The Mayo Clinic Diet – a sustainable approach to weight loss

The Mayo Clinic diet is built on eating balanced portions of healthy foods and limiting or avoiding less healthy foods, without too many additional rules in order to keep it simple.

A one size diet plan does not exist and therefore successful weight loss needs to be personalized.

The secret to succeed long term weight loss

The secret to succeed is in preparing and planning your meals from before.

The Mayo Clinic Diet is defined by a five-tier food pyramid and emphasizes foods that have lots of nutrients and generally fewer calories. 

Be vigilant of fake diets that suggest eating unlimited amounts of high-fat and high-cholesterol foods and limit the number of vegetables in your diet. The most bizarre rule is that you are required to eat a lot of grapefruit (because it burns fats) and eggs. 

Losing weight quickly is another unrealistic statement. When weight loss is too fast it is also usually not safe. 

The legitimate Mayo Clinic Diet is safe for almost all followers.

So what can you eat on the Mayo Clinic Diet?

The Mayo Clinic Diet is a slow, steady and reasonable approach to weight loss.

The five-tier food pyramid

  • Base tier: Unlimited consumption of fruits and vegetables 
  • Second tier: Moderate amounts of whole grains, such as brown rice, oats, and whole wheat bread.
  • Third tier: Moderate consumption of Protein with fewer servings of carbs, but more than healthy fats.
  • Fourth tier: Healthy fats make up the second-to-smallest category on the pyramid. Some excellent sources of healthy fats include nuts, avocados and also olive oil.
  • Fifth tier: Sweets and treats are allowed on occasion.
mayo clinic diet
mayo clinic diet

The Mayo Clinic Diet – What You Need to Know

The Mayo Clinic Diet has 2 phases “Lose It!” and “Live It!”

Lose It phase: You can reportedly lose 6 to 10 pounds during the first few weeks of the Lose It phase and then one to two pounds per week after that throughout the ‘Live It’ phase.

During Lose It phase you need to add 5 healthy habits, break 5 unhealthy habits and adopt another 5 bonus healthy habits. For example avoiding unhealthy snacks and cutting back on meat and full-fat dairy products.

Live It phase: Educate yourself by learning more about food choices, portion sizes, menu planning, physical activity and exercise.

“The Mayo Clinic Diet Book” is a handy reference. The eating plan can be modified for vegetarians, people who follow a gluten-free diet, those who adhere to a kosher diet and people with pre-diabetes and Type 2 diabetes.

How do I Start Losing weight

Let us start from the obvious things to watch out for.

What to eat

  • Fruits and vegetables
  • Whole-grain carbohydrates
  • Lean protein and low-fat dairy products

What not to eat

  • Sweets
  • Fats
  • Refined carbohydrates

What to include

  • Nutrient-dense whole foods (high in nutrients and fibre and low in calories)
  • As many fruits and vegetables as you want
  • Whole grains, lean protein and low-fat dairy products, can be consumed in moderation.

If you have diabetes, limit your fruit intake because of its natural sugars.


Some Sweets are even allowed when on the Mayo Clinic Diet during the Live It phase only but should be limited to up to 75 calories per day—or 500 calories per week.


Alcohol is considered a treat and is not permitted during the Lose it phase.

Refined Carbohydrates

No foods are off-limits on this diet, so it’s OK to have refined carbohydrates on occasion, such as bread or pasta made from white flour.

Always choose complex carbs (brown bread, pasta or rice) over refined carbs like white bread, as they are more nutrient-dense and will keep you fuller for longer.

What should be included in my grocery list

  • Dark leafy greens (spinach and kale)
  • Vegetables (broccoli, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, bell peppers, eggplant, carrots)
  • Fresh and frozen fruits (grapefruit, oranges, berries, bananas, apples)
  • Whole grains (quinoa, barley, brown rice, whole grain bread)
  • Legumes (black beans, lentils, chickpeas, tofu)
  • Meat and poultry (lean ground beef, chicken and turkey breast, pork tenderloin)
  • Fresh or frozen fish (cod, salmon, sea bass, shrimp)
  • Low-fat natural dairy products (Greek yogurt, feta cheese, parmesan cheese, cottage cheese)
  • Healthy fats (avocados, walnuts, almonds, chia seeds, olive oil)
  • Eggs

My diet Meal Plan

The Mayo Clinic Diet focuses on a balanced mix of protein, fat and carbohydrates from whole food sources and typically include three meals and a snack.

Day 1

Breakfast: Oatmeal Bowl; 1/2 grapefruit

Lunch: Avocado Chicken Salad served on two slices whole-grain bread

Snack: Berry Smoothie; 1 serving of walnuts

Dinner: Lentil Soup

Day 2

Breakfast: Vegetable Omelette

Lunch: Mediterranean Salad

Snack: Roasted Red Pepper, Hummus and carrot sticks or sliced cucumbers

Dinner: Tuna steak with 1 cup cooked brown rice or quinoa

Day 3

Breakfast: 1 cup Quinoa topped with 1/2 cup mixed berries and 2 tablespoons chopped almonds

Lunch: Roasted Beetroot and Feta Salad

Snack: 1 chopped up apple (red or green) with 1 tablespoon amazing almond butter

Dinner: 1 serving Roasted Chicken; 1 1/4 cups Oven Roasted Potatoes; 3 ounces green vegetables

Tip: Bad habits to kick when dieting – Eating while watching TV, which can lead to overeating.

The Mayo Clinic Diet is likely to be safe and effective for most people, but it does have some drawbacks to be aware of.


Including nutritious foods and limiting processed foods, a healthy habit for anyone, whether or not weight loss is the goal.

Including daily exercise emphasizing the link between physical activity, weight loss, and wellness. The diet suggests 30–60 minutes of activity every day.

Portion control vs. calorie counting:  Instead of counting calories, one must understand how to use portion size to eat healthfully and promote long-term weight management.


Restrictive: In order to achieve weight loss one must completely cut out sugars (except in fruit), alcohol and restaurant meals.

Calorie counts are quite low. However, this is meant to be a short phase to boost motivation through successful weight loss.

Time-consuming: learning new ways to shop, plan meals, and cook can be stressful in the beginning.

 Is the Mayo Clinic Diet the best choice for You?

The real Mayo Clinic Diet is similar to other healthful eating patterns that emphasize permanent strategies for nutritious eating.

The Volumetrics Diet plan resembles the Mayo Clinic Healthy Food Pyramid to determine which foods to emphasize and which to limit. Both diets stress the importance of eating plenty of fruits and vegetables and choosing whole grains over refined ones.

The DASH diet is a heart-healthy eating plan designed by medical professionals to help patients lower blood pressure. It also stresses the importance of eating lots of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean protein, and is safe and relatively easy to follow.

The Mediterranean Diet, a traditional diet consumed in the Mediterranean region where residents tend to live long, healthy lives. The diet emphasizes fruits, vegetables, seafood, whole grains, and legumes, and is safe and often recommended by doctors.

The Mayo Clinic Diet reflects dietary advice for a well-balanced diet.

Guidelines for consumption:

45–65% carbs, 20–35% fat, and 10–35% protein.

Calorie intake 1,200–1,800 calories a day depending on age, sex, height, weight, and level of physical activity. Most women consume less than 1,200 calories each day, and men consume less than 1,500 calories per day.

Average weight loss of 0.05 kg per week

Average weight loss of 0.05 kg per week. Experts recommend a healthy weight loss of 0.25-1 kg per week. Losing more than 1 kg a week is not recommended and may make it difficult to keep the weight off in the long run.

Remember, this number is just an estimate. Avoid being hard on yourself when you eat a few extra calories on one day and a few less calories the next day. It is all about striking a healthy balance and focusing on the long term goals. 

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