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How to Follow the Mayo Clinic Diet for Healthy Weight Loss - A Realistic Weight Loss Program

Updated on September 6, 2011
Weight Loss Program   (photo by Rob Owen-Wahl)
Weight Loss Program (photo by Rob Owen-Wahl)

The Mayo Clinic Diet for Healthy Weight Loss

 For a weight loss program that really works, try the new (2010) Mayo Clinic Diet.  The world renowned Mayo Clinic has published a book on their proven weight loss program. Developed both from scientific research and from clinical experience with thousands of their patients, the Mayo Clinic Diet should be the last diet you’ll ever need. Safe weight loss and good health are the twin goals of the Mayo Clinic’s tested techniques. Besides making better food choices their program focuses on developing new, healthy habits and breaking old unhealthy ones.

Get Motivated to Succeed with a Proven Weight Loss Program

Any attempt at serious weight loss requires motivation and determination. So people need to review and focus on the benefits of a weight loss program as well as all the health risks of being overweight or obese. According to the National Heart Blood and Lung Institute these risks include greater chances of developing:

  • Heart disease
  • Hypertension
  • Stroke
  • Type 2 Diabetes
  • Metabolic Syndrome
  • Cancers such as colon, breast, endometrial , and gall bladder
  • Osteoarthritis
  • Sleep Apnea
  • Reproductive Problems
  • Gallstones

Getting to a healthy weight should be a priority of the highest order for overweight or obese adults. Make that one of your motivating goals as you embark on the journey for healthy weight loss.

The Mayo Clinic Diet Book
The Mayo Clinic Diet Book

Obtain and Read Part 1 of the Mayo Clinic Diet Book

Buy or borrow the Mayo Clinic Diet book. The hardcover edition can be purchased for around $20. Before starting on the diet read Part 1 of the book (“Lose It!”) which contains five easy chapters that are well written, in large type and have plenty of illustrations. Skim them at first if you like, but be sure to read them thoroughly to get the most out of the weight loss program.

Pick a Start Date for Your Weight Loss Program

After you see what Part 1 is all about and you have worked on your motivation, pick a start date for the two-week “lose-It” rapid weight loss phase.  Don't rush into it before you are psyched and ready. And make sure to get your doctor’s approval before starting any new diet or exercise program.

Obtain and Use the Mayo Clinic Diet Journal

It’s better if you buy the companion diet journal ($14.99) to keep track of your goals, eating behavior, habit formation and changes, and weight progress. You could make up a notebook to keep track but the Mayo Clinic Diet Journal is well designed and packed with useful support materials to monitor your progress on the weight loss program.

Lose Weight Quickly with the Two-Week “Lose It” Program

The Part 1, two-week “Lose It” quick start program is designed to achieve a weight loss of six to ten pounds in 14 days. That rate of loss is not sustainable for more than a couple of weeks, but it gets you onto the right path and can be highly motivating, too.  This two-week “Lose It” period keeps it simple by just focusing on habits that should be the foundation of a weight loss program designed to help people both lose weight and to keep it off. These habits are outlined in the next three steps below and are monitored on a daily basis by the “Habit Tracker” in the Journal.

Add Five Good Habits to Your Weight Loss Program

Here are the five good habits that the Mayo Clinic Diet plan asks you to add to your life:

  • Eat a healthy breakfast, but not too much. (Don’t skip breakfast!)
  • Eat vegetables and fruits (four or more daily servings of vegetables and three or more of fruits)
  • Eat whole grains
  • Eat healthy fats (olive oil and vegetable oils, nuts)
  • Move! Walk or exercise for 30 minutes or more every day.

These five good habits add up to better nutrition, more fiber, and more physical activity.

Break Five Unhealthy Habits

Also during the first two weeks of the “Lose it” weight loss program phase, you will be asked to break five bad habits:

  • No TV while eating (and only as much TV time as time you spend exercising) – this one is very hard!
  • No sugar (no candy, sweets, table sugar, sugar substitutes, jelly, jam, honey, desserts, etc.) – eat fruit instead.
  • No snacks except vegetables and fruits
  • Eat only a moderate amount of meat and consume only low-fat dairy
  • No eating at restaurants – unless the meal fits the program.

Breaking these unhealthy habits is very hard but they add up to a major breakthrough if you can do all or most of them.

Adopt Five Bonus Habits

Based on its research the Mayo Clinic weight loss program encourages people to adopt the following five effective bonus habits:

  • Keep food records – write down everything you eat and drink
  • Keep activity records (type of activity, duration and intensity)
  • Move more! Walk or exercise for 60 minutes or more every day
  • Eat “real food” – mostly fresh, and healthy frozen or canned food
  • Write your daily goals – make them positive and realistic to help your motivation.

The Mayo Clinic Diet Journal is ideal for recording foods eaten, activity performed and goals. If you can adopt these bonus habits in the first two weeks you’ll be well on your way to weight loss success.

Analyze Your Two-Week “Lose It” Weight Loss Results

As the two-week quick weight loss phase ends, you’re encouraged to analyze results, identifying what worked and what didn’t, and to see if you can come up with solutions for your personal problem areas. Chapters 14 and 15 and the “Action Guide” of the Mayo Clinic Diet book offer lots of ideas to help.

Prepare to “Live It” Permanently

As you work through the first two weeks of “Lose It” read ahead in the diet book so that you’ll be prepared for what is to come – the “Live It’ or Part 2 section. “Live It” is even simpler than Part 1 was. It is based on three principles:

  • Set goals – daily for food servings and longer term for weight goals
  • Eat to the pyramid – plan meals and eat according to the Mayo Clinic Healthy Weight Pyramid
  • Burn calories – be more active to burn more calories and improve your health.

The rate of weight loss in the “Live It” phase is from one to two pounds a week, by eating 500 to 1,000 calories per day less than normal. Women should never consume fewer than 1,200 calories a day and men shouldn’t go below 1,400 per day.

Use the Mayo Clinic Food Pyramid and Other Weight Loss Resources

Part 3 of the diet book contains the details of the Mayo Clinic Food Pyramid and several chapters with solid information on nutrition, behavior change, making meals easy, dining out, and physical activity. In addition there are unnumbered appendices which include an Action Guide to overcome weight loss barriers, Pyramid servings, and Recipes for weight loss.

Overall, The Mayo Clinic Diet weight loss program is science-based, clinically tested and well documented. A motivated person who devotes the time to understand and implement this program should meet his or her weight loss goal and keep it off through the habits developed as part of the plan.

Don’t expect to be perfect in following this weight loss program. Just keep studying and implementing it over the long haul.

This is the official Mayo Clinic Diet. People have in years past named other diets after the Mayo Clinic without permission and those diets were not typically based on valid scientific research nor were they clinically tested with large populations.


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    • profile image

      jacobwaters 5 years ago

      I cannot tell you how much a food journal makes a difference in losing weight.

      Tip #5 on this article stresses the importance of keeping a food journal

      I don't know what'd I would do without one. It really gives you accountability.

    • Sinea Pies profile image

      Sinea Pies 6 years ago from Northeastern United States

      This sounds like a very sensible approach to weight loss. Keeping a food journal really works.

    • Rob McKelvie profile image

      Rob McKelvie 7 years ago from USA and UK

      Thanks, Wive Who Saves! Appreciate your comment.

    • profile image

      Wife Who Saves 7 years ago

      Good information, especially breaking the 5 bad habits.