Is the Fruitarian Diet all it is cracked up to be? Discover the pros and cons of the diet and whether it is right for you.
The Fruitarian diet is, as the name may suggest, a diet in which only fruit may be consumed.
The main focus for the diet is eating fresh, uncooked fruit – ideally organic, heirloom varieties. Making smoothies and juices is generally permitted.
Followers of the diet can drink as much water as they like, however some do find that fruits supply almost all the water content they need. Most adopters of the Fruitarian diet see it as a way of life, evolving to it after having been Vegan or Raw Vegan for a length of time.
As you might expect this is an incredibly restrictive diet.
For many people eating only fruit would be almost completely impossible to follow, therefore most adopters of the Fruitarian diet will relax the rules just a little and include a small amount of raw vegetables, nuts and seeds in their diet.
Typically anyone who ensures that over 75% of their diet is still made up of raw fruit would be considered a Fruitarian, as long as the remaining 25% of the diet is made up of vegetables, nuts andseeds.
Food groups such as meat, dairy and cereals are not permitted in any amounts, even on a more relaxed Fruitarian diet.
Most followers of the diet are also dedicated to consuming only high quality ripe fruits that are in-season, organic and heirloom where possible.
Why Do The Fruitarian Diet?
The Fruitarian diet can lead to weight loss however for the overwhelming majority of people who follow this diet this is not the driving factor.
The Fruitarian diet is most commonly followed by those who have previously adopted a Vegan lifestyle that has evolved into a desire to become Fruitarian.
It is seen as a diet that promotes wellbeing, health and good energy.
Some devotees of the Fruitarian way of eating also believe it to be the original diet of mankind (1), whilst some are drawn to it by a desire not to kill anything, including plants.
Many followers of the diet do so for health reasons and claim to have greater mental clarity, more energy, clearer skin and strengthened immune systems.
There are also reported to be benefits for those suffering from digestive problems such as irritable bowel syndrome, chronic constipation and intolerances. However it should be noted that these claims are anecdotal (2) and there isn’t any definitive scientific evidence to back up such claims.
What Does A Fruitarian Eat?
The Fruitarian dietary intake will vary from person to person. It can be flexible depending on personal tastes, seasonal availability of fruit, budgets, location, lifestyle and dietary needs.
The Fruitarian society states that a typical diet might be as follows:
- Early morning (6-9 a.m.): The juice of three to five lemons immediately upon waking, raisins and an unlimited amount of melon or melon juice.
- Mid-morning (9 a.m. to 12 p.m.): An unlimited amount of apples, pineapple, figs, pears, grapes, yellow plums, Lima beans, kiwi and cucumber.
- Noon (12-3 p.m.): Oranges or tangerines, peaches, apricots and papayas in any amount desired
- Mid-afternoon (3-6 p.m.): Mango, cherries, strawberries, red plums, persimmons, pomegranates, watermelon and tomatoes.
- Evening (6-9 p.m.): Grapes, blackberries and raspberries.
- Late evening (9 p.m. to 12 a.m.): Mango, cherries, strawberries, red plums, persimmons, pomegranates, watermelon and tomatoes.
Level Of Effort Required
The Fruitarian diet requires a considerable amount of effort, but perhaps in different ways from other diets. In terms of meal preparations there is little to no cooking time required which saves time compared to many diet programs – you can say goodbye to spending Sunday’s batch-cooking and freezing meals for the week ahead!
Similarly there isn’t much, if any, time spent calorie counting, weighing ingredients or scouring the internet for rare ingredients. However you should be prepared to take your own food with you to work, day trips and even to friend’s houses as you might not always be able to get something suitable to eat when you are on the go.
The Fruitarian diet does present challenges in other ways, for example in the quantity of food required.
The amount of fruit consumed by a Fruitarian in a typical day can be considerable, as seen in the typical daily menu above.
In order to have fresh, good quality, organic fruit available 24/7 it’s likely that you’ll need to make several trips to a quality supermarket or farmer’s market throughout the week. This can be time consuming, particularly if you have a demanding job, don’t have a car or for those who don’t live close to a good quality vendor.
My Experience With Food Quantity
As a runner, I found I had to eat a lot of food in order to feel anything remotely satiated. I would consume large smoothies in order to get the calories in. I would mix up 10 ripe bananas and a few dates and drink these in the morning and at lunch in order to get through the day.
Unfortunately, no matter what I tried, I always wanted something more in the evenings.
I would incorporate a large salad in the evenings after having some fruit but it always felt like something was missing overall.
Some fruits I also found, that no matter how many I ate, would not make me feel satiated at all. An example of this was apples. They just never hit the spot and I always felt hungry after eating them.
You do have to be prepared to eat a lot if you want to maintain your weight and sanity.
It’s important to factor in the cost of this diet too. Although it doesn’t require expensive meat, supplements or a highly priced subscription,
a diet solely of fruit can be expensive.
This is especially true if you try to source a variety of fruits and are keen to stick to good quality, organic produce.
It’s pretty common practice for Fruitarians to bulk-buy their favorite fruits where possible, in particular items like bananas. This can help save some money and ensure you have a constant supply, butfruit and vegetables are bulky and storing this amount of food can be an issue, particularly in small inner-city apartments.
My Experience With Cost
If you are used to having a tight budget then the cost will shock you. It can get quite expensive but you can cut costs by buying in bulk. Many fruitarians buy bananas in bulk (while others do not include bananas in their diet at all).
Bananas are cheap for the calories you get and even if you don’t buy in bulk, they still are relatively cheap if you just buy from your local store.
I bought bananas in bulk and also other fruits too. This cut down my costs considerably. However I did have to eat mono-meals (one fruit at a meal) regularly to make this work.
Some people believe mono-mealing is better for you but in all honesty I found no difference to my digestion if I decided to mix things up. The only difference is that it does make it easier to organize your food quantity.
It’s also important to ensure the fruit being eaten is ripe. This can mean storing the food for several days after purchase.
Ripe fruit typically has more antioxidants and contains less starch making it more easily digestible, which is beneficial when it’s being eaten in the quantity required by Fruitarians.
There’s a handy guide to telling when fruit is properly ripe here. Try and strike a balance with this as you don’t want it to go bad!
My Experience With Ripeness
Ripeness can be challenging. As I bought bananas in bulk, I would place them in different places around the house. Some would go in warmer places while others in colder. This would mean that they would ripen in various stages and I wouldn’t end up with all of them ripe at the same time. This does take time to get right though.
This isn’t possible with all fruit though as a lot of fruit does not ripen once it has been picked.
Can I Eat A Lot Of Fruit & Lose Weight?
As we’ve said previously the Fruitarian diet isn’t commonly adopted by those wanting to lose weight, instead it’s more commonly chosen as a further expression of the Vegan lifestyle by those seeking emotional and physical wellbeing.
That being said there are likely to be weight loss benefits.
Fruit is low in calories which means eating large portions of it should leave you feeling satisfied, but still staying well within your recommended daily calorie intake. This diet is low in fat and low in sodium too.
Most fruits are also mainly comprised of fiber and water which means they won’t stay in your gut for long.
In fact one of the main side effects of the diet is needing to go to the toilet often. Something which is particularly noticeable in the first few days of the diet.
In early stages of the diet most people also experience increased levels of gut activity as these vast amounts of fiber are broken down and digested, this is most commonly in the form of a bubbling sensation and some gurgling noises – something to be aware of if you work in a particularly quiet office!
My Experience With Weight Loss
I have always been quite slender so losing weight wasn’t a goal for me on this diet when I did it. Unfortunately I did end up losing quite a bit and my body fat percentage at one time got down to an awfully low 10%. I looked awful.
That was at the beginning of the diet though and eventually I did put on a little bit but…
…I was the skinniest I had ever been
I found it difficult to find any clothing that fit and everything just hung off me. Looking back I did look pretty ill.
I lost a lot of muscle too which was particularly evident in my arms. As you are getting less protein this is probably not surprising.
i haven’t been on this diet in a very long time now and I have not suddenly put on lots of weight as a result. I did put on a little but I believe this to be me gaining back some muscle more so than actual fat.
How Do Fruitarians Get Their Protein?
Some people will have you believe that to get enough protein on this diet you can eat a mountain of salad to make up for the lack of protein in fruit. Some people will also have you believe that you get enough protein regardless and that the “standard” diet most people live on has excess protein.
Reality is – from my own experience – that it just doesn’t provide enough. On a fruitarian diet I had muscle wastage. Quite a lot. If you like the thin frail look then you should be alright – if you don’t then this diet is just not going to cut it for you.
Yes you can probably survive but it won’t be thriving.
Celebrity Endorsements Or Not So Endorsements
It is rumored that Apple founder Steve Jobs chose to name the company as such as he was, at the time, experimenting with a raw food diet.
In preparation for playing Steve Jobs in the biopic Jobs, actor Ashton Kutcher embraced method-acting and adopted the Apple founder’s Fruitarian diet. Kutcher was reported at the time as saying the diet was extremely hard to follow, left him ill and was even briefly hospitalized as a result (3).
There are several bloggers and Youtubers who are advocates of the Fruitarian lifestyle. The most prominent of which is arguably the Norwegian brothers Mikkel and Mads Gisle Johnsen who share informative, educational lifestyle videos on their channel, Sweet Natural Living (4).
Pros Of The Fruitarian Diet
The Fruitarian diet has some definite pros which are easy to see. As the diet is comprised of only fruits it is low cholesterol, high in vitamins and anti-oxidants.
Cholesterol can lead to a build-up of fatty acids in the arteries and lead to heart disease, stroke and circulatory problems, it’s a worry for many people in today’s society and it’s important to consider this when looking at diets.
Simple To Follow
The rules of the Fruitarian diet are simple to follow and don’t require subscriptions, books, groups or diet plans – just willpower and perhaps a little creativity in the kitchen! As the guiding principal of the diet is only to eat fruit it’s easy to follow.
Quantities of fruit to be eaten on the diet are not restricted (though it is recommended to try and stick to your daily recommended calorie intake). So there should be no feelings of hunger or deprivation.
Fruit is also normally readily available when you’re on the go so you should never have to go without for too long.
Fruit Is Sweet & Tastes Good
Fruit tastes good!
Compared to diets such as the cabbage soup diet, cayenne pepper fast or processed shakes, eating good fresh fruit every day is delightful.
There are also many different types of fruit to experiment with, from familiar items like apples, bananas and peaches to exotic durian fruits, dragon fruit and mangosteen.
There have also been some reports that the diet is beneficial for those who have previously suffered from eating disorders.
As the Fruitarian lifestyle focuses on fresh, healthy food which is easily digested and does not require excessive calorie counting or restrictions it has been beneficial to some. The evidence for this is only anecdotal.
My Experience With Eating Fruit
I did find this relatively easy. As a runner I have always been fairly high carb and had a sweet tooth. I was easily able to eat lots of delicious tooth.
It’s interesting that now my sweet tooth has waned and I am quite baffled that at the time I was able to endure that much sweetness every day for a long time.
Cons Of The Fruitarian Diet
First of all it’s important to say that you should consult with your physician before undertaking any new diets or major lifestyle change.
Fruitarians can suffer from low levels of vitamin B12, calcium, vitamin D, iodine and omega-3 fatty acids as these are not found in fruit.
This can lead to anemia, tiredness, lethargy, osteoporosis and immune system dysfunction. It’s also easy to consume too much sugar on a Fruitarian diet.
Too much sugar can affect a person’s mood, making mood-swings and depression more likely. It can also be responsible for tooth decay.
The large amounts of fiber and water in the diet also mean that you are prone to needing a larger amount of bathroom breaks than the average person.
This is something that you may need to be aware of when travelling, working or socializing. In the first few days of the diet you may find that your toilet needs are urgent, so this is something you may need to plan round.
My Experience With Deficiency
When I first started the fruit diet I felt great. I felt great for a few months and then things slowly deteriorated. I found that I had a lot of brain fog throughout the day and a sense of fatigue that lingered over me.
I had really bad skin and my hair was limp and dry.
After 2 years I decided to break out of the fruit diet and the first thing I did was eat some liver. I hated the smell of muscle meat and couldn’t bring myself to eat it so I tried some liver. I devoured the lot – it was delicious and I remember feeling very content afterwards.
I then started to add in liver every week and eat less and less fruit. My brain fog lifted completely and I started to feel a sense of calm I had been missing in a long time.
It isn’t until you start digging yourself out of awful places that you realize how badly you were affected by something.
I am grateful that I never experience tooth decay like many others I had read about at the time.
Calories and Food Volume
On the Fruitarian diet it can be easy to consume too few calories leaving your body hungry. As you are principally eating fruit and vegetables, these high fiber foods will fill you up quickly however they are not as calorie dense as other foods.
This means that those on the Fruitarian diet can easily find themselves consuming less than the recommended 2,000kcal per day for women and 2,500kcal for men despite feeling that they are eating large amounts of food.
It can also be an expensive plan to follow, though this will vary State by State depending on the availability and pricing of good quality organic produce in your area.
Digestive Issues On A Fruit Diet
I also found that my digestion was worse on a fruit diet. If I ate anything that wasn’t a piece of fruit or a vegetable my stomach couldn’t process it and I would get a very upset stomach.
However if you read about this type of thing in the raw food world you often find that this is seen as a GOOD thing. Many years later, I can now safely say that it definitely wasn’t.
Some have argued it can also be a guise for orthorexia, which is defined as an eating disorder focused on excessive healthy eating a condition recognized by the National Eating Disorder Association.
The social impact of the diet is something to consider too.
Following a Fruitarian diet makes eating out with friends more difficult and this can lead to feelings of isolation or “missing out”.
Any diet as restrictive as the Fruitarian diet has the potential to lead to psychological issues.
In order to consume the right amount of calories per day someone following the Fruitarian diet will likely be thinking about food more than the average person. It’s therefore quite easy for this to develop into an obsession with food, known clinically as orthorexia.
There is also a relatively high failure rate with the Fruitarian diet,
This means there’s a chance that you might experience feelings of failure which can have a negative psychological impact.
My Experience With Obsession and Psychological Issues
This diet can mess with you psychologically. It is a very difficult diet to stick to, no matter how much you try.
I could last a few weeks before needing to cave to eating some cooked food. This generally would be a rice dish in the evenings. I always felt bad for it like I just didn’t have enough will power.
I now realize that if a diet is that hard to implement then it isn’t you that is failing, it is the diet.
I do feel I did develop orthorexia too. If I went off the diet even briefly and ate something as simple as a plain baked potato, I would later mess with my own head about how “bad” it was for my body etc.
It’s interesting how insidious the psychological aspect is. It creeps up on you and into you.
You feel like you are being rational – only providing your body with the food it was “intended to have” but to an outsider you look insane and it isn’t surprising.
When I finally came out of it all and broke the diet properly – I felt an overwhelming pressure taken off me. Healthy eating shouldn’t be as ridiculously hard and restrictive as what I had been putting myself through.
The social implications of this diet are quite significant, though can be lessened depending on how strict you are with your Fruitarian diet, the attitude of your friends/family and to a certain extent on where you live. For example in health-conscious LA you’d find it relatively easy to go out for meal in one of the city’s many healthy eating establishments and order a raw food option.
In other cities it may still be possible to order options such as a fruit salad and smoothie for breakfast or brunch. Relaxed Fruitarians who include some vegetables may be able to order simple salads with no dressing for dinner.
However in the main eating out will be difficult, going to a restaurant and ordering a plate of fruit is pretty unusual and not all places would be able (or willing!) to accommodate. The key will be researching the menu in advance and maybe calling ahead to advise them, it makes spontaneous trips hard but will help keep your social life active.
In order to have an active social life with this diet you may have to simply be prepared to bring your own food just about everywhere, from the cinema, to theme parks and friends parties.
Testimonials From Those Who Have Tried It
Long Term Fruitarians
Anne is probably one of the most known cases in the Fruitarian world. She has been a fruitarian for over 20 years. You can find out more about her at her website Fruit God (7). You can also find an interview with her here.
Those Who Quit A Fruit Based Diet
Denise Minger is an author and blogger on rawfoodsos.com. She was at one point a high fruit follower but has come out of that and improved her health as a result. In one article she talks about how she “unruined” her teeth by going off a high fruit diet (9). Denise also has spoken about in the past Raw Food Gurus who aew no longer raw (10).
There are several bloggers who have tried the Fruitarian diet and documented their experiences. Amanda Montell blogged for Byrdie after following the diet for a week. She had mixed experiences, enjoying good energy levels but finding it a bit restrictive for social gatherings (12).
Jessica Ferguson, wrote for Peaceful Dumpling about the journey that led her to the Fruitarian diet. She follows a more relaxed version of the diet allowing up to 20% of her diet to be high-carb cooked foods such as potatoes, rice, quinoa and other grains. See her typical daily diet and read about her lifestyle here.
As mentioned previously actor Ashton Kutcher had a less than ideal experience following the Fruitarian diet whilst preparing for his role as Steve Jobs in a movie. In fact the experience left him hospitalized.
The Fruitarian Diet is an extreme diet that is better used as a short term cleanse” than a long term diet. Deficiency is common and expected, which is while a lot of fruitarians tend to have B12 shots or supplement with particular nutrients that are difficult to get via fruit and salad alone.