The Boiled-Egg Diet: Does It Really Work?

process of boiled egg on yellow
The boiled-egg diet calls for eating two to three eggs per day at minimum.iStock

Do you like eggs? Do you?really?like?eggs? Then the boiled-egg diet might appeal to you — especially if you’re looking to lose weight. The truth is that this fad?diet?will not lead to long-term changes that improve your health. Still curious? Read on to learn how this plan works, its pros and cons, and how to follow it safely.

How to Cook It: Hard-Boiled Eggs

There’s more than one way to hard-boil eggs, and the best way is to not boil them at all. Everyday Health staff nutritionist Kelly Kennedy, RDN, shares her recipe for steaming the perfect hard-boiled egg.
How to Cook It: Hard-Boiled Eggs

What Is the Boiled-Egg Diet?

The boiled-egg diet focuses on eggs, particularly hard-boiled eggs. You eat a minimum of two to three eggs per day, and you don’t even have to incorporate them into every meal. Why would someone want to eat this way?

It has a bit of celebrity backing: Nicole Kidman reportedly has used this egg diet.

?Charles Saatchi, the ex-husband of chef Nigella Lawson and the founder of the ad agency Saatchi?& Saatchi,?has also done the boiled-egg diet.

How Does the Boiled-Egg Diet Work?

There are several versions of the boiled-egg diet. We’ll dive into the options below, but the typical version is similar to low-carb Atkins, writes Arielle Chandler in The Boiled Egg Diet. A day’s meals generally look like this:

Breakfast?At least two eggs and one piece of fruit (low-carb vegetable or protein optional)

Lunch?Eggs or lean protein and low-carb vegetables

Dinner?Eggs or lean protein and low-carb vegetables

Is the Boiled-Egg Diet Good for You?

Overall, this diet contains healthy food, but it’s not a balanced, healthy diet. The boiled-egg diet is extremely restrictive, incredibly low-calorie, and faddish. “I don’t think you should be on a diet that requires an obsession with one food,” says Lisa Young, PhD, RDN, the New York City–based author of?Finally Full, Finally Slim.

Eggs, the main staple of the diet, are healthy for you in moderation — just not as your only or main food. The American Heart Association (AHA) says that healthy people can enjoy up to one egg per day, and older people with healthy cholesterol levels can have two.

“Eggs make a great breakfast,” says Dr. Young. “A hard-boiled egg is a nutritious snack, but I think that consuming a variety of foods is a healthier way to eat.”

The good thing about eggs is that they’re high in protein. One large boiled egg offers 78 calories, 6.3 grams (g) of protein, 5.3 g of fat, 0.6 g of carbohydrates, and 0 g?fiber.

“Eggs are a complete protein and contain nutrients like?vitamin D?and choline,” says?Amy Shapiro, RD, the founder and director of Real Nutrition in New York City. A complete protein is one that contains all the essential amino acids in adequate amounts.

Choline is a nutrient that helps produce neurotransmitters that regulate memory and mood, among other functions.

While one small study has linked high-protein breakfasts that contain eggs with helping dieters lose weight, “there’s nothing magical about eggs for weight loss,” says Shapiro.

Side Effects of Eating Mostly Boiled Eggs

This diet is really low-calorie and restricts many high-fiber foods like whole grains and beans. Because of that, you may miss the mark on fiber if you’re not careful. Health experts recommend that men ages 50 and younger get at least 38 g of fiber and women get at least 25 g of fiber.

?Go too low and you may be at risk of?constipation. The risk of constipation is especially high if you eat only eggs, as eggs have 0 grams of fiber.

?Beyond its critical role in digestion, fiber may also help decrease the inflammation associated with chronic disease.

Is It Safe to Follow the Boiled-Egg Diet?

If you have a history of disordered eating, restrictive diets of any kind (including the boiled-egg diet) aren’t for you. Those living with chronic health conditions, especially any that require taking medication, would be wise to check with their healthcare team before making any dramatic changes to their diet — and the boiled-egg diet would count as dramatic.

On the other hand, people who don’t have a history of eating disorders or a current health condition are unlikely to face health issues if they do the boiled-egg diet in the short term. “I consider this a red-carpet diet. It’s only something to try when you want to see results quickly and you’re okay with feeling restricted for a short period of time,” says Shapiro. She notes that this diet takes its cues from the 1960s, a time when “it was considered ladylike and demure to restrict yourself,” she says. But that’s not a healthy headspace to be in.

Plus, there is continuing confusion about whether eggs are good for you, as they contain dietary cholesterol. Each boiled egg has 186 milligrams (mg) of cholesterol.

?One study?concluded that each additional 300 mg of dietary cholesterol consumed per day was associated with a 17 and 18 percent increased risk, respectively, of?cardiovascular disease?and death from any cause.

The 2020–2025 Dietary Guidelines for Americans advise that dietary cholesterol consumption should be “as low as possible without compromising the nutritional adequacy in the diet.” The guidelines note that cholesterol naturally appears in small amounts in some animal foods.

Eggs are also flagged for their?saturated fat?content. Each large egg contains 1.6 g of saturated fat.

?The Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommend capping daily intake of saturated fat at less than 10 percent of calories per day for optimal heart health. For a 2,000-calorie diet, that’s the equivalent of 22 g of saturated fat or less per day.

So are eggs good or bad for you? Taking into account the research as a whole, Shapiro notes that it’s saturated fat in food that?raises cholesterol, not necessarily dietary cholesterol. What’s more, “it’s the?simple carbohydrates?and sugars in foods that increase cholesterol and?triglycerides. I wouldn’t worry about eating hard-boiled eggs daily,” she says.

However, while eggs are not especially high in saturated fat, if that’s the majority of what you’re eating, the saturated fat could add up. A diet high in saturated fat can lead to high LDL, or “bad,” cholesterol, levels, raising your risk of heart disease, notes the AHA.

Individuals with high LDL cholesterol levels should consider reducing sources of both saturated fat and dietary cholesterol. To be safe, if you have any risk factors for heart disease, ask your healthcare team how many eggs are right for you to eat.

What to Eat and Avoid on the Boiled-Egg Diet

According to Chandler’s book, the following foods are recommended on the boiled-egg diet. As for what to avoid, this eating plan is strict: You’re not to stray from this list:

  • Eggs
  • Skinless poultry
  • Fish
  • Lean beef
  • Lamb and pork
  • Low-carb vegetables, including leafy greens like?kale, collard greens, spinach, and mustard greens; zucchini; and bell peppers
  • Low-carb fruits, such as tomatoes, oranges, lemons, limes,?watermelon, strawberries, cantaloupe, peaches, and?grapefruit
  • Calorie-free drinks like plain water and sparkling water
  • Butter
  • Coconut oil
  • Mayonnaise

A 7-Day Sample Menu for the Boiled-Egg Diet

Sample meal plans on the boiled-egg diet might include:

Day 1

Breakfast?Two eggs, spinach, orange

Lunch?Grilled salmon on salad

Snack?None

Dinner?Grilled pork chop with?broccoli

Dessert?None

Day 2

Breakfast?Two eggs, tomatoes, cantaloupe

Lunch?Grilled?chicken?on salad

Snack?None

Dinner?Ahi tuna with kale

Dessert?None

Day 3

Breakfast?Two eggs, orange

Lunch?Sliced steak on salad

Snack?None

Dinner?Baked salmon with mushrooms

Dessert?None

Day 4

Breakfast?Two eggs,?asparagus, strawberries

Lunch?Egg salad on lettuce

Snack?None

Dinner?Beef roast with cauliflower

Dessert?None

Day 5

Breakfast?Two eggs, slice of ham, strawberries

Lunch?Baked cod with asparagus

Snack?None

Dinner?Grilled chicken skewers with bell peppers and onions

Dessert?None

Day 6

Breakfast?Two eggs, cantaloupe

Lunch?Egg salad on lettuce

Snack?None

Dinner?Mahi-mahi with green beans

Dessert?None

Day 7

Breakfast?Two eggs, watermelon

Lunch?Grilled salmon on salad

Snack?None

Dinner?Pork chop with bok choy

Dessert?None

Other Versions of the Egg Diet

You don’t have to stick to the traditional boiled-egg diet. If you’d like to try a twist on the original, some alternative versions include an egg-and-grapefruit option (a half a grapefruit is added to each meal) and the wine-and-egg diet.

A Final Word on the Boiled-Egg Diet

The boiled-egg diet is a?fad diet?that requires eating mostly eggs, some fruit, nonstarchy vegetables, lean protein, and some fat, and it promises to help you lose weight. While cutting calories may initially lead to weight loss, it’s unlikely that you’ll stick to this way of eating, experts say. In addition, if you are pregnant or breastfeeding, or if you have a history of an?eating disorder, you should skip a faddish, restrictive diet.

Most people will benefit from a lifestyle change that focuses on more of a whole-food, plant-based diet like the Mediterranean diet — which has an array of research-backed benefits.

“If you want to do [the boiled-egg diet] as a quick fix, you might lose a lot of?water weight?initially, but you can’t live that way forever,” says Young. “These types of diets can lead to overeating and a lot of frustration later.”

Editorial Sources and Fact-Checking

Everyday Health follows strict sourcing guidelines to ensure the accuracy of its content, outlined in our editorial policy. We use only trustworthy sources, including peer-reviewed studies, board-certified medical experts, patients with lived experience, and information from top institutions.

Sources

  1. Stromsodd J. Nicole Kidman’s Hard Boiled Egg Diet for Cold Mountain. Your Next Shoes. January 16, 2020.
  2. Mitchelson T. Cracking Up: Our Hard-Boiled Volunteer Tries Charles Saatchi’s Egg-Only Diet. Daily Mail. October 3, 2008.
  3. Chandler A. The Boiled Egg Diet: The Easy, Fast Way to Weight Loss! Amazon. 2023.
  4. Merschel M. Here’s the Latest on Dietary Cholesterol and How It Fits in With a Healthy Diet. American Heart Association. August 25, 2023.
  5. Egg, Whole, Cooked, Hard-Boiled. U.S. Department of Agriculture. April 1, 2019.
  6. Protein. U.S. Food and Drug Administration. October 2021.
  7. Choline. National Institutes of Health Office of Dietary Supplements. June 2, 2022.
  8. Vander Wal JS et al. Egg Breakfast Enhances Weight Loss. International Journal of Obesity. October 2008.
  9. Dietary Fiber: Essential for a Healthy Diet. Mayo Clinic. November 4, 2022.
  10. Constipation: Symptoms and Causes. Mayo Clinic. October 20, 2023.
  11. Rath L. Can Increasing Fiber Reduce Inflammation? Arthritis Foundation.
  12. Zhong VW et al. Associations of Dietary Cholesterol or Egg Consumption With Incident Cardiovascular Disease and Mortality. JAMA. March 19, 2019.
  13. Dietary Guidelines for Americans, 2020–2025. U.S. Department of Agriculture. December 2020.
  14. Saturated Fat. American Heart Association. November 1, 2021.
  15. Egg and Grapefruit Diet Menu. Lose-Weight-With-Us.com.
  16. McMartin D. I Tried That Viral Wine and Egg Diet From Vogue. I Have So Much to Tell You! The Kitchn. December 8, 2022.
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