Today we are revisiting the popular steak and eggs diet, looking at what the diet actually offers and how it compares to other options.
Some methods for losing weight are fairly logical and self-explanatory. Others, not so much.
The Steak and Eggs Diet by Vince Gironda is one of the latter approaches. In fact, it's hard to imagine how you could lose weight just by eating steak and eggs.
Yet, the approach has become popular as a way for weight loss - especially among people who want to maintain (or gain) muscle mass at the same time.
When you really get down to it, there is even a surprising amount of logic to the approach.
In this post, we’re going to look at what this diet actually involves and whether or not it lives up to the hype that surrounds it.
After all, weight loss is only one part of the equation. You also want a diet to actually be healthy and to be somewhat sustainable. Otherwise you simply end up putting back on any weight that you lose. That's never good.
What is the Steak and Eggs Diet?
The steak and eggs diet is exactly what the name suggests. Steak. Eggs. That's pretty much it.
Specifically, you eat:
- Two meals per day
- Between 0.75 and 1.5 pounds of steak per meal
- And 4 - 6 eggs per meal
The steak and the eggs can be prepared any way you like. If you're going to cook the steak in any type of fat, you're meant to use butter.
As diets go, this is one of the simplest options out there – and that’s part of its appeal. You could change how you cook the steak over time. Even then, it's likely to get repetitive fast.
You're also not allowed any drinks, except for water, unsweetened tea and black coffee.
The two meals per day aspect sounds frustrating, but it's just a variation on intermittent fasting. And honestly, with the amount of protein included - you probably wouldn't want a third meal each day.
Some people also recommend taking a fiber supplement as part of the diet, as you aren’t getting much fiber from other sources.
Steak and Eggs Diet Cheat Day
There is also a cheat day within the steak and eggs diet.
The basic concept is that you follow the diet strictly for 5 days then you have one day where you can literally eat whatever you like. So, you could have alcohol, chocolate and McDonald's if you felt like it.
- The cheat day also acts as a way to get nutrients into your body, as you don’t have any fruit or vegetables during the other days of the diet.
- It is also a chance to refuel on carbs if you want to, although doing so will take you out of ketosis (which is a key reason for the weight loss outcome).
For best results, the cheat day shouldn't be used as a chance to gorge on junk. Instead, the ideal would be to focus on nutrient-dense healthy foods, particularly plant-based options.
Variations on the Diet
There are many variations on this diet. Some of them are official. Others are changes that people make for their own needs.
The general approach is 0.75 and 1.5 pounds of steak and 4 to 6 eggs per meal. But, they're just averages. There are many differences between individuals and their needs.
- For example, if you are highly active, you may need to increase the amount you eat.
- If you are relatively inactive, your meal size might be lower.
- Many females will consume less per meal than men.
Nevertheless, it is fairly hard to overeat with this diet. After all, you only have two meal times that you can eat, and there is only so much steak and eggs that you can eat in one sitting – as this is a very filling meal.
Many people say that you should have your two meals at breakfast and dinner but not everyone agrees. Instead, you can change up this timing to suit your own needs.
For example, one common approach is to eat lunch and dinner instead.
- This tactic is popular with intermittent fasting as well and it’s a good general way to decrease the amount of food you eat.
- It means a longer gap between meals. As a result, you get some benefits from autophagy.
The Food You Eat
Most people who promote this diet say that you cannot substitute out food. Instead, you have to eat steak and eggs regardless (aside from the cheat days).
But, this restriction is mostly just ideology.
There is no real reason why you couldn’t substitute for other cuts of meat. For example, ground beef has a similar ratio of fat to protein – although it is easier for the body to digest, which may make it a little less effective.
In all of these cases, which approaches you take will ultimately come down to what works best for you. For example, some people may have no problems eating steak and eggs every day, while others may want to vary this up at least a little, simply so that they can stick to the diet.
The main ways to customize the diet are your meal sizes and when you eat. But, you might also change the meat, if you get bored of just steak.
Is it a Healthy Way to Eat?
Whether this diet is healthy depends on how you define healthy.
I know, I know, that's a lame answer. But, it's true. People have different definitions and there may not be a single healthiest way to eat.
Even so, there are some areas we need to consider for this diet.
Butter, Saturated Fat and Health
The biggest argument against the diet tends to be that steak and eggs cooked in butter is unhealthy. Honestly though, that’s not really accurate. Instead, the fears about fat and cholesterol have been majorly overblown and there is growing recognition that fat isn’t really the villain at all (1). Instead, our low-fat high-carb diets may be doing far more damage to our health than fat ever did.
Like anything, fat is unhealthy if you consume too much of it and having some fat is critical to health.
In fact, one major issue in our society is that people consume large amounts of fat, sugar and carbs. Basically, we consume too many calories in general and that’s the major issue, not fat itself.
At the same time, the high amounts of carbs in our diet (particularly from sugar and processed foods) plays a key role in the development of inflammation, which in turn is associated with a number of health conditions.
With this diet, your calorie consumption isn’t too concerning because you aren’t eating anything else. Additionally, the diet is designed with bodybuilders in mind, so many people following it will be burning off a lot of that energy.
So, it’s certainly true that the diet is not as unhealthy as it first appears. Indeed, all of the components contain a lot of nutrients.
The Protein Content
Likewise, protein plays a role in muscle development (2) and may even help with weight loss, especially as protein can help to ensure that people eat less. That role in muscle development is particularly important as some research has found a connection between muscles and longevity.
In fact, most people don't get enough protein in their diets to start off with.
In the short term, your health would probably be fine - and nutrient deficiencies are unlikely.
Long-term impacts are more debatable.
- The diet is low in fiber. Unless you supplement fiber, you're likely to experience constipation and related side effects.
- You may experience some nutrient deficiencies over time, such as vitamin C.
- You also miss out on all the plant-based compounds, including anthocyanins and many antioxidants. Those may not be essential nutrients but they've been linked to many health benefits.
- Research consistently shows that diets rich in plants tend to promote better health outcomes.
To safely follow the diet in the long-term, you'd probably need multiple supplements. Even then, there may be unanticipated impacts to your health.
This diet does contain a decent number of nutrients and the fat content doesn't make it unhealthy. Nevertheless, you do miss out on key nutrients from plant sources and the diet is unlikely to be healthy in the long-term
Can You Actually Lose Weight?
The steak and eggs diet is mostly designed for bodybuilders but some people also choose to use it simply for the potential to reduce their fat and lose weight.
There are multiple reasons for this effect.
- Your food is high in protein. This makes it satisfying and you're likely to eat less as a result. The protein content can help reduce cravings, helping you to avoid snacks.
- You're following an intermittent fasting approach. Intermittent fasting has many weight loss implications and doesn't slow down your metabolism. It also naturally reduces your food intake.
- The diet is exceptionally simple, making it easy to follow and less stressful than many other approaches.
- The food may be particularly appealing to people who hate cooking and those who love their red meat.
- The steak and eggs diet is also a variation on a keto approach and can promote ketosis.
At the end of the day, yes, the diet can promote weight loss, especially in the short-term. But, the outcomes may vary from one person to the next. You'll also need to make sure you don't overeat on your cheat days.
It is certainly possible to lose weight with the steak and eggs diet, partly because it is a ketogenic diet
Steak and Eggs Diet Results
The overall design of this approach does raise some questions, especially with the limited food selection. Nevertheless, the diet is extremely popular. One reason is just the simplicity, as following the eating style doesn't involve meal planning, calorie counting, carb cycling or anything like that.
So then, it's no wonder the diet is popular among bodybuilders.
Despite the limitations, some people do see results with this eating style
Side Effects and Risks
While this approach may sound appealing, there are still side effects to consider (including side effects from ketosis and from low fiber intake). You might also experience issues if you're transitioning from a plant-heavy and/or carb-heavy diet to this one.
At the same time, this diet is limited in key nutrients. If we don’t consider the cheat day, then this diet doesn’t contain any fruit or vegetables, which do contain important compounds for health. You get some of those compounds from steak and eggs but not all of them.
Besides, there is a huge range of different compounds in plant-based foods that help to keep us well and this is the whole reason that the idea of superfoods is promoted so heavily in the media.
This means that if you follow the steak and eggs diet for an extended period of time, there is considerable risk that you will suffer health issues as a result.
- One recommendation is to take fiber supplements, which helps to get around the issue that the diet lacks fiber.
- However, doing so does not help with the other nutrients from plants. Indeed, many of the plant-specific compounds aren’t available in supplements anyway.
In the short-term, the restrictive nature of the diet might be okay, especially if you were healthy beforehand. However, in the long-term, the health risks are considerably more significant.
Challenges of the Diet
It’s easy to see the appeal of the steak and eggs diet for weight loss. After all, the diet doesn’t involve counting calories or preparing complex meals. Likewise, many people love steak and eggs, so the idea of eating this regularly sounds amazing.
Nevertheless, the diet isn’t as easy as it sounds.
The Food Choice
For one thing, eating the exact same food every day is a pretty major mental challenge, even with that cheat day in there.
Even if you loved steak and eggs at the beginning, you would probably get sick of them fast.
Energy and Hunger
Now, steak and eggs is a high protein meal, which does mean that it will tend to be more filling and satisfying than many other meal options.
Nevertheless, this diet is still going to leave people hungry a lot of the time. After all, you just get two meals and no snacks.That's a significant change from most normal eating patterns. A lot of people eat three meals a day and a number of snacks, so cutting this down to two meals and nothing else is a bit of a shock and can take time to get used to.
That aspect of the diet could be a major issue if you work a 9-to-5 job or do anything where you need to concentrate during the day.
You could get around some of the hunger by taking the approach that some people do, which is to skip breakfast and eat lunch and dinner as the two meals. Many people do find this variation easier, partly because the gap between meals doesn't feel as long.
Still, it might take time to adjust.
The Social Aspect
Food is a very social activity - and a very restrictive diet can make social occasions difficult.
For example, you might struggle to go to a friend's house for dinner. You'd also find few food options at many social occasions, like birthday parties. Plus, many social events rely on snacks.
Still, it would be easier to eat out with this diet than with most others.
- Realistically, steak and eggs is a fairly common dish at a lot of restaurants.
- Even if restaurants don’t specifically serve this, you could probably get them to make it anyway. Alternatively, they may have other cuts of meat that are similar enough to meet your needs.
- Likewise, steak is commonly served at barbecues and other types of functions, as is other red meat, which could act as an alternative.
Now, there are still many restaurants and places that you can’t get steak and eggs but at least this is easier to achieve than trying to follow a strict paleo diet or even a vegan diet while you are out with friends.
Short-term versus Long-term Success
With the various challenges and side effects of this diet, it’s easy to see that this is only ever going to work in the short-term. You could certainly lose weight with the diet but it wouldn’t be safe or sustainable to try and follow it for months or for years.
There isn’t anything wrong with fast weight loss per se, despite myths to the contrary (3). But, fast weight loss is only going to help if you can keep that weight off.
This is where the issue lies. Most people will lose weight in a diet like this and then gain it back again once they get off the diet. That process is known as yo-yo dieting and it certainly isn’t good for physical or mental health.
Indeed, one of the key reasons that people don’t lose weight when they attempt to is that they are focusing on an unsustainable diet.
One way around this is to make sure you have a realistic lifestyle to fall back on once the diet is over. For example, there are versions of ketogenic diets that are sustainable in the long-term. The same is true for intermittent fasting.
However, the best approach is to avoid ‘quick fix’ diets like the steak and eggs diet.
Realistic Weight Loss
As a general rule, making sustainable changes to create a healthy lifestyle tends to work much better as a way to lose weight and actually keep it off.
At the same time, this type of approach is going to be healthier for your body as a whole and this also lets you tailor a lifestyle towards what is actually going to work for you and your individual needs.
For example, many people follow a low carb or a ketosis diet but they don't just stick to a couple of different foods. Instead, there are many fantastic recipes that you can make, including low carb pumpkin recipes and even a range of amazing keto desserts. For that matter, there are also many low carb vegetables that you can include in your diet, even if you are focusing on cutting down carbs.
Nutritionally, you're going to be much better off following a diet that includes a range of healthy components, rather than one that is extremely restrictive.
Now, in the short-term, the steak and eggs diet may be okay. But, even then, I'd suggest paying close attention to your food and body to make sure you are getting the nutrients that you need.
The steak and eggs diet may work for short-term weight loss but it comes with a range of challenges and some side effects, especially as the diet is low in some nutrients
My Personal Thoughts on the Steak and Eggs Diet
I can certainly see the appeal of the steak and eggs diet, especially for bodybuilders as the high protein content would help with muscle development as well.
The biggest issue is that it wouldn't be effective for years. So, you might use the approach to start your weight loss journey or as a way to get yourself into ketosis quickly. But, in the long-term, the diet is less powerful.
After all, the bulk of the diet is just eating two foods. Eggs and steak are both nutrient-dense and have health benefits, true. But, even then, you're missing out on a range of plant-based compounds, including antioxidants and phytochemicals. Doing so is far from ideal.
Personally, I would recommend avoiding the diet for simple weight loss but if you are going to follow it, try to do so only in the short-term and make sure you get lots of nutrients on your cheat days. At the same time, make sure you have a healthy lifestyle to turn to once you have finished with the diet.
Alternatively, if you are looking for a long-term effective weight loss approach - the most important idea is try to change your lifestyle rather than follow a specific diet. There are also a range of different diets and approaches out there that can act as a sustainable lifestyle, such as intermittent fasting, low carb dieting and even the paleo diet.
Want to Lose Weight and Keep it Off?
Weight loss is a huge industry, with no shortage of hype. But, long-term weight loss doesn't come from a crash diet or a popular fad.
Instead, you need sustainable habits and healthy foods.
Check out my recommended weight loss products to see where you can get started