Is Grapefruit Good or Bad For Bodybuilding? (Pros & Cons)

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As a dietitian, I’m going to explain the role of grapefruit in bodybuilding diets, especially during cutting phases. With its low-calorie count, high fiber, and rich vitamin C content, grapefruit offers unique benefits for muscle recovery and energy levels. However, its acidity requires strategic timing around workouts.

Key Takeaways

  • Grapefruit is low in calories and high in fiber, perfect for bodybuilders on a cut. 1 cup has 97 calories, 3.7 grams of fiber (15% of daily needs), and 24.6 grams of carbs to support energy levels and keep you satiated.
  • Grapefruit is rich in vitamin C (1 cup providing 80% of daily needs). This nutrient is essential for supporting immune function and can limit muscle inflammation, promoting recovery.
  • Given its acidity, avoid grapefruit shortly before training, as it can lead to GI discomfort. Instead, pair it with protein (e.g., a protein shake) and healthy fats (e.g., nuts) for a balanced snack to kickstart recovery after a workout.

Grapefruit: Overview

nutritional content of one cup of grapefruit


One cup of grapefruit has less than 100 calories.

If you are in a bulking phase, this might not be a huge benefit since you need to consume many calories to gain muscle.

However, this is the perfect fruit to add if you are in a cutting phase. 

Since it is low in calories, it will give you energy for training without piling up too many calories. 


Grapefruit has only one macronutrient: carbs. 

Carbs are the primary fuel source for the body and are necessary for bodybuilders to train hard and recover well.

That said, grapefruit doesn’t have as many carbs compared to other fruits like bananas and figs. 

One cup of grapefruit has 24.6 grams of carbs, whereas the same amount of sliced banana provides 34 grams.

grapefruit for bodybuilding

But, not all carbs are created equal.  One of the advantages of grapefruit is its high fiber content. One cup has 3.7 g, almost 15% of the recommended fiber intake

I’ll explain more about the benefits of fiber for bodybuilding below.  

Benefits of Grapefruit

benefits of grapefruit for bodybuilding

Promotes Weight Loss

Weight loss is achieved when you eat fewer calories than your body needs.

One study investigating the impact of grapefruit on weight loss had promising results. 

They were given placebo capsules, grapefruit juice, grapefruit capsules, or fresh grapefruit. The fresh grapefruit group lost an average of 1.6 kg, more than the other groups. 

It was seen that eating half a grapefruit before a meal led to significant weight loss. 

This could be due to its high fiber content, creating a more satiating effect. In other words, you don’t overeat with your meals after eating a grapefruit. 

Improves Collagen Synthesis

Musculoskeletal injuries are one of the top problems for people who constantly train. 

Collagen is the most abundant protein in the body. It is the primary component of connective tissue, including ligaments, muscles, tendons, and skin.

Having adequate collagen helps strengthen connective tissues and could aid in reducing the injuries perceived during training. 

Any foods that aid in the increased synthesis of collagen help achieve this goal.

Vitamin C is one of the nutrients needed for synthesizing and maintaining collagen. Hence, grapefruit, a vitamin C food, could help reduce musculoskeletal injuries.

In one study, male subjects were given different doses of vitamin C with gelatin, and collagen synthesis was measured through their blood. The results were positive. 

Adding vitamin C and gelatin improved collagen synthesis, leading to injury prevention and tissue repair.

Enhances Hydration With High Water Content

Staying adequately hydrated is crucial for bodybuilders, as it impacts muscle function, energy levels, and recovery. A mere two percent dehydration can limit your workout performance.

Grapefruit stands out in this regard, as it is composed of about 88% water

While it’s not a substitute for drinking water, consuming foods with high water content, like grapefruit, can contribute significantly to daily hydration needs. 

The recommended water intake is 3.7 liters for men and 2.7 liters for women, but you may need more or less depending on how much you sweat.

Rich In Antioxidants For Higher Recovery 

Muscle inflammation can be higher in bodybuilders due to their intense training sessions. 

While necessary for growth, too much inflammation can impair recovery and affect your performance in future workouts.

Grapefruit, being a rich source of antioxidants like vitamin C, flavonoids, and lycopene (particularly in pink and red varieties), offers a natural way to combat this. 

These antioxidants can help neutralize free radicals (molecules that damage healthy cells), reducing oxidative stress and aiding in faster recovery post-workout. 

Aids Digestive Health For Nutrient Absorption

The fiber in grapefruit is beneficial not just for weight management but also for digestive health. 

For bodybuilders, efficient nutrient absorption from food is crucial, and a healthy digestive system plays a significant role in this. 

The dietary fiber in grapefruit aids in maintaining regular bowel movements and can help prevent digestive issues such as constipation, which can sometimes result from high-protein diets typical in bodybuilding.

Plus, Shannon Clark, an author and personal trainer, notes:

“By (adding higher fiber foods) to your diet, you slow the digestion process down (since these are complex carbohydrate sources which take longer to digest) meaning you will stay fuller for a longer period of time, thus also helping keep your total calorie level in check.”

Boosts Immune Function For Consistent Training 

The high vitamin C content in grapefruit, 80% of the recommended daily value in 1 cup, enhances the immune system

Having a strong immune system reduces the risk of various illnesses and allows you to recover more quickly if you do get sick. 

This means you’re less likely to miss workouts due to illness and can spend more time on productive training.

Drawbacks of Grapefruit

drawbacks of grapefruit for bodybuilding

Might Produce Acid Reflux or Acidity

Grapefruit is a highly acidic food, with juice from this fruit having a pH of 2.9 to 3.3

For people who have constant acid reflux or GERD, adding grapefruit might make your symptoms worse. It could lead to heartburn or regurgitation.

Any of those symptoms affect you from training since you might feel too ill to hit the gym. Also, having reflux during the time you are lifting can be very dangerous.

Hence, if you have any of these symptoms, I recommend avoiding grapefruit altogether. 

Not Ideal For Bulking Due To Low Caloric Density

Bodybuilders need to eat plenty of calories in the bulking phase to gain weight and muscle steadily.

Grapefruit, while nutritious, has a low caloric density, meaning it provides fewer calories relative to its volume. 

The high water and fiber content can fill you up without adding many calories to your daily total, making it difficult to achieve the necessary surplus.

Consuming foods with higher caloric density is more effective when trying to increase caloric intake.  Better fruit options for bulking would be bananas, dates, and raisins.  

Can You Eat Grapefruit Before Workouts?

Grapefruit might not be the best pre-workout snack. Since it is acidic, it might produce heartburn in some people, resulting in impaired training. 

“Many people with gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) find that citrus juices, including orange or grapefruit juice, seem to cause acid reflux and heartburn.”

Jillian Kubala, registered dietitian and health writer

Also, even if grapefruit has a good amount of carbs to sustain training, its high fiber content (before training) might produce some bloating, affecting performance.

If you want grapefruit as a pre-workout snack, I recommend having it at least 2-3 hours before your workout routine. 

Add some extra carbs like honey to have that energy boost you need before your training.

Also, include some Greek yogurt (protein) or chia seeds (healthy fats) for a more complete pre-workout snack. 

Can You Eat Grapefruit After Workouts?

Yes, grapefruit is a good snack to have post-exercise as it has carbs to help you replenish lost glycogen (the complex carbs stored in your muscles as fuel). However, if you have other options, grapefruit may not be the best carb source directly post-workout.

Grapefruit has a low glycemic index (GI) of 22-25 (depending on the variety and ripeness), meaning it’s slow digesting. 

Following a workout, an insulin spike from higher glycemic carbs (quick-digesting carbs) is more beneficial because it helps the body quickly and efficiently absorb sugars and proteins.

This helps replenish glycogen and support muscle protein synthesis for repair and growth.

So, fruits (and carbs, in general) with a higher GI may be better after training: pineapple, watermelon, banana, black grapes, and melon.

Also, one of the drawbacks of grapefruit is its lack of protein. You need at least a minimum of 0.3 g of protein per kilogram of body weight post-workout to help muscle recovery. 

Add some cottage cheese along with grapefruit to increase its nutrient content. Additionally, add some healthy fats for that extra boost in recovery. For example, cashews.

Other Fruits For Bodybuilding

Check out my other fruit resources: 


University of California, San Francisco (UCSF) Health. Increasing fiber intake. Retrieved from

Fujioka K, Greenway F, Sheard J, Ying Y. The effects of grapefruit on weight and insulin resistance: relationship to the metabolic syndrome. J Med Food. 2006 Spring;9(1):49-54. doi: 10.1089/jmf.2006.9.49. PMID: 16579728.

Goes RA, Lopes LR, Cossich VRA, de Miranda VAR, Coelho ON, do Carmo Bastos R, Domenis LAM, Guimarães JAM, Grangeiro-Neto JA, Perini JA. Musculoskeletal injuries in athletes from five modalities: a cross-sectional study. BMC Musculoskelet Disord. 2020 Feb 24;21(1):122. doi: 10.1186/s12891-020-3141-8. PMID: 32093651; PMCID: PMC7041260.

Shaw G, Lee-Barthel A, Ross ML, Wang B, Baar K. Vitamin C-enriched gelatin supplementation before intermittent activity augments collagen synthesis. Am J Clin Nutr. 2017 Jan;105(1):136-143. doi: 10.3945/ajcn.116.138594. Epub 2016 Nov 16. PMID: 27852613; PMCID: PMC5183725.

Judge LW, Bellar DM, Popp JK, Craig BW, Schoeff MA, Hoover DL, Fox B, Kistler BM, Al-Nawaiseh AM. Hydration to Maximize Performance and Recovery: Knowledge, Attitudes, and Behaviors Among Collegiate Track and Field Throwers. J Hum Kinet. 2021 Jul 28;79:111-122. doi: 10.2478/hukin-2021-0065. PMID: 34400991; PMCID: PMC8336541.

National Academies. Title of the chapter. In Title of the Book/Report (pp. page range of the chapter). Retrieved from

Ranchordas MK, Rogerson D, Soltani H, Costello JT. Antioxidants for preventing and reducing muscle soreness after exercise. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2017 Dec 14;12(12):CD009789. doi: 10.1002/14651858.CD009789.pub2. PMID: 29238948; PMCID: PMC6486214.

Santesso N, Akl EA, Bianchi M, Mente A, Mustafa R, Heels-Ansdell D, Schünemann HJ. Effects of higher- versus lower-protein diets on health outcomes: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Eur J Clin Nutr. 2012 Jul;66(7):780-8. doi: 10.1038/ejcn.2012.37. Epub 2012 Apr 18. PMID: 22510792; PMCID: PMC3392894.

Carr AC, Maggini S. Vitamin C and Immune Function. Nutrients. 2017 Nov 3;9(11):1211. doi: 10.3390/nu9111211. PMID: 29099763; PMCID: PMC5707683.

Slater GJ, Dieter BP, Marsh DJ, Helms ER, Shaw G, Iraki J. Is an Energy Surplus Required to Maximize Skeletal Muscle Hypertrophy Associated With Resistance Training. Front Nutr. 2019 Aug 20;6:131. doi: 10.3389/fnut.2019.00131. PMID: 31482093; PMCID: PMC6710320.

Kerksick C, Harvey T, Stout J, Campbell B, Wilborn C, Kreider R, Kalman D, Ziegenfuss T, Lopez H, Landis J, Ivy JL, Antonio J. International Society of Sports Nutrition position stand: nutrient timing. J Int Soc Sports Nutr. 2008 Oct 3;5:17. doi: 10.1186/1550-2783-5-17. Erratum in: J Int Soc Sports Nutr. 2008;5:18. PMID: 18834505; PMCID: PMC2575187.

About The Author

Brenda Peralta

Brenda Peralta is a Registered Dietitian and certified sports nutritionist.  In addition to being an author for, she fact checks the hundreds of articles published across the website to ensure accuracy and consistency of information.

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