Can You Really Lose Weight Eating Steak and Eggs?

Steak and eggs

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?

Steak on a plate

The steak and eggs diet is exactly what the name suggests. Steak. Eggs. That's pretty much it.

Specifically, you eat:

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.

Some Historical Background

This diet is also sometimes known as the Vince Gironda diet (he created it). The original form of the diet was created specifically for bodybuilding and is designed to help bodybuilders decrease fat while also bulking up their muscles

The diet is also considered an old-school bodybuilding approach, as it is an effective way to build muscle without having to rely on steroids or even on products like whey protein. For example, the site Iron & Grit Fitness suggests that the approach can work exceptionally well for building muscle, especially if you make good choices and follow it in a flexible manner

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

Grilled steak

There are many variations on this diet. Some of them are official. Others are changes that people make for their own needs. 

Meal Sizes

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.

Timing

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.
Skipping Breakfast and Health

There is this common myth that if you miss a meal you will gain weight. Reasons include your metabolism slowing down and eating more at the next meal. Another claim is that you'll have less energy. 

Some people do struggle with missing a meal, that's true. But, others find that they can effectively lose weight this way. If you are going to skip any meal, breakfast also tends to be the easiest because often it takes time for you to feel hungry after you wake up. As such, you feel hungry for a shorter period of time than if you were to skip lunch.

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?

Steak in a frypan

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

This is also a high protein diet. Despite many of the myths that surround protein, high protein diets can play a key role in promoting health and protein itself is associated with health benefits,

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.​

What About Too Much Protein?

It is also worth noting that there is some debate about the impact of too much protein on health. Many people do claim that excessive protein can make the body work ‘too hard’ and cause health issues.

However, when I researched this topic as part of an article on whey protein, I found that the evidence for this risk is extremely low and most of the claims are based on hype and assumptions.

Nutrients

A steak and egg diet is surprisingly nutritious. Steak and eggs are both nutrient dense. They even include nutrients that people often don't get enough of, like vitamin K2 and vitamin B12

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?

Weight loss and exercise concept

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.
The Keto Diet

This is a specific type of diet, characterized by low carb intake and high levels of fat. Following a keto eating plan will result in a state called ketosis, where your body burns fat instead of carbs. It has significant weight loss potential and many passionate advocates.  

The steak and eggs diet contains more protein than a typical keto diet (although, that's not necessarily bad). Even so, it can still bring you into ketosis.

However, there are some side effects of ketosis, especially early on. These include dizziness, excessive thirst, shakiness, headaches and chills. In most cases, the side effects will go away with time but it’s important to be aware of them before you actually get started with the diet

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. 

Recommended Grass Fed Beef
Recommended Grass Fed Beef

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. 

For that matter, the site Bold & Determined talks about positive results from the diet, including improved energy and testosterone levels

Despite the limitations, some people do see results with this eating style

Side Effects and Risks

Steak on a plate

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

Steak and eggs diet challenges

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.

Recommended Grass Fed Beef
Recommended Grass Fed Beef

Short-term versus Long-term Success

Long term weight loss 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.

This issue is also common among fad diets, like the Clean 9 Diet and the 3 Day Military Diet. In fact, it’s true for pretty much any fast weight loss diet, because they tend to be excessively restrictive.

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.

As for bodybuilding, this diet does have some advantages but again, you need to be careful about your nutrients, especially if you plan on following the diet for an extended period of time.

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

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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.

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12 thoughts on “Can You Really Lose Weight Eating Steak and Eggs?”

  1. Vince,

    I had never actually heard of this diet and find it fascinating. I can see the appeal to body builders with the huge amount of natural protein intake and the fact that, as you said, you are pushing yourself into a ketogenic diet at the same time.

    The main problem I see is the fact that you are cutting out EVERYTHING else for so many days. I can only imagine the struggles with getting backed up on this diet, so you are right to suggest the fiber supplements.

    For what type of person do you think this diet would be most effective? I mean I could see if you were looking for rush weight loss and muscle growth, but would you think it would be good for a person starting to work out or better for a more experienced exercise professional?

    John

    Reply
    • There are certainly some merits in the concept – especially as high protein and high fat can work for weight loss. Nevertheless, cutting out so many food groups seems incredibly foolish.

      Realistically, this would only ever work in the short-term, as you’re starving your body of many critical nutrients. Personally, I wouldn’t recommend it even then. If you’re trying to lose weight and gain muscle, then cutting off the supply of some nutrients could easily be counterproductive.

      Reply
  2. While the idea sounds great it comes with some very serious health risks one being kidney disease and colon cancer as according to WebMD when they looked at a similar diet called the Atkins Diet. I am waiting for the nacho diet but sadly don’t see that ever coming. Also people want to loose weight fast but they do not realize some of the effects of rapid weight loss can be bad too. Most people do not consider saggy skin, loosing weight at such a rapid pace can cause your skin to sag and never conform to your body except through surgery. So losing weight fast sometimes is not preferable if one wants to look good or not suffer the effects of saggy skin.

    Reply
    • You’re right about loose skin – especially for people who lose a lot of weight. That issue suggests that you should only lose weight fast if you don’t have much to lose.

      I don’t personally like this diet and I have issues with Atkins too but those health risks aren’t entirely accurate. They are similar to the views about red meat and excess protein, both of which are based on bad science.

      Realistically, there is little evidence that a high-protein high-fat diet is unhealthy and a decent amount of evidence suggesting that it can help with weight loss.

      But, that being said, I doubt this particular diet would be very effective in the long-term.

      Reply
  3. To Vince,
    Very interesting article.
    I’m a big fan of steak and egg, or pancakes and bacon or any American-style breakfast overall.It’d be fun to test some people trying out this diet on a long term ( 3-6 months).
    However, to me, when it comes to weight loss, it’s all about the calories that matter. If you eat in a calories deficit, I will bet you 100% that you will lose weight, sooner or later.
    So of course, you can eat steak and egg and still lose weight. To a certain extent , have you ever heard about the potato diet ? It’s been mentioned around a proven method to periodically lose weight.

    Reply
    • The design of the diet means that many people would be calorie deficient and lose weight. For one thing, it is a high protein diet, which makes it very filling and reduces how much people eat.

      I haven’t heard of the potato diet but that doesn’t surprise me.

      To be honest, just about any diet is going to work for short-term weight loss. But, losing weight in the short-term isn’t really the challenge. Instead, you need to be able to keep it off and stay healthy in the process. The Steak and Eggs diet isn’t going to achieve that, especially as there are many nutrients that you aren’t getting.

      Reply
  4. To a man who works out daily and loves steak and eggs, this sounds like a dream diet, but unrealistic and expensive, and long term not the best for your health with that amount of red meat. As good as it sounds, red meat should be eaten in moderation due to high level of fat causing your cholesterol to go up over time. you probably would gain muscle and cut fat if you combined this diet with strength training, but there are much healthier and cheaper ways to eat than this. Like you say, you are missing out on key nutrients your body needs to balance and can have negative effects on your body. Great information here. Thanks for sharing.

    Reply
    • I completely agree with you about the expense of this diet and the fact that you’re missing out on key nutrients.

      However, there is surprisingly little evidence connecting dietary cholesterol to cholesterol in the blood. At the same time, cholesterol in the blood may not be strongly connected to heart disease anyway. You can read more about this in my discussion on the cholesterol controversy.

      The basic idea is that a high-fat diet is effective for both health and weight loss, providing your carb intake is relatively low. After all, both fat and carbs are sources of energy. So, you have to adjust your intake accordingly. But, in itself, a high-fat diet won’t harm weight loss or health. Indeed, this is the very nature of a keto diet and those have been proven to be powerful for weight loss.

      Reply
  5. Hi Vince,
    I just stumbled upon this diet and have googled it but can’t find the answer. I’m a vegetarian and would like to try this. I’m not crazy about eggs but I can manage it.
    But what can I sub for the steak?
    Canned tuna? Cottage cheese? Protein powder? Nuts? And can I use olive oil instead of butter? And can you use anything to season the eggs – like 21 Seasoning Salute, salt or hot sauce?

    Thanks ~

    Reply
    • The nature of the steak and eggs diet is the powerful nutritional profile of eggs and steak, together very high in essentail amino acids and high in total protein. If you were looking to sub for protein in place of steak, then cottage cheese is certainly a good choice. Other choices could be greek yogurt .
      My son loves the 2 % unsweetened vanilla yogurt ( 20 grams of protein in a one cup serving ) ( you can add in some fresh fruit for sweetness ) Canned tuna will work, but remember mercury and limit to several cans a week. There are many high quality plant based protein powders on the market as well that can help you increase your protein intake as well. You can use olive oil and you certainly can season the eggs how you like, I prefer black crushed pepper from the pepper mill. Good luck !

      Reply
      • Ahhh thank you. You are the only person on the web who has addressed this!! I did exhaustive google searches and there was NOTHING. So thank you. Now can I add kale or spinach or is that negating the ketosis?

        Reply
        • Well, keep in mind the real steak and eggs diet is simply steak and eggs ( and some butter ) , but in your case if you are looking to make some modifications both kale and spinach are both rather low in calories. So, in terms of a blood sugar reponse it would not be significant unless you are using something in addition to the kale or spinach that is high in carbs. However, if you only used say a little olive oil I think that would be fine. I go with a quality EVOO, extra virgin olive oil. Hope that helps.

          Reply

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