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The Mayo Clinic Diet

The Promise

Lose up to 10 pounds in 2 weeks -- and that's just the beginning of what the Mayo Clinic Diet says it can do for you.

The Mayo Clinic Diet is the official diet developed by the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota. It focuses not just on what you eat and how much you weigh but also on your overall health and lifestyle. The plan provides tips on breaking old, unhealthy habits (like eating while watching TV) and forming new, healthy ones (like exercising).

The program has two phases: "Lose It!" and "Live It!"

The "Live It!" phase lasts the rest of your life. During this phase, Mayo Clinic claims you can drop 1-2 pounds a week until you reach your goal weight.

Does It Work?

There have been no studies of the Mayo Clinic Diet itself, but much of what the diet recommends is backed up by research.

For instance, eating meals high in fruits and veggies and low in fat has been shown in many studies to help people lose weight.

What You Can Eat and What You Can't

The diet gives you lots of food choices within six food groups:

  1. Fruits
  2. Vegetables
  3. Whole grains
  4. Lean proteins such as beans and fish
  5. Unsaturated fats such as olive oil and nuts
  6. Sweets, in small amounts

You can also eat favorite foods such as pizza, just not the whole pie and not all the time.

You can't have alcohol during the Lose It! phase. After that, you can have a little bit of alcohol: about 75 calories a day, on average.

Level of Effort: Medium

The diet is flexible and gives you lots of food choices.

Limitations: The creators of the Mayo Clinic Diet emphasize that it is not a "one-size-fits-all approach," so you should be able to eat foods you like and even enjoy a treat once in a while.

Cooking and shopping: You should be able to find most of the recommended foods at any grocery store. The diet creators recommend making a list before you shop and scouting the edges of the store, which usually have the healthy food choices such as fresh produce and dairy.

Preferred cooking methods are baking, braising, grilling, broiling, poaching, roasting, sautéing, steaming, and stir-frying.

Packaged foods or meals: None required.

In-person meetings: No.

Exercise: Aim for at least 30 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise a day. This could be brisk walking or working in the yard.

Does It Allow for Dietary Restrictions or Preferences?

Vegetarians and vegans, as well as people on low-fat or low-salt diets, should have no trouble following the Mayo plan.

What Else You Should Know

Cost: The diet doesn't have any fees or special foods. The only cost will be your regular grocery bill.

Support: You do this diet on your own.

WebMD Medical Reference

Reviewed by Michael Dansinger, MD on December 11, 2013

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