The Mayo Clinic introduced a diet in 2010 that became a New York Times best seller and has been a popular weight loss option ever since. In December 2021, the Mayo Clinic released a revamped version of this diet that includes a digital platform and an app so you can track your habits, food, exercise, progress toward your goals, and more.
“This is a way to take a tried and true program that has been around for a while and deliver it to more people in a digitally compatible way,” Donald Hensrud, MD, medical director of the Mayo Clinic Healthy Living Program, said TODAY.
How does the Mayo Clinic diet work?
The Mayo Clinic diet focuses on developing new healthy habits and breaking old, less healthy habits. It begins with a two-week “Lose It” Quick Start phase where you add five habits, break five habits, and tackle five additional habits if you wish. This phase is designed to boost your weight loss. “The more habits you change, the more weight you lose,” Dr. Hensrud said.
Those habits can be things like eating breakfast, eating more fruits and vegetables, cutting out added sugar, not eating while watching TV, or only watching TV for the amount of time you are active in a day.
After the first two weeks, you move into the “Live It Up” phase, focusing on lasting diet and lifestyle changes that you can maintain for the long term. The initial program lasts for 12 weeks, with the option to continue for as long as you want support. It is based on the Mayo Clinic healthy weight pyramid, with vegetables and fruits dominating the diet.
“It provides evidence-based advice,” Dr. Hensrud said. “It is not easy, but it is practical, realistic and pleasant enough to be sustainable. Not only will it help people control their weight, but it will also improve their health in the process. “
What Does Mayo Clinic Diet Research Say?
Dr. Hensrud said that the changes in your habits that the diet promotes are evidence-based and have some support for weight management. And eating more plant-based foods, which the diet encourages, is associated with a lower risk of heart disease, cancer, and diabetes.
Tracking or self-monitoring behaviors can also promote weight control. That’s because they keep you connected to what you are doing and what works for you. For example, tracking what you eat can show you if you are eating enough fruits and vegetables, or if your portion sizes are too large. “These tools have been shown in multiple studies to be helpful in helping people control their weight,” Samantha Cassetty, a New York City-based registered dietitian and co-author of “Sugar Shock,” told TODAY. “These are all things that make you feel better emotionally and physically.”
Is the Mayo Clinic Diet a Good Choice for You?
“This diet focuses on promoting healthy foods like fruits and vegetables and whole grains, and it also focuses on helping you establish healthier habits,” said Cassetty. “It has a lot to offer.”
The two-week “Lose It” phase may seem restrictive, but it can also boost your weight loss. “It’s a short enough time to see some success and start making long-term lifestyle changes,” said Dr. Hensrud. While the “Lose It” phase is not sustainable in the long term, it can give people confidence. “At first, when people start to change their habits, they feel intimidated. Once they get involved and see that they are losing weight, they get stronger. They are in this for the long term, ”he said.
So if you want to push yourself for two weeks to see some progress, this diet might be a good option for you. “There is a good chance that you will lose weight because your eating habits have changed significantly, and that can be motivating to move on to the next phase, where you can find out what works for you in the long run,” said Cassetty.
This diet could be challenging if it involves a complete overhaul of your eating habits. “It’s okay to feel like your health behavior is over the top,” Cassetty said. “But you still have to feel like you can adapt to your lifestyle.”
And if the diet brings up any messy eating habits, you may want to find a different approach.
You’ll pay between $ 20 and $ 50 per month for the plan, depending on how long you sign up for. There is also a book based on an older version of the program.
What do you eat on the Mayo Clinic diet?
The Mayo Clinic Original Diet emphasizes vegetables and fruits, whole grains, and healthy fats like olive oil and avocado, and includes smaller amounts of meat, cheese, and eggs.
You can also select variations that focus on these diets:
- Higher protein, which balances the protein in your meals to help control your appetite.
- Healthy Keto, a high-fat, low-carb diet that highlights olive oil, avocado, walnuts, and seeds.
- Vegetarian, which includes eggs and dairy, as well as bean and soy protein.
- Mediterranean, which is of plant origin and includes fish and some meat.
On a typical day, you can eat:
- Breakfast: Breakfast burrito with cheese.
- Lunch: Italian chicken bread salad.
- Dinner: Teriyaki salmon skewers and vegetables.
- Sandwich: Fruits and vegetables.
The Mayo Clinic diet is similar to:
- Mediterranean diet, which also emphasizes whole foods of plant origin.
- DASH diet, or Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension, which aims to reduce or control high blood pressure.
- MIND diet, which combines the Mediterranean and DASH diets to help promote brain health.
- Flexitarian diet, a primarily vegetarian diet that includes some meat.
- Blue Zones Diet, a plant-centered diet modeled after the food choices of the world’s longest-living people.
Is the Mayo Clinic diet effective in the long term?
The “Live It” phase of the Mayo Clinic diet incorporates lifestyle changes and a healthy diet that you can maintain for life.
Talk to your doctor before starting the Mayo Clinic diet or any other diet; your doctor or a registered dietitian can recommend the best meal plan for you, based on your health needs.