If you’re healthy, chances are you can follow an egg diet for a limited time, lose a few pounds and not worry about side effects. But you will face a few challenges. For one thing, the specifics of the egg diet are hard to pin down, with several versions and few specific instructions to follow. Depending on the menu you plan, this diet may leave you low in carbs, fiber and essential nutrients, while supplying more cholesterol than is healthy.
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Egg Diet Variations
One version of the egg diet calls for eating nothing but eggs, yet doesn’t suggest how many eggs to consume or how many days to stick with the diet. Another plan follows low-carbohydrate diet guidelines that allow veggies, but uses eggs as the primary source of protein. The 14-day grapefruit and egg diet offers a menu in which lunch and dinner consist of grapefruit and one or two eggs. The two-eggs-a-day diet apparently started after media reports about a study published in the “International Journal of Obesity” in August 2008. Volunteers in this study followed a low-calorie diet, but half ate two eggs for breakfast, while the others ate bagels. After eight weeks, the egg-eating group lost more weight.
Number of Eggs and Calories
The number of eggs you could eat ranges from two to six or more daily, depending on which version of the egg diet you follow. One large hard-boiled egg has 78 calories, so you’ll get 156 calories from two eggs and 468 calories from six eggs. If you eat fried eggs, the calories go up to 90 per egg, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. All of the calories come from protein and fats. Your body needs about 1,200 to 1,400 calories daily just to meet your basal metabolic needs, which is the minimum required to sustain your heart and essential organs, according to Columbia Health. If you work out or have an active job, you'll need significantly more calories to meet your needs.
Nutritional Impact of Egg Diet
While eggs offer ample amounts of protein, a strict egg diet -- one that includes nothing but eggs -- will leave you deficient in many nutrients. If you ate 10 eggs daily, you would get enough selenium but not nearly the recommended intake for other minerals. Ten eggs would leave you low in folate and vitamin B-6. Since eggs don’t have any vitamin C and very little vitamin E, vitamin K and magnesium, you may need supplements to fill in the nutritional gaps. Eggs do not provide fiber or carbohydrates. Even very low-carbohydrate diets allow for a small amount of carbohydrates daily, reports the Albert Einstein College of Medicine. The bottom line -- a diet made up of just eggs is not the way to go, even if it's just for a few days.
Nutrient issues aside, a concern about following an egg diet for any length of time is the amount of cholesterol you’ll consume. Most people can enjoy up to one egg daily without increasing their risk for heart disease, reports the Harvard School of Public Health. But if you have high cholesterol or diabetes, you should limit your intake to no more than three yolks a week. Two hard-boiled eggs contain 372 milligrams of cholesterol. That amount exceeds the maximum recommended intake for healthy people of 300 milligrams daily, according to the American Heart Association. Lower the cholesterol content by mixing whole eggs with egg whites. Create a healthy plan by enjoying eggs for one meal and following a balanced diet the rest of the day.