Have you heard of the 5-day apple diet?
It is a very low-calorie diet plan that includes apples for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Proponents of the apple diet claim this program can help you lose weight quickly by merely following a 5-day meal plan.
In fact, some articles tout that you can lose 3 to 10 pounds in a week while on this diet. These promises are based on the belief that apples can aid in weight loss by making you feel fuller and decreasing hunger pangs, which ultimately causes you to eat less.
Additionally, sources also claim that following the 5-day apple diet may have health benefits, including a reduced risk of type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and cancer and a stronger immune system.
Proponents also claim that this diet can “detox” the body of “toxins.” Can a short-term diet deliver on these many promises? More importantly, is it safe?
This article will provide an overview of the apple diet and closely examine these claims.
What Is the Apple Diet?
The apple diet is a 5-day apple weight loss diet and includes a meal plan that is 1200-calories per day or less. As you may have guessed from the name, this low-calorie menu includes plenty of whole apples.
In fact, proponents of this diet claim that eating 5 apples a day will drive weight loss and improve health.
While some meals on this diet contain only apples, other meals also offer lean proteins, whole grains, and veggies. Below you will find an example of the 5-day apple diet plan. As you are reading this, keep in mind that the diet plan is too low calorie for most people. We’ll discuss more about this later in the article.
Roughly 600 calories
- Breakfast: 2 apples
- Lunch: 1 apple
- Dinner: 3 apples
Roughly 1,150 calories
- Breakfast: 1 apple, 1 glass of skim milk or unsweetened almond/ soy milk
- Snack: 1 cup of cottage cheese
- Lunch: 1 apple and avocado and green salad, topped with 3 ounces seeds and nuts. Dress it with apple cider vinegar and 1 tablespoon of olive oil.
- Dinner: 2 apples
Roughly 1,100 calories
- Breakfast: 1 apple, two slices of whole-grain bread, and two slices turkey bacon
- Snack: 1 cup low-fat Greek yogurt
- Lunch: 1 apple and quinoa and carrot soup with 4 ounces chicken breast
- Dinner: 2 apples
Roughly 1,150 calories
- Breakfast: 1 apple, a hard-boiled egg, and two slices of whole-grain bread
- Snack: 1 cup cottage cheese
- Lunch: 1 apple, 4 ounces skinless chicken breast, and raw vegetables with 1/2 cup watermelon
- Dinner: 2 apples
Roughly 1,200 calories
- Breakfast: 1 green apple, a bowl of oatmeal, and 1/2 banana
- Snack: 1 cup cottage cheese and a grapefruit
- Lunch: 1 apple, baked salmon, and a green salad dressed with apple cider vinegar and 1 tablespoon of olive oil
- Dinner: 2 apples
Additional Foods on the Apple Diet
Some other foods permitted on this diet may include:
- Fruits and veggies: grapefruit, watermelon, bananas, pears, blueberries, strawberries, tomato, leafy greens, pineapple, mango, broccoli, berries, etc.
- Lean proteins: poultry, fish, eggs, lean beef, peanut butter, and tofu
- Dairy: low-fat milk, low-fat yogurt, and cheese (in moderation)
- Herbs and spices: mint leaves, ginger, garlic, coriander, cumin, turmeric, cinnamon, etc.
- 100% whole grains: oats, whole wheat bread, quinoa, etc.
- Fats and oils: olive oil, avocado oil, etc. (in a small amount)
- Beverages: water, 100% fresh fruit juices, unsweetened coconut water
- Different kinds of apple: granny smith apple, McIntosh, golden delicious, gala, etc.
Foods that are not allowed include:
- Lard, butter, and mayonnaise
- Packaged fruit juices, sodas, and alcohol
- Processed meat and pork
- Junk foods, including processed sweets and desserts
However, keep in mind that there are no established guidelines for the apple diet, and there may be different versions of this diet with differing food rules.
Are Apples Good for Weight Loss?
Overall, apples may be a useful tool to help promote body weight loss, along with healthy lifestyle changes.
This is mainly because apples are high in fiber and water content, making them a filling food. Apples are also lower in calories, with only 95 calories in one medium apple. Some health experts hypothesize that the filling nature of apples may encourage you to eat less during the day, ultimately helping with weight loss.
One recent study consisting of 58 adults found that the participants who ate apple slices before a meal felt fuller than those who consumed applesauce, apple juice, or no apple products (1). Additionally, those who started their meals with apple slices consumed an average of 200 fewer calories compared to participants who had no apple snack at the start of the meal (1).
In a different 10-week trial consisting of 49 overweight women, participants who ate three apples per day lost an average of 3 pounds and ate fewer calories in a day compared to participants who consumed three oat cookies, which were equal to the apples in total grams of fiber (2).
The researchers speculated that the lower energy density of the apples played a role in weight loss. This could mean that eating a diet high in fruits, which are low energy density foods, could help with weight maintenance.
Potential Health Benefits of Apples
Apples are an exceptionally healthy fruit and are a source of fiber, vitamin C, potassium, vitamin K, vitamin A, and vitamin B6. In fact, one medium apple with the peel contains the following nutrients (3):
- Fiber: 4 grams of fiber
- Carbs: 25 grams
- Sugar: 13 grams of sugar
- Vitamin C: 14% of the Reference Daily Intake (RDI)
- Potassium: 6% of the RDI
- Vitamin K: 5% of the RDI
- Vitamin A: 2% of the RDI
- Vitamin B6: 4% of the RDI
- Folate: 1% of the RD
Apples are also a rich source of polyphenols and phytochemicals- compounds found in plants that may protect against chronic diseases. There is some research to suggest that apples are associated with heart health. This is because apples contain soluble fiber, which has been linked to lower blood cholesterol levels and better blood sugar or glucose control.
Apples are also a source of antioxidants known as flavonoids, which may help protect against heart disease by lowering blood pressure, reducing “bad” LDL cholesterol, and protecting against inflammation, chronic inflammation, and damage from free radicals (4).
One large review analysis found that high intakes of flavonoids from plant and tea sources were linked to a 20% lower risk of stroke when compared to low intakes of flavonoids (5).
Consuming apples may also be beneficial for gut health. Apples contain a soluble fiber known as pectin, which acts as a prebiotic. This means that pectin is a food source for the “good” bacteria in your colon and digestive system. Some new research hypothesizes that apples may have a protective effect against obesity, cardiovascular disease, and diabetes by helping to maintain healthy gut bacteria (6).
Please keep in mind that these are the potential benefits of eating apples as part of a varied diet with other healthy foods. It is not a list of the potential benefits of the apple diet. There is currently no research that examines the effects of the apple diet on weight loss or health.
Can You Lose Weight by Eating Only Apples?
Apples are a nutritional powerhouse and may have the potential to help with weight loss, mainly due to their fiber and high water content. However, it is not likely that only eating apples will result in long-term weight loss.
This is because any diet that advocates eating only one food, such as apples, is not sustainable, and therefore, is not a healthy way to lose weight. While 5 days on the apple diet is possible, eating the same foods and such little calories every day could lead individuals to abandon this plan.
Additionally, any extra pounds that you might lose by only eating apples will likely return as quickly as they left once you resume a regular diet.
How Many Apples Should I Eat a Day to Lose Weight?
Proponents of this diet would have you believe that eating five apples a day will result in weight loss. As previously mentioned, there is some scientific evidence that including apples in your diet may help you lose weight.
One study found that participants who ate three apples per day lost an average of 3 pounds during the 10-week clinical trial compared to participants who consumed three oat cookies (2). However, more research is needed to determine the connection between apple consumption and weight loss.
Currently, no evidence suggests eating more of any specific food will lead to weight loss without additional lifestyle changes.
Overall, the foods you eat will likely not produce weight change unless combined with healthy lifestyle choices. Ultimately, there is no magic food or “best fruit” that will burn body fat or trim your waistline, and most of the weight you lose on the apple menu will be due to the calorie restriction.
Does This Diet Work?
The apple diet may result in short-term weight loss but is likely not a good strategy for long-term weight maintenance. This is because the apple weight loss diet lowers your daily calorie intake to less than 1,200 calories per day, which creates a calorie deficit. A calorie deficit occurs when you eat fewer calories per day than you burn and is the primary driver of weight loss while on any diet.
However, any weight that is lost on this diet will likely be temporary, and promises of a 10-pound weight loss in only a week are unrealistic and unsustainable.
Research has shown that low-calorie diets rarely result in permanent weight change. Most individuals will experience weight regain after completing this short-term diet unless they have a plan to maintain these changes (7).
Is This Diet Evidence-Based?
Currently, there are no studies on this diet. Additionally, there is little information on the apple diet, which could point to this being a relatively new fad.
Without high-quality, recent research, it is impossible to compare this diet’s efficacy and safety to other, well-researched diets and eating patterns.
Potential Drawbacks of The Apple Diet
Limited Variety of Nutrients
One drawback of this diet is that it lacks variety during the diet period. Due to the extensive calorie restriction and reliance on apples, most people will not consume enough vitamins (such as folate), minerals (such as calcium), protein, and unsaturated fats (a type of fat that is good for heart health) during the diet days.
For example, the first day of this diet consists of only apples, which are low in protein and heart-healthy fats.
This approach may be counterintuitive as research suggests that high-protein diet plans may help reduce appetite and promote weight loss (8).
Additionally, eating a diet with a moderate amount of heart-healthy or good fats has actually been shown to increase feelings of satiety and decrease hunger. This is because fat is known to slow digestion, which can help you feel fuller.
The apple diet is notably low in dietary fat. Furthermore, by eating mostly apples in your diet, you may inadvertently replace other, nutritious fruits, such as pears, watermelon, bananas, strawberries, pineapple, blueberries, and grapefruits.
Different fruits contain different types of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and phytochemicals, so it is important to eat a variety of fruits and veggies.
For example, citrus fruits such as pineapple and grapefruit have more vitamin C than apples and bananas have more potassium.
Too Low in Calories
According to proponents of the apple diet, this diet program is a 1,200 calorie meal plan. However, after examining some of the meal plans currently circulating the internet, it appears that most days are less than 1,200 calories.
While temporarily following a very low-calorie diet may be safe for well-nourished adults, it is not recommended for everyone. Also, it should only be undertaken with the help of healthcare professionals or nutritionists.
You should not follow a very low-calorie diet if you are pregnant or breastfeeding, trying to conceive, are underweight, or have a history of eating disorders.
Additionally, the apple diet is too low in calories for long-term use and could result in nutrient deficiencies and a decrease in metabolism (9).
Therefore, consuming too few calories to lose weight can quickly backfire and may even cause you to gain weight as your metabolism slows.
Keep in mind that daily calorie estimates range from 1,600 to 2,400 calories per day for adult women and 2,000 to 3,000 calories for adult men (10).
Weight Regain and Yo-Yo Dieting
The apple diet is a short-term, 5-day weight loss plan. One of the problems with these quick weight loss diets is that you may regain weight once you stop following the menu plan. This cycle of dieting, gaining weight, and dieting again is sometimes referred to as yo-yo dieting.
Research has linked yo-yo dieting to potential health problems, including increased appetite, greater weight gain over time, and increased body and stomach fat.
For example, one review study found that people on short-term diets regained 30 to 65% of the weight they had lost within one year after the diet (11).
In a different review article, 11 out of 19 studies determined that a history of yo-yo dieting was associated with higher percentages of body fat and greater amounts of stomach or belly fat (12).
Unfortunately, fad diets, such as the apple diet, can encourage yo-yo dieting since these programs do not provide any guidance for long-term weight maintenance and are often too low in calories to sustain.
As you might imagine, the most likely side-effect of this diet is hunger. Any diet that is so low in calories will cause hunger pangs. You may also experience headaches and food cravings. The apple diet can also result in digestive distress, including stomach pain and diarrhea. This is because apples contain a natural sugar known as fructose, which may have a laxative effect when consumed in large quantities.
Consuming too many apples may cause problems for individuals with irritable bowel syndrome. Apples are high in carbohydrates known as FODMAPs that can cause digestive distress, such as gas, stomach cramps, constipation, and diarrhea, in some people.
Additionally, apples are a decent source of vitamin K, and individuals who are taking warfarin or Coumadin should speak with their doctor before making any changes to their current diet. Warfarin is a blood thinner that helps prevent or treat blood clots by interfering with vitamin K clotting factors.
It is recommended that individuals taking this medication maintain a consistent intake of vitamin K from food (including apples), as significant changes to the diet can alter this drug’s effectiveness.
Overall, the apple diet appears to be another fad diet and has no real merit to back its many claims.
While this diet may help with quick weight loss, the weight will likely return once you stop dieting and is not a great way to maintain your weight.
Outside of a handful of small studies, there is no evidence to suggest that apples have any magical power other than the fact that they are a nutritious, low calorie, high-fiber food.
Additionally, most of the research on apples’ overall health benefits look at including apples as part of a balanced, healthy diet. There is no evidence that consuming five apples a day will cause an increase in these benefits. In fact, consuming mostly apples can displace other, nutritious fruits and veggies from your diet.
Instead of focusing on just apples, try aiming for the recommended 2 to 2.5 servings of fruit per day. Apples can be part of these servings or added to the diet as a healthy snack, but you do not need to follow the apple weight loss diet to reap their health benefits.
Ultimately, this diet is just another “quick fix” fad and may not be a good idea for long-term, healthy weight loss.
Instead of following this diet, try focusing on healthy habits to set you up for long-term success. The best way to start may be to cut back on processed foods and added sugar, eat a variety of fruits and veggies, establish a workout or gym routine, drink plenty of water, and get enough sleep.
- Flood-Obbagy, Julie E, and Barbara J Rolls. “The effect of fruit in different forms on energy intake and satiety at a meal.” Appetite vol. 52,2 (2009): 416-22. doi:10.1016/j.appet.2008.12.001
- de Oliveira, Maria Conceição et al. “A low-energy-dense diet adding fruit reduces weight and energy intake in women.” Appetite vol. 51,2 (2008): 291-5. doi:10.1016/j.appet.2008.03.001
- “Apples, Raw, with Skin [Includes USDA Commodity Food A343] Nutrition Facts & Calories.” Nutrition Data Know What You Eat., nutritiondata.self.com/facts/fruits-and-fruit-juices/1809/2.
- Majewska-Wierzbicka, Monika, and Hanna Czeczot. “Flawonoidy w prewencji i leczeniu chorób układu sercowo-naczyniowego” [Flavonoids in the prevention and treatment of cardiovascular diseases]. Polski merkuriusz lekarski : organ Polskiego Towarzystwa Lekarskiego vol. 32,187 (2012): 50-4.
- Hollman, Peter C H et al. “Dietary flavonol intake may lower stroke risk in men and women.” The Journal of nutrition vol. 140,3 (2010): 600-4. doi:10.3945/jn.109.116632
- Koutsos, Athanasios et al. “Apples and cardiovascular health–is the gut microbiota a core consideration?.” Nutrients vol. 7,6 3959-98. 26 May. 2015, doi:10.3390/nu7063959
- Benton, David, and Hayley A Young. “Reducing Calorie Intake May Not Help You Lose Body Weight.” Perspectives on psychological science : a journal of the Association for Psychological Science vol. 12,5 (2017): 703-714. doi:10.1177/1745691617690878
- Paddon-Jones, Douglas et al. “Protein, weight management, and satiety.” The American journal of clinical nutrition vol. 87,5 (2008): 1558S-1561S. doi:10.1093/ajcn/87.5.1558S
- Fothergill, Erin et al. “Persistent metabolic adaptation 6 years after “The Biggest Loser” competition.” Obesity (Silver Spring, Md.) vol. 24,8 (2016): 1612-19 doi:10.1002/oby.21538
- “Appendix 2. Estimated Calorie Needs per Day, by Age, Sex, and Physical Activity Level.” Appendix 2. Estimated Calorie Needs per Day, by Age, Sex, and Physical Activity Level – 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines, health.gov/our-work/food-nutrition/2015-2020-dietary-guidelines/guidelines/appendix-2/.
- Dulloo, A G, and J-P Montani. “Pathways from dieting to weight regain, to obesity and to the metabolic syndrome: an overview.” Obesity reviews: an official journal of the International Association for the Study of Obesity vol. 16 Suppl 1 (2015): 1-6. doi:10.1111/obr.122
- Mackie, Grace M et al. “Does weight cycling promote obesity and metabolic risk factors?.” Obesity research & clinical practice vol. 11,2 (2017): 131-139. doi:10.1016/j.orcp.2016.10.2