An egg diet is not a diet consisting of only eggs, however, it does involve eating a larger part of your protein allowance in the form of eggs.
The egg diet has its origins in the induction phase of the Atkins Diet, as eggs are one of the healthiest ways to consume a high protein, low carb diet without increasing saturated fats. Before you carry on reading, are you looking for the Royal Marine Commando Egg Diet? This is the more popular egg based diet plan.
Nutrition of Eggs
Eggs are an excellent source of protein and other vital nutrients. They contain all the essential amino acids in the correct proportions and are therefore a good source of complete protein.
They are also a significant source of vitamins B2, B12, D, E, and folate, in addition to iron. The iron in egg yolks, like the iron found in meat, is easily absorbed by the body. Eggs contain other vitamins and minerals in smaller amounts, including vitamins B1 and B6, phosphorus, and zinc.
Eggs are also one of the best sources of choline, a substance involved in the transport of fat in the body. Choline is also important for the manufacture of phospholipids, which are the major structural components of cell membranes.
Most of the vitamins and minerals in eggs are found in the yolk, but the white is also a good source protein and contains little fat and no cholesterol.
Eggs are relatively low in calories and saturated fat, in fact egg white does not contain any fat. Nutritionists used to advise that eating eggs should be limited, but this advice has been revised.
Research also shows that there is no link between egg consumption and an increased risk of cardiovascular disease.
Eggs are an almost ideal protein source. Low in saturated fat and calories, but an excellent source of complete protein, eggs provide an inexpensive and nutritious addition to your diet.
Before the days of protein shakes, athletes and boxers would simply eat more eggs, often raw with milk, for breakfast. In fact, many professional bodybuilders still consume many eggs everyday. Jay Cutler eats around 30 egg whites a day!
How Many Eggs Should You Eat a Day?
Cholesterol is not found in large amounts in many foods, except in eggs and in offal such as liver and kidneys.
However, the cholesterol in these foods does not usually make a great contribution to blood cholesterol levels. It is a common misconception that eggs are unhealthy due to the high levels of cholesterol that they contain.
Eggs mostly contain HDL type cholesterol, which is actually good for us. HDL cholesterol protects arteries, it is the LDL type cholesterol that causes heart disease, and this generally builds up as a result of a diet high in saturated fat.
If you need to reduce your cholesterol levels, it is much more important to reduce the total amount of saturated fat you eat and to exercise more.
This is because saturated fat has more of an impact on blood cholesterol levels than eating foods high in dietary cholesterol. Eating a high-fiber diet may also help to reduce the amount of cholesterol that is absorbed into the bloodstream.
There is no limit to how many egg whites you can eat, so look at ways to use more egg whites in your cooking.
When cooking eggs, avoid adding butter and cheese, which will add saturated fat. An ideal egg meal would be a filled omelet. Eggs are a useful source of many important nutrients. An omelet filled with mushrooms and tomatoes will make a quick, tasty, and nutritious lunch.
Some Scientific Reports on Egg Consumption and Health
In the general discussion on the high protein diets, one topic that has come up is, how many eggs are safe to eat?
It is generally thought that eggs are bad for us, as they are high in cholesterol, and this leads to CHD (coronary heart disease).
However, Dr. Atkins does not think that this is the case. There is some interesting research that supports the idea that eggs are actually good for us, and you probably cannot get too many of them.
Advice from the UK Department of Health in 2009 said that adults should not have more than 2 eggs per week. Some other advice says that 4-7 eggs per week is OK for a healthy person.
But is this all nonsense? Many people who adopt the higher protein diets like the Atkins diet consume on average 21 eggs per week, and some many more.
Eggs are a great source of protein and energy, so ideal if you are on a diet that is low on carbohydrates.
Here are the main from findings publishing in a report in the Nutrition Bulletin: A. Lee, B. Griffin (2006) Dietary cholesterol, eggs and coronary heart disease risk in perspective:
“The idea that dietary cholesterol increases risk of coronary heart disease (CHD) by turning into blood cholesterol is compelling in much the same way that fish oil improves arthritis by lubricating our joints! Dietary cholesterol, chiefly in the form of eggs, has long been outlawed as a causative agent in CHD through its association with serum cholesterol. However, the scientific evidence to support a role for dietary cholesterol in CHD is relatively insubstantial in comparison with the incontrovertible link between its circulating blood relative in low density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol and CHD. Interpretation of the relationship between dietary cholesterol and CHD has been repeatedly confounded by an often inseparable relationship between dietary cholesterol and saturated fat. It has also been exaggerated by the feeding of unphysiologically high intakes of eggs. Nonetheless, numerous studies have shown that dietary cholesterol can increase serum LDL-cholesterol, but the size of this effect is highly variable between individuals, and according to over 30 years of prospective epidemiology, has no clinically significant impact on CHD risk. Variation in response to dietary cholesterol is a real phenomenon and we can now identify nutrient–gene interactions that give rise to this variation through differences in cholesterol homeostasis. More importantly, to view eggs solely in terms of the effects of their dietary cholesterol on serum cholesterol is to ignore the potential benefits of egg consumption on coronary risk factors, including obesity, diabetes and metabolic syndrome. Cardiovascular risk in these conditions is largely independent of LDL-cholesterol. These conditions are also relatively unresponsive to any LDL-cholesterol raising the effects of dietary cholesterol. Treatment is focused primarily on weight loss, and it is in this respect that eggs may have a new and emerging role in facilitating weight loss through increased satiety.”
This seems to supports Dr. Atkins’ view that eggs, when eaten with a low carb diet (or carbohydrate controlled diet), actually provide an essential source of good cholesterol, which actually prevents arteries from becoming clogged.
More on eggs from the Atkin’s website
This snippet discusses research into the relationship of egg consumption and inflammation and concludes that the type of cholesterol in eggs actually helps to increase the healthy cholesterol in the blood.
“The men who ate the low carb diet that included eggs had significantly less CRP (blood marker for inflammation) and more adiponectin than the group that didn’t eat eggs! Volek and his team speculate that the eggs make a significant contribution to the anti-inflammatory effects of a low-carb diet possibly due to two factors- the cholesterol in the eggs which increases HDL “good” cholesterol, and the antioxidant lutein (found in the yolk) which lowers inflammation.”
Egg consumption and cardiovascular health
Here is some more research that suggests that eggs are not as bad as our government health advisors keep telling us (or at least, have told us in the past): “Egg consumption and endothelial function: a randomized controlled crossover trial” by David L. Katz, Marian A. Evans, Haq Nawaz, Valentine Yanchou Njike, Wendy Chan, Beth Patton Comerford and Martha L. Hoxley.
“Background: Because of egg cholesterol content, reduction in egg consumption is generally recommended to reduce risk of cardiovascular disease. Recently, however, evidence has been accumulating to suggest that dietary cholesterol is less relevant to cardiovascular risk than dietary saturated fat. This randomized controlled crossover trial was conducted to determine the effects of egg ingestion on endothelial function, a reliable index of cardiovascular risk. Methods: Forty-nine healthy adults (mean age 56 years, 40% females) underwent a baseline brachial artery reactivity study (BARS), and were assigned to two eggs or oats daily for 6 weeks in random sequence with a 4-week washout. A BARS was done at the end of each treatment phase, measuring flow-mediated vasodilation (FMD) in the brachial artery using a high-frequency ultrasound. Results: FMD was stable in both egg and oat groups, and between-treatment differences were not significant (egg −0.96%, oatmeal −0.79%; p value >0.05). Six weeks of egg ingestion had no effect on total cholesterol (baseline: 203.8 mg/dl; post-treatment: 205.3) or LDL (baseline: 124.8 mg/dl; post-treatment: 129.1). In contrast, 6 weeks of oats lowered total cholesterol (to 194 mg/dl; p=0.0017) and LDL (to 116.6 mg/dl; p=0.012). There were no differences in body mass index (BMI), triglyceride, HDL or SBP levels between egg and oat treatment assignments. Conclusion: Short-term egg consumption does not adversely affect endothelial function in healthy adults, supporting the view that dietary cholesterol may be less detrimental to cardiovascular health than previously thought.”
Research undertaken at Yale Prevention Research Center, 130 Division Street, Derby, CT 06418, USA and published in the Journal of the American College of Nutrition, Vol. 19, No. 90005, 556S-562S (2000)
Nutritional Contribution of Eggs to American Diets
More research supporting “eggs are good for you” can be found in the Journal of the American College of Nutrition, Vol. 19, No. 90005, 556S-562S (2000). “Nutritional Contribution of Eggs to American Diets” by Won O. Song, PhD, MPH, RD and Jean M. Kerver, MS, RD:
Objectives: The main purposes of this study were (1) to assess the nutritional significance of eggs in the American diet and (2) to estimate the degree of association between egg consumption and serum cholesterol concentration. Results: After adjusting for demographic (age, gender and ethnicity) and lifestyle variables (smoking and physical activity), dietary cholesterol was not related to serum cholesterol concentration. People who reported eating >= 4 eggs/wk had a significantly lower mean serum cholesterol concentration than those who reported eating <= 1 egg/wk (193 mg/dL vs. 197 mg/dL, p < 0.01). More frequent egg consumption was negatively associated with serum cholesterol concentration (ß=-6.45, p < 0.01). Conclusions: In this cross-sectional and population-based study, egg consumption made important nutritional contributions to the American diet and was not associated with high serum cholesterol concentrations.
Eggs Are Good
So eggs are good for you. They are full of healthy fats, vitamins and protein. The most recent research into cholesterol has shown that dietary cholesterol, i.e. eating food that is high in cholesterol, is not the cause of increase heart disease risk.
The problem really lies in consumption of saturated fat, and that eggs may actually help to boost the healthy cholesterol levels in the human body. Eat more eggs, get stronger and healthier!