You’ve probably been told you should steer away from the “All-American” breakfast if you’re on any kind of diet. And understandably so. While, no, the buttery toast, fried potatoes, and sausage and bacon don’t gel with a weight loss meal plan, eggs themselves are not the problem. Quite the opposite is true, actually. In fact, when eaten the right way, eggs could even boost your weight loss success.
We’ve asked dietitians to give us the lowdown on why eating eggs can be part of a balanced diet that may also include losing a few inches around your waist.
Egg Yolks Contain a Nutrient Essential to Metabolism
Choline, only found in the yolk of eggs (so you have to eat the whole egg) is a major source of nutrition that we may be neglecting in our normal diet, dieticians say. “The body can synthesize a small amount of this nutrient, but not enough to meet its needs,” explains Allison Knott, MS, RDN, CSSD, a registered dietitian based in Brooklyn, NY, so you need to load up on foods like eggs to ensure you have the right levels. “Choline has a part in many functions within the body including metabolism, nerve function, and brain development,” Knott says.
“One large egg, with the yolk, supplies about 145 milligrams choline, or more than one-quarter of the Daily Value of 550 milligrams,” says Lauren Harris-Pincus, MS, RDN, founder of NutritionStarringYou.com and author of The Protein-Packed Breakfast Club so it’s not a bad idea at all to make eggs part of your daily routine. One Journal of Human Kinetics study even reported that supplementing your diet with choline contributed to a lower body mass in female athletes and was thought to have contributed to positive athletic performance as well.
Vitamin D in the Yolk Can Be a Belly Fat Buster
“Egg yolks are also a source of Vitamin D, a nutrient that plays a role in bone health and immunity. Vitamin D is not found naturally in many foods and 100 percent of the Vitamin D in eggs is found in the yolk, so when you skip the yolk, you also miss out on an important dietary source of Vitamin D,” says Knott. A 2018 study found a correlation between excess belly fat and Vitamin D deficiency in overweight individuals and concluded that healthy levels of Vitamin D in the diet could potentially reduce ab fat.
A Diet High in Protein Can Help You Lose Weight
It’s no surprise that eggs are a healthful source of protein, but high protein diets can actually encourage weight loss, experts say. “One large egg has about 6 grams of high-quality protein, making them a good choice as part of an eating pattern that supports a healthy weight,” Knott says. Studies have also shown that protein, in moderation, of course, can keep the metabolism moving along quickly, energy levels high, and keep you fuller for longer: all factors in weight control.
Consuming Fats is Not What Makes You Gain Pounds
Eggs, even the full yolk, are lower in fat than you might think. “One large egg has about 5 grams of fat, which is less than 10 percent of the total fat needs per day for someone consuming 2,000 calories per day,” says Knott. Plus, recent research published in the journal Diabetes and Endocrinology has proven that consuming fats is not the enemy. In fact, adhering to a high-fat Mediterranean diet actually can help you maintain a lower body weight.
Brain Food Can Help the Whole Body
The choline found in eggs is imperative to brain development, especially before birth and in early childhood, Pincus states, but another nutrient found in eggs, lutein, has some hidden brain power as well. “It’s also present in the brain and has been linked to optimal cognition in older adults and academic performance in children,” says Amanda Baker Lemein, MS, RD, LDN, a registered dietician in Chicago.
And there could be a connection between healthy brain function and maintaining a healthy weight, according to Harvard Health, since eating processed, sugary foods (exactly what make you gain weight) could be detrimental to brain health and even contribute to worse anxiety or other mental health issues.
They Have Nutrients That Can Help the Thyroid Function Better
Iodine and selenium, both found in substantial amounts in eggs, are crucial to synthesize thyroid hormones, science has shown. And the thyroid is an organ key to weight management, as it regulates your body’s metabolism, according to the American Thyroid Association.
Good Mood = Dropped Pounds
When it comes to not only brain health but positive mood, choline strikes again as the key nutrient. “Choline is involved in producing cells dealing with memory, mood, muscle control and other brain functions,” Artigues says. Studies suggest that mood disorders like anxiety and depression, appear to be connected to unhealthy weight and unhealthy metabolism, so good mental health habits (which is also connected very closely to gut health), including a healthy diet, could influence metabolism in a positive way.
They Energize You Before or After Exercise
“Eggs are a great source of refuel post-exercise, as they are a lean source of protein which is important to help repair and rebuild muscles post-workout,” Lemein states. If you don’t get enough protein right around the time of a workout, your muscles can suffer, research demonstrates; one study had athletes refuel with 25 grams of protein, which would mean about 3 eggs, and some additional nuts or other protein source in addition. And, as we all know, exercise is a major piece of the puzzle in maintaining a healthy weight.
Your Metabolism Can Get a Boost
“One egg has all 9 essential amino acids,” Lemein says, which play a key role in energy metabolism, and will be essential to getting you through your workout as well. Amino acids, found within proteins, are something we can’t live without and fuel basically all our cells in processing protein and churning that out into energy. Weight gain and loss is a major metabolic process that will ultimately be dependent on the presence of amino acids.
They’re a Low-Calorie Food
If you happen to be counting calories, you can count eggs in because they’re a solid, filling low-cal food. (Each large egg has only about 72 calories) “As you reduce calorie intake to lose weight, you cannot miss out on protein and vital vitamins and nutrients, and eggs are a great way to ensure you still get these,” Artigues says. And they probably will fit right into your weight loss regime as well. “As far as weight goes, since eggs contain about 6 grams of protein each and the necessary fat and vitamins the body needs, they help people stay satisfied or fuller longer, which may help decrease overall calorie intake,” Artigues says.
Pairing Protein and Fat is Key
To keep yourself full for as long as possible, one of the greatest challenges of dieting, the combo of fat and protein is your go-to, dieticians say. “Eggs are a source of fat and protein, which are both nutrients that contribute to satiety,” Knott says. “When including foods to aid in weight loss or maintenance, I recommend pairing food groups to increase satisfaction,” she says. Lemein agrees and is apt to prescribe this combination of healthy fat and protein to her patients as well. “Protein takes longest for our bodies to break down, but fat delays gastric emptying, and therefore, the combination of the two helps keep us fuller for longer,” Lemein adds. “Staying full between meals is essential for weight loss as it cuts down on mindless snacking and helps prevent feelings of deprivation.”
Eggs Are Rich in Antioxidants
Antioxidants like lutein and zeaxanthin are present in egg yolks, two carotenoids that studies show accumulate in our retinas and could encourage proper eye function. Antioxidants, in general, cannot be proven to necessarily spur weight loss, but they save body cells by protecting them from damage by harmful chemicals called free radicals, and have been said to reduce the risk for heart disease and certain types of cancers. The same high-antioxidants foods: fruits like blueberries and strawberries, and vegetables like tomatoes and broccoli, are the same foods that contribute to healthy weight management as well.
They Have No Sugar Content
Unlike many other breakfast foods you may turn to on a regular basis, including even “healthy” cereals, yogurt, granolas, and toasts, eggs are virtually sugar-free. Research has proven sugar to be a culprit of weight and fat gain, and a major cause of obesity in the U.S., not to mention a probable cause of high blood pressure and type 2 Diabetes. The World Health Organization has recommended that both adults and children consume no more than 25 grams of added sugar per day, so an egg-filled breakfast (or lunch or dinner) is a great place to start.
Eating Eggs Can Keep Your Blood Sugar Levels Stable
Because eggs have basically no carbs, they can help keep glucose levels in the blood normal, especially in individuals with Type 2 Diabetes, studies show, keeping you satisfied longer after your meal. (Spikes in blood sugar after eating carbs can cause a crash later on, causing you to potentially have more food cravings and stray from your healthy diet). Eggs are low on the glycemic index as well, making them a perfect selection for a low-carb diet.
Eggs Are the Perfect Swap for Carbs at Breakfast
A study published in the International Journal of Obesity reported that study participants who ate a consistent breakfast of eggs saw results of a 34 percent decrease in inches off their waist and a 16 percent decrease in body fat, in comparison to study participants who consistently ate bagels for breakfast instead. “People who consume eggs for their morning meal versus a higher-carb breakfast like a bagel tend to show less hunger, greater satiety, and lower calorie consumption later in the day,” Pincus says, which is a solid head start to weight loss.
They’re One of the Most Versatile Foods
One of the best things about eggs is that you can eat them at any point during the day, for breakfast, lunch, or dinner. “Eggs can be tailored to any taste. They are easy to add to salads, include in sandwiches, and have for every meal of the day,” Lemein says. They can adhere a number of diet plans and weight loss programs, including gluten-free, low-carb, Whole 30, and the Keto diet, making shedding a few pounds on the scale a whole lot easier.
They Are An Inexpensive Weight Loss Food
Though egg prices have risen within the past year, they are still averaging at just over $1.10 a dozen in the U.S in 2018. If you adhere to dietitians’ recommendations of 2 to 3 eggs per day, you can get 4 to 6 high-protein meals out of the one dozen, which is a huge difference from the portions offered by many expensive nutrition plans, meal kits, and diet programs. Making a weight-loss-promoting diet cheaper is just another reason why eggs are a great weight loss food.
Eggs Are Essential to the Liver
It’s no coincidence that eggs may have been your go-to hangover cure breakfast, because choline, the superhero nutrient in eggs, can help liver cells reboot and is imperative to liver function, research shows. Dieticians agree that liver metabolism can’t happen without choline, and a healthy liver adds to a healthy fat-melting metabolism in general.
They Don’t Affect Your Risk For Heart Disease or Stroke
The myth of eggs being harmful to your cholesterol levels and therefore your heart health (a risk many overweight people run) has been disproven by science, and dietitians are on the same page. “The available evidence indicates that eggs, when consumed as part of an overall healthy diet pattern, do not affect risk factors for cardiometabolic disease,” Pincus says.
And keeping eggs in your weekly food rotation can even keep levels of a certain fat in the bloodstream that can be potentially harmful in high amounts, Artigues says. “Consuming 1 to 2 whole eggs a day does not appear to negatively affect one’s blood cholesterol level or heart disease risk factors. In fact, Omega 3-enriched eggs may even help lower Triglyceride levels,” she explains. That’s great news as high triglyceride levels are a common health issue facing many overweight Americans.
Eggs Make it Easier to Eat More Veggies
While being healthy themselves—”eggs are minimally processed source of fat, protein and other vitamins”—Sara Artigues, RD, a nutritionist and trainer at All-Inclusive Health, a personal training and nutrition planning facility in New Orleans tells us that having eggs in our diet will also help us eat more vegetables. (Think: scrambled eggs and omelets.) A Journal of the American Dietetic Association study found that adding more vegetables to your diet has been linked to increased weight loss. Besdies starting your day with a veggie-rich omelet, you can also buy some of these 14 Grocery Products to Sneak More Veggies into Your Diet.