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Mayo Clinic Diet

Diet Origins

The Mayo Clinic is a medical insitution with a focus on good health.  The diet was initiated after research on the dietary habits of people who have been able to maintain a healthy weight compared to those who do not.  The research resulted in the identification of five habits that help in the weight battle and five habits that defeat your efforts.  Adopting the good habits and breaking the bad ones result in the diet plan recommendations.  

Diet Philosophy 

This diet focuses on the development of a healthy lifestyle, which ultimately results in weight loss.  Food is important to good health, but it should also taste good too.  The clinic promotes the motto, "Eat well. Enjoy life. Lose weight."  The diet focuses on the development of good habits and the breaking of bad ones.

Diet Claims

Following this diet will result in weight loss and better overall health with an improved sense of control of your life.

Diet Structure

The Mayo Clinic diet plan is more than a food program.  This plan encourages the breaking of bad habits and the establishment of new, healthy ones.  By living a healthy lifestyle, weight loss should naturally occur. The diet plan has three parts:

Part I:  Two weeks program with greater amounts of weight loss.

Part II:  The phase results in moderate weight loss with maintenance of weight if no more loss is necessary.

The diet references a "Mayo Clinic Healthy Weight Pyramid". There are no critical recommended ratios of each category, but rather a recommendation to consume most of the foods from the base and less from the top.


  • Sweets
  • Fats (olive oil, vegetable oils, avocado, nuts and nut butters, and oils from nuts)
  • Protein/Dairy (reduced-fat or fat-free dairy) (limit daily comsumption of meat, poultry and fist to 3 oz - aboutthe size fo a deck of cards trim meat of fat, use lean)(2 servings of fish weekly) (a 1/2 c serving of beans, peas, lentils, or tofu is about the same as  2 oz serving of meat, poulty or fish.
  • Carbohydrates
  • Fruits and Vegetables


Vegetables, fruits and whole grains should dominate your plate and you should eat these items first to fill you up.  

Banned Foods

Avoid sugar except for what occurs naturally in fruit.  Try to avoid sugar substitutes.  No conventional snacks are allowed - cookies, chips, candy and ice cream.  Avoid canned or boxed foods.  Minimize use of lightly processed foods.

Eating Out

Eating out is not recommended in the first two weeks.  The diet plan has recommendations to assist you when eating out:

  • Avoid appetizers
  • Eat slowly
  • Take home leftovers
  • Avoid creamed soups
  • Use low-fat dressings
  • Choose steamed, baked or broiled foods
  • Skip dessert
  • Eat a light snack before going to restaurant


Sugar is not allowed first two weeks, after this time period limit to 75 calories per day averaged over a week.   Dark chocolate or low-fat frozen yogurts are preferred although it is recommended that you treat yourself on occassion to what you want, but in moderation.   


Alchohol is a sugar, and is not allowed in the first 2 weeks phase.  Othewise, treat it like a sweet and limit consumption to 75 calories a day or less averaged over a week.  


Supplements are not mentioned in this diet.


Physical Activity is integrated into the food pyramid with a recommendation of 30 to 60 minutes of moderately vigorous physical activity most days of the week.  

Diet Testing

The diet author references scientific research developed the framework of the diet, but there are no know testing of results after the diet.

Anticipated Weight Loss

 There are two parts to this diet plan:

  • Part I lasts for two weeks with an expected weight loss of 6 to 10 pounds.
  • Part II lasts a lifetime.  You can expect weight loss of 1 to 2 pounds a week until you are happy with your weight, then adjust as necessary to maintain weight.

Measuring Tools

Food Portions

  • 1 typicall vegetable serving = 1 baseball
  • 1 leafy vegetable = 2 baseballs 
  • 1 fruit serving = 1 tennis ball
  • 1 carbohydrate serving = 1 hockey puck
  • 1 protein/dairy = 1 deck of cards
  • 1 fat serving = 1 to 2 dice


Use the journal to write daily goals, track food intake, and document physical activity.  Establish weight loss goal and goals that will help you meet this overriding goal.  

Weight Scale

Weigh daily if possible, but at least once per week.

Body Mass Index

In addition to weight, use the body mass index to measure your weight loss progress.

Waist Measurement

"Measure at the highest point on each hipbone and measure around your body.  A measurement exceeding 40 inches in men or 35 inches in women indicates an apple shape and increased health risks."  

View Sample Diet Now