What You Need to Know About The Mayo Clinic Diet

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Updated June 01, 2014.

It's Not What You Think it Is

The diet plan often referred to as The Mayo Clinic Diet is actually not recommended or approved by the actual Mayo Clinic in any way and is not considered to be nutritionally-sound by experts.
The Mayo Clinic Diet has been around for about 30 years and was originally shared through junk mail, word-of-mouth, and bulletin boards. Then came fax machines--offices everywhere were inundated with anonymous faxes touting this "miracle diet." Now, thanks to the Web and e-mail, the diet has reached more people than ever.


If it Quacks Like a Duck...

A preface that is often included with this diet promises you can lose up to 52 pounds in just a couple of months if you follow it to the letter. This statement in and of itself should send off warning bells; unfortunately, some of us want a quick fix and just don't hear them.
But, remember, if something sounds too good to be true, it probably is. It definitely is in this case.

What's Not in a Name?

Real Mayo Clinic dieticians, nutritionists and media personnel have being trying to get the word out for years: This diet is not--and never has been--affiliated with the clinic.
The Mayo Clinic published a book, The Mayo Clinic Healthy Weight Pyramid, in 2006 that provides healthy eating recommendations, but it in no way resembles the diet plan that's been falsely using the clinic's name all these years.

What is the Diet Like?

The Mayo Clinic Diet is three to seven day, high-protein and high-fat eating plan. There are several different versions of this plan floating around, each having different foods included in the plan.
While I won't post any versions of the diet here, the following description should allow you to recognize it when you see it:

Almost all versions of this diet suggest you eat unlimited amounts of meat, poultry, and fish. All versions greatly limit the amount of vegetables you can eat. The most unusual (and unpleasant) part of any version of this plan is the extremely high amount of grapefruit or eggs you are required to consume.

The main principle of each version is the consumption of high-fat and high-cholesterol foods. The plan also claims that eating grapefruit actually burns up fat.

How to Spot a Fad Diet

The Mayo Clinic Diet is most certainly a fad diet--one that promises quick results and isn't healthy or nutritious. The following are more warning signs of a fad diet:
    • Ruling out of entire food groups
    • "Unlimited" consumption of anything high in fat, sugar, or cholesterol
    • Promotion of increased caffeine intake
    • Lack of variety or extremely stringent rules
    • Certain foods or food combinations said to "burn" fat
    • Promising that certain foods increase your metabolism

Continued: False Statements and Empty Promises >>

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