What Is the Mayr Method Diet, and Is It Safe?

Here's what registered dietitians really think about the restrictive diet.

Basket of Fruits and Vegetables
Photo: Getty Images

Since declaring 2020 her "year of health," actress Rebel Wilson has crushed her health goals, serving wellness inspo via Instagram along the way. Surf lessons, a tire-flipping workout, and drool-worthy food pics have all made the feed, as well as a recent post about a visit to wellness resort VivaMayr in Austria.

"Oh it's soooo gooood to be back at @vivamayraltaussee 🇦🇹 working the Mayr method to reset my system for the rest of the working year!" wrote Wilson in a post on July 19. VivaMayr is founded on the principles of the Mayr Method, a diet and lifestyle plan developed by Dr. Franz Xaver Mayr, an Austrian physician, in the 1920s.

It's not the first time the Senior Year star has visited the medical health resort, according to People. Wilson incorporated the Mayr Method into her routine after visiting the Austria-based resort in 2019, reported the magazine in 2020. While the 42-year-old actress may have previously visited the property, she has since fired back at publications that reported the Mayr Method is specifically how she achieved her weight loss over the past few years. For example, she called out the Daily Mail on Instagram, writing, "This was NEVER my diet," in a caption over a screenshot of the publication's story, reported Popsugar.

Even though Wilson has said the Mayr Method wasn't the diet she followed on her health journey, her latest post may have followers and fans confused, or at the very least, asking, "What is the Mayr Method diet, and is it safe to try?"

What is the Mayr Method?

Even though the Mayr Method diet has been around for more than a century, its reported link to Wilson has given it a popularity boost, says Alison Graziano, R.D.N., a registered dietitian nutritionist at Mass General Hospital's Concierge Medicine and Executive Health Practices.

"The actual principles of the diet include eliminating sugar, dairy, gluten, and caffeine for 14 days, says Graziano. "The diet also includes modified eating behaviors, including an emphasis on mindful eating techniques, such as avoiding distractions while eating, chewing each bite of food 40 to 60 times, as well as only eating cooked foods after 3 p.m., avoiding water with meals, and stopping eating after 7 p.m."

The Mayr Method also puts an emphasis on gut health, says Jenna Volpe, R.D.N., a gut health specialist at Whole-listic Living. "This diet focuses on optimizing gut health through a combination of mindful eating, portion control, a focus on alkaline foods, and exclusion of certain foods deemed 'inflammatory,'" she adds. (See: 15 Best Anti-Inflammatory Foods You Should Be Eating Regularly)

The Mayr Method also goes beyond dietary protocols and suggests lifestyle interventions, such as reducing screen time, going to bed earlier, getting more sleep, and incorporating acupuncture and nasal reflexology into the treatment plan, notes Volpe.

Is the Mayr Method safe?

While there are some good aspects of the Mayr Method (read: incorporating healthy foods into your diet), it is unnecessarily restrictive, agree both Graziano and Volpe. "Don't get me wrong, I believe in the premise that a healthy gut is key to a healthy life, but I don't think all the bells and whistles included in this dietary protocol are necessary in order to achieve a healthy gut and optimal wellbeing," says Volpe.

Eliminating entire food groups is problematic for multiple reasons, according to both experts. "By eliminating entire food groups, the nutrient density of the diet is actually decreased," says Graziano. "Dairy provides important nutrients, such as protein, calcium, phosphorus, and essential vitamins like B12. Gluten-containing grains provide important nutrients such as fiber, folate, iron, and zinc."

Plus, the diet's strict principles may trigger unsafe disordered eating behaviors, says Graziano. This is especially true "for those with a history of chronic dieting or disordered eating," she adds.

Should you try the Mayr Method?

That's a hard pass, says Graziano. "I would not recommend the Mayr Method to anyone. Simply put, any diet with food rules that can't be broken is not sustainable."

While incorporating certain aspects of the diet, such as eating mindfully without distractions, may provide long-term benefits (e.g., an improved relationship with food and maintaining a healthy weight for you), using this diet to lose weight in 14 days is not beneficial, says Graziano. "If any weight loss is achieved in those 14 days, a large portion of that will be due to water loss," she explains. "Diets, such as the Mayr Method, promise results through restriction, but any form of restriction typically backfires and feeds into a dangerous binge-restrict cycle."

Volpe agrees. "This protocol, like most other diets, is not clinically justified or customized," she says. "When it comes to nutrition...it's important to meet people where they are at and provide clinically sound recommendations based on what is relevant and helpful for each person individually."

If you've been considering trying this or another new diet, it's always best to consult your doctor or a registered dietitian before altering your eating habits.

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