What Is the Egg Diet?

the egg diet

Verywell / Debbie Burkhoff 

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At Verywell, we believe there is no one-size-fits-all approach to a healthy lifestyle. Successful eating plans need to be individualized and take the whole person into consideration. Prior to starting a new diet plan, consult with your health care provider or a registered dietitian, especially if you have an underlying health condition.

The egg diet is a weight loss program that requires you to build at least one meal each day around the traditional breakfast staple, the chicken egg. It is a low-calorie, low-carbohydrate, high-protein plan designed to help you lose weight quickly without losing muscle mass.

There are different versions of the egg diet, including an egg-only diet or a boiled egg diet. In all variations of the plan, you'll eat three meals a day with no snacks, and drink only water or zero-calorie beverages. More flexible forms of the egg diet include foods like grilled chicken, fish, and steamed veggies, but eliminate starchy foods and sugar.

What Experts Say

"Eggs are little nuggets of nutrition, providing protein, choline, vitamin D, lutein and more, but the egg diet, on the whole, is low in carbs which can leave you hungry. Also, eating the same food over and over (like eggs for breakfast) can get boring for some, which can lead to non-compliance."

Kelly Plowe, MS, RD

What Can You Eat?

Since there is no one standard egg diet, what you eat will depend on the type you follow. In general, you can expect to eat a lot of eggs, other lean proteins, vegetables, and some fruit. All versions of the egg diet require you to eat primarily egg-based meals. Here are the most popular variations.

14-Day Egg Diet

If you choose this two-week version of the diet program, you’ll consume three meals each day. Snacks are not allowed; nor are drinks with calories. Each day, eat one meal with eggs. The remaining meals can be built around other sources of lean protein such as chicken or fish.

To supplement the protein on your plate, you can add low carbohydrate vegetables such as broccoli or spinach. Citrus fruit is sometimes allowed. This diet is sometimes called the “boiled egg diet” and requires that you eat your eggs hard-boiled, rather than poached, scrambled, or fried.

Egg and Grapefruit Diet

This is a variation of the 14-day egg diet and lasts for the same amount of time. On this version of the diet, you eat half a grapefruit at each meal with your egg or lean protein. No other fruit is allowed.

Egg-Only Diet

This version of the egg diet is a mono diet. Mono diets are extreme, unhealthy weight loss programs where you eat only a single food for an extended period. People on this program eat only hard-boiled eggs and water for two weeks.

As you might imagine, exercise is not recommended on this plan because of the extreme fatigue that you are likely to experience.

“Medical” Egg Diet

This version of the egg diet requires that you eat one egg and one piece of bread, three times each day. You can also eat as many fruits and vegetables as you like. Beverages allowed include water, black coffee, and other zero-calorie drinks. Eggs can be prepared any way you want as long as no calories are added. That means you can’t use butter or oil to cook your egg.

Some followers believe that this version of the egg diet is used in medical settings to reduce a patient’s weight prior to surgery, but there is no evidence to support that rumor. While some bariatric physicians put their patients on diets before surgery, it is typically a liquid diet (including meal replacement shakes) and the program is supervised by a physician or other medical expert.

Keto Egg Diet

Ketogenic diets, also called keto diets, require that you increase your intake of fat to put your body into a state of ketosis. This version of the egg diet recommends that you eat eggs with butter and cheese to get your body to produce ketones. The most popular ratio promoted on the internet is one egg to one tablespoon of fat (cheese or butter).

What You Need to Know

While eggs can be part of a healthy diet, a nutrition plan built almost exclusively on eggs is not. Some variations of the egg diet are better for you than others, but none of them provide balanced nutrition.

What to Eat
  • Eggs

  • Other lean proteins, such as poultry and fish

  • Fruit, such as grapefruit and berries

  • Leafy green vegetables, such as spinach and kale

  • Other non-starchy vegetables, such as broccoli, mushrooms, and peppers

  • Zero-calorie beverages, such as water, black coffee, and unsweetened tea

What Not to Eat
  • Alcohol

  • Sugar

  • Refined carbohydrates, like bread and pasta

  • Starchy vegetables, such as sweet potatoes and corn

  • Sweets

  • Fried foods

  • Dairy products

  • Milk, juice, and other caloric beverages

Pros and Cons

Like most fad weight loss plans, the egg diet has some benefits and drawbacks.

  • Quick weight loss

  • Eggs are a nutrient-dense food

  • Doesn't rely on supplements or branded food items

  • Relatively inexpensive

  • Low energy levels without carbohydrates

  • Potential digestive issues (due to lack of fiber)

  • May raise cholesterol levels

  • Not sustainable; weight may rebound

Is the Egg Diet a Healthy Choice for You?

Eggs are an excellent source of complete protein. They provide several beneficial vitamins and minerals, including choline and vitamin A. Compared to expensive diets that require special powders and supplements, the egg diet is a whole-food approach to weight loss. However, depending on how strictly you follow it, the egg diet is missing important nutrients, like fiber.

Current dietary guidelines set forth by the U.S. Department of Agriculture include recommendations and tips for a healthy, balanced diet. The following nutrient-dense foods are recommended as part of a healthy diet:

  • Beans and legumes (all beans, lentils, peas)
  • Dairy products (reduced-fat milk, cheese and yogurt, including fortified soy-based dairy alternatives) 
  • Fruits, especially whole fruits (apples, berries, melon)
  • Grains, especially whole grains (quinoa, brown rice, oats)
  • Lean protein (chicken breast, fish, turkey breast, seafood)
  • Nuts and seeds (walnuts, almonds, sunflower seeds)
  • Oils (olive oil, avocado oil) 
  • Vegetables of all types and dark, leafy greens (kale, spinach, broccoli, Swiss chard, green beans) 

The egg diet does not provide well-rounded nutrition and does not meet USDA dietary guidelines. It is not considered a healthy, long-term diet.

Since eggs only have about 78 calories each, you're unlikely to consume enough to meet your calorie needs each day. There's also a good chance you won't have the energy to maintain regular workouts to support your metabolism on such a restrictive plan.

If you're looking to lose weight, nutrition experts advise counting calories to meet your goals. The USDA recommends a reduction of 500 calories per day for weight loss. On a 2,000-calorie diet, that's around 1,500 calories per day, but this can vary based on age, sex, weight, and level of physical activity. If you're interested in determining your own calorie guidelines, you can use this calculator.

Although eggs are nutritious, the egg diet doesn't have enough variety or calories to be considered a healthy or sustainable way of eating. With such restriction, weight regain is likely. You'll also miss out on fiber, calcium, and other essential nutrients by sticking to the egg diet for more than a few days.

Health Benefits

The egg diet doesn't offer notable health benefits when compared to a more varied and sustainable eating plan. Fast weight loss on the egg diet is more attributable to its low calorie count than any special effects from the diet.

Health Risks

Eggs are a common food allergen, so obviously, anyone who is allergic to eggs should not attempt the egg diet. The limitations of the egg diet can pose risks to bone density, heart health, and digestion, especially if followed for a long period of time.

Low in Calcium

The egg diet doesn't provide adequate sources of calcium, since dairy isn't included in the plan. Stricter versions of the egg diet don't even include high-calcium veggies or fortified foods to help meet your needs. Adults require 1,000 to 1,300 milligrams of calcium per day. One large egg has about 24 milligrams of calcium. A cup of cooked greens or other non-starchy vegetables have under 100 milligrams per serving.

Not getting enough calcium can pose a health risk for individuals with low bone density, especially for post-menopausal women who are generally at higher risk. Insufficient calcium intake may also play a role in the development of cardiovascular disease and some cancers.

High in Cholesterol

Dietary cholesterol and eggs don't have the same bad rep they once did. However, individuals with a high risk of heart disease are still advised to limit their intake to one egg per day. Because egg yolks are high in cholesterol, they may post a risk to heart health, especially when consumed in the high amounts recommended by the egg diet.

Low in Fiber

Fiber is essential for healthy digestion and regularity. Like other animal products, eggs are naturally fiber-free. The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics recommends at least 25 grams of fiber per day for women and 38 grams for men. Even if you're eating some fruits and vegetables on the egg diet, it would be virtually impossible to reach this level when eggs are your primary food.

Beyond just the digestive system, fiber benefits individuals with diabetes, heart disease, and it helps support weight loss. Missing out on fiber is a definite downfall of the egg diet.

A Word From Verywell

Although the promise of fast weight loss can be appealing, the egg diet is an overly restrictive fad diet that's unlikely to produce beneficial lasting results. Learning to practice healthy eating habits that include all the food groups will give you the flexibility and variety for building a positive relationship with food.

Remember, following a long-term or short-term diet may not be necessary for you and many diets out there simply don’t work, especially long-term. While we do not endorse fad diet trends or unsustainable weight loss methods, we present the facts so you can make an informed decision that works best for your nutritional needs, genetic blueprint, budget, and goals.

If your goal is weight loss, remember that losing weight isn’t necessarily the same as being your healthiest self, and there are many other ways to pursue health. Exercise, sleep, and other lifestyle factors also play a major role in your overall health. The best diet is always the one that is balanced and fits your lifestyle.

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Article Sources
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