Is the Egg Diet Healthy for You?

Box of eggs on striped tablecloth
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If breakfast is your favorite meal of the day, then the egg diet might be appealing to you. The weight loss program requires that you build at least one meal each day around the traditional breakfast staple. But there are different versions of the egg diet, including an egg-only diet, and not all of them are healthy or even likely to work.

What Is the Egg Diet?

There are different versions of this weight loss plan, but as you might imagine, all of them require that you eat primarily egg-based meals These are the most popular variations:

  • 14-Day Egg Diet: If you choose this version of the diet program, you’ll consume three meals each day. You will not consume any snacks and no drinks with calories. Each day, you eat one meal with eggs, but other 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 ½ grapefruit at each meal with your egg or lean protein. No other fruit is allowed.
  • Egg-Only Diet: This version of the weight loss program is a mono diet. Mono diets are extreme, unhealthy weight loss programs where you eat only a single food for an extended period of time.  According to sources, dieters 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. You’ll drink water, black coffee, or other zero-calorie beverages. 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 prepare your egg. Some dieters 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 often 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. So 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).

    Some variations of the egg diet are better for you than others, but none of them provide balanced nutrition.

    Is the Egg Diet Healthy?

    Surprisingly, some websites suggest that you speak to your doctor before going on the egg diet. If you do, it is not likely that your physician will approve. Most versions of the egg diet are not well rounded enough to provide your body with the energy it needs to function properly—even though eggs are full of healthy nutrients.

    Eggs provide your body with protein and fat. They also provide vitamin D, phosphorus, vitamin A, and two B-complex vitamins that your body needs to convert food into energy. Eggs are a very good source of riboflavin, selenium, and choline.

    But your body needs more than the nutrients in eggs to function properly. For example, fiber boosts healthy digestion and you’re not likely to get the fiber you need when you’re on this program. If you eat only eggs, you also won’t provide your body with essential vitamins and minerals.

    Furthermore, it is likely that you won’t get the calories or the carbohydrates you need on this program—especially on the mono version of the egg diet. There are about 75 calories, 5 grams of fat, 6 grams of protein and less than 1 gram of carbohydrate in a single egg. It is unlikely that you will be comfortable eating the number of eggs you'd need to eat to reach recommended guidelines for calorie and carbohydrate consumption. Your body may suffer as a result.

    Very low-calorie diets and very low-carbohydrate diets can cause extreme fatigue and other symptoms such as moodiness, constipation, headaches, and other stomach problems. You might also get bad breath or nausea.

    Lastly, the egg diet is likely to backfire and ultimately cause weight gain instead of weight loss. Weight gain from repeated attempts at fad diets can lead to overweight or obesity.

    Does the Egg Diet Work?

    Some websites and videos claim that you can lose 20-25 pounds on the 14-day egg diet. Those are appealing numbers if you are trying to slim down. But those claims aren’t based on any scientific study or hard evidence, they are simply popularized internet claims.

    So how much weight are you really likely to lose? If you were to follow the egg diet perfectly, you would probably shed a few pounds, potentially up to five pounds in a week and a few more the following week. But the weight you'd lose would be primarily water weight, not fat, and that's an important drawback to keep in mind.

    Water loss on the egg diet happens because of the shift in carbohydrate intake. When you reduce or eliminate carbohydrates, your body doesn’t need as much water to store the energy that carbohydrates provide. So your body sheds the water and you instantly notice a change in the numbers on the scale and the way that your clothes fit. Sounds great, right? But when you begin to eat carbohydrates again, the water comes back and your weight goes back to normal. Additionally, severe carbohydrate and calorie restriction may cause you to lose muscle mass, which can have a negative impact on your metabolism.

    Lastly, the egg diet is too restrictive. While you might be able to white-knuckle your way through two weeks of eating just one food (or just a small number of foods) the hunger and discomfort you are likely to feel may be overwhelming. Many dieters end up bingeing on junk food or just quitting the diet completely. Since you don’t learn any healthy eating habits on this program (like portion control, balanced meal planning, or mindful eating) you are likely to return to the food habits that caused weight gain in the first place.

    The Egg Diet—Do It the Verywell Way

    If you love eggs, there is no reason not to include them in a weight loss plan. Eggs are convenient and versatile. Eggs are also cheap (as compared to many other protein sources) and easy to find in any market or convenience store. They are a great food to include in a healthy eating plan or weight loss program. But your meals should include a variety of foods to keep your body in top shape.

    Use these tips to slim down with eggs:

    • Replace 1-2 meat meals each week with an egg-based meal. Enjoy a scrambled egg with steamed veggies, or make an egg or egg-white omelet with leafy greens like kale or spinach and one ounce of cheese (try feta, parmesan, or goat cheese). While eggs do contain some saturated fat, they provide less fat than many meat sources. You'll benefit from a reduction in both fat and calories.
    • Replace one starchy meal each week with an egg-based meal. For example, if you cook spaghetti or a rice casserole once each week in order to take advantage of the leftovers, do the same with a lean egg dish. Make a healthy quiche or frittata and serve it with a handful of mixed greens. A lean protein meal will help you to feel more full and satisfied than a starchy meal and you may eat less as a result.
    • Keep hard-boiled eggs in the refrigerator to grab when you need a salty, savory snack for under 100 calories. Swap hummus for the egg yolk to get an extra boost of fiber with your protein for the same number of calories. Chop the eggs and add them to your salad at lunchtime, or add them to a piece of whole grain toast with a smear of avocado in the morning for breakfast.
    • Blend whole eggs with egg whites to cut calories and saturated fat. Most of the fat in a hard-boiled egg is in the yolk. The yolk provides about 55 calories worth of combined fat and protein. Egg whites, on the other hand, are packed with fat-free nutrition. You'll consume 4 to 5 grams of protein, 17 calories, and virtually no fat in a single large egg white. Egg whites are also a good source of leucine, an amino acid that may help you lose weight.

    Remember that the fad diets you see on the internet are usually not based on solid nutritional research. If an egg diet (or a peanut butter diet or a pizza diet or a taco diet) really worked, you'd see it advertised in every doctor's office around the world. But that is not the case.

    Instead, seek out personalized weight loss advice from credentialed experts in the health field. Meet with a registered dietitian or talk to your doctor to make sure your weight loss plan is successful and provides long-term results that keep you fit and healthy.