Egghead. Egg on your face. Don't count your chickens before the eggs have hatched. All the egg-based idioms out there seem to be pretty negative, but we're here to sing the praises of this incredible, edible food.
Eggs are an excellent source of nutrients, plus they're a rich source of protein and fat, per the USDA — two macronutrients that play an important role in weight management.
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Protein is important because when you reduce your calorie intake and begin to have some weight loss, inevitably, a percentage of that will be muscle (it's not just fat you're losing), per the Mayo Clinic. Getting enough protein, though, can help you maintain your muscle — or at least minimize the amount you lose — which keeps your resting metabolism up, helping you burn more calories overall.
Protein also aids in weight loss because it helps you feel full, requires more energy to digest and increases satiety hormones, according to an April 2015 paper in the The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.
Fat, too, is satiating — it slows digestion, leaving us feeling fuller longer, according to the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. So, yes, getting enough fat can help with weight loss.
With all that said, there are still some best practices to follow when eating eggs. Keep the following common mistakes in mind if you're trying to lose weight.
Mistake 1: Eating Only the Whites
If you're still removing the yolk every time you make scrambled eggs, you're not doing yourself any favors when it comes to losing weight or getting vital nutrients.
Yes, yolks contain the majority of the fat found in an egg, but dietary fat isn't what leads to more body fat — that's due to an excess of calories. Plus, the yolk contains half of the protein found in an egg, according to the USDA.
Lastly, the yolk is where the majority of the nutrients are. If you toss the yolk, you're missing out on choline, folate, iron, selenium, phosphorus, zinc, thiamin and vitamins A, B6, B12, D and E, according to the American Egg Board.
Mistake 2: Limiting Eggs to Breakfast
Don't limit yourself (or your diet) by only thinking of eggs as a breakfast food. They can be enjoyed at lunch and dinner, too, and even as a snack.
They're easy to incorporate into meals beyond breakfast: Egg salad sandwiches make for a nutritious and comforting lunch. Or enjoy poached eggs as your source of protein on top of a salad or grain bowl.
For dinner, add an over-easy egg on top of your burger or work a couple into your stir fry before serving.
Enjoying a hard-boiled egg or two with salt and pepper is a delicious afternoon snack that will keep you satisfied until your next meal.
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Mistake 3: Cooking Them With Unhealthy Fats
Frying eggs in butter or margarine kind of defeats the purpose if you're trying to eat a healthy diet or lose weight. Sure, it may taste good, but it takes your meal down a notch nutrition-wise.
We're not saying avoid all fats. Our bodies need fat, and dietary fat can aid in weight loss. Unhealthy fats, like saturated and trans fats, however, can increase your risk of heart disease, stroke, diabetes and other chronic conditions, per Harvard Health Publishing.
Instead, cook your eggs in unsaturated fats like olive, avocado and canola oil. The American Heart Association recommends choosing oils with less than 4 grams of saturated fat per tablespoon and no trans fats or partially-hydrogenated oils.
Or better yet, opt for poached or boiled eggs, which don't require any extra calories to cook.
Mistake 4: Pairing Them With Bacon and Other Unhealthy Breakfast Foods
Our perception of eggs has changed over the years, especially as science has evolved and we know now eggs can be part of a healthy diet.
That said, refrain from allowing the healthy attributes of eggs to extend a health halo over everything else you're eating with them, like highly-processed red meat (bacon, sausage) or refined grains (pancakes, waffles).
Healthier pairing options for eggs include vegetables and a small portion of cheese for an omelet, topped with salsa. Or enjoy scrambled eggs with a whole-grain English muffin and a piece of fruit or yogurt.
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Mistake 5: Eating Too Many
Yes, the limit on dietary cholesterol was lifted when the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services published its 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans. But this doesn't mean you can consume them with abandon.
While there's technically no upper limit on cholesterol, the guidelines do state that "individuals should eat as little dietary cholesterol as possible while consuming a healthy eating pattern."
When it comes to eggs, it's best to stick to an average of one per day, according to Harvard Health Publishing. If you have diabetes or other heart disease risk factors, you may want to eat no more than three eggs a week.
- The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition: "The Role of Protein in Weight Loss and Maintenance"
- Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health: "Carbohydrates and Blood Sugar"
- MyFoodData: "Nutrition Facts Comparison Tool"
- American Egg Board: "The Yolk: A Nutrient Goldmine"
- American Heart Association: "Healthy Cooking Oils"
- 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines: "Key Elements of Healthy Eating Patterns"
- USDA: "Eggs (Raw)"
- Mayo Clinic: "Tip the scales on a weight-loss plateau"
- U.S. Department of Health and Human Services: "Scientific Report of the 2015 Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee"
- Harvard Health Publishing: "Are eggs risky for heart health?"