What Is the Acai Berry Diet?

Acai Berry Diet

 Verywell / Debbie Burkhoff 

At Verywell, we believe there is no one-size-fits-all approach to a healthy lifestyle. Successful eating plans need to be individualized and take the whole person into consideration. Prior to starting a new diet plan, consult with your healthcare provider or a registered dietitian, especially if you have an underlying health condition.

What is the Acai Berry Diet?

The açaí berry has long been touted as a natural aid for weight loss, in part due to its antioxidant effects, particularly anthocyanins. Native to the tropical regions of Central and South America, the açaí palm tree's rich purple berries have long been used as a diet staple.

Although there are various forms of the açaí berry diet, most approaches involve the use of dietary supplements containing the açaí better extract, among other herbs, vitamins, minerals, and natural substances. It has been claimed that the acai berry diet can speed up metabolism, suppress appetite, and has a detoxifying effect.

Much has been said as to the health benefits of açaí, but minimal research has been conducted as to the health effects of açaí products. And while the berry is a superfood, it should not be used solely for weight management rather it can work in tandem as part of a nutrition-based lifestyle.

What Experts Say

"The açaí  berry diet requires weight loss supplements that include extracts of the açaí berry. Experts agree supplements should be used with caution because they’re not regulated like drugs. This diet is costly and focused on weight loss, not health."
Willow Jarosh, MS, RD

The Diet Plan

The açaí berry diet is not a formal eating plan, rather it requires the consumption of açaí berry supplements alongside eating your regular meals. However, the topic of supplementation is controversial because sometimes there is no need to supplement if you are able to receive optimal nourishment from food.

Advocates of the açaí berry diet suggest using dietary supplements that contain açaí to aid with weight loss. They also claim these supplements reduce blood sugar and cholesterol levels in those who are overweight. Keep in mind, too, additional substances are sometimes added to the formula, such as green tea extract, chromium, magnesium, and Spirulina.

What You Can Eat

You can opt for the açaí berry supplements or simply add the berries into your diet to reap the benefits—like blending up an açaí smoothie. However, sourcing açaí berries can be tricky and expensive, and more often than not, juices and acai bowls contain sugar and other less nutritious ingredients. Therefore, options such as powders or frozen açaí puree might better suit your needs.

Alternatively, other fruits in the berry family—blackberries, blueberries, and raspberries—which are more affordable and more readily available, can supplement your açaí berry diet. Aside from their antioxidant effects, meta-analysis has found that berry consumption can reduce levels of low-density lipoprotein (LDL), fasting glucose, and systolic blood pressure, among other markers.

What You Cannot Eat

As the açaí berry diet does not restrict any foods, you can eat your meals as normal. However, it is worth noting that to reap the maximum benefits of a nutrient-dense diet, you might want to limit sugary and highly processed foods.

How to Prepare the Acai Berry Diet & Tips

As mentioned above, the açaí berry diet doesn't require much in terms of modifying your normal diet, therefore preparation is minimal. You may want to stock up on supplements, powders, juices (without added sugar), purees, and açaí berries (if available to you), and decide how you want to incorporate them into your daily meals.

Be mindful not to over-consume the recommended daily supplement or powder amount, instead opting for one açaí product a day, rather than trying to incorporate the berry into every meal. Some supplements contain added ingredients that may have safety considerations.

For example, yerba mate, which contains caffeine, can trigger insomnia, anxiety, nausea, and headaches; and chromium, which can adversely affect blood sugar levels. It might be worth setting a timeframe for adding açaí supplements into your diet, especially when many products fail to accurately list all of or the exact amounts of ingredients.

Pros of the Acai Berry Diet

Although the açaí berry diet is not considered a long-term solution for weight managment, it may bring some benefits in the short term. Review the pros and cons before deciding if this plan is right for you.

  • Rich in polyphenols: Previous studies have found açaí pulp, as well as fruit berry extract, to have a phytochemical composition, meaning they are rich in polyphenols like anthocyanins and flavonoids. Such polyphenols can have an anti-inflammatory effect, as well as the potential to improve dyslipidemia and obesity, among other benefits.
  • Provides a source of antioxidants: The açaí berry is a superb source of antioxidants, which have healthful effects including neutralizing damaging free radicals in your body.
  • Program is flexible: Most versions of the açaí berry diet simply require the consumption of supplements with little restriction or requirements as to what you eat. This makes the plan customizable to suit your needs and dietary patterns.

Not only is the evidence of açaí berry supplements as an effective weight management strategy lacking, but the dietary supplement is also largely unregulated by the FDA, so there is no guarantee in their safety.

Cons of the Acai Berry Diet

While there may be a few small advantages to açaí berry supplements, there are several drawbacks that outweigh these potential benefits. Be cautious of any açaí berry products claiming to promote fast and easy weight loss on their own.

  • Supplements can be costly: The açaí berry diet is a weight-loss program that requires dietary supplements, which can be expensive with prolonged use.
  • Lacks scientific evidence: The subject of the açaí berry's potential role in weight management is still being studied, and currently lacks scientific support for its effectiveness.
  • No guidelines for eating: The diet requires açaí berries to be added to your meal plan, but that will look different for everyone. More guidelines are required on what to eat outside of the açaí berry.

To date, there is a lack of evidence in testing the weight-loss effects of other substances consumed alongside açaí. Therefore, there is no backing to claims that the herbs, vitamins, and minerals in açaí diet supplements work synergistically to promote weight loss.

Dietary supplements are not regulated the same way as drugs, and therefore do not require premarket review or FDA approval. Instead, you are putting your trust in supplement manufacturers to determine if their products are safe and what the label claims are true. Therefore, there is no guarantee as to their effectiveness or safety.

Is the Acai Berry Diet a Healthy Choice for You?

The açaí berry diet is similar to other weight loss plans requiring the consumption of dietary supplements, which is not aligned with federal guidelines for a healthy, balanced diet. Instead, supplements are used in place of essential nutrients obtained from real foods.

According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture's 2020–2025 Dietary Guidelines for Americans, a mix of lean protein, grains, fruits, vegetables, healthy fats, and low-fat dairy products should be included in your meals to fuel your body with the nutrients it requires to function optimally.

What's more, the açaí berry diet is hazy in terms of what to eat and overall calorie consumption. Depending on whether your goal is to lose weight or build muscle (or both), your daily caloric intake will differ and is also dependent on your age, sex, weight, height, and level of physical activity.

With no federal guidelines and very limited research as to the health effects of the açaí berry, you should approach the diet with caution.

A Word From Verywell

If you are considering any form of the açaí berry diet, we recommend talking to your healthcare provider or a registered dietitian for further information in forming a healthy eating plan around the supplements.

Remember, following a long-term or short-term diet may not be necessary for you and many diets out there simply don’t work, especially long-term. While we do not endorse fad diet trends or unsustainable weight loss methods, we present the facts so you can make an informed decision that works best for your nutritional needs, genetic blueprint, budget, and goals.

If your goal is weight loss, remember that losing weight isn’t necessarily the same as being your healthiest self, and there are many other ways to pursue health. Exercise, sleep, and other lifestyle factors also play a major role in your overall health. The best diet is always the one that is balanced and fits your lifestyle.

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Verywell Fit uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
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