Grapefruit for Weight Loss?

Maylin Rodriguez-Paez RN

Remember the grapefruit weight loss diet from the 1980’s? Well, there may have been something to it, according to the results of a new study.

Essentially, mice given grapefruit juice exhibited weight loss and lower blood sugar levels.

The results were recently published in the journal PLOS ONE.

Grapefruit Juice for Weight Loss and Lower Blood Sugar

In the study, mice were selected to receive one of the following — or a combination of these ingredients:

  •  Metformin (a diabetes drug) 
  •  Sweetened grapefruit juice 
  •  Sweetened water (control) 
  •  Naringin (a bitter extract from grapefruit) 
The grapefruit juice was given in two different concentrations. Weight, insulin, and blood sugar levels were measured throughout the experiment, and the mice were fed a high-fat or low-fat diet.

(Note: The grapefruit juice was sweetened because otherwise the mice avoided drinking it.)

Here are the results from the study:

  • The mice fed a high-fat diet and grapefruit juice experienced an 18.4% decrease in weight and a 13-to-17% decrease in blood sugar levels. Fasting serum insulin levels were three times lower than the baseline amount. 
  • The fasting insulin levels of the mice on the low-fat, grapefruit juice diet decreased two-fold. 
  • The grapefruit juice decreased blood sugar levels as effectively as metformin. 
  • Naringin lowered blood glucose and improved insulin tolerance but did not have significant effects on weight loss.1 
The study was funded by the California Grapefruit Growers Cooperative, showing a potential conflict of interest. However, other studies have shown the potential anti-diabetic and weight loss effects of grapefruits.2,3

Should You Try The Grapefruit Diet?

The original grapefruit diet was invented in the 1930’s and rose to fame again in the 1970’s and 1980's. There are different versions, but overall the plan is to include grapefruit at every meal and to limit carbs and calories.

While we don’t suggest that people revert to this fad, it doesn’t hurt to eat grapefruit occasionally. It helps maintain healthy blood sugar levels and is a great source of fiber, vitamins, flavonoids, and minerals.

The Bottom Line

Let's get back to the original question: can grapefruit really help people lose weight? Bottom line is that there's some potential, but we wouldn't count on it 100% just yet. More research certainly needs to be done.

In the meantime, continue eating grapefruit, eating healthy, and exercising. And who knows? You may even lose a couple of extra pounds.

A Word of Caution

Grapefruit juice can interact with several medications, including statins. Read your labels!

References:

  1. Available at: http://www.plosone.org/article/info:doi/10.1371/journal.pone.0108408. Accessed October 9, 2014. 
  2. Cardiovasc J Afr. Oct 2010; 21(5): 280–285. 
  3. J Med Food. 2006 Spring;9(1):49-54.

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