Is Grapefruit A Fat Burning Superfood?


grapefruit weight loss

If you keep up-to-date with dieting trends, it’s likely you’ve heard that eating grapefruit helps with weight loss.

While it sounds too good to be true, this claim has been around for so long, you might think there’s at least an element of truth to it.

I am certainly skeptical when I hear claims like that. But, I can think of a number of reasons why eating grapefruit might work for weight loss, so I did a little research to find out for sure.

The Grapefruit Weight Loss Research

The studies I found were very small in size, but it is certainly worth discussing their findings anyway.

One study looked at 91 obese people, dividing them into 4 groups. They were asked to take one of the following for 12 weeks:

  • Placebo capsules and 7 ounces of apple juice before three main meals.
  • Grapefruit capsules with 7 ounces of apple juice before three main meals.
  • 8 ounces of grapefruit juice with placebo capsule before three main meals.
  • Half a fresh grapefruit with a placebo capsule before three main meals.

After 12 weeks, the placebo group had lost 0.3 kg, the grapefruit capsule group had lost 1.1 kg, the grapefruit juice group had lost 1.5 kg, and the fresh grapefruit group had lost 1.6 kg.

Interestingly, insulin resistance also improved in the fresh grapefruit group.

Researchers concluded that;

Although the mechanism of this weight loss is unknown it would appear reasonable to include grapefruit in a weight reduction diet.

Another study found that a “pre-meal snack” of grapefruit, grapefruit juice, or water, as part of a reduced-calorie diet, could be an effective weight loss strategy.

This study looked at 85 obese people, and divided them into three groups:

  • Half a fresh grapefruit before three main meals.
  • Half cup of 100 percent grapefruit juice before three main meals.
  • Or, a half cup of water before three main meals.

Overall, participants had an average of 7.1 percent weight loss. Although this study did not show fresh grapefruit or grapefruit juice to be more helpful for weight loss than water, the benefits went beyond this.

In comparison to the water-drinking group, additional benefits were noted in the fresh grapefruit and grapefruit juice group:

  • HDL cholesterol – significant increase in HDL (good) cholesterol in the fresh grapefruit or grapefruit juice group.
  • Appetite – grapefruit juice as a pre-meal snack lead to a significant decrease in appetite.
  • Nutrient intake – eating fresh grapefruit or grapefruit juice led to a significant increase in vitamin C and fiber intake.

So, does grapefruit help with weight loss?

Consistent with previous research, which found eating vegetable soup, or a low calorie salad before main meals can significantly reduce overall calorie intake, it does appear that eating grapefruit may be effective as a weight loss strategy.

The weight loss experienced was, however, quite small in the above studies. So, I certainly wouldn’t suggest grapefruit has ‘magical’ weight loss super powers!

Nonetheless, adding fresh grapefruit into your diet on a regular basis is beneficial, since it is a very nutritious, yet low-calorie fruit, which is also loaded with vitamin C and fiber.

How To Eat Grapefruit

grapefruit weight loss


Your best option is to go for fresh grapefruit, if possible.

Canned is also okay, but try to get one canned in natural juices, rather than in syrup or sugar (check the label).

The next best option is grapefruit juice.

Choose one which states 100% grapefruit juice. It should not be a mixed juice, or one that has been artificially sweetened or flavored.

I know I don’t need to remind you of this ;-) but don’t be guilty of jumping on the grapefruit-diet-bandwagon! You can’t just add grapefruit to a poor diet, and expect to see weight loss.

Your diet overall must be well balanced and wholesome.

So, here are some tips for adding grapefruit to your weekly menu plan:

  • Eat grapefruit first thing each morning (it’s really good with a dollop of natural yogurt).
  • Try a grapefruit smoothie with strawberries, banana and yogurt added.
  • Add grapefruit to your salad at lunchtime — this recipe for avocado grapefruit salad sounds delicious.
  • Try a glass of 100% grapefruit juice along with dinner.
  • Or, how about roasted salmon with shallot-grapefruit sauce?
If grapefruit’s not your thing, try another low calorie pre-meal snack, such as a leafy green salad, or a small bowl of vegetable soup, before your main meal of the day.

Grapefruit Drug Interactions

It’s important to note that all forms of grapefruit can cause drug interactions with certain medications.

Some of these include oral contraceptives, statins, antidepressants, anti-anxiety medications, calcium channel blockers, and immunosupressants.

This is because grapefruit is an enzyme inhibitor (CYP34A).

Basically, that means if you have grapefruit in your system, it could prevent your body from properly breaking down medications. This is dangerous because the level of drug in your bloodstream elevates, therefore increasing your chance of side effects.

If in doubt, check with your doctor.

Have you tried grapefruit for weight loss? Was it effective?

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About Melanie
Melanie is a Registered Dietitian who started Dietriffic in March 2007. Her aim is to make good health attainable and sustainable, without guilt and torture, making her approach popular with those who desire a level-headed approach to good health. Have you got your copy of her free book yet?

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{ 19 comments… read them below or add one }

Dr. Mark September 11, 2012 at 8:40 pm

I always chuckle when I see these studies. Eating fresh, raw fruits and vegetables is what the body was made for, so it stands to reason that doing so will result in weight loss. In fact, I’ve never seen an obese person who ate according to our genetic programming.


Melanie September 19, 2012 at 2:06 pm

Yes, you are right. We have a TV program here in the UK at present, which looks at the eating habits of the overweight and obese. They basically put video cameras into their homes and recorded for a whole week. It’s truly fascinating to see that what people say/think they eat, and what they actually eat is so different.


Cathy in NZ September 12, 2012 at 10:00 pm

some grapefruit types are very sour, so ‘sugar’ will be needed which might put the ‘diet idea’ completely at odds…

I can’t have grapefruit/juice anymore because of my medications…

I have 2 available trees in my back yard – so friends and neighbours get the windfalls regularly. I also have an orange tree which I also share but also can eat those myself…


Melanie September 19, 2012 at 2:03 pm

Wish I was your neighbor, Cathy… I’d take some of those grapefruits :-DD


Mihai @ Weight Loss Diets October 4, 2012 at 3:22 pm

Hi Melanie,

Thank you for sharing with us this study. As @Dr. Mark said is all about your lifestyle..tell me who are your friends and I can tell who are you..or tell me what you eat and I can tell you how you look :) fruits, vegetables means fewer calories, fewer calories certainly lead to weight loss. at the end the most important is to stay motivated and never give up :)



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