The Mayo Clinic Diet blog

Fewer calories, healthy food best weight-loss plan

By Donald Hensrud, M.D. November 5, 2011

Everyone knows decreasing calorie intake is the key to effective weight loss. However, there are many ways to lower calorie intake, some healthier than others. The total number of calories will determine how much weight you lose. The type of calories you eat will determine how healthy the dietary program is.

Let's use an extreme example. If you eat 1,200 calories per day, you should lose weight. If those calories come only from jelly beans (that's a lot of jelly beans!), it won't be a very healthy way to lose weight. Jelly beans contain calories but very few vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients the body needs.

The Mayo Clinic Diet also recommends 1,200 calories for women under 250 pounds who want to lose weight. In contrast to jelly beans, however, when people follow the Mayo Clinic Healthy Weight Pyramid, they will eat generous amounts of vegetables and fruits, whole grain carbohydrates, lean sources of protein, heart healthy fats, and just a small amount of a sweet, such as jelly beans.

These types of foods contain vitamins, minerals, fiber, and many other nutrients and phytonutrients (different types of nutrients found in plants). These types of foods have a tremendous amount of evidence supporting their beneficial effects on health.

There are many different types of diets in existence. To promote effective weight loss, they should lower calorie intake. To promote good health, they should include a variety of healthy food choices.

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Nov. 05, 2011