The Mayo Clinic Diet

Medically Reviewed by Christine Mikstas, RD, LD on August 16, 2022
4 min read

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.

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.

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.

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

Cost. There are no meetings to attend or brand-name foods that you must buy for this diet. There is an online support service that you may choose to join. If you do register, it costs $49.99 a month or $39..9 a month for a 3 month plan, $29.99 a month for 6 months, and $19.99 a month for a year.

Support. You can follow the Mayo Clinic Diet simply by reading the book, without any support. The Mayo Clinic website has some free tools and weight loss ideas, but in order to fully benefit from its online support features, you’ll need to pay $65 for the first 13 weeks of access. Once you subscribe, you can receive personalized meal plans and recipes, have access to food tracking tools,  use real-time tracking tools to help you stick to new habits, and get fitness plans that are custom-made for you. There are also virtual group video sessions with doctors that you can join in on.

Does It Work?

This particular diet is based on what the medical community believes: that a balanced, healthy diet can lead to weight loss and help you prevent disease.

If you stick to the plan, you will lose weight and become healthier at the same time. Including exercise as part of the diet is key, as this will help you avoid getting chronic diseases.

Is It Good for Certain Conditions?

Since it encourages eating vegetables, fruits, and whole grains, it can help prevent heart disease, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, and diabetes. People who already have heart disease will also benefit, as this type of diet is considered "heart-healthy."

If you already have health problems, though, definitely check in with your doctor before starting any diet.

The Final Word

This is a diet most docs would get behind, because it emphasizes balanced eating and also wants you to move, which is key to being in the best shape you can be.

Another plus is that it's not that costly, since you aren’t paying a fee or buying prepackaged food. Also, this type of diet can help prevent many chronic diseases.

The downside is that it will be hard work, and because there are no personal meetings, you will have to toe the line without someone pushing you. Also, you will have to spend the time to grocery shop and cook at home.

If you are a self-motivated person and can commit, this may be for a good choice for you.