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A Look Into the Mayo Clinic Diet

mayo clinic food list graphics
Last Updated on June 6, 2022

The Mayo Clinic is a non-profit organization with lots of respect in the medical world. They work with rare and complex health issues and provide free health educational resources, including a diet for losing weight.

Many health experts consider the Mayo Clinic Diet one of the healthiest diets out there. However, this wasn’t always the case. 

The term “Mayo Clinic Diet” started around the 1930s, but it had no affiliation with the true Mayo Clinic. Instead, it was a fad weight loss program promoting unhealthy eating habits. Several celebrities hopped on board this fad, causing people to dub it the “Hollywood diet.”

Since then, the actual Mayo Clinic has started its own diet under the same name after the clinic published a diet book in 1949. 

An Overview of the Mayo Clinic Diet

vegetables beans and broccoli

What is the Mayo Clinic Diet all about? The diet came about from a group of doctors wanting to support people with losing weight at a healthy and steady pace. Food choices are recommended according to the Mayo Clinic’s personalized food pyramid, emphasizing fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean protein.

People eat large quantities of low energy density food when following the Mayo Clinic Diet. The idea is that it allows people to eat more without consuming excess calories. Furthermore, it discourages eating processed foods and those with added sugar.

The Mayo Clinic Diet claims that you can lose between 6–10 pounds during the first two weeks. After that time, they say you’ll lose 1–2 pounds per week until you reach your goal weight. 

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), a 1-2 pound weight loss per week is a healthy pace to lose weight. 

Since the original Mayo Clinic Diet, they’ve expanded their weight loss program options to the Mayo Clinic Diabetes Diet and a New Mayo Clinic Diet. If you wish to follow a Mayo Clinic Diet plan and are unsure of which to pick, it’s best to speak with your doctor.

Food You Can Eat on the Mayo Clinic Diet

chicken bread meat

What is the Mayo Clinic Diet in terms of food? The diet is a two-part phase called “Lose it!” and “Live it!” You can eat the same foods during both phases, but the difference is that the two-week “Lose it!” phase allows you to eat unlimited fruits and vegetables as snacks. You also don’t count calories.

After that time, you’ll continue eating the same foods, except you’ll start counting calories to help you either lose more weight or maintain your current weight if you only need to shed a few pounds. 

You can eat from all food groups while on the Mayo Clinic Diet, but they emphasize non-processed foods with no added sugar. Examples of some of the many types of foods you can eat are:

  • Beans

  • Fish

  • Chicken

  • Broccoli

  • Apples

  • Whole-grain bread

  • Low-fat dairy

  • Olive oil

  • Nuts

You can even eat dishes like pizza and have a sweet treat now and then once you enter the “Live it!” phase. Meat and full-fat dairy are also okay occasionally, but the key is to eat in moderation. 

Furthermore, the Mayo Clinic Diet promotes learning healthy habits, such as exercising and not eating while watching TV, which can lead to accidental overeating.

Mayo Clinic Diet Pros

With many doctors and well-respected health companies giving their stamp of approval on the Mayo Clinic Diet, there are many pros it offers. Some of them include:

  • Excellent nutritional benefits

  • Flexibility to eat from many food groups

  • Emphasis on non-processed food

  • Having the occasional treat

  • Flexible for people with special dietary needs

  • Emphasis on feeling full

  • Ability to eat out

Mayo Clinic Diet Cons

Despite the pros of the Mayo Clinic Diet, below are some cons worth considering:

  • It can be quite expensive

  • Requires lots of food prep

  • You determine meal plans

Benefits of the Mayo Clinic Diet

The Mayo Clinic Diet comes with a host of benefits, as departments of health in various countries support the concept of the Mayo Clinic’s ratio of food groups for providing the nutrients and energy one needs to maintain good health.

By following this diet, you’ll remain within a healthy sodium and sugar intake. As a result, weight loss is common, and you might reduce your risk of diseases such as:

  • Heart disease

  • High blood pressure

  • Diabetes

  • Stroke 

  • Gallbladder disease

  • Osteoarthritis

The Mayo Clinic Diet also promotes exercise as part of its weight loss program. They recommend adults exercise for a minimum of 150 minutes per week if they do a moderate level of activity. 

On the other hand, people who do high-intensity aerobic exercise can get away with working out for only 75 minutes per week.

Risks of the Mayo Clinic Diet

What is the Mayo Clinic diet risk factor? One of the biggest risks of the diet is that certain people might have trouble having all of their nutritional needs met during the phase of the plan where you’re restricting calories. So, you may want to speak with a doctor to ensure you’re getting complete nutrition or supplement your diet with a multivitamin.

Generally speaking, most adults should ensure they’re consuming a minimum of 1,200 calories per day. Given the Mayo Clinic Diet’s flexibility in terms of the foods you choose, this is possible to achieve. 

The Bottom Line

The Mayo Clinic Diet has been around for many years, and you’ll be hard-pressed to find many doctors discouraging it for the average adult. However, people with preexisting conditions should always consult with their doctor before starting any new weight loss plan, including the Mayo Clinic Diet.

References

Mayo Clinic Diet, retrieved from https://health.usnews.com/best-diet/mayo-clinic-diet

Leah Groth, New Mayo Clinic Diet: Review, retrieved from https://www.forbes.com/health/body/mayo-clinic-diet-review/

Amanda Gardner, Lisa Fields, The Mayo Clinic Diet, retrieved from https://www.webmd.com/diet/a-z/mayo-clinic-diet

Mayo Clinic Diet (Fad Diet), retrieved from https://www.encyclopedia.com/science/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/mayo-clinic-diet-fad-diet

Losing Weight, retrieved from https://www.cdc.gov/healthyweight/losing_weight/index.html

Healthy Ireland, The Food Pyramid, retrieved from https://www.gov.ie/en/publication/70a2e4-the-food-pyramid/

Health Effects of Overweight & Obesity, retrieved from https://www.cdc.gov/healthyweight/effects/index.html

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