Grapefruit Diet Review

What is the grapefruit diet? And what can you eat and not eat if you go on this diet?


The Grapefruit Diet is one of the oldest and most widely discussed of the popular "fad" diets. I use the word "fad" to describe diets that are not based on solid scientific information. There are many versions of this diet, which began in the 1930s as the Hollywood Diet. This diet claims that grapefruit contains a special fat-burning enzyme, activated when you eat it at each meal, along with small amounts of other food. As an example:

Breakfast: half a grapefruit and plain coffee or tea.
Lunch: half a GF plus two eggs; cucumber and tomato salad with vinegar, lemon and herbs; 1 piece of dry melba toast; and plain tea or coffee.
Dinner: half a GF; 4-6 ounces of chicken, beef, ham, or lean pork slices; half a head of lettuce and a tomato with vinegar, lemon and herbs; and plain tea or coffee.
This is but one version of the grapefruit diet. Other versions vary in calories, with some as low as 800 per day. Let's address the fundamental assumptions of the grapefruit diet. First, does grapefruit have a special fat-burning enzyme? No. There is no scientific basis to the claim that this fruit is special in this way. Grapefruit is a good food, but so are other healthy foods like vegetables and other fruits.

Does the grapefruit diet work? Of course it does -- because people cut their calories. If you consume fewer calories than your body uses, you will lose weight. There are several pitfalls to consider, however. First, it can be very difficult to live with a diet that is so restrictive and prescribes such a narrow range of foods. It does little to alter lifestyle in a reasonable and healthy manner. Remember that it matters less whether you can follow a diet for a few days or weeks than whether permanent changes are being made.

Another problem with the grapefruit diet is psychological. People on diets like this often attribute their success to the magical properties of the diet rather than their own effort. When they go off of the diet --as most appear to do at some point -- they are prone to regain weight because they feel the factor responsible for their success has been removed.

Finally, to be healthy, we need a balance of foods from different food groups. It's quite difficult to get good nutrition in as few as 800 calories (a dietitian would have trouble doing this), especially if one eats the same foods day after day.

So why has the Grapefruit Diet had such a long life? First, it seems magical and healthy to many people. "Fat-burning enzyme" sounds pretty snappy, right? Since grapefruit itself is a good food, people think they can't go wrong. Second, people lose weight on the grapefruit diet, which reinforces the impression that there is something special about the grapefruit (though the same amount of weight would be lost by creating the same calorie deficit with other foods). A good bit of the initial weight loss, by the way, can be from the body flushing out water. The water weight comes back when a normal diet is resumed.

Losing weight is like most other areas of life -- if one gets seduced by things too good to be true and looks for magical and easy solutions, disappointment is around the bend. Making sensible dietary changes is the way to go. Grapefruit can be part of a healthy eating plan, but because it's good food, not because it does anything special with burning fat.

The preceding article was re-printed with permission from the author.


Post a Comment

Twitter Delicious Facebook Digg Favorites More