Several versions of the Egg Diet have recently become popular in the United States, encouraged by the fact that several celebrities reportedly used it to lose significant amounts of weight. All versions of the Egg Diet are variations of the well-known high-protein, low-carbohydrate Atkins Diet. In fact, eggs are one of the main food sources in the first phase of the Atkins Diet.
The Premise: High-protein, low-carbohydrate diets are based on the way the body stores and uses nutrients. Your body’s activity is fueled by glucose, a simple sugar. Before your muscles can exert force or your digestive system can digest food, their cells need glucose. Glucose is created by breaking down complex sugars in the bloodstream that come from carbohydrates in the food you eat, or by converting stored fat molecules that started out as glucose. When cells need energy, they will use any free glucose floating in the bloodstream first, and the body will only begin to break down stored fat after the available glucose has been used up. The idea is that if carbohydrate intake is drastically reduced, the body will be forced to break down stored fat for the energy it needs. The result: you lose weight. Eating protein, beneficial fats, and vegetables provides needed calories and nutrients, but keeps the body breaking down fat.
The Diet: As in the Atkins diet, participants eat primarily protein. Starchy foods like pasta, bread, and potatoes, and sugary foods like fruit and candy are severely restricted, but usually there are no limits on approved foods. Drinking lots of water is an extremely important part of any high-protein diet, because digestion creates by-products that can be harmful if not eliminated from the body.
The various egg diets differ in terms of the proportion of eggs to other foods such as on lean meat, eggs, low-carb vegetables, and oily salad dressings. Some people claim to have eaten nothing but eggs for months. More moderate versions feature eggs, but also include small servings of lean meat, such as chicken and fish, as well as low-carbohydrate vegetables. One version of the egg diet adds grapefruit at every meal.
What to get excited over: The is no counting calories or worrying about portion sizes on this diet. High-protein and low-carbohydrate combinations can reduce appetite because protein is digested slowly. Also, eggs are nutritious, containing many vitamins and minerals in addition to protein, and they are less expensive than most other protein sources recommended by the Atkins Diet.
Things to consider: This diet can cause feelings of nausea and weakness during the initial several days. Eating too many eggs causes gas and constipation, and they can be hard on the kidneys, especially if not enough water is consumed. Also, boredom may lead people to fall off the diet.
Verdict: Not recommended. Eggs are an excellent food, and recent research has debunked some earlier concerns about the effects of eggs on cholesterol. Some research has shown that women who eat eggs for breakfast lost more weight than those that didn’t. However, a more varied diet, one that provides a wider range of nutrients for the body and flavors and textures for the mind, is more likely to be successful, especially over the long term.