What is the Mayr Method diet? How Rebel Wilson lost 5.5 stone

It’s the secret behind Rebel Wilson’s amazing weight loss, but what exactly is the Mayr Method?

a collage showing the Mayr Method diet plan and celebrity Rebel Wilson

Many are eager to learn more about the Mayr Method diet - the eating plan behind actress Rebel Wilson's successful weight loss.

The Mayr Method is a low-carb diet like no other - with this plan concerned with not just what you put on your plate but how you eat it too. Mindfulness, chewing, smelling and liquid consumption are all big factors of this extreme diet. And dieters are expected to adhere to strict rules on these matters whilst completing the 14 day regime.

It's a celebrity diet too, and Pitch Perfect actress Rebel Wilson has openly credited the Mayr Method with helping her to shed the pounds during her 'Year of Health'. Yet whilst it's popularity has surged as a result, dietitican Claire Muszalski is careful to point out that it's not a diet one should follow long term: "Some of the concepts of the diet have benefits, from chewing your food well for easier digestion, eating mindfully and slowly, having a hearty breakfast. However, any diet that is extremely restrictive can be difficult to follow. And any diet promising dramatic results in 14 days is typically a short term loss of water weight that does not lead to sustainable lifestyle changes."

What is the Mayr Method diet?

The Mayr Method diet is a set of food principles prescribed by Austrian doctor Dr Franz Mayr in the 1920s.

The physician firmly believed that people were unknowingly poisoning their digestive systems from poor food choices and eating patterns. And he was passionate about writing this wrong with his 'Mayr Cure' - which makes up the diet.

"His primary focus was on digestive health, and the diet is designed around gut health, mindfulness, timing, and limiting certain foods for weight loss," says Claire Muszalski, Dietician at Myprotein.

Today, Dr Mayr's method has been popularised (and modernised) by Dr Harald Stossier of the VivaMayr health resort in Altaussee, Austria. This is where Australian actress Rebel Wilson visited with a friend before embarking on her 'Year of Health'. And it is these teachings learnt at the clinic which has been credited with her recent weight loss.

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"The Mayr Method Diet, is a mixture of common sense such as taking your time to chew and avoiding snacking, whilst drinking plenty of water (except around meal times)," explains Daniel Herman, a Nutrition Coach at Bio Synergy. "It also includes some new thinking around balancing the body’s acidity by eating more raw, alkaline foods. Except after 4pm, after which it is suggested that it can lead to gas as not being properly digested."

Individuals are discouraged from stress-eating whilst following the plan, with mindful chewing the name of the game. According to one Jezebel journalist who stayed at the retreat, VivaMayr instructs them to count out 30 chews per mouthful.

"There is also a lot of emphasis on smelling food," adds Dan. "As a means of getting the digestive juices flowing to help better metabolise the incoming meal."

Those that can't afford a visit to the clinic can follow the 14-day plan diet book written by Viva Mayr's Dr Stossier. The Viva Mayr Diet: 14 Days To A Flatter Stomach And A Younger You is available to buy online at most book retailers. 

Mayr Method diet - key principles

According to the Viva Mayr website, the following 7 principles guide the diet:

  1. Eat really slowly – the slower the better: "It gives your digestion less work to do as the food that passes through has already been broken down," says Dan. "It also allows you to really taste and notice your food; a bit like mindful eating."
  2. When you start to feel full, stop: This prevents you from over-eating and intaking unnecessary calories.
  3. Only drink water between meals, never when you’re eating: Drinking within an hour before mealtimes and within an hour of finishing a meal, is discouraged as liquid is said to dilute digestive juices, therefore disrupting the digestion process
  4. Eat lots at breakfast, less at lunch and least at dinner: Dan explains that the Mayr Method diet also advocates breakfast as the largest meal of the day and encourages a balanced plate. At Viva Mayr itself, dinner is served at 5pm.
  5. Have dinner before 7pm – avoid eating any later: "As your digestive process slows down over the course of the day, by evening, you want it to be doing as little work as possible," he explains.
  6. Eat raw food before 3pm – anything later should be cooked: "The reason for no raw food after 3pm, is again, to give your digestion a break," says Dan.
  7. Got a feeling it doesn’t agree with you? Don’t eat it! The clinic will not make you eat anything you're not comfortable with.

How much weight can you lose on the Mayr Method diet?

"There is no defined amount of weight as a target to lose. However, the diet promises 'a flatter stomach, glowing skin… and a beach body'," says dietitian Claire.

"It is designed to be a 14 day diet, so dramatic weight loss may be temporary and challenging to sustain if you go immediately back to a regular diet."

The best example of how much weight you could lose whilst following the Mayr Method diet is Rebel Wilson. The Pitch Perfect star has lost over 60 pounds during the last two years. But it's important to note that whilst this does follow much of the Mayr Method's teachings, Rebel has also relied on exercise and other healthy principles to slim down.

The plan actively encourages low-impact and low-pressure exercise like walking, hiking, ballet, gymnastics, and any other sports that you enjoy doing. Rebel herself has shared that she's now a keen hiker, often enjoying hour-long walks.

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What can you eat on the Mayr Method?

A balanced plate of proteins, some carbohydrates and plenty of fruit and vegetables is what you should eat whilst on the Mayr Method diet.

"Generally, it seems to focus on fruits and vegetables, whole grains, proteins and healthy fats," says Claire. "The diet also shows preference for foods with a high alkaline pH."

In addition, there's a rule that you can only eat raw foods before 3pm and cooked foods after 3pm. And that carbs should be limited in your evening meal.

There's good news though; an occasional glass of wine is good for you with a meal. So long as you keep it to one glass. As for other fluids, the Mayr Method diet encourages drinking water instead of snacking. And it's important you don't drink an hour before, after and during your meal. As they believe this disrupts efficient digestion.

Foods to eat on Mayr Method diet:

  • Fruits: apples, bananas, pears, berries, orange, kiwi
  • Vegetables: peas, runner beans, peppers, kale, cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, mushrooms
  • Fish: salmon, torut, tuna, mackerel
  • Meat: chicken, turkey, lamb, beef
  • Grains and pulses: legumes, edamame beans, lentils, oats, risotto, buckwheat, millet, polenta
  • Nuts and seeds: chia seeds, sesame seeds, almonds, walnuts, flaxseed,
  • Beverages: water (not within an hour before or after eating), herbal teas

A typical day at Viva Mayr begins with a healthy breakfast of quinoa porridge or spelt bread. Followed by soup or a plate of fish and fresh vegetables for lunch. Then lean meat or fish served with cooked vegetables makes up the third and final meal of the day.

Those following the Mayr Method diet for 14 days are restricted to three daily meals and no snacking.

Indeed, science supports no snacking. With one Netherlands study reporting that regular snacking (especially snacks with hidden sugar or high in fat) contributed to obesity.

a plate of salmon and aspargus - MAyr Method diet plan

Credit: Getty

Foods to avoid on Mayr Method diet?

  • Dairy: milk, cheese, yoghurt, butter, cream and ice cream
  • Gluten: bread, pasta, cereals, biscuits, crackers and any foods containing wheat barely or rye like
  • Processed Foods: biscuits, cereal, fast food, processed meat
  • Sugar-rich foods: sweets, pastries, fruit juice, sweeteners
  • Drinks: sports and energy drinks, more than one cup of coffee

You should also avoid large food portions and eating too many carbohydrates whilst on the Mayr Method diet.

As for coffee: you're allowed one in the morning. But after this, herbal teas and water is recommended.

What are the pros?

✅  Better digestion: "Some of the concepts of the diet have benefits like chewing your food well for easier digestion, eating mindfully and slowly," says Claire.

✅  Clear structure: "It doesn’t involve food restriction or counting calories so it should for most people be something that can be followed and adhered to," says Dan.

✅  No bad foods: "Cutting out highly processed foods and too much added sugar can benefit anyone," Claire tells us.

What are the cons?

❌  Lacking scientific-evidence: "The concept of alkaline foods has been disproven to be effective; our stomach is so acidic that the pH of the food we eat does not matter," says Claire, citing one 2017 study.

❌  Cuts out certain food groups: No dairy or gluten is allowed on the plan. And this prevents you (and your body) from getting certain essential nutrients found in these foods.

❌   No water at mealtimes: The Mayr Method diet discourages water an hour before meals. But one 2015 study found that participants who drank water 30 minutes before their meal lost 2.8 pounds more than those who didn't.

❌  The weight will return: "Any diet promising dramatic results in 14 days is typically a short term loss of water weight that does not lead to sustainable lifestyle changes," says Claire.

❌  Expensive: A visit to the retreat will set you back around £4,000 for a week.

❌  Tricky routine: "Some of the rules of meal timing are also unrealistic; we all have different schedules and it seems complex to follow," Claire tells us. 

The Mayr Method diet: a Nutritionist’s verdict?

For dietitian Claire Muszalski, the negatives outweigh the positives of the Mayr Method diet. Which is why she wouldn't recommend it to others:

"While some of the principles of consuming a diet high in fresh fruits and vegetables, protein, whole grains, and healthy fats have merit, the restrictive nature of the diet (and high price tag for a stay at the associated resort) don’t seem to be realistic for the average person," she tells us.

"Yes gut health is important, but science does not support the focus on alkaline foods and timing of raw versus cooked meals."

She advocates instead for healthier food choices and regular exercise. With the two together acheiving long-term and lasting weight loss.

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Emily Stedman
Features Editor

Emily Stedman is the former Features Editor for GoodTo covering all things TV, entertainment, royal, lifestyle, health and wellbeing. Boasting an encyclopaedic knowledge on all things TV, celebrity and royals, career highlights include working at HELLO! Magazine and as a royal researcher to Diana biographer Andrew Morton on his book Meghan: A Hollywood Princess. In her spare time, Emily can be found eating her way around London, swimming at her local Lido or curled up on the sofa binging the next best Netflix show.