Friday, January 22, 2010

Grapefruit, Miraclefruit

For awhile, I used to keep a running list in my head of things that I thought I hated, but upon trying FOR THE FIRST TIME, realized they weren't so bad, and in all cases, proceeded to become obsessed with the item. The fact that there were so many items that I decided I didn't like without even trying them was childish. I'm not sure when or how I decided to grow up, but it seems the largest gains in acceptable foods came between 19 and 23. Water, red peppers, asparagus, artichokes, cous-cous, curry, brown rice, and grapefruit all became part of my repertoire.

The timing of my grapefruit obsession coincided with my discovery of water (stopped drinking soda and fruit juice which were the ONLY things I drank), and a pretty large boost in my activity level. Nine months later I was at my healthiest weight since being 5 years old. A good friend of mine who hadn't seen me in a year could not believe my transition. She informed me about 37 times how great I looked, then asked me what I had been doing differently. With my Nalgene bottle in hand, I said "I started drinking water, almost exclusively, I drink coffee and beer as well. I discovered running. Oh, and I've been eating 1/2 a grapefruit every morning." She replied: "grapefruit are supposed to contain enzymes that aid in weight loss."

I had heard vague rumblings about the benefits of grapefruit in the past, of course the grapefruit diet, etc., but for some reason her words really stuck with me. My grapefruit obsession continued for at least another year, and I was maintaining my fitness and my healthy weight. The end of my grapefruit obsession coincided with me graduating college, moving to a new city, and becoming slightly less active.

Now if this were a scientific experiment, it would be bunk. There are so many variables, grapefruit alone can not be isolated and therefore a determination made on its effects. However, I do know this much, the time in my life I was eating the most grapefruit was also the time in my life I was at the healthiest weight. Just as there are many factors that got me to be where I am today, there are many factors that got me to where I was then. I have nothing to lose (except weight, hopefully) by adding grapefruit to my diet, along with my increased exercise routine, drinking water, and eating less.

I have been eating 2 grapefruits a week for the past 3 weeks now. For the first time in three years I have been losing weight. I decided to do some internet research on grapefruit to see if maybe it was just a placebo effect. I was immediately directed to flashy sites wanting to sell me their grapefruit diet plans, but one site actually had a link to a real medical study on the effects of grapefruit.

The study consisted of 100 men and women who over a 12 week period made no dietary changes except adding 1/2 a grapefruit to every meal, and slightly increasing exercise. On average, participants lost 3.5 pounds, with many losing as much as 10 pounds. Additionally, the research indicates that there is a connection between grapefruit and insulin, as it relates to weight management. It is thought that the chemical properties of grapefruit reduce insulin levels and encourage weight loss! If you are still skeptical, and want to look at the data to back up these claims for yourself, here is the link to the article.

I am a firm believer in the positive effects of grapefruit, and recognize now that they must be a part of my life forever.

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