Steak And Eggs Diet: A Fashion Trend Or A Real Solution?
If you are looking to lose weight and gain muscle, there are countless eating plans out there that promise to give you the best results within the shortest time possible. One of these numerous diets is the steak and eggs diet. It promises to not only help with weight loss, but also enable you to achieve your bodybuilding goals. However, is this true? Can an eating plan of just steak and eggs be healthy for you? Can you truly lose weight after trying the steak and eggs diet for a couple of days or even a month? Will a steak and eggs diet bodybuilding plan show results?
What is the steak and eggs diet?
This might honestly be the simplest type of diet to ever exist. This eating plan was created by American professional bodybuilder, fitness guru, and personal trainer Vince Gironda. According to Vince, the steak and eggs diet was supposed to take us back to how our ancestors used to eat. They mostly ate meat and eggs, without any vegetables and no carbohydrates, especially highly processed and refined carbs.
A point to note is that the steak and eggs diet is not the same as the carnivore diet, despite their similarities. The carnivore diet, like the steak and eggs eating plan, excludes fruits, vegetables, legumes, grains, nuts, and seeds. However, the carnivore diet allows the consumption of fish, animal products, and some dairy products, food that cannot be eaten on the eggs and steak diet (3).
How to do the steak and eggs diet
Those who don’t like counting macros or calorie intake per day will love this eating plan. The rules are quite simple. You have to consume steak and eggs twice a day and drink a lot of water. While you are not required to count any calories ingested, you are advised to eat within your limits.
Since you are only eating twice a day, at lunch and dinner, you are there practicing some form of intermittent fasting, which has its own benefits concerning weight loss. It is important to note that there are no carbs, other animal products, or vegetables on this diet – just steak, eggs, and water for whatever period you choose to follow this eating plan.
How much to eat per day?
When it comes to steak and eggs diet for females and males, this eating plan does not specify how much you should eat. And since calorie counting is discouraged, it can be hard to gauge how much you eat in a day.
However, some say that you should have 1 pound (about 0.5 kg) of steak a day and four to six eggs per meal. Since generally women require less food than men, the steak and eggs diet for males could be 0.5 kg meat and 6 eggs per meal – which equals to 1 kg meat and 12 eggs a day.
While the steak and eggs diet for females could be0.5 kg steak and 4 eggs per meal, it is best to remember that all bodies are different. If this is too much for you, then feel free to reduce the amount.
Health benefits of the steak and eggs diet
On this part, we are going to look at the benefits of consuming eggs and meat separately.
Health benefits of adding eggs to your diet
They are nutritious
One large (weighing about 50 g) whole boiled or poached egg has the following minerals and vitamins (14):
- Calcium – 28 mg
- Magnesium – 6 mg
- Phosphorus – 98.5 mg
- Potassium – 68.5 mg
- Folate – 17.5 ug
- Vitamin A – 79.5
It also has trace amounts of Vitamins B-12, E, K, and B-6. All these nutrients and other minerals make eggs good for the eyes (lutein and zeaxanthin), immunity (vitamin A, vitamin B-12, and selenium), brain, nerves and more. They also promote healthy skin and prevent the breakdown of body tissues.
Low in calories
When trying to lose weight, reducing the number of calories you consume can help you achieve this goal. Low-calorie foods like eggs should be high on your grocery shopping list.
One large 50 g egg has (14):
- Calories – 71
- Protein – 6.24 g
- Carbohydrates – 0.36 g
- Fats – 4.72
- Water – 37.8 g
Eggs are good for the heart
Some people are scared to consume eggs because they are relatively high in cholesterol. High levels of LDL cholesterol aka ‘bad cholesterol’ in the body can lead to life-threatening issues such as heart attacks, stroke, and other cardiovascular diseases.
However, according to Harvard Medical School, for most people, an egg a day will not lead to a spike in your bad cholesterol levels (5). It is also important to note that it is our liver and not the food that produces large amounts of cholesterol in the body.
While eggs do not increase the levels of LDL cholesterol, consistently eating them could lead to an increase in HDL cholesterol, aka good cholesterol. In 1994, a clinical trial was done where 24 healthy subjects, male and female, added 2 boiled eggs to their diet for 6 weeks. After the trial, their HDL cholesterol increased by 10% (13).
High levels of this good cholesterol help in the removal of other forms of cholesterol from your bloodstream. They are transported to the liver where they are broken down. It also lowers the risk of cardiovascular diseases (17).
They are high on protein
Eggs are some of the most protein-rich foods in the world. Increasing protein intake through your diet contributes to greater strength and muscle mass gains, especially when combined with resistance exercises. It also allows for greater muscle mass preservation when consumed during periods of negative energy balance – when you consume less energy than you burn. Proteins also limit age-related muscle loss, which usually affects older men and women (10).
Packed with Amino acids
There are 21 amino acids that your body needs to use to build its proteins. However, of these 21, there are 9 that your body cannot produce on its own. These 9 essential amino acids can all be found in a single egg (1).
These essential amino acids (15):
- Stimulate muscle growth and regeneration.
- Facilitate muscle repair, help regulate blood sugar levels, prompt wound healing, and produce growth hormones.
- Enable protein synthesis, hormone and enzyme production, and the absorption of calcium.
- Help with digestion and may boost a better sleep-wake cycle.
- Boost your metabolism, tissue growth, and helps detoxify your body.
- Increase the absorption of zinc and selenium.
They keep you fuller for longer
As stated above, eggs are full of proteins, and of all the macronutrients (carbs, fat, and protein), the latter are the most filling, a feeling of satiety keeps you from overeating or snacking, which reduces your calorie intake resulting in weight loss.
In a controlled trial in 2015, subjects would either eat an egg or a bagel at breakfast. At lunchtime on days where they ate eggs, the subjects felt less hungry and thus consumed lesser calories (24). Another trial conducted in 2008 showed that after 8 weeks participants who ate eggs instead of simple carbs at breakfast had a reduced BMI, lost weight, reduced overall body fat percentage, and had smaller waists (12).
Health effects of eating beef
In recent years, meat has gotten a bad reputation, and many people have started turning to meat substitutes. Some of those who still consume meat, usually have white meat (fish, chicken, and turkey breast), and not red meat. But is red meat as bad as people make it out to be?
Nutrition facts of 100 g raw ground beef – 100% lean (16):
- Calories – 247
- Protein – 17.44 g
- Fats – 19.07 g
- Carbohydrates – 0 g
- Calcium – 17 mg
- Phosphorus – 160 mg
- Potassium – 274 mg
Nutrition facts of 100 g of raw ground beef – 97% lean / 3% fat (7):
- Calories – 121
- Protein – 21.98 g
- Fats – 3 g
- Carbohydrates – 0 g
- Calcium – 8 mg
- Phosphorus – 203 mg
- Potassium – 357 mg
Steak is a complete protein
Just like eggs, and unlike plant-derived protein, meat is also considered a complete protein, because they contain all of the essential amino acids that our bodies need to function effectively (4).
Conjugated linoleic acid
Many people who refuse to eat meat (excluding those who do not consume it for ethical reasons), do so because of the fat found in steak and other cuts of beef. While it is true that beef is made up of both saturated and monounsaturated fat, we tend to forget about conjugated linoleic acid (CLA).
CLA is a type of polyunsaturated omega-6 fatty acid. While it can be considered as a trans-fat, it is very different from most processed trans-fats. When consumed in smaller amounts, this conjugated linoleic acid could lower the risk of heart disease and type 2 diabetes.
Studies of this acid on animals have shown that it could help fight cancer and reduce body fat by reducing food intake, increasing fat burning, stimulating fat breakdown, and inhibiting fat production. However, clinical trials in humans have produced mixed results on this matter (9).
Rich source of iron
The health benefits of iron include treating anaemia, boosting the production of haemoglobin, reducing fatigue, boosting immunity, improving sleep and concentration, and improving muscle endurance by repairing damaged muscles (23).
Iron is especially important to women who menstruate every month. Iron deficiency could lead to anaemia in women, especially during this time of the month.
Steak and eggs diet bodybuilding: How does it work
As we have seen from the nutrition facts above, both steak and eggs are incredible protein powerhouses. When combined in a meal, the amount of protein consumed becomes even higher. When it comes to bodybuilding and macronutrients, protein is the most important of all three. Here is how and why (2):
- A steak and eggs diet gives your body enough protein to build and repair cells, including the muscle cells damaged when exercising.
- This eating plan is high in different amino acids. When these amino acids are consumed from a protein source (like meat and eggs), they can increase muscle protein synthesis. Muscle protein synthesis is the process in which protein is produced to repair muscle damage caused by intense exercise.
- For you to remain cut, you are supposed to watch how many calories you eat in a day. On a steak and eggs diet, you are less likely to do this since proteins give the feeling of satiety which prevents you from overeating.
- A high-protein diet prevents muscle loss. The same way that consuming proteins and working out builds muscle mass and strength is the same way that a steak and egg diet helps prevent muscle loss. Muscle loss is caused by lack of physical activity for an extended period of time, poor nutrition, advanced age, and several medical and neurological conditions (26).
The secret behind steak and eggs diet weight loss results
If you are wondering why does the steak and eggs diet work for weight loss, the answer goes back to protein. This macronutrient does not just work for persons looking to gain muscle but also for those looking to shed some unwanted pounds.
Protein induces satiety
Protein is the most effective macronutrient at providing a satiating effect. Thus, a high protein diet can help to regulate food intake, promoting body weight loss and body weight maintenance thereafter (23). When you are not eating as much as you normally would, you automatically start losing weight.
For protein to be turned into energy, it requires the body to use more effort to break it down as compared to calories ingested from fats or carbs.
Metabolism is the process by which your body converts food and drink into energy. As stated above, protein requires more effort from your body for it to be digested. Thus a steak and egg diet could boost your metabolism, making your body burn up to 100 calories more a day (19).
This is the metabolic state in which fat becomes the main source of fuel for the body. It occurs when there is limited access to glucose, aka blood sugar, which is the preferred fuel source for many cells in the body.
Because the steak and eggs diet is a zero carbohydrate eating plan, your body will automatically start going into ketosis, using stored fat as energy since you are not providing it with carbohydrates.
Loss of water weight
As previously mentioned, this eating plan requires you to drink a lot of water. You could also have some coffee and tea, but only if they are unsweetened. Drinking water can help with weight loss because water helps metabolize stored fat or carbohydrates, increases calorie burning, and helps suppress your appetite (8).
What are some steak and eggs diet side effects?
Despite the numerous positive side effects of beef and eggs, eating too much of anything can have its negative side effects. Since the steak and eggs diet require you to eat nothing but these foods for an extended period, here are some side effects that you might start experiencing:
Increased risk of heart disease
Eating one egg a day, seven times a week will not put a healthy person at a risk of heart disease. In fact, the very opposite might happen due to an increase in HDL, aka good cholesterol. However, this benefit does not extend to people struggling with diabetes
For them, an egg a day could increase the risk of heart disease. Since the steak and egg diet requires you to consume more than one egg for each meal, then the risk of cardiovascular diseases in people with diabetes becomes even greater (11).
While eggs are generally safe for the heart, steak is not. Over the years, steak and other red meat have been linked to an increased risk of heart disease due to saturated fat. Trans fats as well as saturated fats, can increase cholesterol levels which increase your risk of heart disease. The risk of this could be lowered by choosing leaner cuts of meat.
May increase the risk of diabetes
Some research states that consuming too many eggs could put you at risk of diabetes. However, more research is needed on this front.
May increase your risk of cancer
Red meats such as beef, lamb and pork have been classified as a ‘probable’ cause of cancer (20). While they are not the root cause of it, some components found in red meat could trigger certain types of cancer. In red meats, such as steak, some possible factors include heme iron and heterocyclic amines (6).
These deficiencies occur when the body doesn’t absorb or get enough minerals and vitamins from food. Since the steak and eggs diet cuts out all food except the two it is named after, it puts you at a high risk of this deficiency, especially if you follow it for a long time. Nutrient deficiencies lead to digestive problems, skin disorders, stunted or defective bone growth, and even neurological problems like dementia (21).
Steak and eggs diet: How long should you follow it?
Since this is not a science-based diet and thus it has no scientific backing behind it, we suggest that you do not try this eating plan at all. However, if you are truly insistent on trying, some people have followed this diet for as long as 14 days, one month and some to a full year. Again, we do not encourage you to try this as there are better ways to lose weight and build muscle, none of them involving such extremes.
Plus this diet can be quite boring. Remember that this eating plan discourages the use of oil, salt and condiments. If this does not bother you then eating the same meal several weeks on end could prove to be quite a challenge.
Instead of following what looks to be a fad diet, opt for a healthier means of weight loss. This includes working out for at least 30 minutes each day and reducing your normal energy intake by 500 to 1000 calories a day to lose about 1 pound per week.
If you are unsure about how to form healthier eating habits, remember that a healthy diet (18):
- Limits saturated and trans fats, sodium, and added sugars. No sodas, energy drinks and carbonated drinks, and no junk food.
- Controls portion sizes. Half your plate should be covered in vegetables while the other half should be divided between starchy food and protein.
- Includes lean meats, poultry, fish, beans, eggs, and nuts. Steak and eggs are not your only protein source in this world.
- Must include vegetables, fruits, whole grains. If you want to consume dairy, look for fat-free or low-fat dairy products.
How much weight loss on steak and eggs diet?
Since there is no scientific research into this steak and eggs diet, it is hard to say how much weight you could lose on the steak and eggs diet without exercise, or even while still working out. However, it is best to remember that a healthy and sustainable weight loss is a gradual and steady one that allows you to lose half a kg to 1 kilogram a week.
Any faster than this could lead to weight loss side effects such as menstrual irregularities in women, headaches, constipation or diarrhea, fatigue, mood swings, dizziness, gallstones, and more (22).
What should you eat on the steak and eggs diet cheat day?
You can have one cheat day on this eating plan. The cheat day comes every fifth or sixth day, depending on your preference. This is the one day where you can refill on your carbohydrate intake for the week. You are allowed to have any kind of protein as well as vegetables and carbs that you had been craving.
How often to workout while on steak and eggs diet?
Again since there are no studies behind this diet, we cannot say how often you should or how safe it would be to work out on the steak and eggs diet plan. However, since you are eating a high amount of protein and a moderate amount of fat, it is a good idea to incorporate some exercises into your daily routine.
Some full-body workouts you could do include kettlebell swings, deadlifts, bear crawls, jumping rope, burpees, and mountain climbers. However, you should always remember to pace yourself.
The Bottom Line: Is the steak and egg diet worth trying for weight loss or bodybuilding?
No, it is not. The fact that there is no scientific research behind it should be the first thing to put you off it. While the creator, Vince Gironda and his followers may look shredded while on this eating plan, it does not mean that they are healthy or happy. Such a restrictive diet does not let you enjoy your meals and could potentially create an unhealthy relationship between you and food.
There are also much better ways to lose weight. Ways that are not as extreme, restrictive and do not cut out one food group to help you manage your weight or build muscle. If you are looking for one of these ways, do not try the steak and eggs diet. Instead, we suggest that you talk to your doctor or a dietitian and they will show you the best and healthiest way forward.
Supplement your diet with some exercise to double your results.