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The Grapefruit Diet began in the 1930's. This is when the Hollywood Diet debuted, which called for nibbling on a few select vegetables, small amounts of protein, and grapefruits, which were believed to contain a special fat-burning enzyme. It has spawned more than a dozen grapefruit diets over the decades.

Diet Length:
Three weeks.

What you eat:
A typical day might consist of half a grapefruit and black coffee for breakfast; half a grapefruit plus an egg, cucumber, a piece of dry melba toast, and plain tea or coffee for lunch; and two eggs, half a head of lettuce, a tomato, the obligatory grapefruit, and tea or coffee for dinner. Some versions allow for small amounts of meat or fish; calories add up to less than 800 per day.

Why women love it:
It's a bimbo's diet. You don't need to strain anything counting calories or making major food decisions. The monotony may even numb your appetite. And because the calorie cutback is so severe, initial weight loss can be dramatic, from 3-6lbs for a moderately overweight woman to 12lbs for an obese woman.

Pros: Grapefruit has no fat, is low in calories and sodium, and is packed with vitamin C; the pink variety contributes beta-carotene as well. And because grapefruit is high in water and fibre, it can help fill you up.

Cons: The general agreement is that any diet based on one food is much too restrictive to be healthy. You miss out on calcium, vital to bone strength; iron, which wards off anemia; folic acid, which can protect against heart disease; and most vitamins. Whether we can really say if three weeks is any too harmful at all is yet to be proven, yet still it seems that this is one fad diet which won't be revived.

Some of the newest information on the grapefruit diet, which is still very much around, appears to corroborate the old idea that grapefruit contains an enzyme that helps to burn fat. Scientists and nutritionists pooh-poohed the "grapefruit solution" for many years, attributing the quick weight loss to the fact that the diet simply cuts calories. That's almost certainly part of the reason that this diet works. Newer studies have shown, however, that people who drink a three eight-ounce glasses of grapefruit juice a day or consume three halves of fresh grapefruit lose some weight without changing their normal diet or exercize regimen. This led to a flurry of research to determine exactly why grapefruit seems to be a magic bullet for fat.

Researchers have come to the conclusion that there is a compound in grapefruit that interacts with the liver to lower cholesterol and help regulate insulin. Too much insulin causes weight gain, and the grapefruit diet appears to reduce the body's production of insulin.

There are many versions of this diet floating around out there, but the unifying factor is the eradication of starches and sugars at mealtimes. It is obviously not meant to be a long-term diet, but it is very effective for dropping about ten pounds just before a special event or before bathing suit season.

The body uses sugar and starches as quick energy sources, so the idea is to "shock" the body with a high-protein diet by shunning the sugar for a few days. This forces the body to dip into its fat deposits to gain energy, which means that you get to lose a few pounds relatively quickly.

Please understand that this diet is by no means a healthy lifestyle alternative. It is far too restrictive, and the body needs things like bread, wheat, dairy, and sugars for optimal function. Unlike the Atkins Diet, which is supposedly meant for a long-term lifestyle/diet change, the grapefruit diet does not come with a long list of recipes, exercise advice, and alternative menu items. The grapefruit diet is spartan and meant only for very short-term (and likely temporary) weight loss.

Major Restrictions Do Apply

If you have any of the following conditions, this diet is explicitly not for you in any way, shape, form, or fashion:

  • Diabetes
  • Heart conditions of any kind
  • Family or personal history of bulimia, anorexia nervosa, or any sort of eating disorder
  • History of dizziness, lightheadedness, or fainting (you should actually go straight to a doctor and get that looked at right now)
  • Don't try this diet if you're menstruating. It's a bad idea for a lot of reasons, not the least of which is that you're already likely to be cranky and shouldn't subject yourself to restricitve diets during the bleedy time of the month. You also need good solid nutrition during your period, and you'll not get great results due to possible bloating from your cycle.
  • Really ANY condition for which you take daily medication and/or for which you are under medical supervision

So, caveat emptor and all that. Just use your head and don't even try this thing unless you are extremely healthy. It's meant to be a special occasion diet, to look good for a wedding or a blind date or a job interview or for the first time you peel that towel off on the beach. It is not, I repeat, not a diet that is meant to be used often or taken past ten days. Ever, under any circumstances. Dammit.

If you're still hot to try it and willing to abide by The Rules, here it is.

The Official 10-Day Grapefruit Diet

There's a huge catch (aside from all the above restrictions): you have to follow the diet exactly, to the letter. No cheating, no between-meal snacking, no sugars or starches, period, the end.

You can expect no weight loss at all for the first four days and a rather impressive weight loss on the fifth day (about five pounds). You'll lose about one pound each day after that for a total loss of about ten pounds in ten days.

I cannot stress enough how important it is to quit this after ten days, so I'll stress it again: quit this after ten days.

Breakfast

  • Half a grapefruit or 8 oz. glass of unsweetened grapefruit juice
  • 2 eggs, any style, prepared in butter if fried
  • 2 slices bacon
  • 1 cup coffee or tea, no sugar or lightener

Lunch

  • Half grapefruit or 8 oz. glass unsweetened grapefruit juice
  • Meat or fish, any style except breaded. Use butter to sautee, broil, or fry
  • Salad, a nice big one, with oil and vinegar or other unsugared dressing
  • 1 cup coffee or tea, no sugar or lightener

Dinner

  • Half grapefruit or 8 oz. glass unsweetened grapefruit juice
  • Meat or fish, any style except breaded. Use butter to sautee, broil, or fry. No gravy unless it's prepared without flour.
  • Salad, as much as you can eat, with oil and vinegar or other unsugared dressing
  • Sauteed or roasted veggies - red, green, or yellow - as much as you want. No potatoes, rice, corn, or other starches.
  • 1 cup coffee or tea, black (I'd do decaf or herbal at this time of day).

Bedtime Snack

  • 8 ounces tomato juice or skim milk

Special Instructions

  • At each meal you should eat until you are full, every time.
  • Don't leave anything out.
  • Only one cup of coffee or tea per meal, sorry.
  • No eating between meals at all. Sorry again.
  • No alcohol. I'm really, really sorry.
  • All frying must be done in butter.
  • Don't use any artificial sweeteners like Splenda or aspartame.
  • Use a lot of butter on your veggies (I like that part).
  • Follow diet as written, making sure to really be full at the end of each meal. That will help tide you over until the next meal and keep you from dreaming about chocolate.
  • It's a good idea to exercise in moderation while on this diet. Since you won't have starch and sugar to burn, lots of aerobic stuff will make you tired very quickly. This is not a diet to try while training for a marathon. Keep it light - walking a couple of miles, swimming some easy laps. Don't wear yourself to a nub.
  • Finally, drink a whole lot of water. Eight 8 oz. glasses a day, minimum. (You should do this all the time, though, not just while on this silly diet.)

Coming Down

It's not a good idea to quit this thing by celebrating with a giant plate o'starch. You'll wind up feeling nasty and headachey and bloated. Start by keeping your three-day meal schedule (which is actually a good thing to keep up with in the long term). Introduce starch, dairy and sugars gradually and in small amounts - for instance, have a piece of whole wheat toast at breakfast and some milk and sugar in your coffee or tea. Have some brown rice with dinner. Go wild and eat a cup of yogurt between lunch and dinner.

Over the next ten days, you can start eating more normally and in-between meals. It's a good idea to start adding things like yogurt and milk and cheese in moderation, as they might upset your stomach a bit at first. If you O.D. on starches and sugar right away, I can pretty much guarantee you that your ten pound loss will be extremely short-lived.

If you start drinking again, do it in extreme moderation - one beer or one glass of wine a day. Your body will suck up alcohol and turn it into pudge like there's no tomorrow.

If you keep eating your scheduled three meals a day, start a moderate exercise program, and continue to drink a lot of water and grapefruit juice, you may be surprised at how easy it is to keep the weight off. It can be a very effective way to jump-start a healthier diet and exercise regimen as long as you do it as written and only for the ten day period for which it is designed.

Personal Experiences

I am a healthy person in general. I have a blessed metabolism and don't generally tend toward being very heavy, but I can put on pounds during the winter or if I've been drinking a bit. I've used this diet on three separate occasions - once for a wedding I was in, once last Spring when I wanted to be hawt in a new bikini, and once just because I wanted to start a healthier eating schedule.

The bottom line is this: it works, but it's really easy to pack the ten pounds back on. You can stop the yo-yo effect as long as you're willing to adhere to a regular eating schedule, a healthy exercise regimen, and limited snacking between meals.

The time I used it as a springboard to a better way of eating proved to be most efficient. I still tend to eat very little between meals and fill up on salads, green veggies, and proteins at mealtime. I still drink a ton of water and have learned to love unsweetened grapefruit juice. This has had the added benefit of making my skin look better, too - vitamin C plus lots of water is a great equation for healthy skin. After ten days of regular mealtimes it became much, much easier for me to eat on a schedule, and any dietician or nutritionist will tell you that's half the battle to long-term weight loss.

So yeah, it's been a good diet for me, but that doesn't mean it's up your particular alley. Don't start it without a good hard look at your current state of health and do not, I repeat, do not use it more than once a year at most. It's better to learn how to discipline yourself to eat on a schedule and eat fewer between-meal snacks.

Important Caveat!

Apatrix and Excalibre were both astute enough to point out that anyone on any sort of medication should refrain entirely from grapefruit. The fruit and its juice will nullify the effects of many, many kinds of important medications. So be warned and be safe, gentle noders.

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