What Is The Mayo Clinic Diet And Will It Work For You?

Move over Noom, Weight Watchers, and Nutrisystem — there's a new diet out there that's being crowned the most popular (or possibly the best overall) diet to try. Founded by weight-loss experts and doctors in 1949, the Mayo Clinic Diet is a diet centered around plant-based eating. It includes veggies, fruits, and whole grains (per Forbes). Although it was designed for those with diabetic conditions (i.e. type-2 diabetes and pre-diabetes), it's generally safe for anyone to use (via U.S. News & World Report).

Unlike other weight-loss diets, this program focuses on using the food pyramid to encourage users to develop a healthy relationship with food. According to the medical director for the Mayo Clinic Healthy Living Program, Dr. Donald Hensrud, "it's less about counting calories and more about being empowered with knowledge and understanding to reach and maintain a healthy weight" (via Forbes). This explains why you won't find calorie counting as a weight-loss tool.

Still, what's truly unique about the program is it focuses on optimizing healthy habits like encouraging an active lifestyle versus a sedentary lifestyle (per Mayo Clinic Diet). The idea is that the program will help recalibrate bad habits, and in turn, the new good habits will support weight loss efforts at a rate of 6 to 10 pounds in two weeks. After that, the expected weight loss drops to about 1 to 2 pounds per week.

Dos and don'ts on the Mayo Clinic Diet

Ultimately what you can eat on the Mayo Clinic Diet will depend on what phase you are in: the "Lose it!" phase or the "Live it!" phase. "Lose it!" is the first phase. It lasts two weeks and focuses heavily on eating healthy fats, fruits, veggies, and whole grains, shares U.S. News & World Reports. Following the Mayo Clinic Diet Healthy Weight Pyramid, these foods typically fall into tier 1 (fruits and veggies) and tier 2 (carbohydrates), explains Forbes.

When it comes to fruits and veggies, this includes any and all types, shares Forbes. Think berries, sweet potatoes, broccoli, etc. Since it's the backbone of your diet, and there's no calorie counting, it can be eaten in unlimited quantities. On the contrary, tier 2 includes whole grain pasta, brown rice, and many other healthy carbs. During the second phase, although nothing is technically banned, you're encouraged to limit processed foods or sweets (tier 5), and to limit full-fat dairy and meat consumption (tier 3).

The second phase, "Live it!", tends to be more lenient as you can break the rules (occasionally). Here you'll focus on understanding portion sizes, meal prepping, food choices, and exercise routines. Other excellent foods WebMD recommends eating on this diet include healthy fats (tier 4). You can also have olive oil, nuts, beans, legumes, fish, and sweets sparingly.