Here at FoodInsight, we talk a lot about different diets and whether or not they’re worth trying. (Spoiler alert: The tried and true healthy eating messages of balance, variety and moderation still reign supreme.) Nonetheless, we give each eating pattern the benefit of the doubt, and this time is no different. Today we’re talking about the Mayr Method Diet. What exactly is this diet? Is it evidence-based? Let’s take a look.
Basics of the Mayr Diet
Originally developed by Dr. Franz Xaver Mayr in Austria in the 1920s, the Mayr Method Diet puts an emphasis on gut health and mindfulness while eating. However, while those initial aspects might sound reasonable, this diet plan also emphasizes a lot of fasting and other more extreme components.
How the Mayr Diet Works
Those interested in experiencing the full Mayr Diet are instructed to travel to a VivaMayr wellness center, where you can enroll in one of several programs—all of which are quite expensive. VivaMayr centers suggest their program participants stay in residence for seven days or more.
While at the center, the Mayr diet begins with fasting for a few days and usually involves a cleanse with certain vitamins and supplements. Proponents of the diet believe these vitamins and supplements will lessen the side effects of the diet’s “detoxification process.” Programs also include many eloquent-sounding tests that claim to assess anything from your “free radicals (FRAS) & biological anti-oxidative potential (BAP)” to an “acid-base and mineral nutrient analysis.”
If you can’t make it to a center, it’s recommended that at-home dieters begin with a restricted diet (i.e. fasting), which is meant to “calm” and detoxify the body.
Moreover, the Mayr diet encourages the prioritization of “alkaline foods” (there is no evidence to support that we need to be eating alkaline foods, as food does not impact our blood pH) and omission of gluten and dairy (neither elimination is nutritionally necessary unless you have celiac disease or an intolerance, respectively) as well as various restrictive practices such as meticulously counting bites of food, eating within certain windows of time, and avoiding drinking liquids while eating.
The Mayr Diet and Health
Evidence to support the Mayr Diet’s health benefits is sparse. The only data that has been cited in support of this diet is anecdotal, which means the diet hasn’t been scientifically tested. In other words, exploring whether the diet delivers on its promises is not a quest (thus far at least) that has been deemed worthy of publication in credible scientific literature. Also, to be frank: This diet seems to be more about weight loss than improving health.
Not to mention, there’s no need to “detox” our bodies—if you have a functioning liver and kidneys, your body is doing this for you already. Lastly, and maybe most importantly, disordered eating practices like starving yourself for several days in a row, counting bites of food, eliminating certain types of food for non-medical reasons, and limiting your hydration intake while eating can all seriously damage your relationship with food and your health.
The Bottom Line
While we love the idea of improving gut health and incorporating mindfulness into eating, the Mayr diet doesn’t fit the bill. It’s not necessary to spend thousands of dollars to fly to a special resort, fast for several days and undergo a series of expensive and invasive tests to improve your health. A diet plan with restrictions as significant as the Mayr diet are not long-term solutions—nor are they healthy. You’re much better off setting up a consultation with a registered dietitian in your area, adopting tenets of an evidenced-based, realistic eating pattern like the Mediterranean diet, or incorporating more mindfulness practices into your eating patterns.
This article contains contributions from Kris Sollid, RD.