The Grapefruit Diet
The grapefruit diet (sometimes referred to as the Hollywood diet) first came onto the scene in the 1930s and has been popular ever since, but this is hardly surprising considering the diet plan allows you to eat unlimited meat at meal time. Sadly the diet’s catch phrase “10 days, 10 pounds off” is not all that it seems.
What is The Grapefruit Diet
The low-carb, medium-fat grapefruit diet plan has been seen in many different variations throughout its history and has experienced many peaks and troughs in popularity (as many fad diets do) but some key elements remain the same. First, the plan lasts for 10 to 12 days and if the participant wishes to continue the plan they are often suggested to take 2 days off, then repeat.
Secondly, meat and protein are good! The theory is that the protein in the meat reacts with the chemicals in the citrus fruit to trigger a fat burning process which results in rapid weight loss. With every meat filled meal you are to eat half a grapefruit or drink 1 glass of grapefruit juice. The diet also encourages a lot of water intake throughout the day, around 8 glasses a day and bans you from starchy vegetables such as sweet corn and beans.
The plan is often seen as a quick fix and out of all the different variations on the plan very rarely do they include any long term weight control. Indeed a great deal of the weight that is lost is not actually fat but fluids. Another thing to remember about this diet is that the dieter is only consuming around 800-1200 calories a day so, regardless of whether you eat grapefruit or not, participants should see some weight loss.
The Grapefruit Diet Meal by meal
This is the basic meal plan for the diet:
•Breakfast: 1/2 grapefruit +2 slices of bacon +2 boiled eggs +black coffee (no sugar) or unsweetened tea.
•Lunch: 1/2 grapefruit +1 cup of salad with low-calorie dressing +8 ounces of lean chicken or water-packed tuna fish +black coffee (no sugar) or unsweetened tea.
•Dinner: 1/2 grapefruit +as much salad with low-calorie dressing as desired +8 ounces of lean chicken, lean beef, or fish +black coffee (no sugar) or unsweetened tea.
•No snacks are allowed, and the only seasonings permitted for the meat or fish are herbs; no soy sauce, mustard, Ketchup, or other condiments are allowed.
There are some rules that also have to be followed; they are as follows:
•Cut down on the coffee, a max of one per meal.
•Say no to desserts, white vegetables and bread.
•Do not alter the amount of grapefruit or grapefruit juice you consume.
•No snacking, if you eat the correct portions you should not feel hungry.
•Eat ‘till you’re full; help yourself to second helpings of meat, salad and vegetables.
How it works
As mentioned earlier the grapefruit diet relies on the idea that the protein in meat reacts with the enzymes in grapefruit. Though there have been no thorough scientific studies to confirm that this is what actually occurs, there are a number of other reasons as to why the fruit can help in the fight against flab. For example grapefruit is low-calorie and packed with vitamin C and fibre ingredients which can help to reduce insulin levels and make you full without over consumption. Other than this however, there is no fairy-tale ingredient in grapefruit to help the weight to fall off.
We may not know exactly how the grapefruit diet works but the good news is that we know it does. Dr. Ken Fujioka of the Nutrition and Metabolic Research Center at Scripps Clinic confirmed that after a 12 week pilot study, “we have the data that (proves) grapefruit helps weight loss”. The doctor went on to say that “Our study participants maintained their daily eating habits and slightly enhanced their exercise routine; the only dietary change was the intake of Florida grapefruit and grapefruit juice”.
On average all of those who took part in the study experienced an average loss of 3.6 pounds over the 12 week program, however there were apparently many who experienced a loss of over 10 pounds. This is a fair way off the 10pounds in 10 days promise but this was from a group of people who did very little to change their diets.
Other Health benefits
As well as the benefits directly linked to this particular dietary plan there are also a whole host of other bonuses to eating grapefruit. For example a study published in the British Journal of Nutrition showed that women who drink ½ to 1 litre of grapefruit juice are less likely to develop kidney stones due to the increased pH level in their urine. On top of this there is evidence to suggest that red grapefruit juice can help to lower cholesterol by almost 16%, blond grapefruit juice has a similar effect lowering cholesterol by around 7.5% over a period of 30 days. Furthermore grapefruit juice is considered to be one of the highest in antioxidant activity, helping to fight off a whole host aging effects on our bodies. For more information on the benefits of the humble grapefruit visit this website.
The Bad news
Despite the number of potential and supposed benefits to the grapefruit diet there are downsides you should consider before going out and buying a few kilos of the citrus fruit. The consensus from experts seems to be to avoid fad diets all together as they often do very little in the long term to help you reach and maintain a healthy weight and prevent a return to bad eating habits. This can certainly be said of the grapefruit diet. In addition the restrictions such diets place on eating certain foods can, in the long term leads to other nutrient deficiencies.
On top of this there have been some reported health scares relating to the grapefruit diet and the effect that grapefruit has on a number of prescription medicines. The Daily Mail reported on a story in 2009 in which a woman almost lost a leg to gangrene after the chemicals inside the fruit reacted with her contraceptive pill causing a blood clot to form in her hip that extended all the way to her calf. The woman had only been on the diet for three days and after the story surfaced its safe to say that the diet dropped in popularity.
The interaction between grapefruit and prescription drugs is a widely recognized issue in the medical world and should not be taken lightly. The chemicals in the citrus fruit interfere with the enzymes that break down medication. This can lead to the medication either leaving the body too quickly; causing it to be ineffective, or too long; leading to some quite horrific side effects such as the example covered by the Daily Mail.
Katherine Zeratsky a registered and licensed dietitian of Mayo Clinic explains the list of drugs which grapefruit interferes with is long and “includes commonly prescribed medicines that fight infections, reduce cholesterol, treat high blood pressure and treat heart problems.” She goes on to recommend (as would we) that you should “Play it safe with prescription drugs. Always ask your doctor or pharmacist when you get a new prescription if it interacts with any foods (or other medicines). If the answer is yes, ask whether you need to eliminate that food from your diet.”
However there is now, evidence following a study by the Department of Medicine of the Assaf Harofeh Medical Center in Israel that “A single administration of GJ with short-acting verapamil has no significant effect on the pharmacokinetics, of verapamil”.
What this translates into is that; if you are taking verapamil (a drug used to combat high blood pressure) and you drink a glass of grapefruit juice without thinking, you don’t need to go rushing off to hospital. Specific studies into more medicines are now taking place but for the time being we would suggest anyone on prescription medication consult their doctor before they take part in the grapefruit diet.
The Grapefruit Pill
The nutrition and vitamins found in the grapefruit are also available in another, more compact, form; the grapefruit dietary pill. There are a few versions of the product in the market but all promise the user that they will curb their appetite, help lower cholesterol and cut down on carbohydrates that cause peaks in blood sugar levels. The products are marketed as having all the nutritional benefits of a full grapefruit but without any of the mess.
A bottle of 150 pills, sold over the internet, will normally set you back upwards of £6:50 so can certainly be considered as a money and time saving purchase. However the pills are recommended to be taken in unison with a healthy balanced diet and do not promise the speedy weight loss that the diet does.
Another thing consumers should bare in mind if they are considering purchasing the grapefruit pill is that studies have found that the best way to guarantee that you get the most nutrients and vitamins into your diet is through a balanced diet with a wide variety of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and other plant foods, not from dietary supplements.
Who Does The Grapefruit Diet Suit?
In short, this diet would suit those in need of a “quick fix”. It is easy to see how a fad diet such as this acquired the name “the Hollywood diet” as it may suit a particular clientele down to the ground. Swap A-listers and movie stars desperate to shed a few extra pounds in time for a photo shoot or walk on the red carpet with the girl in the street wanting to hit a target weight for a holiday, big party or wedding – and you have your clientele who might love this diet plan. However if you are looking to be healthy, lose weight and most importantly keep the weight off we wouldn’t recommend it.
It is not sustainable as a long term health plan, in the way that a traditional diet plan might be, and the health risks are too high for too little reward. Having said that, there are clearly obvious benefits to the inclusion of grapefruit into any diet so perhaps just try that instead.
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