Eggs have certainly been on a bit of a roller-coaster ride when it comes to health and weight loss. You may have avoided eggs for years because they were on the naughty list due to their high cholesterol content. And maybe, more recently, you jumped on the keto or low-carb diet train, and now eggs are one of your go-to foods.
If you've had success on your low-carb diet ventures, maybe you're thinking the egg diet makes the next-best choice. Well, like any low-calorie, low-carb diet, the egg diet results in weight loss, but it may not provide you with the long-term weight loss you're looking for. Always consult with your doctor before starting any weight-loss plan.
Because of the up-and-down ride eggs have been on, you may be a little confused about how they fit into your diet, whether you're trying to lose weight or not. Here's the skinny: Eggs are an excellent source of protein, a slew of B vitamins and selenium.
What's in an egg? One large hard-cooked egg that's about 50 grams contains:
- 80 calories
- Zero grams of carbs
- 5 grams of total fat
- 6 grams of protein
- 1.6 grams of saturated fat
- 187 milligrams of cholesterol
- 28 percent of the daily value (DV) for selenium
- 8 percent of the DV for vitamin A
- 23 percent of the DV for vitamin B12
- 27 percent of the DV for choline
- 6 percent of the DV for vitamin D
But eggs are also high in cholesterol and a source of saturated fat, which is one of the reasons they have been vilified for so many years.
Eggs and Your Heart
Heart disease is one of the leading causes of death for both men and women in the United States. Coronary artery disease, which is when your blood vessels become narrowed or blocked due to the buildup of plaque along your blood vessel walls, is a primary cause of heart disease. High blood cholesterol levels contribute to the buildup of plaque.
Not too long ago, it was believed that cholesterol in food contributed to your blood cholesterol levels. However, according to a 2018 review in Nutrients, there is very little evidence that cholesterol in food causes an increase in your blood cholesterol. But there is a link between saturated fat and blood cholesterol, and many foods high in cholesterol are also high in saturated fat.
That being said, the authors of the review in Nutrients noted that because eggs are so nutrient-rich, they should be included in a healthy, balanced diet, despite their saturated fat and cholesterol content. A scientific review published in 2017 in Nutricion Hospitalaria also noted that consuming one egg a day doesn't seem to increase risk of cardiovascular disease. If you have high cholesterol or heart disease, talk to your doctor about how eggs can fit into your diet plan.
Read more: Nutrition Debate: Are Eggs Good for You?
The Basic Egg Diet Plan
Now that you know about the egg and its nutritional value, you may be thinking that the egg diet makes a good choice for both weight loss and health. Before you go and buy two dozen eggs, you need to know a little about the egg diet plan. There are several versions of the egg diet plan, but all are high in protein, low in carbs and low in calories.
In general, when following the egg diet plan, you eat:
- Lean proteins: eggs, turkey, chicken and fish
- Low-carb veggies: asparagus, mushrooms, spinach, mixed greens and zucchini
- Grapefruit (in some of the versions of the egg diet plan)
- Low-calorie beverages: water, unsweetened black coffee or tea, and other zero-calorie drinks
You can't eat any starchy vegetables, such as potatoes and peas, or grains, such as brown rice and quinoa, and no fruit other than the grapefruit on selected versions. All sugary foods, cakes, cookies and candies are also a no-no on the egg diet plan.
Egg Diet Sample Meal Plan
While following the egg diet for weight loss, it's recommended that you eat three meals a day without snacks. A daily menu of the traditional egg diet plan may include:
- Breakfast: eggs and veggies
- Lunch: turkey and mixed greens
- Dinner: fish and asparagus
Other Egg Diet Plans
On one version of the egg diet plan, you include half a grapefruit at each meal. Grapefruit has its own diet, sometimes referred to as the Hollywood Diet, and is thought to contain nutrients that help speed up fat burning. While research has shown that grapefruit can assist with weight loss, it's more likely due to the fact that the fruit is low in calories and high in fiber, helping you fill up so you eat less.
There is also an extreme version of the egg diet in which you only eat eggs and drink water for 14 days. Limiting your intake to only eggs may increase your risk of nutritional deficiencies and is not recommended.
The Truth About Weight Loss
There's no doubt that the egg diet results in weight loss. However, it's not because of some magical mix of nutrients that helps the fat melt off, but more likely because it's so low in calories. While your calorie intake following the egg diet plan may vary, most plans limit your intake to about 1,000 calories or less a day.
In order to lose weight, you need to create a negative calorie balance, which means you're consuming fewer calories than your body burns. Limiting your food choices is a very common tactic of fad diets to help you reduce your calorie intake so you lose weight fast. It's a tactic the egg diet plan uses very well.
Long-Term Weight Loss Unlikely
While the egg diet results in quick weight loss, you may have a difficult time keeping the weight off for a few reasons. First, most of the weight you lose initially following the egg diet is water, not fat.
Also, because of the severe restriction in calories, your body may be burning muscle for fuel. Muscle loss may result in fatigue and decrease your overall metabolic rate.
And, finally, the egg diet for weight loss isn't a long-term plan. The diet doesn't teach you how to eat to maintain your weight loss. And because it's so restrictive, you may find it harder to control yourself once you go "off" the diet.
Balanced Nutrition for Weight Loss
The best way to lose weight and keep it off is to find a meal plan that you can follow for life: one that includes a variety of foods that you enjoy eating from all the food groups and helps you lose at a healthy rate of 1 to 2 pounds a week.
This nutrition plan should also include enough calories and carbs to support energy, so you can exercise. Making exercise a part of your weight-loss program helps you lose weight and keep it off. You don't need to run a marathon to get the benefits, but a brisk 30- to 60-minute walk most days of the week should help you reach your goals.
Egg Diet for Weight Loss
As previously mentioned, the egg diet can help you lose weight, not because of its magical formula of foods, but because it helps you significantly reduce your calorie intake. That doesn't mean eggs can't be part of your healthy, more balanced weight-loss plan.
One of the reasons the egg diet for weight loss may be so popular is because of the satiating power of the high-protein diet. Compared to carbs and fat, protein is better at keeping hunger away. Additionally, protein requires more energy to digest, so it gives your metabolism a bit of a boost.
These two factors are some of the reasons low-carbohydrate and keto diets have been so successful at helping with weight loss. Including eggs at one or more of your meals gives your body the protein it needs to get these benefits and may assist in your weight-loss efforts.
Read more: Are Eggs Health for Weight Loss?
Good News About Diabetes
Diabetes is a chronic medical condition that causes your blood sugar levels to be higher than normal. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than 100 million Americans have diabetes or prediabetes. If not well-controlled, diabetes increases your risk of other health issues such as heart disease, kidney disease and neuropathy.
If you have diabetes, you know that you need to control the amount of carbohydrates you eat at each meal to help keep your blood sugar levels in check. Carbohydrates serve as your body's primary source of sugar. Low-carb diets have been recommended as a possible option to help you keep your blood sugar levels within normal range. Weight loss also helps improve blood sugar.
Given that the egg diet plan is low in carbs and helps with weight loss, you may think it's the plan you've been searching for to help you get better control of your diabetes. While the traditional egg diet may not make the healthiest choice for permanent weight loss, a 2018 clinical study published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that a high-egg, calorie-controlled diet helped people with diabetes and prediabetes lose weight and maintain good blood sugar levels without affecting heart health.
Adding Eggs to Your Weight-Loss Plan
It's possible that one of the reasons eggs were on the naughty list for so long is because they're often served with foods that are high in saturated fat, such as bacon, sausage and cheese. If you want to include eggs on your weight-loss diet, there are many ways you can incorporate the nutritious whole food without the unhealthy additions.
- Make a veggie-filled omelet for breakfast.
- Serve your poached eggs over a sweet potato hash.
- Keep hard-cooked eggs in your fridge for an on-the-go snack to take to work.
- Chop hard-cooked eggs and add to your salad greens for a protein boost.
- Add sliced hard-boiled eggs to your avocado toast
- Bake a frittata filled with spinach, mushrooms and a sprinkling of your favorite cheese.
If you want to save a few calories and omit the fat and cholesterol, just use the egg white instead of the whole egg. The egg white from one large egg has:
- 17 calories
- 4 grams of protein
- No fat or cholesterol
You can use the egg whites as you would the whole egg: to make omelets, boost protein in your greens or make a frittata.
Beware of Undercooked Eggs
Eggs are a source of salmonella, foodborne bacteria that can cause serious illness. To reduce your risk of getting sick when making eggs a regular part of your diet, be sure to cook them completely. That means no raw eggs in your smoothie and no runny yolks in your poached or sunny-side-up eggs.
- MyFoodData: Nutrition Comparison of Egg Whites (Raw) and Hard Boiled Eggs
- Cleveland Clinic: Coronary Artery Disease
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: Heart Disease Facts
- Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health: Eggs
- Nutrients: Dietary Cholesterol and the Lack of Evidence in Cardiovascular Disease
- Nutricion Hospitalaria: Egg Intake and Cardiovascular Disease: A Scientific Literature Review
- Medical News Today: The Egg Diet Plan: Is It Effective?
- Healthline: Egg Diet
- Fruits and Veggies: More Matters: About the Buzz: Grapefruit Helps Lose Weight?
- National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute: Healthy Eating Plan
- Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics: Staying Away From Fad Diets
- American Academy of Family Physicians: What It Takes to Lose Weight
- Progress in Cardiovascular Diseases: The Role of Exercise and Physical Activity in Weight Loss and Maintenance
- The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition: Protein, Weight Management and Satiety
- The 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
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: New CDC Report: More Than 100 Million People Have Diabetes or Prediabetes
- Foodsafety.gov: Eggs and Egg Products
- National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases: What Is Diabetes?