We’ve heard it before; it goes something like this: “Eat a grapefruit after your meal and it’ll burn calories and help you lose weight.” What?! Quite the hack—but is it true?
We tapped certified holistic nutrition health coach, Caroline Johnson, to help us uncover whether these claims are fact or fiction.
“Grapefruit has long been popularized as somewhat of a miracle fruit for quick and easy weight loss. Going all the way back to the 1930s, in what was dubbed ‘The Hollywood Diet,’ it was believed that grapefruit contained a unique fat-burning enzyme to boost metabolism and lead to dramatic weight loss. There’s no one single version of the grapefruit diet, but it almost always includes pairing a whole grapefruit with three super low-calorie (we’re talking super low-calorie) and higher-protein meals a day.
In reality, though, there isn’t any evidence to support the claim that there is a special enzyme in the fruit that specifically burns fat. Any historical anecdotes for weight loss on the grapefruit diet probably occurred because of how low in calories the plan is overall.
Ahem, can you say ‘fad diet’?
There are a few more recent small studies that show a correlation between eating grapefruit before a meal and weight loss (as well as lower blood pressure and cholesterol), but this is likely due to the fact that the fruit contains up to 88% water and a decent amount of fiber. This is a concept called ‘pre-loading,’ which essentially means loading up on a low-calorie, high-water-content food or drink in order to feel more satiated heading into a main meal. This will typically lead to fewer calories consumed overall—and therefore weight loss.
All of this being said, grapefruit is still a highly nutrient-dense food! It’s an excellent source of vitamins A and C, fiber, and antioxidants. It’s also low on the glycemic index, which can help lower insulin levels and maintain balanced blood sugar to support weight management. To incorporate more grapefruit into your diet, consider pairing half a grapefruit with a breakfast that contains some protein and fat to balance out the natural sugar content. Grapefruit is a healthy part of an overall balanced diet and can be a tool in your toolbox, but, sadly, it’s not a weight-loss magic bullet.”
Consensus: eat grapefruit for the vitamins and fiber, not because it’ll help you burn calories (because it won’t!).
Up next, be the first to know our weekly content and sign up for our Poosh newsletter.