Can Man Live by a Fruit Diet Alone?

By Nicole German (RD, LD)

fruit-dietAshton Kutcher and Steve Jobs have made the news in the past for following a fruit only diet.

Many will follow an all-fruit diet as part of a fast or detox, but some try to eat this way 24/7.

The all-fruit diet has gone by many names in the past:

All of these diets are variations on living off of mostly fruits (some include a few vegetables).

But, can you survive by only eating fruit?

Low Protein, No Fat

avocadoThis is the main problem with a fruitarian diet. However, avocados are considered fruits that are also excellent healthy fat sources.

  • One whole avocado contains 4 grams of protein as well.
  • One cup of dried figs contains about 5 grams of protein.
  • There are some other fruits that contain 1 or 2 grams per 100 calorie serving. But, overall, your protein intake would be very low.

Without the protein we need everyday, and if other nutrients are not in balance, the body’s homeostasis becomes disturbed. Muscle wasting can occur and other body systems may “malfunction”.

The lack of fat in the diet leads to low levels of satiety. And people on the fruit diet may notice a dullness to your hair, skin, and nails.

A Fruit Diet has too Much Sugar!

strawberry and sugarI beg and plead my weight loss patients to eat more fruit in their day. But, in this case, it is important to watch your sugars. Eating only carbohydrates made of mostly sugars and fibers can run a toll on the blood glucose levels.

The body does a great job of processing carbohydrates, but if you eat sweet fruits all day long, the pancreas has to work even harder.

Ashton Kutcher was recently hospitalized for pancreas problems while following an all fruit diet for his portrayal of Steve Jobs, who died of pancreatic cancer.

Hungry Yet?

An all-fruit diet can leave you feeling ravenous. Why? There is very little protein to help keep you fuller longer, and there is little to no fat to keep you satisfied and happy. The high carbohydrates make keep your serotonin levels boosted, but only for so long.

At least the fruits have fibers to help keep you a little bit fuller. However, the end result is a gnawing hunger likely due to the nutrient imbalance.

Have you ever tried a fruitarian diet?

16 Comments

  1. Tova

    Yes, fruitarian two months. Severe abdominal pain, went to Emergency Room. Pancreas levels are high, low white blood count, and I’m just hoping I didn’t do permanent damage to my body. Gained 5 pounds and my digestion is just not right now. DON’T DO IT!! Young healthy people may get away with it, like Freelee on Youtube, but we’ll see where she is in about ten years. My guess is she will have some sort of major health issue(s).

    Reply
  2. Mai

    I dont like not seeing dates to comments. Its not a really big deal but lets me know how recent things are.
    3-4-2016
    Check out Don Bennetts material
    His website is Health101
    He has a lot of good info about nutrition.
    He personally eats a raw vegan diet.
    Not everything about nutrition is there or maybe missing some things or wrong at least partly as learning is a process and people learn more overtime.
    But I think he is a person that thinks and researches things well.
    There are many factors/variables,etc that can affect how something works.
    If you check the USDA’s database on the nutrient content of food. There is nutrition that is lower than before contained in produce.
    I can go on but I would like to keep it short and add more maybe later.

    Reply
  3. France

    I tried it for 6 months. It gave me acne, gained 18 pounds, was bloated and had to be near a bathroom all the time. It made me tired and worst, it made my hair break and fall out…finally, I just felt like eating a box of salt…so I gave it up. Lost the 18 pounds and more, completely clear skin, my hair stopped falling and breaking…not bloated at all. I am following a protein diet (fish) and no fruits what so ever…I can’t eat fruits ..it makes me ill. I only feel good eating fish, no sugar, lots of brown rice, no dairy (except some milk), asparagus, no bread, no cereals, no bran and all that stuffy stuff….then I feel great. So I follow what my body says it wants.

    Reply
  4. Irene Lesely

    I could eat avacados whole on their own, I cant get enough of them. Do have any other proper uses for them, tips etc ?

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  5. Sue K.

    I’m a zone girl, have been for over 15 years. I would never eat a fruit only diet, but I have a couple friends who have tried it. They both ended up with muscle cramping and overall weakness. No thanks!

    Reply
  6. Danni

    I tried a fruitarian diet for a whole week, last year.

    I constantly craved strange things like milk and chocolate, and the effort didn’t even pay off. It was horrible.
    I lost 5lbs but actually gained fat. Not only did I weigh myself, I measured my waist circumference as well as skin fold fat with some calipers.

    I have recently started the Perfect Health Diet which follows the Primal blueprint but includes some other staples and it is the best thing for me. I am finally shifting the last few pounds of fat, and I am not craving snacks. All this, after being a vegetarian for a year – it is a massive change and I’ll never go back.

    Reply
    • Jim

      Fascinating. Thanks for sharing. As in the comments below, one of the big issues here is protein. I wonder what it was in the milk and chocolate you were craving.

      When I first completely cut all dairy, I had the most insane cravings for sugar. Prior to that I would scoff (just a little) at people who talked about cravings, assuming they just had poor willpower. Now I see it differently.

      Reply
      • Andrew

        Likely it was the fat.

        Reply
  7. Madijo

    Yikes! Imagine the money you would spend on this diet.

    Reply
  8. julianne

    I did an analysis on Fruitarian Durianriders (Harley Johnston) diet. He consumed massive amounts of sugar, yet he shows perfect blood tests. It takes 7000 cals day of fruit to get sufficient protein in his diet. http://paleozonenutrition.com/2011/03/05/30-bananas-a-day-durianrider-an-analysis-of-his-paleo-vegan-diet/

    Reply
    • Dan

      Even though I am mostly Vegan/Vegetarian, I thought this analysis was very interesting. I am stricter about avoiding animal slaughter products, than I am about avoiding dairy and eggs. I eat a lot of nuts and seeds everyday for protein, I also eat soybeans and beans. He probably doesn’t eat that many beans or nuts and seeds, as I do. He does eat a lot more fruit than I, although I eat a good amount that still is far less than he consumes. I seem, since I eat a lot of fiber, to spend a lot of time in the restroom, just as this says. I would think he consumes even more fiber than I do, and I wonder if he spends a lot of time in the restroom. 9000 calories of food that is high in fiber would send a person to the restroom quite a lot. I am very active, but I consume about 3500 calories a day, and not all of it is high in fiber. I also have made the argument on a Vegan blog that Vegans can get a lot more nutrients such as protein on the 3000 calories a day by being very active than 1000 calories a day by being inactive. Another person made the point that Douglas Graham made this same point. I eat fortified foods, such as cereals and soymilk for B12 and Vitamin D. However, it is true that bacteria make this vitamin, and these are not made by animals, it just is the case that animals store this vitamin. DHA and EPA can be derived from algal sources. Vitamin D can come from mushrooms exposed to ultra violet light. I am not completely Vegan, but I try to be strictly no animal slaughter products. I eat a greater variety of plant products than Harley would. This was an interesting analysis, although I am more sympathetic to the Vegan cause than the Paleo one. I come more from an ethical point of view, rather than that a person cannot possibly be healthy if they eat any meat. My ethic is that one should kill animals only if there is an absolute necessity. Eating meat is not necessary, although it might be for the Inuit, since vegetation does not grow where they live.

      Reply
  9. Hannah

    Yes, I have tried a fruitarian diet before. I stuck to it for a year and I’ve lost 40 pounds (160 to 120). However, it was the most painful weight loss, because I was constantly feeling hunger pangs, even after I just ate an all-fruit meal. Sticking to this diet has actually caused me to develop anorexia (of which I am recovering from). So my suggestion would be: Yes, an all-fruit diet would be okay for short-term weight loss, but it has consequences if you stick to it for too long.

    Reply
    • Nicole German (RD, LD)

      This is good insight for others, thanks for sharing!

      Reply
  10. Spectra

    No, I don’t think that limiting your diet to one specific type of food is ever a great idea. Fruit alone is a great source of certain vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and natural carbohydrates, but you also need fat and protein for your body to function properly. I would imagine it’d be extremely difficult to get all the protein you need on a diet like this.

    Reply
  11. Bethany

    I could never. Fruit alone doesn’t even fill me up for a snack!

    Reply