The “New” Mayo Clinic Diet??

By Jordan Feigenbaum MS, CSCS, HFS,  USAW CC, Starting Strength Coach
First order of business today: I’m teaching a Starting Strength pulling camp at Crystal Coast Strength and Conditioning. You can check it out on Facebook here, and register for it ($150.00) here. It’s being held February 9th from 1-5pm and we’ll cover the mechanics, anatomy, coaching, etc. of the deadlift and powerclean in the classroom and on the platform. If you’re looking to check out one of the best gyms in the country, improve your own lifting or coaching, or just learn more about training in general, don’t miss out on this!!
Okay, now let’s talk about the “New Mayo Clinic Diet“, which you can check out in the picture below or here.     
Screen shot 2013-01-21 at 4.11.23 PM
So what do I think about it???
The gist of the diet:
They are trying to push a low-ish carb, low calorie diet with the idea that since they’re including satiating fats and proteins at each meal that they’ll improve compliance by: a) people not being  hungry, b) not be too low calorie (which reduces REE and performance very quickly), and c) not being too restrictive  with classically “unhealthy” foods* like bacon, seasoning, butter, etc.
*Unhealthy in the “appeal to authority”, sheep-like conventional wisdom that people who should know better, like physicians, RD’s, etc., fail to rebuke.
The criticisms:
Of course this diet “could” work if it improves compliance for someone while also reducing their caloric intake to the appropriate level, which obviously varies based on diet composition, i.e. is it a high carb, low carb, high fat, low fat, high/low/moderate protein diet, etc?
On the other hand, I think it’s deficient in protein, which has been shown to improve body composition in isocaloric diets, i.e. diets with the same calories but different macros (pro/carb/fat). Pro-tip 1: Bump up the protein
It also may or may not be low in fats for a long term intervention depending on how much a person was using at their meals to cook or put on salads. You definitely need some help with the essential fatty acids, so I’d supplement with either fish or cod liver oil. Pro-tip 2: Either eat fish or supplement with fish oil.
The grapefruit thing has a little backing behind it as the flavonoid “naringin” does alter the cytochrome P450 liver detox pathway which is used to clear, among other things, caffeine. By combining this with coffee or tea, the half life of caffeine is extended which theoretically increases lipolysis rate. The unsweetened juice, unless it’s grapefruit juice, does not contain significant amounts of this enzyme so that’s pretty pointless.Pro-tip 3: Grapefruit would be the fruit to choose if trying to maximize caffeine’s activity.
Now let’s pick apart the “instructions” one by one:
 1. At any meal you may eat until you are full, and you can not eat anymore. You must eat the minimum listed listed at each meal.

Without any sort of way to keep accountable this could, over time, result in a spontaneous increase in calorie intake just like any other diet thereby preventing any weight or fat loss. On the other hand, most carbohydrate restricted diets do result in a spontaneous reduction in calories due to both palatability/mouth-feel of the foods changing (decreasing in palatability, food-reward) and increased satiation. Overall, I don’t have a super big problem with the claim you can eat ad libitum on this diet, although it is technically inaccurate.

2. Do not eliminate anything from the diet, especially don’t skip the bacon at breakfast or omit salads. It is the combination of foods that burn the fat.

This is BS. The “combination” of foods most certainly does not burn fat, the decreased energy intake and slight benefit in hormonal function burns fat. There’s nothing special about eggs, grapefruit, bacon (ok well maybe bacon) etc. At the end of the day, it will come down to the 3 C’s, calories, compliance, carbs :-).
3.The grapefruit is important because it acts as a catalyst that starts the burning process.
No. As discussed above, this has a mild, if any, effect on lipolysis whereas caffeine and coffee are the real deal. You still will occasionally see “naringin” included in fat burners because it excites the bro-scientists.
4.Cut down on coffee, it affects the insulin balance that hinders the burning process. Try to limit to one cup each meal.
No. Coffee (regular and decaf) is perhaps the strongest appetite suppressant out there (except for maybe nicotine). It doesn’t negatively affect insulin balance or insulin sensitivity in the long term and in fact, can preferentially help shuttle glucose into skeletal muscle, which would be very nice (Borat voice) post workout. It also improves lipolysis, which is another obvious plus. I’d skip it at dinner if it kept me awake tho and opt for decaf then.
5. Don’t eat between meals, if you eat the combination of food suggested, you will not get hungry.
This doesn’t really matter. 6 meals a day vs 3 vs 1 meal a day, it doesn’t matter. There is no “stoking” the metabolism with more meals. Use the frequency that makes you most compliant, prevents hypoglycemic and ravenous feeding episodes, etc. Eating too frequently though may prevent significant lipolysis from occurring if too many cals/carbs are taken in too frequently, thereby precluding fatty acids from being burned for fuel.
6. The diet may eliminate sugars and starches. Fat does not form fat, it helps burn it, so you can fry food in butter and use butter generously on vegetables.
Fat most definitely forms fat and does so  easier than carbohydrates and much easier than protein because it does not need to be modified as much to form, you guessed it, fat. That being said, increased intake of dietary fat also improves beta oxidation, the metabolism of fatty acids for fuel. If a diet is lacking in fat, then the enzymes responsible for this process decrease, which may lead to decreased satiety (not being able to access your own body’s fat stores for fuel between meals making you hungry) and decreased vitamin and sex steroid status. Fat intake can be “high” or “low” depending on the type of diet being used and in this instance, a low carb diet, it should be higher obviously. On the other hand, if it’s too high, the calories may or may not be conducive to bodyfat loss just like if carbs or protein were too high.
7. Do not eat desserts, breads and white vegetables of sweet potatoes. You may double or triple helpings of meat, salads or vegetables. Eat till you are stuffed. The more you eat the more weight you will lose.
In a word, No. You will not lose more weight the more you eat. If eating a bit more meat/fat keeps you more compliant and improves your adaptation to ketosis then you’ll see an uptick, but overall you’ll still have to be calorically restricted with your hormones/metabolism functioning correctly. God I sound like a broken record.
8. There may be no weight loss in the first 4 days, but you may lose 5 pounds on the 5th day. You may lose 1 and 1/2 pounds every two days until you reach your goal.
If you don’t lose any weight on this diet on day 1, you’re doing it wrong. The diuresis (water loss) from cutting the carbohydrates should be significant within the first day.
At a minimum.
Other comments:
Citrus fruits vs berries debate: actually, blueberries (7.3)/strawberries (8.0)/blackberries (8.1) have more sugar than grapefruit (6.3)- although you’re correct if we were talking about apples (13.3) or grapes (18.1). All amounts per 100g.I like your recommendation for oil/vinegar dressing, too. The trans fats, lecithins, soybean oils, and other “sh!t” in the dressings are something I like people to avoid.

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