Diet Plan Information: Mayo Clinic Diet


What is the Mayo Clinic Diet?

The Mayo Clinic Diet is a diet developed by professionals that remakes the food pyramid from the bottom up, allowing you to make smart choices about what you eat. The diet itself focuses on consuming the majority of your meals from the healthy foods portions of the pyramid while still being allowed to eat some of the less-healthy foods from the top.


How Does the Mayo Clinic Diet Plan Work?

The Mayo Clinic Diet focuses on a few simple core values that help you reach your health goals. These include eating healthy food and portions and exercising more, even if it’s just taking the stairs instead of the elevator. It’s all about doing little things that can lead to life-long health improvements.

Many proponents of the diet claim that you don’t have to count calories. However, the Mayo Clinic diet still restricts your calorie intake. In general, men should consume between 1,400 and 1,800 calories per day while women should consume 1,200 to 1,600 calories per day (Mayo Clinic FAQs).

While the traditional food pyramid has the base of its pyramid listed as grains (carbohydrates), the bottom of the Mayo Clinic food pyramid has three things: fruit, vegetables, and daily physical activity.

A comparison of the traditional food pyramid with the Mayo Clinic Diet food pyramid.

Side effects of the Mayo Clinic Diet tend to be minor, if at all. When you start eating a new diet, there may be a transitional period where you experience some gastrointestinal discomfort like stomach aches or gas. As always, be sure to check with your doctor before starting a new diet or making lifestyle changes, especially if you have any health conditions.


How Do I Start the Mayo Clinic Diet?

The most important thing to remember about the Mayo Clinic Diet is that it’s more than a diet — it’s a lifestyle change. Not only is the diet meant to help you lose weight and keep it off, it’s supposed to help you make better health choices by making small improvements here and there.

If you’d like to start on the Mayo Clinic Diet, the first thing you’re going to have to do is to break some bad habits regarding how, when, and what you eat. The plan suggests that you avoid eating out, never eat while watching TV or another digital screen, and refraining from snacking unless it’s fruit or vegetables.


How Do You Implement the Mayo Clinic Diet Plan?

The first phase of the Mayo Clinic Diet Plan is referred to as “Lose it!” and the second phase is referred to as the “Live it!” and is meant to be followed for life.

During “Lose it!” (the first two weeks of the diet), you’ll begin using a habit tracker to evaluate where you are in terms of healthy habits and where you need to improve. This is intended to help jump-start your weight loss and get you on track to better health.

Although there is a Mayo Clinic Habit Tracker, there are now a number of apps out there that can help you keep track of general and customizable habits. Some good healthy habits to consider tracking are minutes of exercise per day, amount of water consumed, number of hours of sleep, number of servings of fruits and vegetables consumed, avoiding temptations (like candy and processed sugars), and staying at or below your daily calorie goal.

During “Live it!” (the rest of your life), you’ll continue to focus on following the Mayo Clinic food pyramid. You’ll still continue to lose about 1-2 pounds per week if you continue your caloric deficit. If you are at your desired maintenance weight, simply add more calories to maintain your weight.

Make sure that you continue to try to get some of your daily calorie intake from each of the levels of the Mayo Clinic food pyramid, with the majority of energy still coming from the base (fruits and vegetables) and the least coming from the top (sweets). Be sure to continue tracking your habits and keep striving to make healthier choices when it comes to both food and exercise.


What Can You Eat on the Mayo Clinic Diet Plan?

The good news about the Mayo Clinic Diet is that you can eat just about anything you’d like while focusing on the Mayo Clinic food pyramid. The diet doesn’t prohibit fats or sweets but rather encourages you to make smart choices about when and how you consume foods that are less than healthy.

In general, the bulk of your diet should come from the bottom or base of the pyramid: fruits and vegetables. After that, focus on consuming whole grains like wild rice and then lean protein like chicken, beans, and fish. Oils and sweets should make up the least of your daily calories. Most of all, you should try to make smart choices about what you’re consuming.

For example, when it comes to snacking the Mayo Clinic Diet Plan encourages you to reach for the fruit and vegetables rather than the candy bar. Instead of reaching for a bag of M&M’s (240 calories, 30 grams of sugar), you should reach for a snack bag of baby carrots (25 calories, 4 grams of sugar) or a snack bag of apple slices (30 calories, 6 grams of sugar).


What Can’t You Eat on the Mayo Clinic Diet Plan?

For the most part, you can eat a number of different foods on the Mayo Clinic Diet. However, there are some foods that should be consumed only in tight moderation or avoided altogether.

  • Egg Yolks: The Mayo Clinic Diet suggests that you consume egg whites only, and even then only in moderation.
  • Alcohol: While you’re still allowed to have alcohol on the Mayo Clinic Diet, guidelines suggest that you consume no more than 500 calories per week in alcohol.
  • Sweets: Again, you’re still allowed to consume some sweets like candy or brownies but it shouldn’t be in excess of 500 calories per week. (Note that one Snickers bar has 215 calories and one cup of ice cream has roughly 260 calories!)


Pros of the Mayo Clinic Diet

  • Developed by Experts: The Mayo Clinic Diet was developed by experts and professionals in the health field to be nutritionally sound. It is considered to be a balanced diet as compared to one that focuses on being low-carb or low-fat.
  • Additional Weight Loss Tools: As a member of the Mayo Clinic, you’ll have access to your Food and Fitness Journal that can help track your weight, waist size, nutrients, and more. You’ll also use your Habit Tracker and your Fitness Planner to keep you on track to reach and maintain your goals.


Cons of the Mayo Clinic Diet

  • Calorie Counting: Counting the calories in your food can be a long and tedious task, made more difficult if you’re unsure of the exact ingredients or how big of a portion you’re consuming.
  • Life-long Commitment: For many people, the prospect of having to follow the guidelines of this diet for the rest of your life is a daunting prospect. However, if you’re really committed to being healthier, losing weight, and keeping it off, this idea should be a positive one rather than a negative one.
  • No Independent Scientific Studies: The only studies that have been conducted on the Mayo Clinic Diet have been carried out by the Mayo Clinic itself.


Books on the Mayo Clinic Diet


Evidence-Based Studies on the Mayo Clinic Diet

The only studies that have been conducted on the Mayo Clinic Diet have been carried out by the Mayo Clinic itself. However, because the diet promotes eating whole, unprocessed foods, it makes sense that those who adhere and stick to the diet lose weight. “The Mayo Clinic Diet is meant to be positive, practical, sustainable and enjoyable, so you can enjoy a happier, healthier life over the long term” (Mayo Clinic).

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