Does grapefruit burn fat? (evidence-based)

grapefruit cut in half
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Grapefruit is a citrus fruit originating from Barbados and currently grows on trees in Florida, California, Arizona, Australia, South Africa, Israel, and India. One grapefruit contains roughly 102 calories and consists of approximately 92% water so it is also great for hydration.  In this post, we will focus on ways in which grapefruit can burn fat and its fat-burning properties.

We will also take a brief look at the grapefruit diet which is growing in popularity. It is a simple diet where you simply eat grapefruit or drink grapefruit juice with every meal.

What is the grapefruit diet?

There are different versions of this type of diet, but generally speaking, it is low in carbohydrates and high in protein. Aside from macronutrients, other guidelines include consuming grapefruit or drinking grapefruit juice with every meal.

There is no specification on foods that you should avoid or ways in which you need to cook your meals, you just need to ensure that they are low in carbohydrates and high in protein.

The pros and cons of the grapefruit diet

ProsCons
Very NutritiousIt is very low in calories which may weaken your bones
HydratingMay slow down metabolism
Provides 60% of vitamin C, magnesium, potassium, and fibreFatigue
High in antioxidantsIt’s ambiguous
Strengthens immune system

Does grapefruit burn fat?

Consumption of grapefruit or grapefruit juice have been positively associated with weight loss.

It contains an organic compound called nootkatone which activates an enzyme called AMP-activated (AMPK). AMPK promotes the use of sugars and fat stores by muscles for energy and exercise. Grapefruit, on the other hand, triggers this enzyme without the need for exercise, which increases our metabolism and contributes to a greater calorie deficit. 

Grapefruit case studies

There was a study published in 2008 which explored the effects of grapefruit on fat burning. The study included 20 overweight or obese participants, and it continued over a period of 4-12 weeks. The results demonstrated that the group who consumed grapefruit-based supplements lost a significant amount of body fat. Over 12 weeks, they lost approximately 5.2kg compared to the placebo group with no major results. [1] [2].

A 2006 study found that people who ate the fresh fruit group lost significantly more weight than people who didn’t. Other studies show a great reduction in waist size. [3] [4]

So is it good for fat loss?

Looking at those two studies, we can safely say that it can be a great way to jump-start your weight loss journey. 

Some people say that adding grapefruit to your meals can burn as much as 10 pounds in 12 weeks, but if this is the case then you need to be careful. Rapid weight loss is not sustainable long term, and you are likely to experience weight regain.

Why is grapefruit bad for you?

It suppresses a chemical in the intestine that’s responsible for breaking down many drugs in the body. By inhibiting this chemical, the drug substance can become high in our blood stream which makes the drug more potent and toxic [6]. As a result, it can interfere with:

  • Furanocoumarin, a natural chemical contained in grapefruit, does not blend well with allergy drugs. You should stop consuming grapefruit or grapefruit juice if you are taking drugs like Claritin (loratadine) or Allegra (fexofenadine). I’d suggest speaking with your doctor or a pharmacist.
  • It also interacts poorly with erectile dysfunction medications such as Viagra (sildenafil), Cialis (tadalafil), and Levitra (vardenafil). According to a 2013 report, a 6-7 ounce glass of grapefruit juice is enough to induce drug toxicity. Please see this link for a complete list of drugs that may interact negatively with grapefruit consumption.
  • Early research shows people post-menopause who consume estrogen medications are at a much higher risk of breast cancer [5].
  • It can also interfere with drugs that lower high cholesterol and blood pressure.

Summary

Grapefruit is an amazing fruit, rich in vitamins and minerals, antioxidants and it has a thermogenic effect. It can help to improve your health and speed up weight loss. However, remember that the faster the weight loss, the faster the weight regain. You are better off eating a balanced diet, with a variety of fruit and vegetables rather than focusing on eating that one fruit.

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References 

Bailey, D., Dresser, G. and Arnold, M. (2013). Grapefruit–medication interactions: Forbidden fruit or avoidable consequences?. 185(4), pp.309-316. 

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