The Mayo Clinic Diet: A weight-loss program for life

The Mayo Clinic Diet is a different approach to weight loss. It’s a lifestyle that can help you maintain a healthy weight for a lifetime.

By Mayo Clinic staff

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If you’re overweight, you’ve probably tried many diet and weight-loss plans, yet the weight keeps coming back. You might have even tried what you thought was a Mayo Clinic diet — but it was probably bogus.

If the diets you’ve tried haven’t worked, don’t be surprised or call it quits. Most people who diet find that weight loss is a never-ending roller coaster ride. You may lose some weight at first, but then the weight loss stops or you regain the weight.

The problem may be that you just haven’t found the right approach yet. The Mayo Clinic Diet — the real one, that is — can help. The Mayo Clinic Diet isn’t like most diets. The Mayo Clinic Diet is a lifestyle approach that can improve your health and help you maintain a healthy weight for a lifetime.

The Mayo Clinic Diet: A new approach to healthy weight

The Mayo Clinic Diet is a program that helps you make simple, healthy, pleasurable changes in your lifestyle that result in a weight you can maintain for the rest of your life. Why the emphasis on lifestyle? It turns out that a healthy lifestyle is also a great way to lose weight and keep it off. You get better health and better weight. Not a bad deal.

Perhaps best of all, this program is enjoyable. Eating is one of the great joys in life. What you eat on this diet has to taste good, or you won’t do it. The Mayo Clinic Diet emphasizes foods that not only are healthy but also taste great.

The Mayo Clinic Diet: How does it work?

The Mayo Clinic Diet involves changing habits. With the Mayo Clinic Diet, you work to reshape your lifestyle by breaking unhealthy old habits that sabotage your weight and adopting healthy new habits that will lead you down a path toward better health.

The Mayo Clinic Diet has two phases:

  • Lose It! This two-week phase is designed to help you begin seeing results right away, with weight loss of 6 to 10 pounds (2.7 to 4.5 kilograms, or kg). Unlike fad diets that promise rapid weight loss, the Mayo Clinic Diet approach is safe and healthy while building momentum and enthusiasm. It’s based on changing habits for a lifetime so that the weight you lose doesn’t come back, as it probably has in the past on fad diets.
  • Live It! This second phase builds on Lose It! and is designed to help you continue to lose weight at a rate of 1 to 2 pounds (0.5 to 1 kg) a week until you reach your weight goal. This phase also helps you maintain your weight goal permanently by continuing and tweaking lifelong healthy habits.

Within each phase, the diet helps you uncover your inner motivation — what really matters to you — that will help keep you on track in your effort to lose weight.

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Weight control: What the research says

Weight Control – Mayo Clinic nutritionists

Jennifer Nelson, M.S., R.D. and Katherine Zeratsky, R.D.


Anyone who has begun or is on a weight loss journey knows that weight control — losing weight and keeping it off — can be a daily challenge. Weight control is a complex. It’s about living a healthy lifestyle and making smart choices, despite the many hurdles life throws at you, whether they’re physical, emotional or social.

It’s easy to feel overwhelmed when you’re looking for advice on weight control. Every week a new diet appears on bookshelves, magazine racks or online. Even when you go to the scientific and medical journals, there’s debate about which diet is best for weight control. Teasing out all the variables can frustrate even the most dedicated researcher. So I thought I’d cut to the chase and offer some practical advice on weight control.

The bottom line really is that you must control calories through portion control, appropriate food choices and physical activity. However, there are few weight control tricks that can be culled from the diet research:

  • Eat some protein. Protein is cited as the most satiating nutrient. No need to overdo it, but include 1 to 3 ounces (28 to 85 grams) of a protein-rich food at meals. Protein, beyond its basic function of building and repair, moderates the rise of blood glucose. This steadies your hunger and energy levels.
  • Go low on the glycemic index. Foods with a low glycemic index — most fruits, veggies and whole grains — are part of any healthy diet. They contain fiber and water that give them bulk without the calories, making them filling foods. These properties also play a positive role in your body’s metabolism and insulin response.
  • Choose the right carbs. Carbs are packed with nutrients that are essential to feeling good each day, and they likely play a strong role in disease prevention. Most of your choices here should be whole foods or as close to it as possible.
  • Be selective about fats. Fat plays a key role in our health. Fat also aids hunger control because it is slowly digested. Moderating the amount you eat will reduce your calories. Choosing healthier fats — nuts, oils and avocado, for instance — instead of saturated fats can improve your heart health and may have a role preserving good mental and physical health.