History and Health Effects of the Grapefruit Diet to Help Celebrities Lose Weight

With the recent trends in obesity and expanding body sizes, nutrition and weight loss have become popular topics in everyday conversations. The ever-expanding diet industry has spawned numerous products and off-the-wall nutrition tips to cash-in on our increasing obsession. Many of these “fad diets” make pseudo-scientific claims that appeal to people eager to drop a few pounds. The focus around one particular food group or a secret health food gives many of these diets the mystique to become popular. In recent history, one of the more popular of these fad 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 centralizes on the claim that grapefruit has extraordinary weight-loss 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 the diet of a healthy person, provided that the dieter is not allergic to grapefruit or is taking medications that interact with citric fruit.

The grapefruit diet is a low-carb diet that generally occurs in a two-week cycle (12 days on the diet with 2 days off) that is repeated until the desired body weight is obtained. Advocates of the diet suggest that grapefruit helps burn body fat when eaten with foods high in dietary fat. Accordingly, the diet includes the consumption of meat, eggs, and fish, while restricting the consumption of sugars, sweet fruits, grains, and other carbohydrate sources. For best results, the diet requires three meals that are rich in fat and protein, complemented by one grapefruit, and with daily caloric intake below 1,200 calories.

The diet gained popularity in the 1970s after being mislabeled “the Mayo Clinic Diet.” Although the Clinic had no connection with the diet, the name-branding helped to bring the diet into popularity. In the 1980s, the diet was shortened to just 10 days with 2 break days, earning the nickname the “10-day, 10-pounds-off diet.” A 2004 study by the Florida Citrus department analyzed if grapefruit could aid in weight loss. Participants were encouraged to eat half a grapefruit with each meal and exercise regularly. The results were encouraging: a number of participants lost more than 10 pounds over 12 weeks. Note that the study focused on the addition of grapefruit to a healthy diet, not adopting a normal grapefruit diet. Nevertheless, a number of people claim short-term success with the diet, but long-term weight-loss maintenance still requires adoption of a healthy lifestyle.

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