How Does the Grapefruit Diet Work?

How Does the Grapefruit Diet Work?
How Does the Grapefruit Diet Work? (Image: Hernan Herrero)


Although its creator is unknown, the grapefruit diet first appeared on the scene sometime in the 1930s. The grapefruit diet, also known as the Hollywood Diet or the Mayo Diet, has attracted thousands of fans over the years. Supporters of the grapefruit diet tout its ability to quickly burn fat, while skeptics claim it is nothing more than another potentially dangerous fad. The grapefruit diet has managed to survive even the harshest criticism and continues to remain a favorite for many dieters.


The exact formula varies, but the diet basically consists of eating grapefruit or drinking grapefruit juice with carefully planned meals. Although unproven, supporters of the diet claim grapefruit contains a special enzyme that magically burns fat. When combined with a high-protein diet, the addition of grapefruit supposedly increases the dieter's ability to lose weight quickly. Another theory suggests that grapefruit reduces insulin levels, which may also encourage weight loss. Some grapefruit diet plans allow dieters to combine the basic concept of the grapefruit diet with other diets such as the South Beach, Atkins and food combining.

The Diet

The average grapefruit diet lasts 12 days, but can range from seven to 21 days. If the diet is to last more than 12 days, the dieter is to wait two days before starting the diet again. The grapefruit diet traditionally does not allow most complex carbohydrates, and like the Atkins diet, is very high in protein. For example, breakfast might consist of two eggs, two slices of bacon, and one half of a grapefruit. Lunch might include a spinach salad with diced chicken or steak, and one half of a grapefruit or eight ounces of grapefruit juice. Dinner might include chicken or fish, cooked vegetables, and one half of a grapefruit or eight ounces of grapefruit juice. One cup of coffee is usually allowed each day, as well as a bedtime snack consisting of eight ounces of skim milk. The dieter is also encouraged to drink 64 ounces of water daily.


As with any new diet, anyone considering the grapefruit diet should consult their doctor first, especially if there are health concerns. Most grapefruit diet versions average from 800 to 1,000 calories per day, which with or without grapefruit will cause weight loss. There are benefits to adding grapefruit to the diet, even if no weight or fat loss occurs. Grapefruit is high in fiber and a rich source of vitamin C, and has known cancer fighting properties. Grapefruit also has a high water content, which may help increase metabolism. Although the verdict is still out on the grapefruit diet, adding grapefruit to a few of your regular meals each day might bring the added benefit of a little weight loss.

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