The egg and grapefruit diet — often referred to as just the grapefruit diet — has been around since the 1950s. It's one of the longest-running "fad diets," involving significantly restricting calorie intake and cutting out certain foods. However, the foods it does include are generally healthy for you, with a few caveats. As a 12-day egg and grapefruit diet weight loss plan, it's relatively safe. However, sticking with it longer term could have negative effects on your health.
Egg and Grapefruit Diet Details
Quick weight loss is the goal of the egg and grapefruit diet. Although not as restrictive as many other fad diets, it is still considered a very-low-calorie, low-carb diet that may have fewer calories and carbs than recommended for healthy weight loss. There are several variations of the diet, all of which include eating grapefruit before each meal. This recommendation is based on the belief that grapefruit can help burn fat.
The scientific evidence to support this is scant and mixed. In a study published in the spring 2006 issue of the Journal of Medicinal Food, 96 obese subjects were given either a placebo, a grapefruit capsule, apple juice, grapefruit juice or half a grapefruit before each meal for 12 weeks. At the end of the study, the fresh grapefruit group had significantly greater weight loss than the other groups.
However, in another study published several years later in the February 2011 issue of Nutrition and Metabolism, this effect was not confirmed. After completing a two-week caloric restriction phase, 86 obese adults were instructed to consume fresh grapefruit, grapefruit juice or water before each meal for 12 weeks. The preloads were similar in weight, calories, water content and energy density.
The total amount of food consumed after the preloads did not differ among the three groups, and all groups lost weight. The researchers concluded that, while a preload before a meal successfully reduced caloric intake and weight, grapefruit had no special effects.
Benefits of the Diet
The grapefruit diet does include a variety of other foods, which improves the diet quality. In addition to grapefruit, the original grapefruit diet menu includes a breakfast of three eggs and two slices of bacon, followed by a salad topped with meat for both lunch and dinner. Prior to bed, a glass of skim milk or tomato juice is suggested.
Aside from the bacon, which is a processed meat high in saturated fat and potentially dangerous for your health, according to the National Institutes of Health, the other foods are healthy, low-calorie sources of nutrients. The fresh grapefruit and salad provide dietary fiber, and there is plenty of protein in the eggs and meat at each meal.
Researchers have identified protein and fiber as important weight loss foods. Both are digested slowly, staying in your stomach for longer. This fills you up and keeps you feeling full for an extended period of time, which can prevent you from feeling hungry between meals and overeating.
Fiber attracts water and swells in the stomach, leading to stomach distension. According to a review article published in the Journal of Nutrition and Metabolism in January 2019, stomach distension sends signals to the brain of fullness and satiety. The longer the stomach remains distended, the longer those feelings persist. It also delays the release of the hunger hormone called ghrelin that signals the body to seek food.
Protein has extra benefits, too. According to a research review published in Nutrition and Metabolism in 2014, protein increases diet-induced thermogenesis, a metabolic response to food that results in temporarily increased metabolism. Protein can raise metabolic rate by as much as 30 percent during digestion, whereas carbohydrate tops out at 10 percent and fat at 3 percent.
A Few Diet Drawbacks
Fad diets, in general, aren't healthy, says the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. Eating a well-balanced, calorie-sufficient diet including all the food groups ensures you get the nutrients your body needs for good health. You're not likely to suffer any great consequences in the space of 12 days, although you may feel some fatigue as your body adjusts to the caloric deficit. But will it get you the results you're after?
If you use it to kickstart weight loss and go back to a healthy, well-balanced diet after the 12-day period, you might see some encouraging results. However, if you decide that more and faster weight loss is better and then either restrict the diet further or extend the diet past the 12-day mark, you're asking for trouble.
Not only do you risk nutrient deficiencies that can have serious side effects, but you may also thwart your weight loss efforts. Eating too few calories over a longer period of time can cause adaptations that actually slow your metabolism. And, the lack of calories and nutrients can leave you low on energy and too tired to exercise, which is the other key part of healthy weight loss.
- Winchester Hospital: "Grapefruit Diet"
- Journal of Medicinal Food: "The Effects of Grapefruit on Weight and Insulin Resistance: Relationship to the Metabolic Syndrome."
- Nutrition and Metabolism: "Effects of Grapefruit, Grapefruit Juice and Water Preloads on Energy Balance, Weight Loss, Body Composition, and Cardiometabolic Risk in Free-Living Obese Adults"
- NIH: "Risk in Red Meat?"
- Journal of Nutrition and Metabolism: "The Role of Fiber in Energy Balance"
- Nutrition and Metabolism: "A High-Protein Diet for Reducing Body Fat: Mechanisms and Possible Caveats"
- Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics: "Staying Away From Fad Diets"
- Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics: "4 Ways Low-Calorie Diets Can Sabotage Your Health"