At any given time, there are a number of fad diets circulating that promise rapid weight loss and other too-good-to-be-true results. These fad diets often fall in and out of favor, but tend to circle back with some level of regularity. The ones that pop up the most often typically do so because they're at least partially based on some good science, though the application or the promised results might be taken to an extreme.
One of the longest-running fad diets is the grapefruit diet, which has a number of variations, often including too-severe calorie restriction. These variations also require you to eat a lot of grapefruit. With extreme calorie restriction, you probably will lose weight in the short term. But you're likely to gain it back quickly and damage your health in the process. I definitely don't recommend following a diet like that. But I do recommend consuming grapefruit regularly. Extreme grapefruit diets are unhealthy — but the idea that grapefruit can help promote weight loss does have some scientific backing.
Take for instance a study published in the Journal of Medicinal Food. For this study, the researchers recruited 91 obese participants, whom they divided into four groups. One group took a placebo capsule and 7 ounces of apple juice. Another group received grapefruit capsules and 7 ounces of apple juice. A third group received 8 ounces of grapefruit juice and a placebo capsule. The final group ate half a fresh grapefruit and took a placebo capsule. All the participants took their assigned foods, capsules, and juices three times a day — once before each meal.
All of the participants lost weight, but those who ate the grapefruit lost the most — an average of 1.6 kg. The grapefruit juice drinkers lost 1.6 kg as well. Those who took the grapefruit capsule lost 1.1 kg. Those in the placebo group lost just 0.3 kg. This is good news if you want to lose weight, as it indicates that eating half a grapefruit before each meal can help you do that. But that's not all it can do.
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If you have metabolic syndrome, grapefruit can be particularly beneficial for you. The researchers found that the participants with metabolic syndrome lost significantly more weight in the grapefruit groups than in the placebo group. Their two-hour post-glucose insulin levels were a lot lower too. So grapefruit can be a good option if you want to get not just your weight, but your insulin under control as well.
Now even though the studies did not look directly at sunlight exposure, the fact that low vitamin D levels increase dementia risk implies the same thing about sunlight. That's because as you know, sunlight is what stimulates the body to produce vitamin D. So it plays a direct role in how high vitamin D levels are.
A second study, published in Nutrition & Metabolism, found that grapefruit can also improve your lipid levels. For this study, 85 participants followed a calorie-restricted diet for two weeks. Then they either ate grapefruit, drank grapefruit juice, or drank water before meals for 12 weeks. All of the participants lost weight — 7.1% on average — but those in the grapefruit groups also experienced improvements in their HDL cholesterol levels that the water group did not see.
I think grapefruit is a great food to incorporate into your diet. Including it in your regular rotation could help you lose weight. It just shouldn't be all you eat. And be careful if you're on any medications, as grapefruit and grapefruit juice can interfere with some drugs. Talk to your doctor or pharmacist to be sure grapefruit is safe for you.
Yours for better health,
Frank Shallenberger, MD