What Is the Egg Diet?

In This Article

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

There are different versions of the egg diet, including an egg-only diet. In all variations of the plan, you'll eat three meals a day with no snacks, and only water or zero-calorie beverages.

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

Background

The egg diet has been around for a while. In the 1970s, Vogue published a popular egg and wine diet. In the internet age, it seems the egg diet gained popularity in 2010 as the "egg-fest" and was born out of the keto diet as a way to jumpstart stalled weight loss.

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

There are about 75 calories, 5 grams of fat, 6 grams of protein and less than 1 gram of carbohydrate in a single egg.

How It Works

There are different versions of this weight loss plan, and 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. Snacks and drinks with calories are not allowed. Each day, 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 half a 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. 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. Beverages allowed include water, black coffee, or 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 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. 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.

    What to 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.

    Compliant Foods

    • Eggs

    • Other lean proteins, such as poultry and fish

    • Fruit, such as grapefruit and berries

    • Leafy green vegetables, such as spinach and kale

    • Non-starchy vegetables, such as broccoli, mushrooms, and peppers

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

    Non-Compliant Foods

    • Alcohol

    • Sugar

    • Refined carbohydrates, like bread and pasta

    • Fried foods 

    • Sweets

    • Milk, juice, and other caloric beverages

    Recommended Timing

    There is no special timing or fasting required for the egg diet. However, the diet is restricted to three meals a day and no snacks.

    Resources and Tips

    Eggs are convenient and versatile. They are also cheap (as compared to many other protein sources) and easy to find in any market or convenience store.

    • Embrace variety on the egg diet by preparing eggs in different ways and using different vegetables or condiments to keep it interesting. There are countless ways to prepare eggs, including scrambled, poached, hard-boiled, or fried. Omelets made with a mix of vegetables, herbs, and spices can keep you from getting bored.
    • Keep hard-boiled eggs in the refrigerator to grab on the go. You can also chop the eggs and add them to your salad at lunchtime, or make an egg salad for dinner.
    • 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, which provides about 55 calories of 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.

    Pros and Cons

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

    Pros

    • Quick weight loss

    • Eggs are a nutrient dense food

    Cons

    • Lack of energy

    • Digestive issues

    • May raise cholesterol levels

    • Crash diets lead to rebound weight gain

    Pros

    Eggs are a nutrient dense food and provide a good deal of protein, fat, vitamins, and minerals for about 75 calories per egg.

    Some websites and videos claim that you can lose 20 to 25 pounds on the 14-day egg diet. However, these claims aren’t based on any scientific study or hard evidence.

    While the egg diet may promote quick weight-loss for some people, it is not a healthy, long-term eating plan.

    Cons

    Despite the promise of a quick weight loss, the egg diet does have some drawbacks: 

    • Lack of carbs equals lack of energy. As a high-protein and low-carbohydrate diet, many people experience fatigue and a lack of energy, similar to other low-carb plans. 
    • Eggs can make you gassy. Many people on the egg diet experience gas, constipation, nausea, and bad breath, which are all common side-effects of a high-protein diet. You can combat digestive issues by including more fiber from vegetables in your diet and drinking more water. 
    • High cholesterol foods may lead to heart disease. Eggs are a high cholesterol food, which has been linked to increased blood cholesterol levels and heart disease. However, the current research calls this into question. According to a 2017 review article published in the journal Nutrition, the link between eggs and heart disease may be unfounded. Another 2017 review in the Canadian Journal of Diabetes reports consumption of six to 12 eggs per week did not impact total cholesterol, LDL cholesterol, triglycerides, fasting glucose, insulin, or C-reactive protein levels—all markers of heart disease. If you are at risk for heart disease, talk to your doctor before starting the egg diet. 
    • Short-term weight loss is difficult to sustain. Like most diets that promise rapid weight loss over a short period of time, the egg diet is not sustainable and pounds lost are likely to be regained. 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 is too restrictive. While you might be able to white-knuckle your way through two weeks of eating just one food (or only 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.

    How It Compares

    Even though eggs are full of healthy nutrients, 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.

    When we consume a wide variety of nutritious foods, it helps us maintain good health and the proper weight. Most versions of the egg diet are not well rounded enough to provide your body with the energy it needs to function properly.

    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.

    While the egg diet may provide rapid weight loss to help you reach a short term goal, it is not healthy or sustainable in the long run.

    USDA Recommendations

    The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) dietary guidelines include recommendations and tips for a healthy, balanced diet. The following nutrient-dense foods are recommended as part of a healthy diet:

    • Vegetables and dark, leafy greens (kale, spinach, broccoli, Swiss chard, green beans) 
    • Fruits (apples, berries, melon)
    • Grains (quinoa, brown rice, oats)
    • Lean meats (chicken breast, fish, turkey breast)
    • Beans and legumes (all beans, lentils, peas)
    • Nuts and seeds (walnuts, almonds, sunflower seeds)
    • Dairy (reduced fat milk, cheese, yogurt) 
    • Oils (olive oil, avocado oil) 

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

    Use this weight-loss calculator to find a more suitable diet plan for your needs.

    Similar Diets

    Much like the egg diet, these other fad diets limit the menu to specific foods. While each plan promises you’ll drop pounds quickly, they are unlikely to provide long-term, sustained weight loss.

    • Cabbage Soup Diet: The main focus of the cabbage soup diet is a homemade soup that is eaten several times a day. The diet also includes other foods that can be eaten on specific days.
    • Juice Cleanse: A three-day fast, the juice cleanse recommends drinking raw, organic juice made from fruits and vegetables several times a day. Food, other than that which is juiced, is not allowed.
    • Grapefruit Diet: Another diet with a promise of quick weight loss, the grapefruit diet is a 10-day plan that encourages eating grapefruit or drinking grapefruit juice with every meal.
    • The 3-Day Military Diet: This plan provides a specific list of foods to eat on certain days, including things like two hotdogs without buns, five saltine crackers, and a cup of vanilla ice cream. Despite the name, the diet isn’t limited to three days or associated with the military. You eat specific foods for three days, with calories restricted to 1,500 a day on the four "off" days. 
    • The M-Plan: On this diet, the M stands for mushroom, and you replace one meal a day for two weeks with a low-fat or fat-free mushroom-based dish. It doesn’t otherwise limit calories or other food groups, but swapping out meat for mushrooms reduces daily caloric intake to help you lose weight. 

      A Word From Verywell

      Remember that the fad diets you see on the internet are usually not based on solid nutritional research. Instead of turning to a fad diet, 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.

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