Fact: Eggs have been given a serious run-around by the health community. They’ve been seen as good for weight loss thanks to their protein content, then not healthy due to cholesterol. So it’s understandable, then, to not be totally sure where things stand when it comes to whether eggs are good for weight loss.
Well, eggs are back to being considered good for you; ditto for their potential weight-management power. While eating an egg won’t magically make you lose weight, incorporating the food into an otherwise healthy diet could help you reach and maintain your goals over time, says Jessica Cording, MS, RD, author of The Little Book of Game-Changers.
There’s a lot to love about eggs. “For starters, they offer instant portion control,” Cording notes. Meaning: You’re not going to have more eggs than you meant to in one sitting because they come in their own little, perfectly portioned package. They’re also inexpensive and super easy to prepare (looking at you, hard-boiled!). They even come in their own protective carrying case.
And, again, they’re nutritious. “Eggs are one of the most nutrient-dense foods,” says Sonya Angelone, RD, spokeswoman for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.
But how does that all tie into weight loss? And how, exactly, should you be eating eggs if you’re trying to be healthier? Here’s what you need to know.
How many calories do eggs have?
One egg has about 60 calories, six grams of protein, and four grams of fat, making it a pretty low-cal source of protein. Here’s the full nutritional breakdown:
Fat: 6 g
Protein: 4 g
Cholesterol: 165 mg
Carbohydrates: 0 g
Eggs are also packed with nutrients. “An egg is a good source of several B vitamins, and provides meaningful levels of immune-supporting nutrients, like zinc and selenium,” says Samantha Cassetty, MS, RD, a nutrition and wellness expert based in New York City. “Plus, an egg is packed with choline, an important nutrient for brain development and health, and is one of the few food sources of vitamin D.”
Eggs provide a significant amount of essential nutrients and no wasted calories, Angelone says, making them a good choice for achieving your weight-loss goals.
Eggs also give you a nice balance of protein and fat, which “can be helpful with staying full,” Cording says. Pro tip, from Cording: You’ll feel more full when you eat the whole egg versus just egg whites.
Do eggs have any other health and weight-loss benefits?
How much time do you have? For one, when 152 overweight or obese people ate either two eggs in the morning or a bagel for eight weeks, the egg eaters had a 61 percent larger reduction in their BMI, a 65 percent greater amount of weight loss, a 34 percent larger reduction in their waist circumference, and a 16 percent greater reduction in their body fat by the end of the study, per research in the International Journal of Obesity.
Another example of the potential power of eggs: When 43 people ate either a diet filled with high-protein meal replacement shakes with a ratio of 35 percent carbs, 40 percent protein, and 25 percent fat, compared to a diet with the same number of calories (and more standard foods, including fruit and turkey wraps), but with a ratio of 44 percent carbs, 15 percent protein, and 30 percent fat, the higher-protein diet boosted their metabolism, per a study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition late last year. The researchers discovered that people burned an average of 80 calories a day more by swapping more protein into their diet—and also burned more fat than usual. This could translate in the real world by adding more eggs to your diet as a protein source, Cording says.
The vitamin D in eggs also seems to be a biggie, Angelone says. She points to the fact that people with larger waistlines have a higher risk of vitamin D deficiency, according to data presented at the European Society of Endocrinology annual meeting in 2018.
“There’s no magic bullet for weight loss, but eggs are convenient and budget-friendly, they pair well with other healthy foods, like veggies, and they’re typically more satisfying than foods they often replace,” says Cassetty. “We know that eating more whole foods, eating more vegetables, and reducing the amount of added sugars and refined grains you eat can help you feel fuller and produce a calorie deficit needed for weight loss. Eggs fit into this eating pattern well.”
What are the best ways to eat eggs for weight loss?
If weight loss is your goal, you’ll want to eat your eggs without bacon, hash browns, and white bread with butter, Angelone says. “Those calories add up quickly and can derail most any weight-loss efforts,” she points out.
Instead, she recommends poaching or boiling eggs. You can also whip them into a casserole, omelette, or muffin cups with lots of veggies, or incorporate eggs into oatmeal for a more filling dish, Cording says. “Or you could try a slice of whole grain toast mashed with avocado and served with poached eggs and a colorful pepper hash,” Cassetty says. “Meals like this take time for your body to digest, and studies suggest that this eating pattern may help you regulate your appetite and portions better than meals made with refined grains, little to no protein, and a few veggies.”
How many eggs can you have a day?
It really depends. “Although some people can eat them every day, it is important for good health to eat a varied diet and not eat the same thing every day,” Angelone says. But, she adds, if you eat a healthy diet, you can have eggs every day without worrying about cholesterol.
Cording agrees. “If you’re not eating a lot of other animal proteins, it’s totally fine to eat eggs every day or more than that,” she says. Pass the carton.
The bottom line: Overall, experts say that eggs can be a super-smart piece of a healthy diet, and maybe even help you lose weight.
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