As part of a balanced diet, eggs can provide many health benefits. A growing body of research suggests that eating eggs can also support weight loss.
Eggs are rich in protein, low in calories, and they may boost the metabolism.
In this article, we describe how to use eggs to support weight loss, including when to eat them, and how to prepare them.
Why are eggs good for weight loss?
Eggs may help promote weight loss for the following three reasons:
1. Eggs are nutritious and low in calories
A large hard-boiled egg contains 78 calories and several important nutrients, including:
- lutein and zeaxanthin, which are antioxidants that support healthy eyesight
- vitamin D, which promotes bone health and immune function
- choline, which boosts the metabolism and helps with fetal brain development
The simplest way to lose weight is to curb the intake of calories, and adding eggs to the diet may help.
For example, a lunch or dinner of two hard-boiled eggs and a cup of mixed vegetables contains just 274 calories.
However, cooking eggs with oils or butter increases the caloric and fat contents significantly. A tablespoon of olive oil, for example, contains 119 calories.
2. Eggs are rich in protein
Protein aids weight loss because it is extremely filling, and eggs are a good source of protein, with one large egg providing approximately 6 grams (g).
The dietary reference intake for protein is 0.8 g per kilogram of body weight.
This means that :
- the average sedentary man requires 56 g of protein per day
- the average sedentary woman requires 46 g of protein per day
Therefore, two large eggs make up over 25% of an average sedentary woman’s protein needs for the day, and over 20% percent of an average sedentary man’s needs.
Some research indicates that eating a protein-rich breakfast increases a person’s satiety, which is the feeling of fullness. The findings also suggest that a protein-rich breakfast leads to a reduction in caloric intake throughout the rest of the day.
A 2012 study, published in the British Journal of Nutrition, suggests that dietary protein helps to treat obesity and metabolic syndrome, in part because it makes people feel more full.
3. Eggs can boost the metabolism
Eating a high-protein diet can enhance the metabolism through a process called the thermic effect of food.
It happens because the body needs to use extra calories to digest and process nutrients in food.
Carbohydrates and fats also boost the metabolism, but to a lesser extent than protein.
According to the findings of a 2014 study:
- Protein increases a person’s metabolic rate by 15–30 percent.
- Carbohydrates increase the metabolic rate by 5–10 percent.
- Fats increase the metabolic rate by as much as 3 percent.
Therefore, eating eggs and other high-protein foods may help people to burn more calories than eating carbohydrates or fats.
When to eat eggs
Eggs may be especially helpful for weight loss if a person eats them for breakfast.
In 2005, researchers compared the effects of eating an egg-based breakfast with a bagel-based breakfast in overweight female participants.
The calorie counts in both breakfasts were equal, but participants who ate the eggs consumed significantly less food throughout the rest of the day.
Research from 2010 reported the same effect in adult men.
In a study from 2013, adult male participants who ate eggs for breakfast required smaller lunches and seemed to feel more full than those who ate carbohydrate-rich breakfasts.
However, monitoring caloric intake is still important. A 2008 study reported that an egg-based breakfast enhanced weight loss in overweight or obese participants, but only as part of a calorie-controlled diet.
How to eat eggs for weight loss
The key is to incorporate them into a healthful diet.
It seems that eating eggs at breakfast is the best approach, because this may reduce the number of calories a person consumes throughout the rest of the day.
Eggs are nutritious and easy to prepare. People tend to enjoy them:
- made into an omelet
Pair them with vegetables at breakfast for a fiber-rich and filling meal, or add hard-boiled eggs to a salad at lunchtime.
For a hearty dinner, top a quinoa salad and sautéed greens with a poached egg.
How many eggs should a person eat?
Previous dietary guidelines recommended that people limit their egg intake to seven per week.
But due to a lack of scientific evidence, these guidelines changed in 2015.
Recent research suggests that eating one egg per day may reduce the risk of heart disease and stroke. The researchers tracked the effects in almost half a million adults living in China over a 9-year period.
It is important to note, however, that the people in this study were not eating the standard American diet.
Authors of a 2018 study reported that eating at least 12 eggs each week for 3 months did not increase cardiovascular risk factors in participants with diabetes or prediabetes.
It is important to keep in mind that these participants followed a diet designed for weight loss.
These findings suggest that eating a moderate number of eggs may provide health benefits, as long as a person is incorporating the eggs into a balanced diet.
However, egg yolks are high in cholesterol, so the American Heart Association recommends that people at risk of heart disease stick to one or two egg whites a day.
People should also avoid adding animal fat, such as butter or bacon grease, to their egg-based meals.
Eggs are a low-calorie food rich in protein and other nutrients. Eating eggs may support weight loss, especially if a person incorporates them into a calorie-controlled diet.
Research suggests that eggs boost metabolic activity and increase feelings of fullness. Eating an egg-based breakfast may stop a person from consuming extra calories throughout the day.
To promote weight loss, avoid preparing eggs by adding too much fat, from butter or oils, for example.
If a person has a risk of cardiovascular disease, they should consume the whites only and monitor their cholesterol intake carefully.