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What Is the Egg Diet and Is It Safe? – EatingWell

Apr 7th, 2023

Trendy diets are nothing new in the wellness world. From the old-school grapefruit diet to the ever-popular keto diet, finding ways to modify eating habits to support a weight-loss goal is something that people have been doing for decades.

One newer diet that has come onto the scene is the egg diet. If you guessed that following this would require you to eat some eggs, then you would be correct. Here we'll explain exactly what the egg diet is, which foods you can enjoy when following it, and whether it is worth trying.

Unlike diets like Whole30 and the South Beach Diet that have set rules surrounding what should and shouldn't be eaten when following them, the egg diet doesn't a formal plan, and there are many versions with some being more restrictive than others. But no matter which version you follow, this way of eating requires you to eat at least one egg daily.

Of all of the egg diets out there, the most restrictive version is the "egg only" diet, which quite literally only allows people to eat eggs for their meals and snacks. There are more liberal versions of the diet as well, that require ingesting one egg a day along with a low-calorie, low-carb, high-protein eating plan. When following this version of the egg diet, foods like snacks, ultra-processed foods and any beverages that contain calories are not allowed.

Since there is no standard version of the egg diet, a list of "allowed" foods (except for eggs) is impossible to provide. For those following the "egg only" version, the only food permitted is eggs. But for those who are not following this restrictive version of this diet, there are some foods that may also be permitted.

The Boiled Egg Diet, created by Arielle Chandler and explained in her 2018 book, includes:

This diet does not permit foods with added sugar, grains, starchy foods, higher-carb fruit and ultra-processed foods.

Like all diets, there are pros and cons to following the egg diet. Here are some top advantages and disadvantages of following this egg-focused diet.

Each version of the egg diet requires participants to eat at least one egg every day. Eggs are a versatile food that is a source of many important nutrients, including protein, healthy fat, vitamin B12, choline and vitamin D. Those following the diet may also reap some of the benefits of eating eggs, including hair and skin health, vision health and increased fullness from meals with eggs.

An American Heart Association advisory recommends that, for healthy individuals, consuming an egg a day is acceptable in a heart-healthy dietary pattern. Given the nutritional benefits and convenience of eggs, consuming up to two eggs per day is acceptable within a heart-healthy dietary pattern for older adults.

Low-carbohydrate diets, including the keto diet, are known for supporting weight-loss goals among certain populations. Because the egg diet encourages the consumption of low-carbohydrate and high-protein meals, following it may result in weight loss. And while there is no scientific research that supports this connection, some anecdotal reports connect the egg diet to positive weight-loss outcomes.

Even the most liberal version of the egg diet is highly restrictive, thanks to its "rules" of avoiding many nutritious foods, like starchy vegetables, fruits and grains. Weight-loss diets that require people to avoid entire food groups are notoriously challenging to follow in the long run.

It is true that the egg diet includes nutrient-dense foods (like eggs!). And some versions allow people to eat vegetables, nonstarchy fruits and other foods that provide some nutrition.

But eliminating entire food groups can result in nutritional gaps. For example, results of a systematic review showed that following a carbohydrate-restricted diet was linked to significant decreases in intakes of thiamine, folate, magnesium, calcium, iron and iodine.

Following a low-carbohydrate and high-protein diet that eliminates grains and prohibits snacking may not be the best diet choice for everyone. For example, among people trying to become pregnant, following a diet with restricted carbohydrate intake before pregnancy led to a 30% higher likelihood of having an infant with anencephaly or spina bifida. This is possibly due to inadequate intake of folate, which is a crucial nutrient for cell growth and development.

The egg diet is restrictive and can be unsafe when followed for a long time, especially if you try to follow the "egg only" version. Because of this, it is unlikely that following this diet would be recommended by any health care professional.

That said, including eggs in a balanced, nutrient-dense eating pattern that includes all food groups can be a healthy choice.

According to a study published in Heart, a moderate egg consumption (up to one egg per day) was significantly associated with a lower risk of cardiovascular disease. Other data, published in the British Journal of Nutrition, suggested that regular egg intake was associated with improved cognition among adults.

While you may lose weight by only eating eggs, this is not an evidence-based method for weight loss. Only eating one food can result in nutritional gaps, which can become dangerous.

The quantity of eggs that you eat on the egg diet varies depending on whichever version you are trying to adopt. The number of eggs consumed can range from only one egg each day to multiple.

Following any low-carbohydrate diet can result in some unsavory side effects, including constipation, fatigue, bad breath and headache. And those who are eating several eggs every day may ingest more than the recommended amount of saturated fat, which may have a negative effect on heart health.

The egg diet may be appealing to follow when trying to lose weight. But it can be restrictive, opening your body up to experiencing nutritional gaps, along with feelings of sluggishness, constipation and headache. Instead of adopting the egg diet, try a more evidence-based and balanced approach like the Mediterranean diet or the DASH diet, and consider adding one egg to your typical day of eating to reap its nutritional benefits.

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What Is the Egg Diet and Is It Safe? - EatingWell

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