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Fad Diets: The Grapefruit Diet & Caloric Restriction

Updated on August 15, 2011
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I performed a small research project on the Grapefruit Diet

Amongst countless fad diets that are heard of and followed by modern people is the Grapefruit Diet. This diet, in accordance with most other fad diets, touts amazing results. These results, which may indeed be attainable, are not the reasonable long-term solution that one should seek. The diet sounds worthwhile at a glimpse, so my partner and I went about researching it. Our research would prove it unhealthy and necessary to avoid.

It is not known who specifically invented the Grapefruit diet, although it is known to have arisen in the 1930’s as the Hollywood Diet. The main component of the Grapefruit Diet is consumption of half of a grapefruit or an equivalent in grapefruit juice before each meal. According to the Diet, the reason for this is that there is supposedly an enzyme in grapefruits that acts as a catalyst for the process of burning fat from the body. Another important factor is a restriction of calories consumed per day to only eight hundred. The diet is to proceed for twelve days, after which a rest of two days is required before resuming. The Grapefruit Diet is not low-fat or low-carbohydrate. Due to the extreme caloric restriction, exercise is not permitted. The exercise would burn calories and make the caloric restriction even more dangerous.

The diet is supposed to keep a dieter full, despite the caloric restriction. It denies any snacking in-between three meals per day, but encourages eating until full at each one. Sixty-four ounces is the minimum requirement for water intake, which is widely recommended by physicians. The recommended and restricted foods shown on the main website for the diet appear completely random and have no reason for being chosen. Both groups contain foods from all of the food groups and foods low and high in fat and carbohydrates. Plenty of butter use is suitable for food preparation, and the bacon in salads is to be eaten. Portions of meat and vegetables can be doubled or tripled, while adhering to the eight-hundred calorie principle. Consumption of coffee and tea is permitted, but is, however, limited to one cup per day.

Actual validity for the specifics of this diet is hard to come by. Validity for the success of the grapefruit in weight-loss is shown by a twelve-week study performed fairly recently by Dr. Ken Fujioka. The experiment involved one-hundred men and women, and resulted in an average loss of three point six pounds per participant. Loss of ten or more pounds was experienced by some, despite each participant maintaining their original eating habits besides the inclusion of a grapefruit at every meal. The researchers who conducted this experiment suggested the cause of this to be the chemical properties of grapefruit that reduce insulin levels, which encourages weight-loss. It was not proven whether this weight-loss was from loss of fat or of water.

Insulin is secreted by the pancreas to return blood sugar levels to normal. Insulin levels are reduced by grapefruit because it is scientifically proven that the grapefruit has a low-glycemic index, meaning it does not drastically increase blood sugar. Obviously the caloric restriction involved in this diet will also cause weight loss because caloric restriction and exercise are the key components for maintaining a healthy weight. Excess calories are stored as fat to be used by the body at a later time in the absence of food. The caloric restriction is so low that it is basically starving the body. The main website of the diet even admits that this diet is intended for short-term weight loss. A healthy approach to losing weight is long-term and allows greater than eight-hundred calories to be ingested. There is also no known proof, or even name, for the enzyme that is supposed to initiate the fat-burning.

The hypothesis that my partner and I decided upon was that people do not undergo the Grapefruit Diet because grapefruits are expensive and are not readily available for purchase. This hypothesis interested us because the diet sounds fairly simple to follow and claims such drastic results, yet we have not heard of any people who have actually tried it. We first created and distributed a survey to test our hypothesis. It asked the following questions: Do you like Grapefruits? How often do you eat Grapefruits? Do you find that they are readily available? Have you ever heard of the Grapefruit Diet? Have you ever tried the Grapefruit Diet (and was it a success)? We also went to grocery stores to find out the common prices for grapefruits and to ask about their availability.

The grocery stores proved that grapefruits cost around one dollar each, and are available basically year round. They are shipped across the country or imported, and are not difficult or expensive to attain. The survey showed that more men than women dislike grapefruits, but that both sexes rarely eat them either at home or at school. There was a fairly even split between the answers regarding the availability of grapefruits. Since they are in all major or even small grocery stores or markets basically year-round, as well as in the school cafeteria, it may be that participants thought that availability meant whether or not another person made grapefruits available in their own home for them. Most females had heard of the diet, while most males had not. Not a single person had ever tried or experienced success from the diet.

In conclusion, our hypothesis was not proven. The price and availability of grapefruits is not the reason that the Grapefruit Diet is not popular. A major reason may be that it appears to have much less scientific evidence for validity than other fad diets. Any success from the diet is most-likely due to eight-hundred calorie per day restriction and not mainly from grapefruits. Caloric restriction is known to result in weight loss and can be performed without following the mostly silly specifics of the Grapefruit Diet.

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    • Supercellbaebe profile image

      Supercellbaebe 7 years ago from LONDON

      Anyone who'd do the grapefruit diet would be mad! It sounds awful! Grapefruits are bitter and horrible, its totally unnatural for a human being to starve themselves. I'm really not sure why fad diets are out there, people who choose to do them are just starving themselves and making their bodies ill. xxx

    • glycodoc profile image

      glycodoc 9 years ago

      Nice hub -interesting information.