When you decide to lose weight, it is easy to see it as a temporary phase. You expect to go on a diet for a few weeks or months – and then, once your weight goal is achieved, you hope things will go back to “normal,” and you will no longer be “on a diet.”

However, if your goal encompasses achieving and maintaining a healthy weight, then it is worth changing this perception. Going on a diet should be seen as more of a transition to an overall healthier lifestyle – because it provides the perfect opportunity to make sustainable lifestyle habits which result in healthier weight – and a healthier body.

That’s exactly what the Mayo Clinic Diet is committed to doing. According to the Mayo Clinic, it is more than just a diet – but a template to help people change their lifestyles so that they can achieve real, long-lasting weight management. The diet is based on the latest scientific research findings and is designed to be motivating, easy-to-follow, and sustainable.

So, how does the Mayo Clinic Diet work, is it effective – and could it be for you? Read on to find out everything you need to know about this diet in today’s post!

What is the Mayo Clinic Diet?

The Mayo Clinic Diet aims to help you achieve healthy and sustainable weight loss through a wide range of tools, including personalized meal plans, recipes, portion-control guides, iPhone App, Food and Fitness Journal, personalized workouts, and much more. It aims to make weight loss simpler by removing the complications that many other diets often come with.

The creators of the Mayo Clinic Diet are weight loss experts from the prestigious Mayo Clinic, which is a non-profit organisation specializing in clinical practice, education, and research. The clinic has many locations across Arizona, Florida, and Minnesota.

The diet was developed to counter an unofficial Mayo Clinic Diet plan, which has nothing to do with the Mayo Clinic. This unofficial plan claims you can achieve quick, short-term weight loss by consuming high quantities of grapefruit daily.

However, the real Mayo Clinic Diet is a scientific approach to losing and keeping the healthy weight, presented in an easy-to-understand manner.

How Does the Mayo Clinic Diet Work?

The Mayo Clinic Diet aims to help people achieve their healthy weight by eating more foods from the diet’s Healthy Weight Pyramid, being more physically active, setting realistic weight loss goals, and staying motivated.

The Mayo Clinic Diet has two main phases, called “Lose it!”, and “Live it!”.

Stage 1: “Lose it!”

“Lose it!” is a two-week stage designed to kick-start your weight loss by helping you shed your first pounds in a healthy way, and motivate you to continue with the diet.

The Mayo Clinic advises that during the first two weeks, dieters can expect to lose 6 to 10 pounds (lbs). However, it important to note that results may vary.

During the initial stage, which is more restricted than the second stage, dieters are encouraged to focus on creating healthier lifestyle choices and habits. The stage includes:

  • Adopting five healthy eating habits; like eating breakfast, eating more fruits and vegetables, etc.
  • Dropping five unhealthy habits, such as eating sugary or processed foods, eating while watching TV, snacking on sweets, etc.
  • Adding five bonus habits that help you achieve your goals, like keeping a food and fitness journal, starting to exercise, etc.

Stage 2: “Live it!”

The second phase of the Mayo Clinic Diet is focused on making the habits you created in phase one sustainable so that you can continue losing weight, and keep it off in a safe and healthy way.

During the second stage of the Mayo Clinic diet, you’ll be:

  • Setting realistic weight loss goals
  • Consuming foods from the Mayo Clinic Healthy Weight Pyramid
  • Learning to understand how to portion your food correctly
  • Learning to make physical activity a sustainable lifestyle habit

According to the Mayo Clinic, you can expect your weight loss to slow down during the “Live it!” stage of the diet, and lose about 1-2 pounds (lbs) per week.

What Can You Eat On The Mayo Clinic Diet?

The diet’s Healthy Weight Pyramid is similar to the U.S. government’s food pyramid. It encourages you to eat more healthy foods, like vegetables, fruits, and grains.

The diet also has recommended portion sizes to help dieters plan their menus accordingly. The number of calories you are advised to consume daily will depend on your starting weight, as well as your gender. Daily calorie consumption ranges between 1,200 calories and 1,800 calories.

The foundation of the diet is eating more vegetables and whole grains. Here’s an example of recommended daily servings of foods on a 1,200 calorie menu:

  • Vegetables – 4 or more servings
  • Fruits – 3 or more servings
  • “Smart” carbohydrates (e.g., whole grains) – 4 servings
  • Lean protein (e.g., skinless chicken, beans and lentils) or low-fat dairy – 3 servings
  • Healthy fats (e.g., avocados, fatty fish, etc.) – 3 servings

You are also encouraged to completely cut out artificial sweeteners, sweets, and alcohol during the first phase of the plan (i.e., “Lose it!”). After this stage, you are allowed to bring these foods back into your diet – but are limited to an average of 75 calories per day.

Here are two sample menus on a 1,200 calorie diet:

Sample menu 1

Breakfast:

  • 1/2 cup of cooked oatmeal
  • 1 cup of milk and 2 tablespoons of raisins
  • 1/4 cup of mango
  • Calorie-free beverage (like ice tea, mineral water, etc.)

Lunch:

  • Sweet potato and quinoa cakes
  • Tossed salad with fat-free dressing
  • Calorie-free beverage

Dinner:

  • 1 pita pizza
  • 3/4 cup of mixed fruits
  • Calorie-free beverage

Snacks:

  • 1 cup of sliced bell peppers
  • 2 tablespoons of hummus

Sample menu 2

Breakfast:

  • 3/4 cup of hot whole-grain cereal
  • 1 small banana
  • Calorie-free beverage

Lunch:

  • Tossed salad (2 cups of romaine, 1/4 onion, 1/4 mushrooms, 1 hard-boiled egg, 1 medium tomato, 1/2 cup of low-fat shredded cheddar cheese)
  • 1 whole-wheat dinner roll with 1/2 teaspoon of butter
  • 1/2 cup of cubed pineapple
  • Calorie-free beverage

Dinner:

  • 3 ounces of seared scallops (in 1 teaspoon of olive oil)
  • Garlic mashed cauliflower potatoes
  • 1/2 cup of beets
  • Calorie-free beverage

Snack:

  • 8 wheat crackers
  • 2 plums

Since calorie-limitation may be challenging for some people, the Mayo Clinic Diet recommends to snack on more fruits and vegetables if you feel hungry.

Do You Have To Exercise on the Mayo Clinic Diet?

Yes, increasing physical activity is part of the Mayo Clinic Diet.

Since the plan aims to help you achieve healthy and sustainable weight loss not only through changing your eating habits but also through adopting healthier lifestyle choices, you are encouraged to incorporate exercise into your routine and are given tools and guidance on how to make that happen more easily. These tools include:

  • Robust exercise index
  • Personalized workouts
  • Running and walking guides
  • Fitness tips (for all levels)

The diet recommends at least 30 minutes of moderate intensity exercise a day – and to make sure you move more throughout the day (for example, take stairs instead of a lift/ elevator).

What Support Does The Mayo Clinic Diet Offer?

The diet offers plenty of tools, support, and guidance to help you achieve your weight loss goals and stick to your new, healthier habits, which you can access once you sign up for the membership online.

As a member of the diet, you will be able to keep track of your progress and stay committed to achieving your goals on the diet’s Food & Fitness Journal, Habit Tracker as well as Fitness Planner. You will also have access to a Weight, Inch and Nutrient Tracker which will help you log your progress in detail.

There are also hundreds of recipes, meal plans, and serving guides available to members of the diet plan online. On top of that, you will be able to download the Mayo Clinic Diet app, which provides round-the-clock support from the Mayo Clinic experts, and is FREE for the members.

How Much Does the Mayo Clinic Diet Cost?

If you decide that the Mayo Clinic Diet is for you, the first step should be purchasing the Mayo Clinic Diet book, which includes pictures, graphics, recipes and tips to help you easily understand how weight management works – and how simple it can be. The book costs from about $14.99.

You can follow the diet by reading the book – however, it is recommended that you sign up for the Mayo Clinic Diet online membership for at least the first 13 weeks. The cost for that is $5 a week ($65 for 13 weeks).

Does the Mayo Clinic Diet Work?

The medical community favors the diet because it emphasizes healthy, balanced eating and physical activity – which are the two key principles of an overall healthy lifestyle.

No rigorous studies to prove the effectiveness of the Mayo Clinic diet have ever been carried out. However, it has been developed by nutrition specialists and doctors at the Mayo Clinic – and is consistently ranked among the top-rated diets for weight loss and overall health.

Pros and Cons of the Mayo Clinic Diet

Pros

  • The diet is healthy. The Mayo Clinic Diet’s main principles are consuming plenty of healthy foods – such as fruits and vegetables. This is a good thing for most adults and can prevent health conditions such as heart disease, high blood pressure, and diabetes. However, if you’re not used to mainly consuming fruits and vegetables, your body may need to go through a transition phase to adjust to the new way of eating.
  • The diet is moderately easy to follow. There is no complicated calorie counting involved – the diet is pretty simple. The main principles are to eat healthier and exercise more. The counting of calories is mainly focused on counting servings per day – which makes things a lot easier.
  • The diet begins with a jump-start stage. This is a benefit because the initial weight loss you achieve during the “Lose it!” phase motivates you to keep going. Many people may feel discouraged to continue with a diet if it shows no results in the first few weeks. The clinic suggests you’ll be able to lose 6 to 10 pounds in the first two weeks, but it is important to remember that weight loss results may vary.
  • It offers a holistic approach to healthy weight. It isn’t just concerned with weight loss – the diet aims to help you transform your life into a healthier version through making certain, positive lifestyle changes.
  • Suitable for vegetarians and vegans. Since the diet’s foundation is eating plenty of vegetables and whole grains, following it shouldn’t be a problem for vegetarians and vegans.
  • There’s a version for those with diabetes. The Mayo Clinic also published a book called “The Mayo Clinic Diabetes Diet” which is adapted for people with diabetes. The book is designed for people with prediabetes and Type 2 diabetes – and offers specific advice to help lower blood sugar and keep your levels of blood sugar stable.

Cons

  • More time-consuming than some other diets. Since there are no pre-packaged meals delivered to your door, you rely on yourself to shop for foods and cook. This means the diet can be more time consuming than some of the other diets out there.
  • While the Mayo Clinic Diet is cheaper than a lot of the diets currently available, it could be perceived as somewhat costly.

How Do I Sign Up For The Mayo Clinic Diet?

After you’ve purchased the book, signing up for the diet is easy – visit the Mayo Clinic’s official website, go to the Mayo Clinic Diet’s page and click “Get Started.” You will be able to choose a suitable plan for your needs from many online memberships.

Conclusion

The Mayo Clinic Diet offers a different, more holistic approach to weight management. Its goal is to help you safely achieve a healthy weight – as well as maintain it for a lifetime.

The diet aims to help create healthier eating habits and positive lifestyle changes, like more exercise and being more physically active throughout the day, to help you reach a healthy weight.

Not only does the diet help with weight loss, but it can help prevent some health issues in the future, like diabetes and heart disease. The Mayo Clinic Diet is a safe weight loss approach for most adults.

If you are looking for a healthy, long-term solution to weight management, the Mayo Clinic Diet may be an ideal option for you.

Beth Coats, RD LN
Beth Coats, RD LN
Staff Writer at DietProbe
Beth is a registered dietician with over 20 years experience in general nutrition.
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