We are often told to eat more fruits and vegetables.
But what if your diet consisted of only fruit?
The fruitarian diet centers around consuming raw fruit for all or most of your meals. It is an extreme version of a vegan often followed for ethical reasons.
So, is the fruitarian diet healthy for you? Can this version of a plant-based diet be used for weight loss?
In this guide, we will discuss what the fruitarian diet involves, its numerous health risks, and whether you should follow it.
Let’s get started!
What Is a Fruitarian Diet?
While many weight loss diets are not sustainable, nutritionally balanced, or healthy, the fruitarian diet is one of the worst diets for long-term health, given how restrictive it is and the specific nutrient makeup of the meal plan relative to what your body needs.
Therefore, we present an additional disclaimer that we do not advise following the fruitarian diet plan for weight loss or health unless specifically guided by a doctor and registered dietitian or as a short-term fruitarian diet “cleanse” for a day or two.
The fruitarian diet can be seen as an extreme version of a vegan diet in which you eat only fruit or almost only fruit.
Moreover, most fruitarian meal plans are essentially raw vegan or raw fruit diets because most of the fruit is consumed in the raw state.
Instead of eating only fruit and water, a fruitarian diet often also includes some vegetables, nuts, and seeds, but no dairy, meat, processed foods, alcohol, eggs, or grains, and fruit would constitute about 80% of the diet.
This fruit-based diet is generally followed for spiritual or ethical reasons (often believing that even killing a plant is harmful, but eating the fruit does not injure the plant) or for those looking for extreme and rapid weight loss.
However, the fruitarian diet is not healthy nor safe for long-term adherence.
What Can You Eat On the Fruitarian Diet?
The fruitarian diet is a bit of a misnomer because most people who follow a fruitarian meal plan do eat some amount of food from other food groups.
Strict fruitarians may consume nearly all their calories from fruit, but most fruitarian diet plans have at least 10 to 30% of the calories from vegetables, nuts, and seeds.
Fruitarians may also eat starchy veggies and whole grains, depending on how the individual wants to build their fruitarian meal plan and how long they plan to follow it.
That said, most nutritionists suggest that to qualify as a fruitarian diet, at least 50% of your total daily calories must come from raw fruit.
Here are some main fruits that fruitarians eat:
|Botanical Fruits (We sometimes consider these vegetables, but they are fruits)
|Buddha’s hand (fingered citron)
|Plumcot (or Pluot)
|Cherimoya (Custard Apple)
|Rambutan (or Mamon Chino)
|Dragonfruit (or Pitaya)
You can also make smoothies with different fruits, and consider incorporating other plant-based foods like seeds and nuts into your smoothies to bulk up the calories and nutritional value.
If you are going to follow the fruitarian diet for weight loss or ethical reasons, it is best to stick with just the minimum threshold of 50% of your calories coming from raw fresh fruit.
Then, you can use the remaining 50% of your calories to try to meet your nutritional and dietary needs.
You should also focus on eating oily fruits such as avocado and coconut to get more calories and healthy fats and incorporate starchy fruits like pumpkin.
Is a Frutarian Diet Healthy?
However, most nutrition professionals do not recommend the fruitarian diet for health or weight loss, as a fruit-only diet plan is devoid of many key nutrients, including protein, fat, and certain vitamins and minerals, which can result in health problems.
You should speak with a healthcare professional or a nutritionist before taking on a fruitarian diet weight loss plan or any fruit-only meal plan that is longer than just a couple of days.
This is even more important if you have a history of an eating disorder, diabetes, a metabolic condition, are pregnant or breastfeeding, or take medications on a regular basis.
Is The Fruitarian Diet Good For Weight Loss?
It is certainly possible to lose weight on a fruitarian diet plan.
Weight loss will occur on any diet if you are in a caloric deficit, which means that you are eating fewer calories per day than you are burning.
You may also lose weight on a fruitarian meal plan provided you are in a caloric deficit; raw fruit is filling because it’s watery and voluminous. However, this cannot be considered a balanced diet that will provide you with the essential nutrients you need.
What Are The Risks Of Following A Fruitarian Diet?
Although fruits contain essential nutrients such as vitamins, minerals, and some fiber, most fruits lack key nutrients such as protein, healthy fats, minerals, and certain fat-soluble vitamins.
It is particularly difficult to get adequate protein on a fruitarian diet plan, which can lead to brittle nails and hair, low energy, and loss of muscle mass, among other issues.
Iron, vitamin B12, zinc, calcium, vitamin D, and omega-3 fatty acids are other common nutritional deficiencies in someone following a fruitarian meal plan.1Fontana, L., Shew, J. L., Holloszy, J. O., & Villareal, D. T. (2005). Low Bone Mass in Subjects on a Long-term Raw Vegetarian Diet. Archives of Internal Medicine, 165(6), 684. https://doi.org/10.1001/archinte.165.6.684
These risks are heightened if your fruitarian diet plan cuts out higher-calorie foods like nuts, seeds, legumes, and whole grains.
Therefore, nutritional deficiencies can occur if you follow the fruitarian diet for an extended period of time, particularly if you are not taking a robust array of supplements and working with an experienced nutritionist or a registered dietitian.
There are some additional risks of the fruitarian diet.
Fruit tends to be quite acidic, particularly when eaten raw. This can cause erosion of tooth enamel, increasing your risk of cavities.
For example, an older study indeed found that the raw vegan diet is associated with an increased risk of tooth decay.2Ganss, C., Schlechtriemen, M., & Klimek, J. (1999). Dental erosions in subjects living on a raw food diet. Caries Research, 33(1), 74–80. https://doi.org/10.1159/000016498
Also, increased intake of citric fruit and other acidic fruits, such as pineapple, can exacerbate the symptoms of GERD.3Park, J. H. (2017). Regional Food Causing Symptoms of Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease. Journal of Neurogastroenterology and Motility, 23(3), 321–322. https://doi.org/10.5056/jnm17069
Furthermore, some fruits are high in sugar and are considered high-glycemic foods, which means that they cause a spike in blood sugar after eating them.4Atkinson, F. S., Foster-Powell, K., & Brand-Miller, J. C. (2008). International Tables of Glycemic Index and Glycemic Load Values: 2008. Diabetes Care, 31(12), 2281–2283. https://doi.org/10.2337/dc08-1239
For example, tropical fruits, such as bananas, pineapples, mangoes, and papayas, are particularly high in sugar, so just eating fruits like these on their own can cause a rapid increase in blood sugar and insulin.
This may eventually lead to insulin resistance and can cause unstable energy levels, irritability, mood swings, food cravings, reactive hypoglycemia, and potentially even weight gain.
Eating fruits like avocado and coconut or some of the botanical fruits like cucumbers, peppers, tomatoes, and zucchini alongside whatever high-sugar fruits will help decrease the blood sugar response by making the “all fruit meal” a lower glycemic fruit diet meal.
This will help regulate blood sugar levels and your appetite while decreasing the total sugar intake relative to eating only sugar-rich fruits.
Additionally, fruit is high in fructose, a naturally occurring sugar. High consumption of fructose, even when natural, can cause diarrhea or loose stools, so a fruitarian diet plan can lead to GI distress.5DiNicolantonio, J. J., & Lucan, S. C. (2015). Is Fructose Malabsorption a Cause of Irritable Bowel Syndrome? Medical Hypotheses, 85(3), 295–297. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.mehy.2015.05.019
There can also be drug interactions with certain fruits, such as grapefruit.6FDA. (2019). Grapefruit Juice and Some Drugs Don’t Mix. U.S. Food and Drug Administration. https://www.fda.gov/consumers/consumer-updates/grapefruit-juice-and-some-drugs-dont-mix
Overall, you should always speak with your doctor before beginning the fruitarian diet or eating excessive amounts of fruit.
Furthermore, we do not recommend a fruitarian diet plan that involves eating predominantly fruit.
If you are looking for a healthier lifestyle diet, check out our guide to the Mediterranean diet here:
- 1Fontana, L., Shew, J. L., Holloszy, J. O., & Villareal, D. T. (2005). Low Bone Mass in Subjects on a Long-term Raw Vegetarian Diet. Archives of Internal Medicine, 165(6), 684. https://doi.org/10.1001/archinte.165.6.684
- 2Ganss, C., Schlechtriemen, M., & Klimek, J. (1999). Dental erosions in subjects living on a raw food diet. Caries Research, 33(1), 74–80. https://doi.org/10.1159/000016498
- 3Park, J. H. (2017). Regional Food Causing Symptoms of Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease. Journal of Neurogastroenterology and Motility, 23(3), 321–322. https://doi.org/10.5056/jnm17069
- 4Atkinson, F. S., Foster-Powell, K., & Brand-Miller, J. C. (2008). International Tables of Glycemic Index and Glycemic Load Values: 2008. Diabetes Care, 31(12), 2281–2283. https://doi.org/10.2337/dc08-1239
- 5DiNicolantonio, J. J., & Lucan, S. C. (2015). Is Fructose Malabsorption a Cause of Irritable Bowel Syndrome? Medical Hypotheses, 85(3), 295–297. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.mehy.2015.05.019
- 6FDA. (2019). Grapefruit Juice and Some Drugs Don’t Mix. U.S. Food and Drug Administration. https://www.fda.gov/consumers/consumer-updates/grapefruit-juice-and-some-drugs-dont-mix