The infamous grapefruit diet promises weight loss if you incorporate the fruit into every meal, which is why grapefruit and its juice are often touted for their ability to help you shed pounds. But is there really a connection between grapefruit juice and weight loss?
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First off, using grapefruit juice as your chief tool for weight loss can be dangerous and unsustainable, according to the Cleveland Clinic. Still, there are certain grapefruit juice benefits that make it a good addition to a balanced diet.
So, does grapefruit juice help you lose weight? We break it down here.
Avoid drinking grapefruit juice (or eating grapefruit) if you take medications for cholesterol or blood pressure or take corticosteroids, anti-anxiety meds or antihistamines, as they can interact and cause health issues, according to the FDA.
Is Grapefruit Juice Good for Weight Loss?
Some fad diets claim that the enzymes in grapefruit (and grapefruit juice) burn fat, according to the Cleveland Clinic. There isn't evidence to back this up, and what little research is out there is scant and conflicting. Still, it's possible that grapefruit juice may help with weight loss indirectly.
For instance, a February 2011 study in Nutrition & Metabolism had 86 adults with obesity eat either fresh grapefruit, grapefruit juice or water before each meal for three months after completing a two-week caloric restriction phase. All three groups lost weight, indicating that eating fruit, hydrating or drinking grapefruit juice before meals may be linked to reduced caloric intake.
That said, because all three groups lost weight, the researchers concluded that grapefruit or its juice isn't more effective than water.
Another October 2014 study in PLOS One found that mice on a high-fat diet gained less weight when they drank grapefruit juice compared to water. However, this research only studied what grapefruit juice does for weight loss in mice, so more studies are needed to show this same link in humans.
Other evidence is conflicting. An older March 2006 study in the Journal of Medicinal Food gave 96 people with obesity either a placebo, a grapefruit capsule, apple juice, grapefruit juice or half a grapefruit before each meal for three months. The study found that the group who ate fresh grapefruit lost more weight than the other groups.
But this research is older, so new and larger studies are needed to better determine the link (if any) between grapefruit juice and fat loss.
If losing weight is your goal, talk to your doctor about the best diet and exercise plan for you rather than relying on one ingredient to find results, according to the Mayo Clinic.
Benefits of Drinking Grapefruit Juice
While there's no clear link between grapefruit juice and weight loss, the beverage can still be a part of a balanced diet. Here are some of the benefits of 100-percent grapefruit juice:
1. It Contains Vitamins and Minerals
Grapefruit juice contains vitamins and minerals like calcium and vitamin C, per My Food Data. While these nutrients alone aren't responsible for inducing weight loss, eating a balanced diet full of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean protein and healthy fats can contribute to finding your ideal weight, according to the Mayo Clinic.
And per a May 2014 review in Food & Nutrition Research, people assigned female at birth (AFAB) who regularly ate grapefruit or drank its juice had higher intakes of vitamin C, potassium, magnesium, fiber and beta-carotene compared to those who didn't.
2. It May Support Healthy Cholesterol Levels
Per the Food & Nutrition Research review, grapefruit juice may be good for cholesterol, too. The research found that those who regularly ate the fruit or drank its juice had higher levels of HDL ("good") cholesterol and lower triglyceride levels.
However, it's important to note that this doesn't mean grapefruit juice causes good cholesterol levels — the study just establishes a link between the two.
And remember, grapefruit can interact with medications for high cholesterol. So if you're taking this type of medicine, steer clear of the fruit despite this potential benefit.
3. It May Help Stabilize Blood Sugar Levels
It's possible that drinking grapefruit juice before a meal may help keep your blood sugar levels from spiking. For example, the 2014 PLOS One study found the mice that drank grapefruit juice had lower blood sugar and improved insulin tolerance compared to the mice that drank water.
Again, though, this study focused on mice, not humans, so more research is needed to clarify this link.
Similarly, the older Journal of Medicinal Food research found that grapefruit helped reduce insulin levels and improved insulin resistance — however, these results were observed with those who ate fresh grapefruit, not juice. And this study is older, so new research is needed to better establish the relationship between grapefruit juice and blood sugar levels specifically.
Is Ruby Red Grapefruit Juice Good for You?
Ruby red grapefruit juice comes from a fruit that's more red in color than pink, according to the University of Florida. Per My Food Data, pink and red juice have about the same nutritional content, so ruby red grapefruit benefits and effects on weight loss are the same as those listed above.
Tips for Weight Loss
Indeed, this citrusy beverage can be a nutritious addition to a well-rounded diet. But grapefruit juice alone is not the recipe for weight loss.
Per the Mayo Clinic, here are some better tips to keep in mind if shedding pounds is your goal:
Calorie intake should not fall below 1,200 per day for people AFAB or 1,500 per day for people assigned male at birth unless under the supervision of a doctor, per Harvard Health Publishing, because eating too few calories can deprive you of nutrients.
- Nutrition & Metabolism: "Effects of Grapefruit, Grapefruit Juice and Water Preloads on Energy Balance, Weight Loss, Body Composition, and Cardiometabolic Risk in Free-Living Obese Adults""
- Journal of Medicinal Food: "The Effects of Grapefruit on Weight and Insulin Resistance: Relationship to the Metabolic Syndrome"
- My Food Data: "Grapefruit Juice"
- U.S. Food and Drug Administration: "Grapefruit Juice and Some Medicine May Not Mix"
- Cleveland Clinic: "Does the Grapefruit Diet Work?"
- Mayo Clinic: "Diet plans"
- Mayo Clinic: "Weight Loss Basics"
- PLOS One: "Consumption of Clarified Grapefruit Juice Ameliorates High-Fat Diet Induced Insulin Resistance and Weight Gain in Mice"
- University of Florida: "The Grapefruit"
- Harvard Health Publishing: "Calorie counting made easy"
- Food & Nutrition Research: "Consumption of grapefruit is associated with higher nutrient intakes and diet quality among adults, and more favorable anthropometrics in women, NHANES 2003–2008"