At the beginning of the 20th century, the so-called “diet of the grapefruit” or “Hollywood 18 day diet”. It was then that the belief took root that a diet based on this fruit —taken raw, in juice, or even as an extract in capsules—could cause weight loss of up to 10 kilos in two weeks. And it still lasts to this day.
Recently, the details of this diet were studied by our research group, which has allowed us to answer several questions. Among them, what was its origin, what It is located mainly in the states of Texas, Ohio, Florida and Californiaencouraged by the food and film industries.
The production of the fruit baptized as citrus from paradise Originally started in Tampa, Florida in 1823. In 1920, growers managed to obtain a pink-fleshed grapefruitwhich triggered its production: from around one and a half million fruit trees in 1910, it rose to almost nine million in 1930.
Grapefruit in the movies
This increase in production encouraged the film industry to cast him in a role. In 1921, a magazine for moviegoers, picturegoer, promoted its consumption describing it as star fruit. In fact, the actress ethel barrymoregreat aunt of drew Barrymorewas responsible for making it fashionable.
In the 1920s, the Paso del Norte hotel in El Paso, Texas, and the LaSalle & Koch tea room in Toledo, Ohio, offered the famous star’s diet. Apart from grapefruit, it included tomato, eggs and lettuce. In fact, Ethel was a regular at that tea room, in addition to consuming the fruit in the house of the actress and decorator. elsie de wolfe. Here she drank it through the cocktail created by De Wolfe herself, the Pink Lady, which had grapefruit juice, gin and Cointreau.
[El misterioso híbrido entre mandarina y pomelo que te ayudará a perder peso]
It is interesting to note that among the hoaxes that emerged at the time, it was circulated that Ethel would have paid $500 to the brothers William James and Charles Horace Mayo —founders of the Mayo Clinic— to design a special treatment for her. On her day the entity flatly denied any association with this diet.
In the 1930s, the citrus from paradise took center stage in the film hard to peel (1933), where the actor James Cagney gave life to a publicist who manages to shoot up his price by associating it with the Hollywood slimming regimen. Cagney would have something with this fruit: two years before, threw it at actress Mae Clarke’s face in the public enemy.
The results of our study indicate that both the food and film industries had commercial interests in the consumption of grapefruit. The promotion, intentional or not, of Ethel Barrymore is explained by the credibility that was granted by personalizing it through a famous character. This is reflected in other diets to lose weight such as Dr. Shelton’s, Atkins, Montignac or Dukan, which appeared in later decades.
Diet and nutrients
Our group has been able to catalog three references to the grapefruit diet, from 1925, 1929, and 2008. The latter, as we have shown, is poorly transcribed and we discarded it. Among them there are variations, although they all share the consumption of the fruit or its juice. After the evaluation, we have observed that it is a diet with very few calories (below 610 kcal/day) and ketogenic (low in carbohydrates and proteins). That is, it turns out dangerous to health, according to the new classification established by our group.
Another question is whether the fruit can be used in slimming treatments. As we pointed out in our work, a review of several studies published in 2017 does not provide significant results in terms of reducing body weight.
If we look at specific articles (that are not reviews), we have detected three that assessed the effects of its intake. In it first was examined how the daily consumption, for six weeks, of almost two Rio Red grapefruits affected. But this variety was introduced in 1984 and is therefore not the same variety used in the original diet.
The conclusions of the others two research neither can they be extrapolated because they are carried out over 12 weeks, compared to 18 days for the Hollywood diet. We are not in favor of carrying out a study based on the regime of the 1920s to verify if it is effective or not, since, As we pointed out before, it is a hypocaloric and dangerous diet.
It could even cause harmful interactions with certain drugs, since grapefruit inhibits the cytochrome P450 isoenzyme (CYP3A4), responsible for the metabolism of several drugs. This would increase the plasma concentrations of the drug and, consequently, its ability to be absorbed, which can increase up to five times. For all these reasons, if you need to lose weight, do not trust diets without scientific endorsement and go to a dietitian-nutritionist, who will help you carry out a weight loss treatment that is appropriate to your needs and will increase your quality of life.
*José Miguel Soriano del Castillo is Professor of Nutrition and Food Science in the Department of Preventive Medicine and Public Health at the University of Valencia; Mª Inmaculada Zarzo Llobel is a PhD student in Medicine at the University of Valencia.
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The dangerous diet to lose weight in 18 days that Drew Barrymore’s grandmother made fashionable