- Nutritionally sound
- You shape your diet
- Lots of grunt work
- Somewhat pricey
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What is Mayo Clinic Diet?
Weight loss and a healthier lifestyle go hand in hand with the Mayo Clinic diet. You recalibrate your eating habits, breaking bad ones and replacing them with good ones with the help of the Mayo Clinic’s unique food pyramid.
The pyramid emphasizes fruits, veggies, and whole grains. In general, these foods have a low energy density, meaning you can eat more but take in fewer calories. Think of it this way: For about the same amount of calories you could have a quarter of a Snickers bar or about 2 cups of broccoli. By sticking with the Mayo Clinic Diet, you’re expected to shed 6 to 10 pounds in two weeks and continue losing 1 to 2 pounds weekly until you’ve hit your goal weight.
In 2013, Mayo Clinic published “The Mayo Clinic Diabetes Diet,” which our experts did not evaluate. A new edition of this book was published in early 2019. This spin on the standard eating plan is designed for people with prediabetes and Type 2 diabetes, and its advice is specific to lowering blood sugar and keeping levels stable.
How does Mayo Clinic Diet work?
The newest (and second) edition of the “Mayo Clinic Diet” book was published in 2017. Use it, as well as the Mayo Clinic diet website, as your guides to work your way through two parts:
- “Lose it!”
- “Live it!”
Part one focuses on 15 key habits – ones to add and ones to ditch. You don’t count calories, and you can snack all you want on fruits and veggies.
After two weeks, you begin part two, learning how many calories you should eat to either lose or maintain weight and where those calories should come from. No food group is completely off-limits – you’re developing a pattern of healthy eating you’ll follow for life.
In “Lose it!” you’ll add a healthy breakfast, lots of fruits and veggies, whole grains, healthy fats, and at least 30 minutes of physical activity a day. You’ll ban eating while watching TV, sugar (except what’s found in fruit), snacking (except on fruits and veggies), consuming too much meat and full-fat dairy, and eating out (unless the food you order follows the rules). If you’re really motivated, you’ll also adopt bonus habits such as keeping food, activity, and goal diaries; exercising 60 or more minutes per day; and eating natural or minimally processed “real food.”
In “Live it!” you’ll use what you learned in the first phase but be allowed to occasionally break the rules. You’ll also calculate the number of calories you can eat while still losing a couple of pounds a week. But instead of counting the calories in every grain of (brown) rice you eat, you’ll focus on servings. On a 1,400-calorie plan, for example, you’re allowed four or more servings each of fruits and veggies, five servings of carbs, four of protein/dairy, and three of fats.
How does the Mayo Clinic Diet Support You?
If you’re looking to start the Mayo Clinic diet or have already begun your dieting journey, it’s helpful to know the different ways you can receive support throughout the process. Below are a few examples of how the Mayo Clinic diet can support you:
- Mayo Clinic Diet book: “The Mayo Clinic Diet,” the Mayo Clinic Diet book was officially sold by the Mayo Clinic.
- Mayo Clinic Diet blog: best weight loss tips, news, science, fun facts, and inspiration for a healthy lifestyle directly on the Mayo Clinic Diet public website.
- Private and public Facebook groups.
- Free 3-minute Diet Assessment directly on the website to determine mindset and motivation for beginning Mayo Clinic Diet.
- For a fee, the Mayo Clinic Diet programs provide additional support for participants, including an app and digital platform, meal plan options, and virtual group video sessions with Mayo Clinic doctors.
How much does Mayo Clinic Diet cost?
Whether it’s pricier than your current grocery tab depends, of course, on what you put in your cart. Fruits, veggies, and whole-grain products are generally more expensive than sugary cereal, white bread, and frozen pizzas. The diet’s individualized nature gives you financial wiggle room – by making dinner from whatever produce is on sale, for example.
The “Mayo Clinic Diet” book is an essential guide and should be purchased.
In December 2021, the Mayo Clinic released an updated version of its diet plan (which was not reviewed as part of the rankings). Added features provide additional support for participants, including an app and digital platform, meal plan options, and virtual group video sessions with Mayo Clinic doctors. The new features are included in their pricing for various diet plans, which range from $19.99 to $49.99 a month.
Will Mayo Clinic Diet help you lose weight?
Most likely, the Mayo Clinic diet will help you lose weight, provided you follow the rules.
Although the only research specifically evaluating the diet comes from the Mayo Clinic itself, preliminary results are promising. The principles behind it are backed by substantial research, which suggests its potential for weight loss and weight maintenance.
In a 2008 pilot program of 53 Mayo Clinic employees with obesity who followed “Lose it!” for two weeks, the average weight loss was 8 pounds. Nearly all of the 46 who finished lost 4 or more pounds, and most lost between 6 to 10 pounds. There was no control group.
In general, diets rich in low-energy-dense foods have been shown to deliver weight loss, promoting fullness on fewer calories, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. In a study published in The Journal of Nutrition in 2018, 96 women who were overweight or obese participated in a 14-week trial monitoring weight loss when following a low-energy-dense diet versus a standard weight-loss plan. The study found the group following a low-energy-dense diet reported fewer cravings, greater weight loss, and higher reduction in fat mass than the group following a standard weight-loss plan. More studies, particularly large controlled trials, are needed to confirm the findings.
How easy is Mayo Clinic Diet to follow?
Most dieters will find the restrictive “Lose it!” phase difficult. That’s why it only lasts two weeks. Once you develop your plan in “Live it!” and find no foods completely off-limits, you’ll be more likely to stay on the wagon.
You’re free to eat out, as long as you let Mayo’s food pyramid direct your menu choices. Alcohol might be restricted a little more than you’d prefer. And while a slew of Mayo guides makes developing your plan easier, there’s just no way to avoid the grocery store and stove.
Eating out is discouraged in Mayo’s “Lose it!” phase, but the fine print says you technically still can if you don’t stray from the guidelines.
There are no timesavers unless you hire somebody to plan your meals, shop for them and prepare them. And you can’t pay someone to exercise for you. Mayo doesn’t have any book-specific resources online, but you can peruse its large database of diet-related articles.
Nutrition experts emphasize the importance of satiety, the satisfied feeling that you’ve had enough. You shouldn’t feel hungry on the Mayo Clinic Diet. In part one, you can snack on unlimited veggies and fruits, and later, when you’ve got a calorie cap, the emphasis on low-energy-dense fruits, veggies, and high-fiber whole grains should keep you feeling fuller longer.
The bottom line: is the mayo clinic diet worth a try?
The Mayo Clinic Diet is a balanced meal plan focused on fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and healthy fats. You’re meant to cook your own meals from scratch and exercise daily.
The diet possibly aids weight loss, but no comprehensive studies exist.
While it does not require you to count calories, it recommends servings of various food groups based on a target calorie level.
If you’re looking for a diet that you can maintain for life, the Mayo Clinic Diet is a balanced option.