Mayo Clinic Healthy Weight Pyramid

Looking for a fresh approach to weight loss and weight maintenance? The Mayo Clinic Healthy Weight Pyramid is your answer.

Weight Goal
Select the statement that best describes your usual activity level. Examples
Close Examples
  • Light activity: walking or gardening
  • Moderate activity: fast walking or water aerobics
  • Vigorous activity: jogging, bicycling or lap swimming

If you're pregnant or breast-feeding, are a competitive athlete, or have a metabolic disease, such as diabetes, the calorie calculator may overestimate or underestimate your actual calorie needs.

To reach your calorie goal, follow these serving recommendations

1 serving of sweets
  • 1/3 bar chocolate
  • 1 1/2 tbsp. jam or fruit spread
  • 1 small slice angel food cake
  • 1/3 cup sorbet
  • 1 tbsp. honey
1 serving of fats
  • 1 1/2 tsp. peanut butter
  • 3 tbsp. fat-free sour cream
  • 1 tsp. canola or olive oil
  • 1 tsp. butter or trans fat-free spread
1 serving of protein/dairy
  • 2 1/2 oz. chicken
  • 1 1/2 oz. beef
  • 3 oz. fish
  • 1 cup skim milk
  • 1 cup fat-free, reduced-calorie yogurt
  • 1/2 cup shredded low-fat cheddar cheese
1 serving of carbohydrates
  • 1/2 cup pasta or dried cereal
  • 1/2 small whole-grain bagel
  • 1 slice whole-grain bread
  • 1/3 cup brown rice
1 serving of fruits
  • 1 small apple or pear
  • 1 cup cubed melon
  • 3/4 cup blueberries
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened fruit juice
1 serving of vegetables
  • 1 cup broccoli
  • 1 medium carrot
  • 3/4 cup green beans
  • 2 cup raw leafy greens
Your exercise goal: Aim for 30 to 60 minutes of moderately intense physical activity daily.
Here's how to get started using your pyramid:
  • Plan healthy meals and snacks using recommended food servings. Focus on foods at the base of the pyramid — fruits, vegetables and whole grains.
  • Be familiar with the serving sizes in each food group.
  • Spread out the food servings throughout the day. Include at least one serving from most food groups at each meal.
  • Stay flexible and adjust your food serving goals as necessary. If, for example, you don't reach your fruits goal on Monday, add extra servings of fruit to Tuesday's menu.
  • Include physical activity in your day. If time is limited, exercise in brief periods throughout the day — for example, three 10-minute sessions rather than one 30-minute session.

How your calorie recommendations are determined:

Your age, gender and body mass index (BMI) determine your “basal metabolic rate,” or how many calories you need each day to stay at your current weight. You need to burn 3,500 calories more than you take in to lose one pound (.45 kilograms). So subtract 500 calories each day from your base rate for a daily calorie goal that helps you lose about a pound a week.

Burning extra calories through physical activity may increase your weight loss, so you may want to adjust your calorie intake if you're more active.

Note: Mayo Clinic calorie recommendations are sometimes lower than those of other diets to allow for unlimited amounts of vegetables and fruits and the occasional sweet. Calorie recommendations are also kept low to allow for the fact that people tend to underestimate how many calories they eat.

April 20, 2011