What Is the Mayo Clinic Diet?

This research-backed weight loss plan offers lots of support for users, but for some, it may be information overload.

February 04, 2022

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vaaseenaa/Getty Images

The Mayo Clinic Diet was ranked fifth by U.S. News & World Report as the best overall diet for weight loss. Recently, the plan was updated and is now referred to as the New Mayo Clinic Diet. Find out what this plan entails and if it’s right for you.

What Is the Mayo Clinic Diet?

Mayo Clinic is a nonprofit organization that has a long standing history of weight loss research. From this research, Mayo Clinic Diet was developed. So what does the diet entail? According to Dr. Donald Hensrud, M.D., M.P.H. author and Medical Director at Mayo Clinic Diet, the weight loss plan is “an evidenced-based lifestyle change program that helps people manage their weight and improve their health in a practical, sustainable manner.”

The diet has two phases: LoseIt! and LiveIt!. The LoseIt! phase is a 2-week jump start period in which members change 15 habits suddenly to lose weight quickly. Expected weight loss during this phase is up to 6 to 10 pounds. During the LiveIt! phase, you’ll turn those habits into a long term lifestyle program to continue to lose weight at a rate of 1 to 2 pounds per week until you reach your goal. The initial program is 12 weeks. Beyond those 12 weeks, members can track their progress in the New Mayo Clinic Diet’s online platform and app, which includes tools like a food journal and tracker.

Some features members receive include:

  • Tools to track progress, log meals, exercise, measurements, and body weight
  • Habit Optimizer to substitute old, unhealthy habits for new, health-focused ones.
  • Access to educational content and expertise of the Mayo Clinic (such as behavior change, nutrition, sleep, stress management and goal setting)
  • Virtual group video sessions with Mayo Clinic doctors and professionals
  • Mayo Clinic Diet 12-week course to learn and adopt principles of a newer and healthier way of life
  • At home workouts with no equipment required

The whole-health menu program is developed and approved by Mayo Clinic and provides the dieter with a choice of meal plans to follow including Healthy Keto, High Protein, Vegetarian, Mediterranean, and Gut Health.

At least 30 minutes of exercise per day is recommended and for bonus points for exercising 60 minutes or more per day.

What Foods Are Allowed?

All foods are allowed on the Mayo Clinic Diet. “People are encouraged to eat generous amounts of low-calorie dense vegetables and fruits that also promote health,” Hensrud explains. “Portion sizes and total amounts are limited for other food groups and healthy choices are recommended with each food group such as whole grain carbohydrates (brown rice, oatmeal, whole wheat pasta, etc.) and heart-healthy fats (olive oil, nuts, avocados, etc.).” Consuming sugar, high amounts of meat and full fat dairy are discouraged.

The amount of protein, fat, and carbs depends on the type of plan you follow. For example, if you follow the high protein meal plan, healthy protein and other food groups are distributed evenly across each meal of the day. If you follow the healthy keto plan, that is a high-fat, low-carb diet which delivers healthy fats from olive oil, avocado, nuts and seeds.

How Much Does It Cost?

The monthly plan is $49.99, and the price goes down depending on how many months you sign up for. For example, a 3 month plan is $39.99 per month while a 6 month plan is $29.99 per month.

What Are the Pros and Cons of the Plan?

Mayo Clinic Diet Pros

  • No calorie counting
  • There is science to back up the weight loss plan
  • Diet can be individualized
  • The diet offers a lot of support
  • Exercise is encouraged

Mayo Clinic Diet Cons

  • Membership is pricey
  • From tracking to groups to other features offered, the many tasks dieters are recommended to do can be overwhelming for some folks

Bottom Line: We like that it's rooted in science, but it may not be right for everyone.

The New Mayo Clinic Diet is an upgraded plan that offers a lot of assistance to members, however, membership is pricey. Although a lot of guidance is offered, it may be too overwhelming for some folks.

Toby Amidor, MS, RD, CDN, is a registered dietitian and consultant who specializes in food safety and culinary nutrition. She is the author of The Greek Yogurt Kitchen: More Than 130 Delicious, Healthy Recipes for Every Meal of the Day.

*This article was written and/or reviewed by an independent registered dietitian nutritionist.

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