The egg and chicken diet is a very low-calorie diet that depends on high protein to keep dieters full. Instead of cutting calories to unhealthy levels, health professionals say focus on a slow, steady weight loss of 1 to 2 pounds a week.
Egg and Chicken Diet
The diet itself is not only very low calorie, says the North Carolina Egg Association, it is low-carb. One version calls for eating two or more eggs at breakfast, some grapefruit and low-carb veggies. Lunch is either more eggs or a small portion of chicken or fish. Dinner is similar to lunch. Salads and low-carb veggies are allowed, but fruits are limited.
The problem with the egg diet, according to the Egg Association, is that it's a short-term way to lose a lot of weight, as much as 20 pounds in two weeks. Low calorie diets can endanger your health, says Harvard Health. A safe weight-loss rate is 1 to 2 pounds a week.
Just to do that, you're going to cut 500 to 1,000 calories a day. Before you try to lose weight, calculate the calories needed to maintain your current weight. Harvard Health recommends multiplying your current weight by 15.
Say you're a 5-foot, 4-inch woman who weighs 155 pounds. Multiply 155 times 15, and you find that you need 2,325 calories a day to maintain your current weight. On a diet, then, you want to take in 1,325 to 1,825 calories to be safe. You also want to work with a health professional to make sure you're getting enough nutrients.
Are Eggs Healthy?
Eggs have lots of health benefits. Eggs have about 78 calories each, and are an efficient, rich source of protein and vitamins, says the American Heart Association. One large egg contains:
6 grams of protein
Vitamin D, which contributes to bone health and a healthy immune system
Choline, which helps metabolism and liver function
Lutein and Zeaxanthin, which reduce the risk of cataracts and macular degeneration, the leading cause of blindness in people 55 and over.
It also contains 186 milligrams of cholesterol. According to a March 2019 article in JAMA which reviewed six studies over 30 years, the more eggs you eat, the more your risk of heart disease goes up. A long-term Harvard study, however, showed that eating one egg a day did not put people at higher risk for heart attack or stroke.
Harvard Health says meat, full-fat dairy products, fried and baked foods provide most of the saturated fat in the American diet. Dr. Teresa Fung, adjunct professor in the Department of Nutrition at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, says for the average person, the increased heart disease risk from eating eggs is small. To play it safe in terms of heart health, she recommends limiting your eggs to two a week, and eating a varied diet.
Healthy Ways to Diet
Instead of focusing only on egg and chicken eating, and relying only on chicken and eggs for healthy food, make a long-term commitment to eating more healthfully, according to the Mayo Clinic. The basis for successful weight loss is a healthy, calorie-controlled diet and physical activity, not fad diets that promise quick weight loss.
The Mayo Clinic suggests setting realistic weight-loss goals, in small chunks. A reasonable goal is 5 percent of your current weight. If you weigh 180 pounds, that's 9 pounds. And instead of eating just eggs and chicken, with a few vegetables, eat a balanced diet of protein, carbohydrates and fat. That diet should include:
An April 2012 study in the journal BMJ said a low-carbohydrate, high-protein diet had a higher risk of heart disease. In addition, the National Academy of Sports Medicine (NASM) said a very low calorie diet often leaves people feeling tired and nauseous, along with insufficient nutrition. Such diets are usually no more effective at long-term weight loss than more traditional diets, the NASM says. Remember, anytime you go on a diet, you should check with your doctor first.
- Harvard Health: "Calorie Counting Made Easy"
- Mayo Clinic: "Are Chicken Eggs Good or Bad For My Cholesterol?"
- BMJ: "Low Carbohydrate-High Protein Diet and Incidence of Cardiovascular Diseases in Swedish Women: Prospective Cohort Study
- American Heart Association: "Are Eggs Good For You or Not?"
- JAMA: "Associations of Dietary Cholesterol or Egg Consumption With Incident Cardiovascular Disease and Mortality"
- Mayo Clinic: "6 Strategies for Success"
- Harvard Health: "Unscrambling the Message on Eggs"
- North Carolina Egg Association: "The Hard Boiled Egg Diet"
- National Academy of Sports Medicine: "How Low Can You Go? Risks of Trying to Lose Weight With Low Calorie Diets"
- Free Dieting: "Egg Diet: 3 Versions Explained"