The Official vs. Unofficial Mayo Clinic Diet
There is only one real Mayo Clinic diet, but many other eating plans have risen to fame over the years by including the prestigious institution’s title in their name. These “unofficial Mayo Clinic diets” are untrustworthy fad diets and not recommended by the Clinic.
The most well-known unofficial Mayo Clinic diet is the “Mayo Clinic grapefruit diet. This questionable diet involves eating lots of grapefruit, salad and protein while limiting carbohydrates. The diet’s creators promise rapid weight loss by promoting unhealthy and unsustainable eating habits, so it is not suitable for those wishing to lose weight in a healthy way.
By comparison, the official May Clinic Diet was developed by experts on the Mayo Clinic staff in Rochester, Minnesota. It encourages a healthy, balanced diet and regular exercise for weight loss.
Mayo Clinic Diet Rules
The official Mayo Clinic Diet is based on research and clinical experience, which is detailed in the book of the same name, published in 2011.
The diet states that successful, long-term weight control needs to focus on overall health and not solely what you eat. It also emphasizes that the best way to manage weight long-term requires changing your lifestyle and adopting new healthy habits. What’s more, the Mayo Clinic Diet can be tailored to your individual needs and situation, rejecting a one-size-fits-all approach to dieting.
This final quality is especially beneficial for people who need to adapt their diet to accommodate another medical condition such as diabetes, gastrointestinal disease/surgery or food allergies.
The Mayo Clinic Diet is based on the Mayo Clinic Healthy Weight Pyramid. The pyramid provides a visual guide to smart nutritional choices and encourages daily activity. Here is an older version:
The Mayo Clinic diet includes all food types, but places a focus on fruit and vegetables, whole grains, lean protein and dairy. It also allows healthy fats and a small amount of sweets each day.
The circle in the middle of the food pyramid reminds users of the central role of daily physical activity in successful weight loss.
The Mayo Clinic Diet has two phases:
1. Lose It!
This is a two-week phase that allows you to jump-start your weight loss by losing as much as 6- 10 pounds in a healthy way. In these first couple of weeks you’ll focus on healthy living while working to build ten good habits and break five bad habits.
Healthy habits include behaviors like eating a healthy breakfast, eating at least 3-4 servings of fruit or vegetables each day, doing at least 30 minutes of daily exercise, keeping a food journal or recording daily goals. At the same time, you’ll work to bread bad habits like watching TV while eating or making unhealthy choices while dining out.
2. Live It!
The second phase focuses on fostering a long-term, healthy lifestyle. In this phase, you’ll learn how to develop sustainable patterns that will help you reach and maintain your goal weight.
The “live it” phase teaches you how to make more nutritious food choices, estimate proper portion sizes, plan a menu and stick to healthy habits. Most dieters continue losing weight at a steady rate of 1-2 pounds per week until they reach their goal weight. From there, followers use the strategies and tools they’ve learned to maintain their goal weight long-term.
The Mayo Clinic Meals & Exercise Recommendations
In-keeping with its individualistic approach to dieting, the Mayo Clinic Diet has a range of different calorie levels. Your specific calorie goal will depend on age, starting weight, activity level and weight loss goals.
This is a sample menu from the 1,200 calorie-a-day plan, as provided by the old Mayo Clinic Diet book:
|Breakfast||1 cup fat-free yogurt + 1 serving fruit|
|Lunch||Tuna and pasta salad (¼ can water-packed tuna + 1 cup cooked shell pasta + ½ cup diced carrots and zucchini + 1 tbsp low-calorie mayonnaise) + 1 small orange|
|Dinner||2 slices of a small (12”) cheese pizza + green salad (2 cups lettuce + tomatoes, red onions & mushrooms) + 2 tbsp fat-free salad dressing|
|Snack||1 small apple|
Despite its built-in guidelines for daily calories, the Mayo Clinic diet focuses more on estimating correct portion sizes and planning meals than calorie counting or food group elimination. Using the pyramid and the diet’s recipe ideas, it is easy to incorporate healthy foods into your lifestyle and learn how to make healthier choices without feeling like you’re on a diet.
Daily physical activity is also an important part of the Mayo Clinic diet plan. Always talk to your doctor before starting a new physical activity program, but most people can begin by walking 5-10 minutes per day and then gradually increase duration and intensity (as able).
Aim for at least 30 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise each day. This includes activities like brisk walking, yard work or cycling.
The Mayo Clinic Diet Review
The Mayo Clinic diet is popular and backed by science, but will it really help you lose weight? Here’s a summary of some important benefits and downsides for you to consider:
- Based on scientific research
- Encourages healthy balanced eating and exercise – no banned foods
- Focuses on adopting good habits and eliminating bad habits to create a healthy lifestyle based on more than just what you eat
- Includes an encouraging weight-loss phase with a long-term maintenance phase
- Some of the habits may be difficult to incorporate into your current lifestyle
- Eating out is more challenging
- Consuming large amounts of fruit could be detrimental for those with diabetes. Speak with your doctor before starting this diet if you have diabetes.
The Mayo Clinic Diet is a very well thought-out approach to weight loss and long-term weight maintenance.
It is particularly refreshing to see a diet which does not utilize a one-size-fits-all method to dieting, instead appreciating that some methods may be more suitable for certain people. Although some of the encouraged habits could be difficult to maintain and sticking to the plan could be difficult if you eat out, these problems are minimal in comparison to the benefits you can achieve by sticking to this plan.
The Mayo Clinic Diet is a great option for both for weight loss and long-term weight maintenance.
Here at Phen.com, we strongly encourage adopting a healthy lifestyle, including a balanced diet and regular exercise, to achieve weight loss goals. Combining the Mayo Clinic diet with our supplement, Phen Caps, will make your weight loss a more achievable AND sustainable goal.
The Mayo Clinic Diet gets a thumbs up from us, but have you tried it? If so, what did you think, and would you recommend it? Let us know by commenting below.
Mayo Clinic Staff. (2019, January 16). Lose weight for life with the official Mayo Clinic Diet. Retrieved from https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/weight-loss/in-depth/mayo-clinic-diet/art-20045460.
Hensrud, D. (Ed.). (2011). The Mayo Clinic Diet. Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research.