If you remember those restrictive grapefruit diets from the 1980s, you might wince at the idea of putting the words “grapefruit” and “diet” together ever again. While the diet has gone in and out of favor for decades, there’s an updated spin on the classic grapefruit diet plan that you won’t want to miss. Credit goes to Kellyann Petrucci, MS, ND, a board-certified naturopathic physician and nutrition expert, whose plan turbocharges fat-fighting compounds in the fruit using modern science and a host of other super nutrients. And when Woman’s World asked women to test it out, they lost up to 9 lbs in 7 days. Here, everything you need to know about the new, improved grapefruit diet plan.
What is the grapefruit diet?
Past grapefruit diets have emphasized the citrus fruit and not much else. Thankfully, unlike the ‘80s versions that included little more than grapefruit and black coffee, Dr. Petrucci’s update “eliminates the cravings that made it hard to stick to the earlier diet,” she explains. How? To maximize the benefits of the citrus, Dr. Petrucci has dieters round out meals with unlimited veggies, plus healthy servings of metabolism-boosting protein, anti-inflammatory grains and hunger-killing natural fats. Not only can this healthful way of eating help you shed stubborn pounds, research proves it can slash risk of heart disease, diabetes and more.
The main cornerstone of the diet: Eat half a grapefruit with each meal — a strategy that’s been effective for Woman’s World readers and patients at Dr. Petrucci’s Pennsylvania clinic. Simply decide whether you prefer eating grapefruit after meals or before them, and you’re ready to get started. Note: If you’re prone to heartburn, Dr. Petrucci suggest eating grapefruit “at the end of a meal, not the beginning, so other foods buffer its acidity.” (Find grapefruit too bitter or tart? Click through for our favorite ways to tame sour grapefruit flavor.)
How the grapefruit diet kickstarts weight loss
Exciting preliminary evidence from Japan shows that a compound called nootkatone, which helps create grapefruit’s aroma, may significantly reduce hunger and “can stimulate metabolism and ramp up weight loss,” Dr. Petrucci reveals.
Nootkatone is so promising that it has garnered the attention of pharmaceutical companies. However, Dr. Petrucci says whole grapefruit may offer more benefits than a supplement. Credit goes to a host of slimming compounds in the fruit, including a hefty dose of vitamin C, which research has linked to a 30 percent faster metabolism. (Click through to learn about maqui berry, another potent source of vitamin C.)
How does grapefruit burn fat?
Nootkatone isn’t the only compound in grapefruit that can help with weight loss: An antioxidant called naringenin gives the fruit its bitterness, and a study shows the substance may trick the liver into breaking down more fat. “It is a fascinating find,” confirms Massachusetts General Hospital’s Martin L. Yarmush, MD, who helped conduct the research. He notes that naringenin produced results that are similar to those induced by long periods of fasting or low-carb diets. And study after study has found that the compound is anti-inflammatory, anti-cancer, anti-bacterial and anti-fungal! Though Dr. Yarmush says larger tests are needed to fully understand the effect, there’s no need to wait. Grapefruit is just plain good for your waistline — and your health!
Does grapefruit burn belly fat?
Does grapefruit burn belly fat, in particular? Studies point to yes. According to research published in the journal Nutrition, lycopene — a pigment in pink and red grapefruit — raises levels of a belly-flattening hormone called adiponectin.
Plus, evidence from the famous Scripps Clinic found that nutrients in grapefruit — including all of its antioxidants and fiber — dramatically lower levels of the hormone insulin, helping regular grapefruit eaters lose up to 500 percent more weight than those who skip the fruit. (Dealing with belly bloat? Grapefruit can ease that, too! Click through to learn how grapefruit helps with bloat.)
What you eat on the grapefruit diet plan
As you might expect, this plan goes far beyond simply eating one grapefruit a day. Dr. Petrucci notes that just focusing on grapefruit won’t work long term. On older versions of the diet, “people got results, but they couldn’t stick to it because they were starving,” she says.
That’s why Dr. Petrucci uses the fruit to anchor dishes, thus boosting the benefits found in the grapefruit diet meal plan. “The nutrients in the foods work together to boost fat burning to the highest level possible,” she says. For example, protein and antioxidant-rich veggies help further boost metabolism. Antioxidants and natural fat also help soothe a type of inflammation in our bodies that is linked to slow metabolism.
Protein is key since the nutrient fills you up and promotes the formation of lean muscle, explains Dr. Petrucci. Plus, studies show that eating more protein can effortlessly speed the metabolism, help you burn more calories and tame appetite so you eat as many as 441 fewer calories daily. (Click through to learn why protein is so important for overall health, plus how much you should eat daily.)
When it comes to grains, Dr. Petrucci recommends focusing on ancient grains — including quinoa, farro, teff and spelt. “Unlike wheat, corn and most modern grains, ancient grains haven’t been genetically modified, and I find our bodies respond to them far better,” she explains. One big reason is that ancient grains also help prevent blood-sugar spikes and inflammation, which can drive belly-fat storage, cravings and bloating.
Grapefruit diet plan results
When we asked readers to test Dr. Petrucci’s plan, they offered stellar grapefruit reviews after losing up to 9 lbs in 7 days. LaVonne Goldschmidt‘s thoughts? “Loved it!” says the Georgia retiree and grandmother, 62. “I enjoy grapefruit and veggies to begin with, and the simplicity of the plan plus the great results really won me over.”
Despite being committed to healthy eating, LaVonne hadn’t shed an ounce in several months. “This diet got me off my plateau. I lost about a pound a day and a full two inches from my tummy. And I was never hungry!” Her best tip for those giving the grapefruit diet a shot? “I saved my half grapefruit until after dinner. It was a little something sweet and the perfect ending for my meal!”
Your grapefruit diet menu
Our nutrition team used Dr. Petrucci’s guidelines to create this special version of a new grapefruit diet menu. To help you get noticeable grapefruit diet results quickly, the plan keeps calories low — but it also provides lots of nutrients from grapefruit and other foods to keep hunger and cravings down, so you’ll barely notice you’re eating less. Because these meals skip inflammatory foods (like sugar, wheat and processed foods) and load you up on anti-inflammatory nutrients, you should eliminate a good bit of bloat, too. While using this plan, be sure to drink plenty of water. Add other low-calorie extras (spices, vinegar, zero-cal sweetener) as desired. Always get a doctor’s okay to try a new plan, including this grapefruit anti-inflammatory plan. Important note if you’re on an Rx: Before increasing your grapefruit consumption, “check with your pharmacist to ensure that grapefruit doesn’t interact with any drugs you’re taking,” says Dr. Petrucci. (Click through to learn how to make Martha Stewart’s delicious citrus chips.)
Breakfast (choose one daily)
- ½ grapefruit
- 2 hard-cooked eggs, 3 links of organic chicken breakfast sausage or 4 oz. nitrate-free ham
- ½ grapefruit
- Overnight Chia Protein Pudding: In jar with lid, mix ½ cup coconut milk, ¼ cup chia seeds, 1 scoop no sugar-added protein powder (any flavor), plus stevia and spices/extract to taste. Shake vigorously, chill overnight and enjoy. Makes 2 servings
Lunch (choose one daily)
- Grapefruit and Avocado Salad: Place segments of ½ grapefruit and ⅓ diced avocado over unlimited baby spinach or kale, top with a squeeze of grapefruit or lemon juice for dressing, and add 1 Tbsp. toasted almonds, if desired.
- ½ grapefruit
- Spicy Peanut Zoodles: Whisk 1 Tbs. water, juice of ¼ lime, ½ Tbs. peanut butter, ¼ tsp. soy sauce, ¼ tsp. rice wine vinegar, minced garlic, ginger, red chili, and stevia to taste. Toss with spiraled zucchini and any other veggies desired, and drizzle with 1 tsp. sesame oil.
- ½ grapefruit
- Unlimited chopped veggies and fresh herbs simmered in 2 cups reduced-sodium or bone broth. Serve drizzled with 1 Tbsp. olive oil
Dinner (choose one daily)
- Grapefruit Power Protein Bowl: Mix 4 oz. grilled chicken, segments from ½ grapefruit, and 1 cup cooked quinoa over unlimited leafy greens, red onions, and bell peppers. Dress with a squeeze of grapefruit juice, optional 1 tsp. olive oil, and herbs to taste.
- ½ grapefruit
- 4 oz. chicken, fish, lean beef, or eggs; unlimited veggies sautéed in olive oil spray; unlimited veggies with zero-cal dressing; 1 cup cooked ancient grains such as quinoa, faro, freekeh, or spelt; top with herbs and optional 1 tsp. olive oil
- Shrimp Bowl: Sauté unlimited tomato and zucchini in olive oil spray, toss with 4 oz. cooked shrimp, 1 cup cooked spelt or quinoa, juice of ¼ lemon, optional 1 tsp. olive oil, and oregano to taste.
- ½ grapefruit, broiled to add sweetness
Make your own grapefruit diet meal plan
At each meal, enjoy ½ grapefruit and unlimited non-starchy veggies. At breakfast, add a serving of a protein-rich in natural fat, such as eggs or chia. (Click through for the best protein sources for weight loss.) At lunch, stick to veggies and healthy fat. At dinner, mix protein, veggies, fat, and one cup cooked quinoa, farro, freekeh, spelt, or teff. After one to two weeks, add an extra 8 oz. of protein, 2 Tbs. of fat and 1 to 2 cups of an ancient grain each day. Continue enjoying one-half grapefruit at most meals. Find more tips at DrKellyAnn.com.
For extra on the benefits of grapefruit and how get more in your diet, check out these stories:
A version of this article originally appeared in our print magazine, Woman’s World.
This content is not a substitute for professional medical advice or diagnosis. Always consult your physician before pursuing any treatment plan.