Lose Weight Fast with the 8 Golden Rules of the Famous Viva Mayr Diet
When we arrived at Viva, ‘The Centre for Modern Mayr Medicine’, surrounded by snow-capped Alpine mountains on Austria’s picturesque Lake Wörthersee, we weren’t that surprised to see few famous faces tucking into breakfast in their most ultra casual attire (no makeup!). We’d heard this place was a magnet for celebs and Royals, from Liz Hurley to Sarah Ferguson, who have become fans of what’s known as “The Cure”. If the celebs we saw are anything to go by, it definitely works as one very famous British redhead was looking 20 years younger than her actual age (68), and after we left we heard Rita Ora was at the clinic.
Devised by Dr Harald Stossier, Viva Mayr therapy addresses several problems, from weight gain to insomnia, by purging the digestive system and getting it back in full working order. It’s a simple programme based on the works of the late Dr F X Mayr, who studied the link between digestion and overall health, and it involves making slight alterations in the way we eat and drink to take the pressure off our digestive systems. “We really don’t really think about eating,” says Dr Stossier. “We just throw some food in our mouths and carry on with our busy lives, but we have to re-learn this most basic human action.”
Dr Stossier believes by making these tweaks, we’ll not only feel healthier, we’ll also look younger, lose weight and get a flatter stomach because often what we think is a pot belly is actually inflamed overworked intestines, which can usually be fixed with the right diet.
Luckily, the Viva Mayr diet is fairly easy to follow – there’s no calorie-counting, and even if you can’t afford the boot camp approach of visiting the Viva Mayr clinic for a week or more, you can go it alone. Simply follow the rules below and you’ll be back in your skinny jeans within a fortnight.
RULE #1: CHEW YOUR FOOD
Didn’t your mamma always tell you to chew your food properly? As ever, you should have listened to her advice. “Forgetting to chew and expecting your intestines to have teeth is not a good idea,” warns Dr Stossier. Our digestive system begins at our lips. Chewing helps release nutrients from the food, combating our cravings. It means we eat more slowly, allowing us time to realise when we’re full. It gives our brain time to recognise the ingredients and provide our digestive system with info on the right enzymes needed to break down the food, and the saliva we create when we chew starts to break down food before it reaches our stomachs, meaning there’s less chance of it being only partially digested and left to putrefy in our guts. It’s this putrefaction that leads to bloating. To avoid it, simply chew every mouthful of food you take 30 to 50 times until it becomes liquid in your mouth – only then should you swallow it.
At his clinic in Austria, celebs and common folk alike are all taught this habit during their stay with ‘training bread’ – dense and chewy spelt, soya or buckwheat bread – which they’re encouraged to eat in silence in the onsite restaurant, often with nothing more than a bowl of soup, counting the number of chews. It’s an odd sight, but this method of re-educating our mouths really works.
RULE #2: DON’T DRINK WATER...
... At least not around meal times. Water dilutes the digestive enzymes that break down food, washing them away before they can do their job. “Stop drinking water about 15 to 30 minutes before you eat, and don’t drink any more water until an hour after you’ve eaten,” advises Dr Stossier.
RULE #3: NO RAW AFTER FOUR
Raw foods – and that includes anything made from them, from hummus to fruit juices – should not be consumed after 4pm. Your digestive system slows down as the day goes on. Raw foods are much harder to digest than cooked foods, and eating them late in the day puts unnecessary pressure on your body.
RULE #4: RETHINK DINNER
Dinner should always be something light and easy to digest, like soup, or steamed fish and vegetables. Contrary to our cultural habits, it should not be the main meal of the day. You should eat your last meal before 7pm and it should be the smallest of the day. Try using a side plate instead of a classic dinner plate to help with portion control. Dr Stossier even suggests eating dinner at work, so try taking two packed lunches to the office and see how it feels having your night free to do something other than cook and wash up when making and eating dinner isn’t the focus. In addition to the potential weight loss, anyone who eats late and has trouble sleeping might be able to cure their insomnia by making this change.
* CLICK THROUGH OUR GALLERY TO SEE IDEAS FOR IDEAL VIVA MAYR MEALS *
RULE #5: EAT MORE FAT
Fat gets a bad rep, but not all fats are created equally. Some – like hydrogenated fats or trans-fats found in margarine – are very bad, while others are very good. To function properly and burn our fat stores, our bodies need omega 3, 6 and 9 fatty acids. Omega 6 and 9 are common and we usually get enough of those from our diets in things like poultry, wholegrains, nuts and eggs, but omega 3 is often in short supply. Linseed (flaxseed) oil is a superfood as it contains the highest levels of omega 3 out of all oils and every fridge should be stocked with a bottle of it. Drizzle it over salads and cooked veg, make soups, spreads and sauces with it, pouring it in at the last moment, or simply take a tablespoonful a day, but never cook with it. It’s a cold-pressed oil – like olive oil – and cold-pressed oils lose their nutrients and become bad fats when subjected to high heats. The healthiest oil to cook with is coconut oil, and you can get flavourless versions suitable for making anything.
RULE #6: GIVE YOUR SHOPPING LIST A MAKEOVER!
Look for ‘wholemeal’ or ‘wholegrain’ on labels when buying cereal, pasta, noodles and rice and make sure your shopping basket includes a mix of brightly coloured fruits and veg, which are packed with protective antioxidants, vitamins, minerals and fibre. Avoid processed or fatty cuts of meat, opting for lean and organic where possible. The body finds it easier to digest fish, poultry, lamb, beef and then pork in that order, and Dr Stossier recommends having meat only every other day. Alternative sources of protein are pulses (such as lentils and beans), seeds and nuts.
In moderation, butter (as long as you don’t heat it), whole fresh milk and cream which contain natural fats are generally better for you than products such as margarine and skimmed milk. ‘Diet’ products can be modified in ways that are detrimental to your digestion. Diet yoghurt, for example, may be filled with starch in order to thicken it once the fat has been removed, and starch is worse for your digestion than natural fat. Cream cheese and cottage cheese are generally more easily digested than hard cheese, and goat’s and sheep’s cheeses are gentler on the digestive system than cow’s cheese because they contain less lactose, a substance a lot of people are sensitive to.
Keep all of that in mind when you’re shopping, remembering to pick up that all-important linseed oil, and bloating will soon be a thing of the past.
RULE #7: DITCH CAFFEINE, SUGAR & FIZZY DRINKS
At Viva Mayr they serve malt coffee as an alternative to the caffeinated stuff and loads of different herbal teas. It’s impossible to cut sugar out of your diet completely because carbs are sugar, but avoid overloading your system with additional sugars from that one lump or two that you like in your (off-limits) coffee, to the sugar-loaded KitKat that goes so well with it. “You don’t need any more sugar than you get from the food you already eat. We get so many different forms from carbs that it’s not necessary to add more. If you have a sweet tooth, use Stevia instead,” says Dr Stossier. As for fizzy drinks, they upset the body’s pH balance and have no nutritional value, so can them!
RULE #8: EXERCISE
During a workout you should break out in a light sweat, but stop short of causing muscle ache. The ache is caused by lactic acid build-up and your body then has to work to get rid of this toxic acid. Try to do 15 minutes a day, or 30 to 40 minutes three times a week, but don’t overly exert yourself. See, we told you this Viva Mayr lark was easy.
Visit Viva Mayr and Live the Diet!
A minimum of one week’s stay is recommended to gain a crash course in the Viva Mayr way of life, but many devotees stay as long as three weeks and visit every year. During your stay you’ll follow a very restricted diet designed to help you learn to eat earlier, eat less and chew more, and you’ll flush your system each morning with Epsom Salts. In addition you’ll be offered a programme of treatments to support your detox, from colonic irrigation to light therapy, and there are additional activities, such as Nordic walking and cooking classes available too. Or you could just sunbathe by the lake and soak up the amazing Alpine scenery.
INFO: Single occupancy costs from €175 for a standard room to €750 for a suite, or €154 to €428 per person for double occupancy and includes meals, and gym and spa access. Cooking lessons, and medical and spa therapies cost extra. VIVA – The Centre for Modern Mayr Medicine, Seepromenade 11, A-9082 Maria Wörth, +43 (0) 42 73-311 170, firstname.lastname@example.org, www.viva-mayr.com/en.html.
- You shouldn’t need snacks with the Viva Mayr method, but if you’re prone to snacking prepare an emergency nut and seed stash (no more than a handful) to get you through any major hunger pangs.
- If you’re going out for dinner, remember: no raw after four and chew everything until it’s liquid before swallowing. Order veg soup, white meat or fish with veg, and cheese for afters, but no grapes or crackers! You can have one glass of vino too, but no water.