With recent trends in obesity and body size expansion, nutrition and weight loss have become popular topics in everyday conversation. The ever-expanding diet industry has spawned numerous out-of-the-box nutritional products and advice to cash in on our growing obsession. Many of these “trendy diets” make pseudo-scientific claims that attract people eager to lose a few pounds. The focus on a particular food group or secret health food gives many of these diets the mystique to become popular. In recent history, one of the most popular of these diets has focused on consuming just grapefruit.
The grapefruit diet, also known as the Hollywood diet, originated in the United States in the 1930s. The diet focuses on the claim that grapefruit has extraordinary slimming properties, such as a fat-burning enzyme. The grapefruit diet is considered unhealthy by most nutritionists due to the absence of essential vitamins and minerals and the low number of calories (less than 1,200 calories per day). On the other hand, incorporating a grapefruit with every meal can prove beneficial to a healthy person’s diet, provided the dieter is not allergic to grapefruit or is taking medications that interact with the citric fruit.
The grapefruit diet is a low-carb diet that generally takes place over a two-week cycle (12-day diet with 2 days off) that is repeated until desired body weight is achieved. Proponents of the diet suggest that grapefruit helps burn body fat when consumed with foods high in dietary fat. Consequently, the diet includes the consumption of meat, eggs and fish, while limiting the consumption of sugars, sweet fruits, cereals and other sources of carbohydrates. For best results, the diet requires three meals high in fat and protein, supplemented by a grapefruit and with a daily caloric intake of less than 1,200 calories.
The diet gained popularity in the 1970s after being mislabeled as “the Mayo Clinic diet.” Although the clinic had no connection to the diet, the branding of the name helped popularize the diet. In the 1980s, the diet was reduced to just 10 days with a 2-day break, earning it the nickname “10-day, 10-pound diet”. A 2004 study by the Florida Department of Citrus Fruits investigated whether grapefruit could aid in weight loss. Participants were encouraged to eat half a grapefruit with each meal and to train regularly. The results were encouraging: a number of participants lost more than 10 pounds in 12 weeks. Note that the study focused on adding grapefruit to a healthy diet, not adopting a regular grapefruit diet. However, a number of people claim to have short-term success with the diet, but maintaining long-term weight loss still requires adopting a healthy lifestyle.