Stacey Frattinger, RD, CHFS, Certified Integrative Health Coach, currently resides in Sparks, NV. She owns a virtual health coaching and nutrition counseling practice, mainly focusing on one-on-one, individualized whole body wellness practices.
Broken up into two phases, called “Lose It!” and “Live It”, the diet is intended to first allow you to lose weight in phase one. Phase two is designed for weight loss as well, but will provide suggestions for how to maintain the weight you have lost as well. The founders of the program claim that you will lose 1-2 pounds per week until you have reached your desired weight. The “Lose It!” phase lasts for 2 weeks to help you jump-start your weight loss, allowing some individuals to lose up 6 to 10 pounds. In this phase, the focus is on establishing healthy habits, including an exercise routine that lasts for 30 minutes each day. After these two weeks have ended, you move into the “Live It!” phase to continue to learn about healthy food choices, portion control, meal planning and the importance of a consistent level of physical activity. You may continue to see a steady weight loss of 1 to 2 pounds per week.
The Mayo Clinic Diet was first developed by the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota, approximately 30 years ago. The focus of this dietary plan is not just on what you eat, or how what you are eating will impact weight loss, but also on your overall wellness and lifestyle. This plan provides tips and resources on how to break old, unhealthy habits while forming new, healthy behaviors. The Mayo Clinic Diet includes its own version of the food pyramid, also known as the “Mayo Clinic Healthy Weight Pyramid”, which was designed to illustrate the importance of incorporating a healthy balance between exercise and nutritious food choices.
The most restrictive phase of the program, “Lose it!,” may be difficult for some to stick to, but it only lasts 2 weeks. If you can stay on plan for the first two weeks, your compliance for the full program will most likely not be an issue. Because every food group in incorporated into your daily meals and snacks, chances are deprivation will not be an extreme issue; however, the plan may be low in calories for some. If you do get hungry, you can always eat more fruits or vegetables.
If you are already in the habit of eating according to the USDA food guide pyramid or plate method, incorporating fruits, vegetables, whole grains, low-fat or fat-free dairy shouldn’t be a change for you. If you are not incorporating fruits and vegetables on a regular or consistent basis, you might see slight increase in your bill at the grocery store.
Meal and snack preparation is really up to you in terms of how much time you would like to invest. Many pre-packaged and frozen, low-sodium, low-fat foods are available and eating out could easily be incorporated into this diet. The more you like to cook or prepare your meals in advance, the more time it will take.
The Mayo Clinic diet is very well balanced and is generally considered a safe diet by all.
Because the diet has been around for quite some time, and incorporates a well-balanced diet through the inclusion of every food group, it is not highly debated in terms of safety and nutritional deficiency risk. Those who believe in the calorie model, however, may debate the freedom to consume fruit in any quantity desired.
Benefits: The Mayo Clinic Diet is generally safe. The plan encourages unlimited amounts of vegetables and fruit to help satisfy hunger and cravings, so you shouldn’t ever feel hungry. You will be encouraged to exercise on a consistent and regular basis, without the need for any fancy equipment or rigid exercise programs to follow.
Downsides: If you aren't used to eating a high volume of fruits and vegetables, you may experience minor, temporary digestive upset as your body adjusts to your fiber intake and new way of eating. If you have diabetes, eating fruit frequently can also raise your blood sugar and potentially impact your triglyceride levels. For individuals entering phase 2 of the program, there is the potential for weight loss to stall if there is carbohydrate sensitivity or the tendency to consume fruit in unlimited quantities.
The Bottom Line: If you don’t have the tendency to overeat fruits and vegetables, this plan may work for you; however, for those individuals who find permission to eat fruit at any time during the day out of issues other than hunger (emotional eating, cravings, stress, etc.), this plan might lead to weight gain or higher triglycerides.