The Mayo Clinic Diet is a long-term weight management program that teaches you how to build healthy new habits and break unhealthy old habits to transform your life.
About the Mayo Clinic Diet
Developed by medical professionals and weight loss experts, the New Mayo Clinic Diet helps you make beneficial lifestyle changes. This approach means that not only will you lose weight in the short term, but you’ll also have the tools to maintain it in the long term.
Unlike fad diets, you can fit your personal food preferences and individual needs into the Mayo Clinic Diet. You also don’t have to eliminate food groups or count calories.
How the Mayo Clinic Diet Works
The Mayo Clinic Diet is a 12-week program that consists of two phases.
This two-week phase aims to launch your weight loss journey. You can expect to lose between six to 10 pounds healthily and safely.
Lifestyle habits are connected to weight. Using the “habit optimizer,” you’ll be encouraged to break five unhealthy habits, make five healthy habits, and add five “bonus” healthy habits.
The Mayo Clinic recommends adopting the following healthy habits:
- Eat a balanced breakfast to prevent overeating later in the day.
- Eat at least four servings of vegetables and three servings of fruit each day.
- Eat whole grains as they are filling and high in fiber, vitamins, and minerals.
- Eat healthy fats.
- Engage in 30 minutes of physical activity each day (or even more for additional health benefits).
In the second phase, weight loss is slow and steady (one to two pounds per week).
You’ll learn about food choices, portioning, menu planning, physical activity, and ways to keep your healthy habits to maintain your weight loss once you’ve completed the program.
You’ll also have access to various electronic tools. This includes an online food and exercise journal, weight tracker, exercise ideas, and a virtual support group.
The Diet Plan
You’re encouraged to estimate portion sizes and plan your meals. Although calories are restricted, you don’t have to count them obsessively.
You have five budget-friendly eating styles to choose from.
- Original Mayo Clinic Diet: This is a classic, family-friendly choice with no dietary restrictions.
- Vegetarian: Your protein will come from meat-free sources, such as beans, soy, eggs, and dairy.
- Mediterranean: This way of eating is mainly plant-based, apart from fish, and it emphasizes nuts, legumes, fruits, and vegetables for healthy heart functioning.
- Healthy Keto: A high-fat diet that focuses on healthy foods like olive oil, avocado, nuts, and seeds and restricts carbohydrates to 50 grams per day.
- High protein: High-protein meals are distributed throughout the day to help control your appetite and cravings.
The Mayo Clinic Healthy Weight Pyramid
The carefully designed Mayo Clinic Healthy Weight Pyramid is at the center of all eating plans. It helps you make healthy, substantial, low-calorie food choices to support weight loss.
At the base of the pyramid are fruits and vegetables, which you can eat in abundance. The other four components are carbohydrates, protein and dairy, fats, and sweets in ascending order. The further up the food pyramid a good group is, the less you should eat each day.
The New Mayo Clinic Diet offers flexible membership options. Although no free option is available, they offer a five-day money-back guarantee.
- 1 month: US $49.99 each month
- 3 months: US $39.99 each month
- 6 months: US $29.99 each month
- 12 months: US $19.99 each month
Dos and Don’ts
- Don’t count calories. Instead, focus on spreading food group servings throughout the day, and make sure you get at least one serving from most food groups in each meal.
- Do track food and exercise to help you stay on track with your goals.
- Don’t follow the “Lose It” phase for more than two weeks. It can be restrictive, and rapid weight loss is not sustainable in the long term.
- Plan your meals week-by-week to always have healthy food ready to go.
Sample Diet Plan
Sample diet plans are available for each eating style, such as the Original Mayo Clinic Diet:
- Cheesy breakfast burrito: Whole wheat tortilla with cheddar cheese, cherry tomatoes, avocado, and red onion.
- Rice salad: Brown rice, peas, leafy greens, cucumber, cherry tomatoes, red onion, mint, feta cheese, and olive oil.
- Thai-inspired pork with citrus, fresh herbs, and quinoa: Ground pork, quinoa, sweet chili sauce, soy sauce, lemon juice, green beans, cabbage, carrot, fresh mint, zucchini, olive oil, and raw ginger.
- Yogurt with raspberries.
- Two pieces of fruit.
- One cup of vegetable sticks.
Health Benefits And Drawbacks of the Mayo Clinic Diet
Although no direct research on the New Mayo Clinic Diet is available, evidence supports the program’s key components.
Benefits of fruits, vegetables, and fiber
In a study of 60 people with obesity, consuming an abundance of fruit and vegetables promoted weight loss when combined with reducing calorie intake.
Fruit and vegetables are high in water and fiber and have a low energy density, an important determinant of total calorie intake.
High fiber diets also increase satiety and help overweight or obese people adhere to calorie-restricted diets.
Building healthy habits is at the core of the Mayo Clinic Diet. Studies have shown that regulation of dietary habits in overweight and obese people is associated with weight loss, a reduction in body mass index (BMI), and waist circumference.
Although the Mayo Clinic Diet membership offers many features, including meal plans and recipes, a food tracker, habit optimizer, and at-home workouts, you may not be in a position to afford this. This is particularly true if you start purchasing healthier foods, which often are more expensive.
Tracking can be tedious
Tracking your food intake and movement can take time to get used to. You may forget or not have time to do so.
Also, it may be triggering if you’ve struggled with an eating disorder because it could lead to an unhealthy relationship with food.
The Bottom Line: Is the Mayo Clinic Diet a Healthy Way to Lose Weight?
Although it hasn’t been researched as much as other diet plans, the Mayo Clinic Diet is thought to be safe and effective due to its focus on building healthy lifestyle habits. The first phase of the program may be restrictive, but it’s still a healthy way to lose weight if you follow the proper guidelines.
Meagan Morris is the editor in chief of Celebribody. She's veteran health and wellness editor with over 15 years of experience. Her work has been featured in The Atlantic, Yahoo Health, Cosmopolitan, SELF, and Women's Health, among others. She spends most of her time writing, but her favorite part of the day is spent under a barbell doing squats.