The egg diet is a high protein low carbohydrate and low calorie diet that may help some people lose weight.
Eggs are a key ingredient and one of the diet’s primary sources of protein.
In some versions of the diet, a person will eat only eggs.
In this article, we look at whether this diet has any merit and whether it is healthful and safe to try.
There are several different versions of the egg diet. In each one, eggs are the main focus for protein intake.
Some things a person can consume are:
- plain boiled, poached, or scrambled eggs
- water and zero-calorie beverages
Other ingredients will depend on the version the person is following. The number of calories and servings will vary depending on the individual’s sex, height, and activity level.
The diet does not allow:
- butter or oil, including for cooking the eggs
- starchy carbohydrates, such as potatoes, rice, and bread
- sweets and foods that are high in sugar
Here, learn more about the three main versions of this diet.
Traditional egg diet
In the traditional egg diet, a person can eat protein from other sources. The traditional egg diet is the most popular version. It is similar to other diets with a high protein and low carbohydrate content.
As well as eggs, a person can eat:
- lean protein
- low carbohydrate vegetables, such as kale, broccoli, and spinach
- fruits, usually 1–2 servings a day
High carb foods, such as pasta, bread, and rice, are off limits.
An example of a meal plan could include:
Breakfast: Two eggs and a low carb vegetable.
Lunch: Lean protein with a green salad.
Dinner: Eggs or lean protein and low carb vegetables.
Egg and grapefruit diet
On this meal plan, a person follows the same low carbohydrate, high protein guidelines as above. They also eat half a grapefruit with each meal.
An example of a meal plan could include:
Breakfast: Two eggs and half a grapefruit.
Lunch: One serving of lean protein with spinach and half a grapefruit.
Dinner: One serving of lean protein, such as fish or eggs, with half a grapefruit.
Extreme egg diet
This version only allows for eggs and water at every meal. It is very restrictive and probably difficult for most people to follow for any length of time.
Eating one type of food is not a safe way to lose weight, as it may lead to nutritional deficiencies.
Which other high-protein foods may help a person lose weight? Find out here.
There is no research to show that a specific egg diet is safe or effective. However, research into egg consumption as part of a weight loss diet and the impact of eggs overall may give some clues.
All versions of the egg diet result in eating fewer calories, and they may help a person lose weight in the short-term. The diet is high in protein, and there is some evidence that a high-protein diet can help with weight loss.
In 2015, a group of scientists reviewed the possible benefits of a high-protein diet. They cited evidence showing that a high protein intake may help prevent metabolic syndrome, obesity, type 2 diabetes, and cardiovascular disease due to atherosclerosis. They also noted that protein can help a person feel full, which means they are less likely to overeat. This can help a person lose weight.
However, an egg diet may not be the best approach for losing weight and keeping it off. A restrictive diet can be hard to follow, and people may regain what they have lost if they return to their usual diet.
A 2018 study found that eating three eggs a day for 12 weeks helped people with overweight and obesity to lose weight and retain lean muscle mass, compared with people who ate no eggs. However, the authors added that eggs might not be the best option for a high protein diet.
The keto diet is a high-fat, adequate-protein, low-carb diet designed to help people lose weight. Learn more here.
Eggs can be a healthful protein source when eaten in moderation, but consuming high quantities may increase the risk of certain medical conditions.
In the past, experts believed that eating eggs would increase cholesterol. This remains controversial.
In 2019, for example, a study that looked at data for 29,615 adults concluded that eating higher amounts of dietary cholesterol or eggs might increase the risk of cardiovascular disease, which includes stroke. However, there were several limitations to this study, including observational rather than causational findings.
Another similar study involving 28,024 participants showed the opposite results. There was no significant difference in all-cause mortality between including seven or more eggs per week or less than one egg per week.
Also, in 2019, however, researchers analyzing data for 1,950 men aged 42–60 years found no link between egg consumption and the risk of stroke.
One study found that eating more than six eggs a week increased the risk of heart failure by 30% in men, although not for women. However, consuming up to six eggs per week did not appear to increase the risk of a heart attack, hemorrhagic stroke, or heart failure in either men or women. A hemorrhagic stroke involves ruptured blood vessels in the brain.
In 2018, researchers looked at how eating 12 or more eggs a week would affect people with prediabetes or type 2 diabetes, compared with eating a maximum of two eggs a week. Participants followed a weight loss diet for the first 3 months and continued to eat 12 or more eggs for another 9 months.
The diet did not appear to have an adverse impact on:
- cardiovascular risk factors
- inflammatory or oxidative stress markers
- measures of glycemia
However, none of these studies looked specifically at the egg diet. They focused on the impact of eating eggs and did not take into account the inclusion or exclusion of other ingredients.
Any restrictive diet can limit the intake of essential nutrients.
While eggs contain many essential nutrients, they do not, for example, contain fiber. Experts recommend a high intake of fiber to maintain digestive, cardiovascular, and other aspects of health.
Diets that are higher in protein and fat and very low in carbohydrates may also cause ketosis, a process that encourages the body to burn fat for energy. This can have unwanted side effects, including fatigue, headaches, and nausea, muscle cramps, and digestive problems.
Eggs can be a healthful source of protein, but they should not be the only food a person eats.
The egg diet may lead to weight loss initially, but it is not a balanced or safe weight loss plan in the long-term. Once a person returns to their usual eating pattern, they may regain the weight.
In addition, any restrictive diet can limit a person’s intake of essential nutrients.
Ultimately, there are better ways to lose weight than the egg diet.
Making sustainable changes, such as cutting out processed foods, reducing meat and dairy intake, and eating more fresh fruits and vegetables, can help a person maintain a healthy weight over time.
Will an egg diet push up my cholesterol levels?
Research is mixed on this topic. However, the current recommendations have eliminated the previous dietary guideline to consume no more than 300 mg of cholesterol daily.
Scientists have recognized that trans and saturated fat play a more significant role in the development of heart disease over cholesterol. Experts still advise people to limit cholesterol and maintain a healthful eating pattern.
Consuming primarily eggs is not considered a healthful eating pattern, and experts do not recommend it, as this diet would limit a person’s nutrient intake and could cause other health issues.
Natalie Olsen, R.D., L.D., ACSM EP-C Answers represent the opinions of our medical experts. All content is strictly informational and should not be considered medical advice.