800 calories, you could lose weight eating Mars bars.
However, a recent study indicates that adding grapefruit and grapefruit juice to your diet can enhance weight loss.
The research, conducted by the Nutrition and Medical Research Centre at Scripps Clinic in San Diego, California, demonstrates that you can lose weight with the aid of grapefruit—without changing the rest of your diet. Apparently, even the leader of the study was surprised at the results.
In the study, 100 people suffering from obesity were sectioned off into three groups.
Group one ate half a grapefruit before each meal, while group two drank grapefruit juice prior to meals. The third group, the control group, consumed neither grapefruit nor grapefruit juice. Twelve weeks later, individuals who ate grapefruit with each meal lost an average of 3.6 pounds, while those who drank grapefruit juice shed 3.3 pounds. The control group lost an average of only a half pound.
As an added bonus, those who consumed grapefruit or grapefruit juice demonstrated lower levels of insulin, a hormone responsible for the regulation of blood sugar levels. As a result, they were at lower risk for diabetes and stroke.
The theory behind a grapefruit-oriented diet is that the fruit contains plant compounds that cut insulin levels, enabling weight loss to occur. This makes sense, since high insulin levels can make you feel hungry, causing you to increase the portions you eat. However, I have yet to see any documented clinical evidence that proves this theory. At this point, it is merely speculation.
In light of this , some nutritional experts recommend exercising caution in interpreting the results of the study. They say that they believe that grapefruit is not characterized by an special qualities that would promote weight loss (actually, grapefruit contains naringin, a flavonoid which has been shown to exhibit cholesterol lowering effects).
They add that the participants in the study might have been concentrating on their food intake and their exercise routine, making them more likely to lose weight than the average person.
Any way you want to “slice it” consuming more grapefruit will not harm your health* and can help improve the overall quality of your diet. Since many nutrition guidelines recommend eating five portions of fruit and vegetables each day, it is perfectly reasonable to make grapefruit part of your daily diet.
Still, the Grapefruit Diet of the ‘80s appears to have lost popularity over the years. The calorie requirements are too restrictive, and the diet lacks the balance necessary to make it a viable long term eating plan.
Also, the diet regimen itself can be tiring. The best way to lose weight is to consume a variety of foods—not to limit yourself to large portions of one individual food.
*Note: if you are taking prescription drugs, however, check with your doctor or pharmacist before increasing your intake of grapefruit to make sure there are no adverse effects on drug metabolism.