What Is the New Mayo Clinic Diet?

Mayo Clinic Diet

 Verywell / Debbie Burkhoff 

At Verywell, we believe there is no one-size-fits-all approach to a healthy lifestyle. Successful eating plans need to be individualized and take the whole person into consideration. Prior to starting a new diet plan, consult with your healthcare provider or a registered dietitian, especially if you have an underlying health condition.

What Is the New Mayo Clinic Diet?

The New Mayo Clinic Diet (recently updated from the Mayo Clinic Diet) is a well-balanced eating plan, branded as a "weight-loss program for life," that takes a long-term approach to weight management. Conceived by weight-management experts at the Mayo Clinic, and developed from extensive research and clinical experience, the goal of the program is for you to create habits that are easy to maintain.

At the center of the program is the five-tier Mayo Clinic Healthy Weight Pyramid where each tier promotes the consumption of nutrient-dense food choices designed to leave you feeling full and satisfied. The key facets of the diet include choosing nutritious foods and increasing physical activity alongside an adaptive approach to your lifestyle to reap its benefits.

Split into two phases, the first phase includes a two-week "Lose It" plan to kick-start the program in a manageable way by reinforcing positive habits. This phase is followed by the "Live It" phase, which encourages implementing these changes to overhaul your lifestyle for the long term.

In addition to promoting weight management, there are other health benefits of the New Mayo Clinic Diet. For example, research has found that similar diets focussing on the consumption of whole foods, and placing limits on highly processed foods and added sugars, can reduce the risk of developing a plethora of health conditions, including type 2 diabetes, heart disease, gastrointestinal conditions, and even some types of cancer.

The New Mayo Clinic Diet ranks as the number one Best Diet Program for 2022 in the "U.S. News & World Report," in addition to being awarded one of the Best Diets Overall. It also is categorized among the Best Diets for Diabetes.

But be on the lookout for phony versions of the diet in circulation making use of the Mayo Clinic name—none of which are supported by the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota. For instance, any Mayo Clinic diet that promotes a high volume of grapefruit and eggs, while limiting your vegetable intake, and boasts very high weight loss in just a couple of months is not affiliated with the Mayo Clinic.

What Experts Say

"The Mayo Clinic diet is based on eating balanced portions of healthy foods and limiting or avoiding less healthy foods, without too many additional rules. To succeed, preparing and planning what you’re going to eat goes a long way."
Kelly Plowe, MS, RD

The 7-Day Diet Plan

The New Mayo Clinic Diet focuses on eating nutritious foods that are filling, with unlimited vegetables and fruits on the menu. Utilizing a tier program, the diet suggests eating the majority of foods from the base and reducing your intake as you move toward the top tier.

  • Base tier: Fruits and vegetables
  • Second tier: Whole grain carbohydrates
  • Third tier: Lean protein, such as fish, chicken, legumes, and low-fat dairy
  • Fourth tier: Healthy fats like nuts and avocados
  • Fifth tier: Sweets are not off-limit, but should fit into your daily calorie intake without replacing foods on the lower tiers.

Given the program's flexibility, you have plenty of room to create a variety of meals for all tastes and dietary requirements. Remember, fruit and vegetables are unlimited and are ideal as snacks. Here is a 7-day sample menu, some of which comes directly from the Mayo Clinic's library of meals.


  • Day 1: Breakfast burrito, rice salad, Thai-inspired pork with quinoa
  • Day 2: Pancakes with blueberries, tuna salad pita, whole-grain spaghetti with homemade sauce
  • Day 3: Baked eggs and beans, poke bowl, chicken curry
  • Day 4: Whole-grain cereal, grilled chicken salad, grilled tuna with brown rice and vegetables
  • Day 5: Oatmeal with raisins, quinoa and sweet potato cakes, rosemary lemon chicken
  • Day 6: Ricotta and tomato wrap, buddha bowl, lentil, and tofu curry
  • Day 7: Whole-wheat tortilla with vegetables and low-fat cheese, mixed bean salad, mango salad pizza



What You Can Eat

As outlined above, the New Mayo Clinic Diet is an approach to eating nutritious whole foods incorporated into nutrient-based meals, for a slow and steady approach to weight management. No foods are strictly off-limits.

Fruits and vegetables

Fruits and vegetables should form the basis of your diet in the New Mayo Clinic Diet and are encouraged in abundance.

Complex Carbohydrates

Staples such as whole-wheat bread and pasta, and brown rice, alongside quinoa, beans, lentils, and other whole grains are encouraged. In general, choose complex carbohydrates like whole grains over refined carbs like white bread, as they are more nutrient-dense and higher in fiber which will help keep you feeling full longer.

Protein

Lean meats, chicken, fish, nuts, beans are good choices of protein in the diet.

Fats

Gear your fat intake toward unsaturated options, including olive oil, nuts, fish, avocados, and chia seeds. Unsaturated fat can improve your cholesterol levels and also reduce the risk of coronary heart disease.

Sweets

Although not prohibited, sugar disrupts your blood sugar control. Therefore, sweet foods should be consumed in moderation.

What You Cannot Eat

There are no restricted foods on the diet, although alcohol and foods with added sugar are not allowed during the 2-week "Lose It" phase. The least amount of calories should be dedicated to sweets, at around 75 calories a day.

If you have diabetes, you may need to limit fruit or select low-sugar options because of the natural sugars. Talk to a healthcare provider or registered dietitian for input on what is right for you.

How to Prepare the Mayo Clinic Diet & Tips

Similar to other diets, much of the success lies in how you prepare. Make sure to do your research prior to starting and stock up on permitted foods, clearing your fridge and cupboards of highly processed, sugary foods that can lead to temptation.

Once your initial shopping list and meals are planned, the program starts with the "Lose It" phase, in which might see an initial 6- to 10-pound weight loss. Keep in mind, this number is not necessarily reflective of fat loss, rather more likely a combination of fat, muscle, and water weight.

The "Lose It" phase is a transition period that teaches you to adopt new eating habits and will continue to guide your diet during the Live It phase. Here, you might see a weekly weight loss of around 1 to 2 pounds. Remember, studies have found the key to weight loss success is in implementing long-term lifestyle changes, so it is wiser to lose weight gradually.

A few resources are available from the Mayo Clinic, including "The Mayo Clinic Diet Book" and accompanying journal to plan and track your meals and progress, as well as "The New Mayo Clinic Diet Cookbook" for recipe ideas. There is also an online program that starts at $4.61 a week, featuring meal ideas, recipes, apps, trackers, virtual video group sessions, and practical workouts.

The Mayo Clinic also offers "The Mayo Clinic Diabetes Diet" book for people with pre-diabetes and type 2 diabetes. As with any weight-loss program, you should discuss the plan with a healthcare provider prior to starting, especially if you have diabetes or another health condition.

Sample Shopping List

There is a bounty of foods included in the New Mayo Diet Clinic. Many are encouraged in high volume, while others, although not restricted, should be limited. The following sample shopping list is a guide to get you started.

  • Dark leafy greens (spinach, kale, arugula, Swiss chard, collard greens, bok choy)
  • Vegetables (broccoli, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, bell peppers, eggplant, carrots)
  • Fresh and frozen fruits (grapefruit, oranges, berries, bananas, apples)
  • Whole grains (quinoa, barley, amaranth, brown rice, sourdough, 12-grain bread)
  • Legumes (black beans, lentils, chickpeas, tofu)
  • Meat and poultry (lean ground beef, chicken, turkey breast)
  • Fresh or frozen fish (halibut, cod, salmon, snapper, sea bass, shrimp)
  • Eggs
  • Low-fat dairy products (feta cheese, Greek yogurt, cottage cheese)
  • Healthy fats (avocados, walnuts, almonds, chia seeds, olive oil)

Sample Meal Plan

The New Mayo Clinic Diet encourages three meals a day—or breakfast, lunch, and dinner—as well as vegetables and fruit for snacks. Meal sizes and portions will depend on your daily calorie intake, meaning if you are following a 1,400 calorie-a-day plan, for example, you can split the allowance accordingly among meals.

Each meal should ideally feature a variety of vegetables, paired with a lean protein and/or choice of complex carbohydrates and healthy fats. Although the below sample meal plan will give you an idea of the types of fare you can expect to eat on the New Mayo Clinic Diet, it should be used as a guideline only and not a definitive menu.

Day 1

Day 2

  • Breakfast: Banana oatmeal pancakes stacked; 1/2 cup of blueberries
  • Lunch: 2 cups of Mediterranean Chopped Salad with garbanzo beans
  • Dinner: Homemade vegetable burger with a whole wheat bun

Day 3

Pros of the New Mayo Clinic Diet

The New Mayo Clinic Diet has been researched and designed under the guidance of weight-management experts and is, therefore, likely to be safe and effective for most people. To achieve the desired results, you must adhere to the plan fully, which may require determination, a change in mindset, and a willingness to succeed. Here are some of the diet's pros.

  • Provides nutrient-dense foods: The New Mayo Clinic Diet's food pyramid reflects solid nutrition standards and recommendations for centering your diet around nutritious, energy-boosting foods. The limit placed on sweets and highly-processed foods encourages nutritious eating regardless of whether your goal is weight management or not.
  • Includes an exercise component: Thirty minutes of daily activity is recommended as part of the program. It is incorporated at the base of the tier system, highlighting the importance of exercise and wellness in your weight management goals. It also teaches you to establish new habits and goals.
  • Promotes long-term success: Rather than a quick fix, the New Mayo Clinic Diet is intended to overhaul your lifestyle with optimal habits that will stick in the long term. Therefore, rather than yo-yo dieting, you can achieve realistic weight management goals.

Cons of the New Mayo Clinic Diet

As with most diets, there is no guarantee of its suitability for your lifestyle and caloric needs. As such, the New Mayo Clinic Diet has a few cons to consider,

  • May feel restrictive initially: The Lose It phase is restrictive in terms of cutting out processed sugar, alcohol, and even eating out. While there are no common risks associated with the New Mayo Clinic Diet, some people may find it difficult to meet all of their nutritional needs during the restrictive weight-loss phase of the plan.
  • Can be time-consuming: Eating a lot of fruits and vegetables, and avoiding refined or processed foods, will take time and effort. Overall, you will adopt new ways of grocery shopping, planning meals, and cooking.
  • Requires a low-calorie intake: While the recommended 1,200-1,400 calories (if you weigh 250 pounds or less) might be sufficient for some, this number may be too low if you live a particularly active lifestyle, or, for example, are tall and, therefore, require additional calories. You need to ensure you are sufficiently fueling your body for exercise and daily energy stores. Otherwise, you may find the diet ineffective in the long term for weight maintenance.

In general, you should not be following a diet plan under 1,200 calories, unless under special circumstances. Such a low-caloric intake can be detrimental to your health as you can become deficient in certain nutrients, and therefore not optimally fuel your body with the energy it needs.

Is the New Mayo Clinic Diet a Healthy Choice for You?

The real New Mayo Clinic Diet is similar to other nutritious eating patterns that emphasize lifelong strategies for eating and follow many of the federal dietary guidelines set forth in the U.S. Department of Agriculture's 2020–2025 Dietary Guidelines for Americans. As such, the diet encourages a variety of nutrient-dense foods without restricting what foods are included in the diet.

If you prefer to follow a guided eating plan and lifestyle guidance, you might find benefit in the New Mayo Clinic Diet. However, given that it recommends a target calorie range of between 1,200-1,800 calories, depending on your sex and weight, you need to ensure it is a suitable fit for your energy needs. A weight-loss calculator can be used to determine a daily calorie target to meet your goals.

The Mayo Clinic Diet is closely aligned with federal recommendations for a balanced diet. This eating plan, especially when combined with regular exercise and nutritious food choices, should be effective for weight management for most followers.

A Word From Verywell

It is generally recommended to consult with a healthcare provider, registered dietician, or even a certified health coach prior to beginning any type of weight management plan. It is also important to ensure you are following the official New Mayo Clinic Diet, as many phony versions, often promoting unhealthy habits, are in circulation.

Remember, following a long-term or short-term diet may not be necessary for you and many diets out there simply don’t work, especially long-term. While we do not endorse fad diet trends or unsustainable weight loss methods, we present the facts so you can make an informed decision that works best for your nutritional needs, genetic blueprint, budget, and goals.

If your goal is weight loss, remember that losing weight isn’t necessarily the same as being your healthiest self, and there are many other ways to pursue health. Exercise, sleep, and other lifestyle factors also play a major role in your overall health. The best diet is always the one that is balanced and fits your lifestyle.

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8 Sources
Verywell Fit uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
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