The Mayo Clinic Diet: A Weight-Loss Plan For Life

The Mayo Clinic Diet is a lifestyle approach to weight loss that can help you maintain a healthy weight for a lifetime.

What is the Mayo Clinic Diet?

The Mayo Clinic Diet is a long-term weight management plan developed by weight-loss experts at The Mayo Clinic. It was designed to help reshape your lifestyle by breaking old unhealthy habits and adopting healthy ones. The goal of the Mayo Clinic Diet is to make simple changes so that you can get to a healthy weight and maintain it for the rest of your life.

Summary of the Mayo Clinic Diet

The purpose of the diet is to help you lose excess weight and to find a way of eating that’s sustainable for the rest of your life. It focuses on changing your daily routine by adding and breaking habits that can make a difference in your weight, such as eating more fruits and vegetables, not eating while you watch TV, and moving your body for 30 minutes a day.

The diet also stresses key components of behavior change, such as finding your inner motivation to lose weight, setting achievable goals, and handling setbacks.

Who should be on this diet?

You’d choose this diet if you:

  • Are looking for a diet developed by doctors
  • Want to learn how to cut unhealthy lifestyle habits and gain healthy ones
  • Need to improve your health and reduce your health risks by becoming more active and eating the recommended foods
  • Don’t want to be precise about counting calories or grams of fat or eliminate entire groups of foods
  • Want a life diet, not a quick fix

Talk to your doctor before starting any weight-loss diet, especially if you have health issues.

How much weight can you lose on the Mayo Clinic Diet?

According to The Mayo Clinic, the diet is designed to help you lose up to 6 to 10 pounds during the initial two-week phase. After that, you move into the second phase, where you continue to lose 1 to 2 pounds a week until you reach your goal weight. By continuing the healthy habits that you learn, you should be able to maintain your goal weight for the rest of your life.

Most people can lose weight when you restrict calories — at least in the short term. The goal is to help you keep weight off permanently through smarter food choices and learning how to effectively navigate setbacks and change your lifestyle.

Mayo Clinic Diet basics

The diet was developed based on research and clinical experience. It focuses on eating great-tasting healthy foods and burning calories through physical exercise. According to the diet, the best way to keep weight off forever is to do the following:

  • Change unhealthy lifestyle habits
  • Adopt new healthy habits 

It can be customized to your own individual needs and health history. There isn’t a one-size-fits-all approach with this diet plan.

What are the two parts of the Mayo Clinic Diet?

As with other diets like the South Beach Diet or The Dukan Diet, Mayo Clinic Diet has two main sections or phases, Phase 1: Lose It! And Phase 2: Live It!

Phase 1: Lose It! 

The initial two-week phase is designed to jump-start your weight loss. Some people can lose up to 6 to 10 pounds in a healthy and safe way. In this phase, you’ll focus on poor lifestyle habits that are associated with weight gain. You’ll learn how to add five healthy habits, break five unhealthy habits and adopt another five bonus healthy habits. In the Lose It! Phase here’s what will happen:

  • Quick results
  • Psychological improvements
  • Start practicing for your new habits 

The Lose It! phase tends to be more restrictive than the Live It! Phase. This is because it was designed to jump-start weight loss and introduce healthier diet and life behaviors.

What can’t you do during the Lose It! phase?

  • Drink alcohol
  • Eat while watching Netflix
  • Eat out at resturaunts

What you can’t eat:

  • Processed refined sugar that doesn’t come from fruit naturally
  • Junk food and packaged snacks

What you can do is start exercising for at least 30 minutes every day.

What you can eat is as many vegetables and fruits as you want, whole grains, lean protein sources, dairy and healthy fats.

Phase 2: Live It!

The Live It! Phase is intended to be a long-term, lifelong pursuit of dieting, overall health, and physical wellness. In this phase, you learn more about the following:

  • Making healthier food choices
  • Eating less through portion control
  • Healthy menu planning
  • Improved and sustained physical activity
  • Exercise planning
  • Sticking to healthy habits

How much weight can you lose in the Live It Phase?

You may see a steady weight loss of up to 1 to 2 pounds per week until you reach your goal weight. This phase can also help you maintain your goal weight permanently.

How to be successful with the Mayo Clinic Diet

Follow the Healthy Weight Pyramid

This diet doesn’t require counting calories or grams of fat. Instead, the Mayo Clinic Healthy Weight Pyramid is your guide to make smart diet choices. 

Bottom line, eat most of your food on the base of the pyramid and less from the top — and move more.

Eat healthy foods in the right portions

The base of the Healthy Weight Pyramid focuses on healthy foods that contain a smaller number of calories in a large volume of food.

This principle is eating low-energy-dense foods so you can lose weight by feeling full on fewer calories. Healthy choices in each of the other food groups in moderate amounts make up the rest of the pyramid. This includes whole-grain carbohydrates, lean sources of protein like legumes, fish and low-fat dairy, and heart-healthy unsaturated fats.

This diet shows you how to approximate your portion sizes and plan meals so you don’t have to eliminate any foods.

Boost your physical activity

It provides simple practical ideas to insert more physical activity into your day. This includes things like taking the stairs or walking to the store instead of driving. The diet also recommends at least 30 minutes of exercise per day. More exercise is required for further health benefits and weight loss.

If you’ve been sedentary or inactive or you have a medical condition, talk to your doctor before starting a new physical activity program. Most people can begin with 5-minute activities and increase the time gradually over time.

Sample menu for the Mayo Clinic Diet

This diet provides several calorie levels. Here’s a sample meal plan at the 1,200-calorie-a-day level:

Breakfast: 1/2 cup cooked oatmeal with 1 cup milk and 2 tablespoons raisins, 1/4 cup mango, calorie-free beverage

Lunch: Quinoa and sweet potato cakes, tossed salad with fat-free dressing, calorie-free beverage

Dinner: 1 pita pizza, 3/4 cup mixed fruit, calorie-free beverage

Snack: 1 cup sliced bell peppers and 2 tablespoons hummus

Can you have sweets on the Mayo Clinic Diet?

Yes. You can have sweets. But limit treats to 75 calories a day. 

You may consider thinking about sweet calories on a weekly basis. Eat a low-fat frozen yogurt or a couple of pieces of dark chocolate early in the week, and then wait a few more days for more sweets.

Benefits of the Mayo Clinic Diet

Losing weight eating a healthy, nutritious diet cuts your risk of health problems tied to being overweight, including conditions like the following.

  • Diabetes
  • Heart disease
  • High blood pressure
  • Sleep apnea

The Mayo Clinic Diet is meant to be 

  1. Positive
  2. Practical
  3. Sustainable
  4. Enjoyable

Follow the diet so you can enjoy a happier, healthier life over the long term.

Risks on the Mayo Clinic Diet

The Mayo Clinic Diet is safe for most adults. It encourages unlimited amounts of vegetables and fruits. For most people, eating lots of fruits and vegetables is a good thing. But, if you’ve been without fiber in your diet for some time, you may experience digestion issues as your body adjusts to a new way of eating.

Natural sugars found in fruit do affect your carbohydrate intake, which may temporarily raise your blood sugar or certain blood fats. If you have diabetes or other health issues or concerns, talk with your doctor to adjust the Mayo Clinic Diet for your individual situation. Some people with diabetes should aim for more vegetables than fruits, if possible. Snacking on vegetables may be better than snacking only on fruit.

Bottom line on the Mayo Clinic Diet

Many diet experts approve of the Mayo Clinic Diet’s nutritional profile and the ability to prevent or treat weight-related issues like diabetes or heart disease. Some are skeptical of the diet’s ability to help weight loss over a longer-term.

Overall it is an easy diet to follow. There is a cost to get all the information and follow the diet fully.