The fruitarian diet is an extreme eating plan that is made up completely or mostly of fruit. There is no strict definition, so some followers of the diet will include nuts, seeds, vegetables and grains, but all will completely omit meat and other animal-produced products (like honey).
Reasons for following the diet are usually ideological, with ethical and environmental concerns often cited, but because of its highly restrictive nature, there is a high risk of nutritional deficiencies.
- Is the fruitarian diet healthy?
- Is the fruitarian diet safe?
- Are there any benefits to the fruitarian diet?
- What are the drawbacks to the fruitarian diet?
Is the fruitarian diet healthy?
A healthy diet has a variety of foods that provide essential nutrition to the body in the form of macro and micronutrients: carbs, protein, fats, vitamins, and minerals. A strict fruitarian diet would be very high in carbohydrates, have some fat, and low levels of protein — even with nuts, seeds, and whole grains included. Research has shown that strictly following this diet for long periods of time can be detrimental to long-term physical and cognitive health.1,2
Is the fruitarian diet safe?
Any diet that completely eliminates multiple food groups is likely unsafe to follow for a long period of time. Research has shown that a diet made up primarily of fruit can lead to kidney, liver, and brain function issues.1,2 Even if 25% of your calories come from protein and fats, it can still be difficult to get enough energy and nutrition for optimal health.
Are there any benefits to the fruitarian diet?
A fruitarian diet is likely to be high in fibre, water, vitamins and minerals, which are all needed for good health. However, these can all be consumed in adequate quantities in most healthy eating plans, so there’s no need to follow a diet as restrictive as the fruitarian diet.
What are the drawbacks?
Unsurprisingly, eating only fruit has quite a few drawbacks...but three key downsides stand out.
High in sugar
If you have any blood sugar control issues or diabetes, eating only fruit can make it difficult to control your blood sugar and energy levels. It could also lead to weight gain if you consume more calories than you expend.
Low in protein
If you are an athlete, trying to build muscle or trying to gain body mass, the low-protein content of a fruitarian diet will be a problem.
Low in fat
Fat, as well as protein, helps us to feel full and satisfied, so following a fruitarian diet may make you feel hungrier than you would on other diets.
Take home message
Extreme diets like fruitarianism that completely exclude multiple food groups can be dangerous to follow in the long term as they do not contain all the nutrients we need to be healthy and may lead to serious health conditions. Consuming a lot of fruit can be part of a healthy eating pattern, but you must also make sure to consume vital macro and micronutrients lacking in a fruitarian diet, such as protein, healthy fats, vitamin B12, iron and zinc.