Have you heard all this talk about the grapefruit diet. Today we’re going to find out if it lives up to the hype.
So what’s the big deal with this grapefruit diet?
Can a grapefruit really help you lose weight?
Should you eat the fruit or an extract in supplement form?
Could this citrus fruit give you the edge you need in pursuit of weight loss?
We’ll find out today.
Grapefruit Diet Basics
Here’s what it involves: You’re supposed to eat half a grapefruit before each meal.
Some claim you can lose up to 10 pounds in ten days. Let’s find out how that might work. First off, citrus fruit is packed full of antioxidants. These awesome nutrients are known to help with cholesterol and blood pressure as well as boost immune function.
All of those helpful benefits aside, can the grapefruit diet really promote weight loss? We’ve done our research and gathered the facts to provide an answer to this claim.
So let’s look at the grapefruit diet in its simplest form – eat half a grapefruit before a meal and you lose weight. Some claim this is all it takes to lose 10 pounds over the span of a couple weeks.
Something seem a little off to you? Yeah, us too. But it’s yet another diet fad that’s caused somewhat of a craze. But we now live in a society where people want immediate results, which means they want to make one simple change and lose weight right away.
So when a brand new diet fad comes along, and it’s not only doable but easy too, people are quick to jump aboard. But there are things you should consider before you make the leap onto the grapefruit diet train.
The grapefruit diet has many names, including the Hollywood Diet and the May Client Diet. Don’t get excited for that second nickname though – there is no connection to the real May Clinic diet. See how deceiving fads can be?
What the diet is claiming seems too good to be true, which is often a big red flag waving in your face. People claim that eating half a grapefruit before a meal that is high in protein and fat can cause some seriously magical results. Apparently, the grapefruit is supposed to create a metabolic reaction that is unlike anything else.
What do we mean by that?
That you can be overweight and inactive and lose weight just like a marathon runner but without all the running? Just by eating more grapefruit? Well that’s what some are claiming. We’re not convinced.
These powers are said to come from a very specific, unique fat-burning enzyme within the grapefruit. This enzyme serves as a catalyst in your body. Allegedly, it destroys unhealthy foods, so it’s virtually like you’ve eaten nothing. So the results are extremely fast weight loss?
Are you feeling a little skeptical yet?
You should. Because you might have missed the teeny tiny print that said you need to cut back your calories to 800 a day. That’s hard for even the healthiest of people to do. Let’s also not forget that the details also says you should get rid of almost all carbs, including the healthy ones, such as veggies, fruits and whole grains.
So far, this diet isn’t looking too impressive, and certainly not very healthy. You do need calories to support exercise and a healthy lifestyle.
Grapefruit Diet History
How long do you think the grapefruit diet has been around? A few years? Maybe 10? Keep guessing.
Over eighty years. Really. This diet has been around for 8 decades, created in the 1930’s. You know, the same time that Hostess Twinkies were invented and the planet Pluto was actually discovered. That’s how long this diet has been around. And when you put it that way, it probably adds to your skepticism.
So let’s travel back in time. It was created in the 1930’s and then it wasn’t really a big deal again until the 1970’s, when the grapefruit diet had its major comeback, then referred to as the “Mayo Clinic Diet.”
Obviously, this top medical name got huge results from people desperate to lose weight. In the meantime, the doctors and dietitians at the real Mayo Clinic found themselves a bit distraught by this.
But we don’t want to just pick on the grapefruit diet. There are plenty of other crazy diets that claim similar results. There’s also the Cabbage Soup Diet, which claims you can lose 10 lbs. in as many days. Unfortunately, there is no real research or evidence to support this. The only thing that we know for sure is the gas that comes along with this diet. Gross.
Grapefruit Diet Studies
So is it true? Does the grapefruit diet really do what it says it does? The best way to answer this question is to ask if there are research and studies to back up these points.
And, of course, there isn’t a clear answer there.
Studies done very early on did say that the grapefruit diet helped subjects lose weight. But that was probably because most participants were cutting their calorie intake down by half, if not more. It didn’t really have anything to do with some mythical fat-burning agent in the grapefruit.
While we’re tempted to just completely dismiss this whole diet now, let’s be fair and take a look at the whole thing.
Besides, there’s a chance that the whole calorie restriction thing isn’t the only reason why people are losing weight. There are likely good and bad aspects of this diet. Maybe there’s something in the grapefruit that helps people feel fuller faster and for longer.
After all, satiety and weight loss tend to go hand in hand. A newly released study compared the satiating effects of both eating and drinking a low-calorie item before meals. The items it compared were grapefruit, grapefruit juice and water. While the subjects did lose weight, it wasn’t a substantial amount. And it didn’t matter which one of the three choices they decided on – they all had similar effects.
It seems like the pattern here is eating or drinking anything before the meal is the key, not necessarily the grapefruit itself.
Blinded by Science?
What about if we take a look at the phytochemical content that makes up a grapefruit? This might offer a little bit more insight. We already know that these plant chemicals can be the main attraction when it comes to aiding in the fight against diseases and illnesses.
Citrus, and more specifically grapefruit, have two major superstars – flavonones known as naringin and hesperidin. In fact, there have been several studies in mice and rats that show these two essential components can cut back on cholesterol and blood pressure.
But the million-dollar question is – do they have a similar effect on humans? Well, we don’t know for sure.
Instead, scientists have gone straight to the source and started testing the effects of concentrated doses of naringin and hesperidin on rats. At higher doses, it shows even more evidence that phytochemicals can lower cholesterol as well as blood pressure. Naringin seems to aid in the stimulation of fat breakdown.
Keep in mind, this study was done on rats. So we don’t know how it would do with humans. More research needs to be done in order to come to a clearer conclusion.
Testing the Grapefruit Diet
So researchers wanted to know if eating a grapefruit before every meal could lower cholesterol levels, blood pressure, and even weight. So they conducted a study (with a random control design) where 74 participants enrolled in 2 different troops.
The study was based around when grapefruit was in season, which is in the winter months. It lasted for a total of 9 weeks, with a 3-week “washout” section, followed up by a 6-week diet intervention. Talk about high maintenance.
The subjects knew which group they were a part of, so this could have hindered the results.
The control group consisted of 7 men and 35 women, while the intervention group was made up of 10 men and 32 women.
For the first 3 weeks, participants had to follow a very strict diet in order to rid the body of any foods that could mess with the results of the study. They were not allowed to eat any fruits or veggies that were high in phytochemicals. And it was a looooong list. Everything from berries to yams to spinach were restricted. Right here is when I would have been out.
Next, the 6-week intervention phase started. And of course, they had to continue this “washout” diet throughout. The group was told to supplement their diet with half of a fresh Rio-Red grapefruit, which needed to be consumed before all meals of the day.
Then the participants had to do a laundry list of things, including give a registered dietitian info over the phone every 24 hours, keep a detailed record of the time they ate the grapefruit, and fast for blood collection 3 times. That’s a lot of grapefruit. And fasting. And rules. Maybe too many rules for me.
So, what did the study have to say? Ready…
Nope. The grapefruit didn’t prove to do anything.
What a bummer, huh?
Hopefully, you can return the 4-dozen grapefruits you just bought.
While it certainly didn’t give the results we were all hoping for (aka easy and instant), it still did come up with a few interesting points.
Both groups did report weight loss, even though it wasn’t a lot. But the waist and hip circumference of participants are the areas that really showed the weight loss. Again, it wasn’t significant, but it was something. And cholesterol and LDL both significantly decreased in each group. Still pretty impressive.
So while the participants didn’t lose a ton of weight, they did lose some fat in their bellies. But something else to consider is the amount of vitamin C that was ingested. Grapefruit is bursting full of this vitamin, which has been known to have some pretty amazing results on blood pressure.
Grapefruit is good for you whether it is a fat fighting super food or not. With fruit, you can eat a lot before you’re overdoing it on sugar. And if you like eating it, go for it. It might not be a direct method for weight loss, but it’s a healthy fruit. And if you’re going to eat it instead of say, a bag of chips, you’re making the right choice. You’re contributing to your health and wellness.
Needless to say, there isn’t some magical food that will unlock the magic secret to weight loss. With so many fad diets (and more to come in the future), it’s easy to get excited over what could be the answer for you. But think about it – just about everyone would lose weight if they were only eating 800 calories a day. Let’s not even think about the hangry (hunger + angry) mood swings you would probably have. Calorie deficit is the real driver in that situation, and in all weight loss.
Like most things that are worth it, losing weight comes from hard work and extreme dedication. In the meantime, we’re going to say that the grapefruit diet is a definite no-go for miracle weight loss. Sorry to be the bearer of bad news. But keep up the good work with good-for-you veggies and fruits. And if you want to shove a grapefruit in there somewhere, be our guest!
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