​​The Grapefruit Diet: A Nutritionist’s Take On The Pros And Cons

There are all sorts of fad diets that ebb and flow in popularity over time, one of which is the 7 day grapefruit diet plan.

Like many weight loss diets, there are a lot of questions and points of confusion about the benefits of this diet weight loss versus the risks relative to other weight loss approaches.

Common questions include the basics, such as: What exactly is the grapefruit diet? Does this plan work for weight loss? Is the grapefruit diet healthy?

Then, there are practical questions about how to follow this diet, such as:

What is the best 7 day grapefruit diet meal plan? What are the pros and cons of the 7 day grapefruit diet menu for weight loss and health? What can you eat on the egg and grapefruit diet plan?

Rest assured; we will do our best to answer all of these common FAQs to help you decide if the grapefruit diet benefits outweigh the risks and to understand if this diet is good for weight loss and overall health.

We will look at: 

  • What Is the Grapefruit Diet?
  • How Do You Follow the 7 Day Grapefruit Diet Meal Plan?
  • 7 Day Grapefruit Diet Benefits
  • Does the Grapefruit Diet Work?

Let’s get started!

Slices of grapefruit.

What Is the Grapefruit Diet?

The 7 day grapefruit diet program, sometimes modified to be the 7 day egg and grapefruit diet plan, is one of many popular fad diets that has been advertised as being a “secret“ or ticket to rapid weight loss.

As the name suggests, this plan is intended to be a weeklong rapid weight loss diet focusing on consuming grapefruit while cutting calories.

Overall, the 7 day grapefruit diet menu can be considered a low calorie weight loss diet that involves eating half a grapefruit with every meal of the day and restricting calories for weight loss.

There is also a modified 7 day grapefruit diet called the 7 day grapefruit and egg diet that simultaneously emphasizes eating two eggs at every meal instead of having more latitude in the protein choices that you are eating with your meal plan.

Hard boiled eggs.

How Do You Follow the 7 Day Grapefruit Diet Meal Plan?

So, what do you eat on the 7 day grapefruit diet menu? How do you follow this diet for weight loss?

Like many fad diets, there isn’t one set menu, and some people follow this diet for a different length of time, either shorter or longer than one week.

What all of the grapefruit diet meal plans for weight loss have in common is that they are very low in calories, low in carbohydrates, and high in protein, even though grapefruit itself is low in protein and only contains carbohydrates.

Some of the grapefruit diet weight loss meal plans only provide about 800 calories a day, which is considered a very low-calorie diet.

An 800-calorie meal plan does not provide nearly enough calories for the average adult of either sex, even when trying to lose weight, unless specifically guided by a medical professional for rapid weight loss in preparation for weight loss surgery or to reverse diabetes.

A person eating cottage cheese, berries and a grapefruit.

A common 7 day grapefruit diet meal plan for weight loss looks something like the following:

  • Breakfast: 2 hard-boiled eggs, two slices of bacon, 1/2 fresh grapefruit, and coffee or tea.
  • Lunch: Salad with your choice of dressing and meat or protein, and 1/2 grapefruit.
  • Dinner: Meat or protein of choice prepared however you want, salad or green vegetables, and 1/2 grapefruit.
  • Bedtime snack: 8 ounces of skim milk or one hard-boiled egg.

Some people substitute 8 ounces of grapefruit juice for the half grapefruit, though it is recommended that you eat the real grapefruit so that you consume fewer calories, less sugar, more fiber, and more protein.

Plus, eating grapefruit rather than drinking grapefruit juice helps your brain register that you are actually eating.

Some studies suggest that liquid calories, or drinking your calories, doesn’t have the same effect on the brain in terms of delivering the message that calories were consumed. 

This can lead to eating more or feeling less satisfied/full if you drink grapefruit juice vs eat grapefruit whole.

A glass of grapefruit juice.

7 Day Grapefruit Diet Benefits

Here are some potential benefits of this diet:

Does the Grapefruit Diet Work?

The grapefruit diet meal plan for weight loss has withstood the test of time as a “quick fix“ weight loss diet and has even been marketed by TV doctors and social media influencers, going viral at certain points and then falling back out of the spotlight over the years.

This eating plan actually became so popular and publicized by actresses at one point that it earned the moniker “The Hollywood Diet,” which painted the picture that all of the Hollywood stars were following this meal plan to attain their slim figures.

Although the 7 day grapefruit diet for weight loss is currently popular, it is far from new.

A person holding up a grapefruit to their eye.

In fact, this eating plan originated back in the 1920s and has since come in and out of popularity, spiking in the 1970s, then again in 2004.

In 2004, a book called The Grapefruit Solution: Lower Your Cholesterol, Lose Weight and Achieve Optimal Health with Nature’s Wonder Fruit was released, suggesting that eating grapefruit could improve weight loss success on any weight loss plan.

Over the past couple of years, it has again become popular.

Although many people believe that the grapefruit diet 7 day plan or “The Hollywood Grapefruit Diet“ is endorsed by the Mayo Clinic (such that it’s even sometimes called “the Mayo Clinic Grapefruit Diet”), this is a misconception.

The Mayo Clinic does not endorse any specific fad diet but rather encourages moderate caloric restriction with a well-balanced, healthy diet composed of unprocessed foods along with regular physical activity as the best weight loss plan.

However, a lot of fad weight loss diets are a lot of hype without scientific evidence to substantiate their effectiveness, safety, sustainability, or healthfulness.

A slice of grapefruit.

Although the name suggests that this diet is intended to be followed for only 7 days—and we highly recommend that if you choose to follow this restrictive weight loss diet you certainly do not push it past 7 days—some people do follow the grapefruit diet for 10 days, or even more.

Our strong disclaimer is that we do not recommend following the grapefruit diet for weight loss in its restrictive manner.

In other words, following the grapefruit diet menu, often published or marketed by TV doctors or online, as it is not a healthy, sustainable approach to weight loss.

However, you can certainly incorporate grapefruit in a nutritionally-sound, well-balanced, healthy weight loss diet.

Therefore, the concept of a “grapefruit diet“ being “bad“ outright isn’t necessarily true; it all hinges on how you follow the diet or any weight loss diet plan and what you eat on your menu plan.

Ultimately, even the very notion that you are following a “7 day grapefruit diet weight loss plan“ is not something we advise.  

Slices of grapefruit.

The best diets for weight loss should be lifestyle changes rather than short-term, quick-fix, restrictive weight loss diets with a very short time frame, like 7 days.

The only caveat here is if you have just a couple of pounds to lose and you follow a smart weight loss diet for a couple of weeks and then a healthy weight maintenance lifestyle diet moving forward to maintain your new lower body weight.

The grapefruit diet 7 day plan is too low in calories and restrictive to be safe and sustainable.

Its weight loss result is likely mostly temporary, due largely to the low-carb intake and restriction; weight will likely be regained when you return to your normal way of eating.

Moreover, extended adherence to a very low-calorie weight loss diet (VLCD) such as this one can lower your metabolic rate, making it harder to lose weight in the future.

We strongly urge you to consider a healthier weight loss diet like the Mediterranean Diet or DASH Diet.

Grapefruits and grapefruit slices.
Photo of author
Amber Sayer is a Fitness, Nutrition, and Wellness Writer and Editor, as well as a NASM-Certified Nutrition Coach and UESCA-certified running, endurance nutrition, and triathlon coach. She holds two Masters Degrees—one in Exercise Science and one in Prosthetics and Orthotics. As a Certified Personal Trainer and running coach for 12 years, Amber enjoys staying active and helping others do so as well. In her free time, she likes running, cycling, cooking, and tackling any type of puzzle.

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