Even though celebrities have access to the best personal trainers and healthy chefs, it’s still remarkable when an actor or actress goes through a total body transformation. For those who are struggling to lose weight in a healthy way, they may be inspired by the before and after pictures. Hustle actress Rebel Wilson, for example, has lost 80 pounds after declaring that 2020 was going to be her “year of health.”
How’d she do it? For the past two years, the Pitch Perfect actress has been rumored to have followed the Mayr Method, a diet created by an Australian doctor named Dr. Franz Xaver Mayr, MD. However, Wilson has denied this claim, although she does say that she kicked off her “year of health” at the VivaMayr resort, which is connected to the Mayr diet. Instead, Wilson says that what led to her weight loss was following a high-protein diet, regularly exercising, and not depriving herself of foods she craved.
One of the reasons why Wilson may be outwardly disputing the claims of following the Mayr Method is because there is debate about how healthy it actually is, and she may want to discourage others from trying it. Why is the Mayr Method so controversial? Find out what registered dietitians say about it.
The Mayr diet is an intense 14-day protocol. For these 14 days, dieters must eliminate sugar and caffeine and minimize gluten and dairy. Even water is regulated, only sipped between meals and not with meals.
The biggest meal of the day is breakfast and the smallest meal is dinner, which must be eaten before 7 p.m. Any raw foods must be eaten before 3 p.m. After that, only cooked foods are allowed. When dieters are eating, they must do it super slowly, chewing each bite between 40 and 60 times. Other distractions are also nixed at meal time. That means no eating in front of the TV or with your phone nearby. This is so eaters focus solely on their food.
Last, dieters are told to listen to their bodies. “Got a feeling it doesn’t agree with you? Don’t eat it!” the Vivamayr website reads.
While the Mayr Method has many rules, it still does leave a lot of food on the table. All fruits and vegetables, grains, nuts, seeds, and both meat- and plant-based proteins can be consumed during the 14-day protocol as long as it falls within the other regulations.
The idea behind the protocol is that at the end of the two weeks, dieters will be inspired to continue their new eating habits long-term, even if it’s not to the same extreme. So, are dietitians into this method, or is it madness? The ones we asked did not hold back on sharing their thoughts.
What Registered Dietitians Think of the Mayr Method
According to registered dietitian and certified personal trainer Gabbi Berkow, MA, RD, CDN, CPT, the Mayr Method isn’t all bad, but it isn’t all good either. In general, she says that short-term detoxes like this are unnecessary. “If you have a functioning liver and kidneys, your body ‘detoxes’ itself,” she says. However, she says that cutting processed foods and added sugar for a couple of weeks could help jumpstart a healthier way of eating for some people. “The key to lasting weight loss is maintaining healthy habits and consistently burning more calories than you consume, plus strength training to preserve muscle mass and metabolism,” she says. The emphasis on maintaining means that it matters more what happens after the two weeks than during them.
Registered dietitian and Sugar Shock co-author Samantha Cassetty, MS, RD, agrees that an initial kickstart phase can be beneficial for jumpstarting healthy eating habits long-term, but if it’s too restrictive, it could actually backfire. “When healthy eating feels unmanageable, some people have a tendency to give up rather than focus on realistic changes,” she says. Both dietitians also say that cutting dairy and gluten aren’t necessary unless someone has a sensitivity or intolerance. As for cutting caffeine? Cassetty says that’s not needed for weight loss either.
Both dietitians also say that there’s no scientific evidence that denying yourself water at mealtime can be beneficial. In fact, Berkow says that water helps aid the digestive process and, of course, is key for staying hydrated too.
As for making breakfast the biggest meal of the day and dinner the smallest, both say that it isn’t necessary for weight loss and Cassetty points out that it can be hard to put into practice as our society is one that favors dinner as the biggest meal of the day. To her point, dinner is often shared with loved ones; it’s about connection as much as what’s on the plate. “For weight loss and health purposes, it doesn’t matter if you have a large breakfast and small dinner [or vice versa],” Berkow says. “The research shows that there’s no difference when calories are equated, so meal size and frequency come down to personal preference and what you can sustain.”
Cassetty says there’s also no reason to eliminate raw foods by 3 p.m. “I can’t think of a single reason to do this. There’s no credible evidence suggesting any benefit for eating only cooked food after 3 p.m.,” she says.
Here’s what the dietitians do like about the Mayr diet: Eliminating distractions at mealtime and chewing food slowly. “Staying present while making food decisions and eating is an underrated strategy to help with weight loss,” Cassetty says. “Weight loss isn’t just about the food you eat. It involves a series of behaviors, including how you eat. For instance, do you eat when you’re bored, stressed or tired? Do you eat in the car? Do you eat quickly without considering what you liked about your meal? These types of eating behaviors may put you at risk for weight gain and make it more difficult to lose weight.” Berkow adds that savoring the colors, smell, texture and taste of what you’re eating also leads to appreciating your meal more.
Besides allowing for extra attention on what you’re eating, Berkow says that chewing food slowly also helps the digestion process because it breaks food down into smaller bits that are easier to break down. But Cassetty warns against counting the exact number of chews because she says this level of obsession can lead to disordered eating.
With all of this in mind, both dietitians raise a critical eye at the Mayr Method. While there are healthy aspects to it and eliminating certain types of foods (such as ones that are overly processed or full of added sugar) can help jumpstart healthy habits long-term, it’s very strict. Again, what both dietitians say is most important is forming healthy eating habits that work long-term. And that’s something you don’t need to go to a fancy resort, cut coffee, or eliminate raw foods at dinner to do.