You might've heard that the egg diet can help you drop pounds quickly. But is it healthy to load up on omelets and scrambles every day — or at every meal?
Eggs do have a lot of good things going for them. But just like with other nutritious foods, it's totally possible to overdo it. Here's a look at how many you can safely have per day, plus the healthiest way to make eggs a part of your diet.
It's typically recommended that you consume no more than an egg a day — or even two, on occasion. You shouldn't eat more eggs than this as they are high in dietary cholesterol.
What Is the Egg Diet?
The egg diet is a high-protein, low-carb diet that emphasizes — you guessed it! — eggs. Some people who try an egg diet eat eggs along with other lean proteins and non-starchy veggies. Others opt for a more extreme version where they only eat eggs. In both cases, it's typically used as a low-calorie crash diet in an effort to lose weight fast. Unfortunately, crash diets don't support sustainable weight loss, so those who try the egg diet are likely to gain back any weight they've lost.
How Many Eggs Per Day Can You Have on the Egg Diet?
The egg diet typically involves eating one or more eggs at every meal. So someone on the egg diet would likely eat at least three eggs a day, but it's also possible to have more — especially if eggs are the only food you're eating. That might lead to weight loss in the short term, since eggs are relatively low in calories (a large egg has 78 calories). But there's more to it that's worth considering.
Eating multiple eggs every day could have health drawbacks, especially if you do it for an extended period. (More on those in a minute.) Plus, limiting yourself to just eggs (or mostly eggs) could potentially leave you feeling deprived — and trigger a binge later on. "I never advocate for eating high amounts of a particular food, even if its short-term," says dietitian Kelly Jones, RD, CSSD. "Eating a variety of whole foods is what is most supported by research to aid in both short- and long-term health."
Read more: 9 Things You May Not Know About Eggs
How Many Eggs Per Day Is Healthy?
Good news: It's perfectly fine to enjoy eggs on a regular basis. Despite what you might have heard about the cholesterol in eggs raising the risk for heart disease, that thinking is largely outdated. Newer research shows that the cholesterol in foods doesn't have much impact on blood cholesterol levels, according to Harvard Health Publishing. So even though a single egg serves up nearly 200 milligrams of cholesterol (the recommended daily limit is 300 milligrams), for most people, that won't affect heart health.
With that in mind, how many eggs can you safely eat each day? The American Heart Association says that healthy people who aren't at high risk for heart disease can safely eat one egg per day, or around seven eggs per week. Some research even suggests that having a few more might be okay. A study published June 2018 in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that people who ate at least 12 eggs per week as part of a healthy diet for three months didn't raise their risk for heart disease or diabetes. Your doctor or a registered dietician can help you figure out the number of eggs per day that's right for you, though.
The key is enjoying eggs as part of a healthy diet. "When consuming eggs with whole-grain toast and fruit, for instance, you obtain the benefits of the eggs along with cholesterol-reducing fiber and a variety of antioxidants," Jones explains. You won't reap those same benefits when you pair eggs with sugary foods (like syrupy pancakes or French toast) or ones high in saturated fat (like bacon or cheese).
As for eating several eggs every single day, that might not be the best move. Even though dietary cholesterol doesn't seem to raise the risk for heart disease, diets high in saturated fat or added sugar still can, notes Jones. A single large egg only has 1.6 grams saturated fat, less than 10 percent of the recommended daily limit. But the saturated fat in multiple eggs can start to add up, especially if you're getting additional amounts from foods like meat or dairy.
In short: Unless you're at high risk for heart problems, having an egg each day or a two-egg scramble or omelet a few times a week is likely fine. But having many eggs every day can set you up for getting too much saturated fat, which can up your risk for heart disease.
Weight-Loss Benefits and Other Health Perks of Eggs
Aside from just being delicious, eggs have a lot of good things going for them. A single large egg has 78 calories, 5 grams of fat, 1.6 grams of saturated fat, 187 milligrams of cholesterol and 6 grams of protein — along with a ton of vitamins and minerals. Here's a closer look at what makes them so good for you.
1. Eggs can help keep you fuller longer. You might not need to go on an all-egg diet to get leaner. Findings published February 2010 in the journal Nutrition Research show that having eggs for breakfast can help you take in fewer calories throughout the rest of the day. Why? The protein and fat in eggs can help fill you up and stay satisfied longer compared to lower-protein options like cereal or toast. "Protein takes the longest to move through the digestive tract, while fat signals the release of satiety hormones," Jones says.
2. Eggs serve up hard-to-get nutrients. A single egg has more than a quarter of your daily choline, an essential mineral that plays a key role in brain and muscle function and is also thought to protect your heart. You'll also get around 10 percent of your daily vitamin D, which helps keep bones sturdy by promoting calcium absorption.
3. Eggs can help keep your eyes healthy. You've probably heard that carrots are good for your eyes, but eggs are too. Eggs are rich in lutein and zeaxanthin, two antioxidants that can help stave off serious eye problems like age-related macular degeneration and cataracts, according to the American Optometric Association.
4. Eggs can help you get more nutrition from other foods. Veggie omelet, anyone? Findings published July 2015 in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition have shown that the fat in eggs can actually boost the body's absorption of the carotenoids like beta-carotene, lutein, zeaxanthin and lycopene found in vegetables.
Do Eggs Have Any Health Drawbacks?
Eggs are relatively low in calories and offer plenty of protein along with important vitamins and minerals. "They're recommended as part of a healthy eating pattern when consumed with other nutrient-rich foods," Jones says.
The main drawback to keep in mind is that they contain saturated fat. The saturated fat in one or two eggs probably isn't enough to negatively affect your heart health. But it could add up if you eat many eggs every day, especially if you're also having other sources of saturated fat. The bottom line: Enjoy eggs in moderation as part of a healthy diet, and you'll be just fine.
Looking for a healthy eating plan to help you drop pounds? Here's how to find the best weight-loss diet for you.
- MyFoodData: "Nutrition Facts for Hard Boiled Eggs"
- American Journal of Clinical Nutrition: "Effect of a High-Egg Diet on Cardiometabolic Risk Factors in People With Type 2 Diabetes: The Diabetes and Egg (DIABEGG) Study—Randomized Weight-Loss and Follow-Up Phase"
- Nutrition Research: "Consuming eggs for breakfast influences plasma glucose and ghrelin, while reducing energy intake during the next 24 hours in adult men."
- American Heart Association: "Suggested Servings from Each Food Group"
- Harvard Health Publishing: "How many eggs can I safely eat?"
- American Optometric Association: "Lutein & Zeaxanthin"
- The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition: "Effects of egg consumption on carotenoid absorption from co-consumed, raw vegetables"