Mayo Clinic Heart Diet Before Surgery

Cardiac surgery to repair your heart valves or keep your heart beating in perfect rhythm can prove a life-saving effort. Before surgery, your physician may recommend losing weight, particularly if you are obese. This is because those at a healthy weight recover faster and more easily than those who are obese. The Mayo Clinic has released a diet designed to help cardiac surgery patients lose weight in a healthy manner that emphasizes lifetime health.

An elderly couple cooking a healthy meal. (Image: Purestock/Purestock/Getty Images)


The Mayo Clinic is a Rochester, Minnesota-based clinic renowned for its innovations in cardiac care. Created to give dieters a realistic and safe method of weight loss, the Mayo Clinic Diet emphasizes healthy choices to help cardiac patients lose weight that make recovery easier following surgery, according to "The Mayo Clinic Diet." Note that this diet is not to be confused with the Mayo Clinic diet circulating on the Internet that emphasizes days on and then days off the diet and increased grapefruit consumption.

Beginning Program

The initial portion of the Mayo Clinic Diet is designed to help heart surgery patients and other diet followers jump-start weight loss in order to experience immediate results. This is helpful for cardiac surgery patients who may need to lose at least 5 lbs. prior to surgery. The starting phase is known as "Lose It!" This phase emphasizes making changes to the daily habits that contribute to obesity, such as eating high-fat snacks, according to "The Mayo Clinic Diet." The diet encourages the surgical patient to break five habits that contribute to obesity and adopt five habits that help you lose weight.

Maintenance Program

If you have more than two weeks before your surgery, you can adopt the second phase of the Mayo Clinic Diet program, known as "Live It!" This phase emphasizes eating according to the Mayo Clinic food pyramid, which emphasizes eating fruits, vegetables, low-fat protein sources and whole grains, according to This phase also emphasizes eating low amounts of sodium, a heart-healthy practice that can reduce high blood pressure.

Food Servings

The Mayo Clinic Diet recommends a range of 1,200 to 1,800 calories per day, dependent upon your current weight, gender and dietary goals. The serving size recommendations include four vegetable servings, three fruit servings, four whole-grain carbohydrate servings, three lean protein servings and three servings of "healthy fats," according to "The Mayo Clinic Diet." Fruits and vegetables represent the largest amount of fruit servings because they are low in calories and high in nutritional value.

Foods to Avoid

After the jump-start portion of the Mayo Clinic Diet plan, no foods are specifically restricted, according to The Diet Channel website. This is because the diet plan is aimed at moderation and not deprivation. Instead, the Mayo Clinic Diet recommends limiting sweets, alcohol and foods containing artificial sweeteners—but not necessarily eliminating them altogether.

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