Want to set yourself up for huge weight-loss success? One top doctor has a suggestion that’s highly effective, surprisingly cheap and extremely easy: “Eat eggs as your first meal of the day,” urges Columbia University-trained nutrition expert Fred Pescatore, MD. Sure, it sounds too simple to make much difference at all — but there’s actually a lot of science behind eggs for weight loss, including a recent study that show eggs lead to impressive waist shrinking. Scientists credit eggs’ jackpot of nutrients, “which work synergistically to lower appetite and stimulate fat loss in multiple ways,” notes Dr. Pescatore. Kelly Anstead backs him up. The Ohio nurse, 60, says eggs played a pivotal role in helping her shed 150 pounds after a lifetime of diet failures. Read on for more of Kelly’s story and to find out how eggs can help you lose weight and feel great.
Will eating eggs for weight loss raise cholesterol?
Before we go any further, here’s good news: The latest research shows cholesterol in food doesn’t raise cholesterol in the blood. In fact, a Michigan State University study found that people eating four or more eggs per day actually have lower levels of blood cholesterol than those who skip eggs. Better yet, a 2018 study found evidence that frequent egg consumption increases levels of 24 different blood compounds proven to protect the heart. “It’s absolutely safe to have two to three eggs a day,” says Dr. Pescatore, who shares advice at DrPescatore.com. “And I find them critical for losing weight and keeping it off.”
4 science-backed ways eggs speed weight loss
For those skeptical about just how much eggs can help: Multiple studies show an egg breakfast enhances weight loss, and it even helps get rid of stubborn age-related fat. The difference is biggest when folks switch from a grain-based breakfast like bagels or pancakes to an egg-based morning meal. One study even found the switch alone is enough to trigger significantly faster fat loss.
How is that even possible? Well, each egg (which contains 60-80 calories apiece) boasts up to 6 grams of high-quality protein plus a long list of nutrients that do amazing things, including omega-3 fatty acids, lutein, choline, potassium and vitamin A. And as it turns out, the combined impact of these nutrients can be very slimming. Begin enjoying a healthy egg breakfast each day and you can expect benefits like the following:
1. Eggs help turn off hunger
While sugary or starchy meals cause fattening and hunger-inducing blood-sugar spikes and crashes, eggs have the opposite effect. “You get a mix of protein, fat and nutrients like lecithin and folate that help keep blood sugar down, hold food in your system and trigger a high level of satiety that lasts for hours,” says Dr. Pescatore. Studies show the effect is so powerful, folks who have an egg breakfast automatically reduce food consumption, in some cases by over 1,000 calories per day.
2. Eggs help reduce production of belly-fattening hormones
The mix of nutrients in eggs is very good at stabilizing blood sugar, a factor that Dr. Pescatore says not only helps with hunger and cravings, but also leads to lower levels of insulin, a hormone that stores excess sugar as belly fat. He notes that chronically high insulin levels — a concern for anyone with metabolic syndrome, prediabetes or type-2 diabetes — will also block fat burning of stored fat. How much do eggs lower blood sugar? Enough that one study found frequently eating eggs cuts risk of diabetes by up to 40%.
3. Eggs boost fat burn 24/7
Compared to high-carb and high-fat foods, protein makes the body work harder during digestion, temporarily increasing metabolism by up to 900% more than, say, bagels or high-fat coffee drink.
Dr. Pescatore notes that protein also provides the body with amino acids, the building blocks our systems need to maintain and create more metabolism-boosting muscle. This keeps metabolism higher around the clock.
Also worth noting: If we skimp on protein at breakfast, we’re at a serious disadvantage all day. Why? “We can only utilize 25 to 35 grams of protein per sitting, so if we miss taking in protein in the morning, we’re not able to make up for it later,” notes Lauren Harris-Pincus, MS, RDN, author of The Protein-Packed Breakfast Club. So enjoying eggs for breakfast “will absolutely keep metabolism up all day,” notes the doc.
4. Eggs stimulate rapid fat loss
Compared to carbs, eggs boast up to 85% more of the amino acid leucine. They also have up to 20% more than other protein sources. That’s a big deal because leucine stimulates healthier thyroid function. It also “increases the release of fat from fat cells and increases the burning of fat in muscle cells,” says University of Tennessee nutrition researcher Michael Zemel, PhD.
Also worth noting: Eggs are a top source of choline, a nutrient scientifically linked to good moods and rapid weight loss.
How to eat eggs for weight loss
Now, as you might guess, not all egg breakfasts are created equal. To maximize results, Dr. Pescatore recommends two to three eggs paired with optional veggies, low-sugar fruit, lean protein and/or good fat. To avoid excess blood sugar and calories, limit starch and stick to healthy, natural options like oats and quinoa. “It’ll feel easy to stick with, but the benefits steadily add up,” says the doc. For many of us, he adds, having eggs every morning will ultimately work better than going on a crazy-strict diet.
Eggs for weight loss success story: Dawn Fuhrman
When Dawn Fuhrman was diagnosed with fibromyalgia, she was relieved to be put on meds that alleviated scary stroke-like symptoms. “But they made me gain 30 pounds in two months, and I was already bigger to start with,” recalls the Ohio mom, 43.
Desperate to restore her health, she tried adding exercise and cutting out gluten. She had some luck, but still didn’t feel her best. Discussing her diet with her doctor, Dawn admitted she was a breakfast skipper who tended to go overboard at lunch and dinner. “My doctor said to really start losing, I needed breakfast and protein.” So she bought a pack of hard-boiled eggs to eat in the morning and quickly realized how much they helped.
Eggs were soon a key part of Dawn’s daily regimen — egg scrambles, egg-and-sausage hash, gluten-free egg wraps. They helped so much, she had them at other sittings too. She even has breakfast-for-dinner a few times a week. “I used to always be hungry, and when I eat a lot of eggs, I almost never am. It gives me energy too.”
Dawn, who joined a TOPS group for support (learn more at TOPS.org), tracked her intake and had no trouble keeping portions moderate. She shed 76 pounds in 10 months, her chronic tiredness lifting. “A year ago, I thought there was no way I could change,” she says. “But little steps like eating eggs for breakfast can take you a long way!”
Eggs for weight loss before and after: Kelly Anstead, 60
A lover of rollercoasters and little ones, Kelly Anstead was miserable at 333 pounds. “I was too big to fit on rides and had no lap to hold babies on,” recalls the Ohio nurse, 60. “I wanted more energy for grandkids and the fun stuff in life.” After yo-yo dieting for years, she heard about Noom. “I’d never tried a mindful approach and thought it might be the missing piece for me.”
In addition to tracking her choices and portions, Kelly was encouraged to pay attention to her body and find the specific foods that helped her feel content without overeating. It led her to eggs. “Before, I only ate them if we went out to breakfast,” she recalls. But experimenting with them, she realized they had a big impact. She began eating them every morning — hard-boiled, atop avocado toast, in Starbucks-style egg bites. “I enjoy them, and they keep me feel full for a long time,” says Kelly, who also snacks on eggs.
The scale steadily went down — 90 pounds the first nine months. Today, four years later, Kelly, 60, is maintaining a 150-pound loss and is weaning off blood-pressure meds. She still eats eggs daily and says they’re a tool that helped her realize, “You don’t have to overeat to enjoy life!”
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Fun meal ideas using eggs for weight loss
To use eggs to speed to your happy weight, simply enjoy them as part of a healthy breakfast. You don’t have to stress over what you eat later in the day, but remember that eggs work in part by killing hunger — so aim to pay attention and avoid overeating out of habit. Simple scrambled or fried eggs are a great and tasty choice. But if you’re craving something that’s still healthy but also a little unexpected, we’ve got suggestions to inspire you.
Eggs & Oats: For a savory cereal twist, prepare oatmeal with broth and top with fried eggs, seasonings and optional hot sauce.
Healthy Egg Salad: Mix 2 Tbs Greek yogurt, ½ tsp, Dijon mustard, dash salt and pepper. Add 2 chopped hard-cooked eggs and celery to taste.
Quick BLT Bites: Sandwich a little bacon, lettuce, tomato and optional mayo and cheese between hard-cooked egg halves.
Bonus recipe: Easy Egg Bread
This no-fuss recipe is tasty toasted with your favorite healthy toppings. It contains two eggs per serving.
- 8 eggs
- 8 oz. cream cheese, at room temp
- 4 Tbs. butter, melted
- 6 Tbs. coconut flour
- 1 tsp. baking powder
- 1 tsp. salt
- In a blender, blitz all ingredients to make a smooth batter.
- Pour batter into a parchment-lined loaf pan.
- Bake at 350°F until puffed and set, about 45 minutes. Let cool completely before slicing (it will deflate a bit). Store in the fridge. Serves 4
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This content is not a substitute for professional medical advice or diagnosis. Always consult your physician before pursuing any treatment plan.
A version of this article originally appeared in our print magazine, Woman’s World.