Vince Gironda’s Steak and Eggs Diet: Lose Weight & Gain Muscle?

If you tell somebody that you're thinking about going on a diet, they might say something to you like, "Guess it's time to give up all that steak and eggs you enjoy."

rare steak slices with fried egg

Neither of these are foods that most of us traditionally associate with dieting. We tend to look at steak as a kind of extravagance.

As to eggs, their reputation has flipped back and forth so many times over the decades between "healthy" and "unhealthy" that it is impossible to keep track.

So when I found out that there was actually something called the "steak and eggs diet," I had to look into it.

After all, I am a big fan of both steak and eggs.

Plus, eggs in particular always fascinated me, probably because when I was a child, they were on the "unhealthy" food list, and I was taught to avoid them.

As I got older however, I discovered that they are actually quite nutritious.

In this article, I will introduce you to the steak and eggs diet, and we will take a look at the science behind it.

Based on that science, we will be able to make some determinations about whether this diet works for weight loss, and what its other benefits and drawbacks might be.

This will make it possible for you to make an informed choice about whether the steak and eggs diet might be right for your needs.

What is the Steak and Eggs Diet?

The steak and eggs diet dates clear back to the 1950s, and may be traced to an iconic bodybuilder named Vincent Anselmo "Vince" Gironda, known at that time as the “Iron Guru.”

Gironda’s main claim to fame was of course his extraordinary physique. But part of his legacy has involved his diet.

Gironda drew attention to the fact that nutrition is an essential part of burning fat and building muscle.

Vince Gironda

Vince Gironda

He limited carbohydrate intake, and advised consuming a somewhat extraordinary amount of eggs - as many as three dozen each and every day.

He claimed that this was no different than taking an anabolic steroid in terms of promoting muscle mass - minus the unhealthiness of actual steroids.

On the steak and eggs diet, you won't actually be eating 36 eggs a day. But you will be eating quite a few of them, because your entire diet is going to consist of nothing but steak and eggs (except on cheat days).

Obviously, this is not going to give you all the balanced nutrition that you need to stay healthy.

So if you do decide to try this diet, you should be using it for short-term weight loss (and/or muscle gain) only, not as a long-term diet.

KEY POINT: The steak and eggs diet originated with Vincent Anselmo "Vince" Gironda, a bodybuilder from the 1950s. On the steak and eggs diet, you eat the same meal of steak and eggs twice a day all week, with a single cheat day.

​Steak and Eggs Diet Sample Weekly Plan

To give you a better idea how this works, here is what a sample weekly meal plan for the steak and eggs diet might look like:

Monday to Saturday

Breakfast: Fatty steak (5-24 ounces). Eggs (1-6 in total).

Dinner: Fatty steak (5-24 ounces). Eggs (1-6 in total).

Sunday

Eat whatever you want.

Beverages: Water, tea, coffee. No sweeteners.

You should plan to cook your food in butter. If you prefer ghee, you can use that.

Spices: Salt and pepper are just fine.

You may notice that I gave some fairly broad ranges for amounts. This is because I have seen different amounts listed in different places.

For example, I have seen some people say that on this diet you should be 1 to 3 eggs per meal.

But I have seen other people say that you should be eating 4-6 eggs per meal.

Based on these discrepancies, I reckon that how much you should be eating depends on your body weight and composition and similar factors.

So I have given you the widest ranges. That way you can decide for yourself what you feel you should be eating.

You will notice that one day each week is a cheat day. On that day, you can eat or drink anything you desire.

I have seen variations on this as well.

steak with fried eggs with knife and fork

Some people give themselves one and a half cheat days instead (they will eat whatever they want on Sunday, and eat one meal of steak and eggs on Saturday plus one meal of whatever they want).

You can also consider substitutions, though you will want to try and choose meats which are similar to steak in terms of protein and fat content.

I for example enjoy steak, but I am fairly picky about the cuts of meat, because I have a hard time with certain food textures.

In fact, the fat on steak is a pretty good example of a food texture that I find difficult to swallow.

Ground beef however does not cause me this problem, and in terms of composition, is quite similar to a cut of steak.

Being able to substitute ground beef for steak allows someone like me to try this diet, and still get the same nutrition for my meals.

I have also noticed that some people like to eat bacon, either in place of the steak, or alongside the steak.

Personally, I would avoid doing this, because bacon is a processed meat, and is therefore not as healthy as steak or ground beef.

If you're looking for more information to help you choose healthy meats, please see my article, 11 Types of Meat with Their Healthy Benefits + Nutrients.

So you should feel free to customize this diet. In fact, in general you should aim to customize any diet you try to fit your needs.

Each of us is an individual, and we all have different bodily needs. There really isn’t a “one-size-fits-all” when it comes to losing weight or building muscle.

KEY POINT: While the basic steak and eggs meal plan consists of 6 days of steak and eggs and 1 cheat day, some people eat a variation which includes an extra cheat meal. 

Portion sizes may also vary. Eat what is a fit for your metabolism and goals.

​Implications of the Steak and Eggs Diet

Before I get into what is and isn’t healthy about this diet, let’s take a look at some takeaways, and see if we can understand the logic behind it.

1. This diet is low in carbohydrates.

Low-carb diets can be very effective for weight loss, so it is easy to see why this diet contains no grains or sugars.

2. There is a ton of protein in this diet.

This is obviously going to be good for building muscle, and it can also enhance satiety, helping you eat just two meals a day.

3. If you eat fatty steak, that provides you with a source of fuel.

4. You are intermittently fasting.

This kind of depends on how you space out your meals, but if you eat breakfast later in the morning and you do not eat dinner too late at night, the timing should work out.

clock on blue plate to signify intermittent fasting

5. Steak and eggs are satisfying.

While eating the same meal over and over again does get old fast, at least it is something tasty. Plus, steak and eggs complement each other very nicely.

6. The food is easy to plan, shop for and prepare.

You will not get lost in the complexities of this diet, because there are none.

It is the simplest thing in the world, so even if you are pressed for time and energy, you should be able to manage it.

KEY POINT: The analysis above explains the reasoning behind the steak and eggs diet. While it is repetitious, it does seem pretty intuitive.

​Is the Steak and Eggs Diet Healthy, and Does It Help You Lose Weight?

​You now have enough information to actually try the steak and eggs diet, but you still do not know whether it is something that you would want to try.

To help you decide, I've decided to break down this diet into its constituent foods.

Below, I will discuss the nutritional benefits and drawbacks of the three main things you will be eating: steak, eggs and butter.

After that, I will analyze other aspects of this diet to help you identify the pros and cons.

Component 1: Steak

First, let's talk about steak. This is not a food which a lot of people think of as "health food." Then again, perhaps it deserves a better reputation.

raw steak on white paper

To begin, here's the nutritional information (1) for 306 grams of sirloin steak (around 11 ounces):

  • 744 calories
  • 0 carbs
  • 43.5 grams total fat
  • 17.1 grams saturated fat
  • 18.1 grams monounsaturated fat
  • 1.6 grams polyunsaturated fat
  • 389 mg omega-3 fatty acids
  • 1126 mg omega-6 fatty acids
  • 82.5 grams protein

Additionally, steak ​contains the following vitamins (in daily values):

  • Vitamin E: 7%
  • Vitamin K: 6%
  • Thiamin: 15%
  • Vitamin B6: 86%
  • Vitamin B12: 81%
  • Folate: 6%
  • Niacin: 110%
  • Pantothenic Acid: 16%
  • Riboflavin: 23%

Additionally, steak ​contains the following ​minerals (in daily values):

  • ​Iron: 29%
  • Calcium: ​6%
  • Magnesium: 17%
  • Phosphorus: 64%
  • Copper: 12%
  • Potassium: 29%
  • Zinc: 99%
  • Selenium: 128%

Steak contains 0 vitamin A, vitamin C or vitamin D.

So if you eat steak twice a day, you will be getting a huge helping of protein, along with plenty of fat to provide you with energy.

You will also be getting your vitamin E as well as some essential minerals.

Let's analyze the fat profile of steak.

You'll notice that the vast majority of the fat is distributed pretty evenly between saturated and monounsaturated fat, with only a small amount of polyunsaturated fat.

This is actually a very healthy fat profile.

Polyunsaturated fats should be avoided, since the structure of their bonds makes them less stable when they are subjected to heat.

This means that foods which are high in polyunsaturated fats have a tendency to oxidize, which is bad for your health.

The monounsaturated and saturated fat bonds in steak are more stable, making steak a healthy and safe food to consume, assuming that you do not char it.

man holding knife and fork with pile of steak on plate

Next, you're probably wondering about the saturated fat content.

It has probably been drilled into your head for many years that saturated fat is bad for you.

There are two reasons why this is a common belief.

The first is that many people assume that raising your cholesterol levels is always bad for heart health.

The second is that researchers assumed for many years that cholesterol levels always go up as a result of consuming saturated fat.

Based on current research however, the truth is actually little more complex than that.

Here is what recent studies have to say about saturated fat, cholesterol, and cardiovascular health:

  • Saturated fat consumption can increase cholesterol, but this includes both LDL (possibly) and HDL, the latter of which is beneficial to heart health (2).
  • Consuming saturated fat has another effect on LDL as well. It causes the size of the LDL particles to increase (3). This in turn can also cause your risk of developing heart disease to decline (4).
  • I mentioned the word "possibly" a moment before when referring to whether saturated fat increases LDL. I did this because there are multiple studies (5, 6, 7) which have discovered no link between saturated fat consumption and higher levels of LDL cholesterol.

So to summarize, we are not even sure at this juncture whether eating more saturated fat will raise your LDL “bad” cholesterol at all.

Even if it does, it decreases the LDL particle size, reducing heart disease risk. It also boosts your HDL “good” cholesterol, which provides a further protective effect.

Therefore, you should not be worried about the saturated fat you're consuming with the steak and eggs diet.

Now, one thing which should concern you is the high ratio of omega-6 fatty acids to omega-3 fatty acids.

The problem with this ratio is that it favors pro-inflammatory fatty acids (the omega-6s) over anti-inflammatory fatty acids (the omega-3s).

This could become a problem if you do not eat an adequate amount of omega-3s in your diet to balance out those unwanted omega-6s.

Angus T-Bone Steak

Pros of Steak:

1. The fat profile of steak is a healthy one.

Since you are not eating carbohydrates, you will need that fat as your primary source of energy.

2. Steak is incredibly high in protein.

This can increase satiety (8). Because you will feel full from your meals, you will not feel tempted to overeat.

This also prevents you from feeling like you need to snack or eat three meals a day.

3. You will get plenty of healthy minerals and B vitamins from eating steak each day.

4. Steak is delicious.

It is certainly more exciting than a lot of other diet foods, so this may help some people to stick with this diet where they have failed with others.

5. Steak contains no carbohydrates.

I will explain in a little bit why this is a benefit.

Cons of Steak:

1. There are vital nutrients which you simply cannot get by eating steak.

​Like vitamin C, A or D.

2. The omega-6 fatty acids in steak outweigh the omega-3 fatty acids.

This gives the steak an inflammatory profile.

3. Not everybody likes steak, and some people obviously cannot eat it.

This diet clearly would not be acceptable to vegetarian or vegan. So it is not for everyone.

The Verdict

On the whole, steak is a healthy, nutritious food, but it does not fulfill all of your nutritional needs, and it is a bit high in omega-6 fatty acids.

KEY POINT: Steak is a largely beneficial component to the steak and eggs diet, but it may promote inflammation, and it lacks certain key nutrients.

​Component 2: Eggs

Now let's talk about the next major component in the steak and eggs diet: eggs.

Eggs are another controversial food. They likely gained a dubious reputation in the past owing to the high amount of cholesterol present in them.

Today however, many health experts are starting to recognize eggs as a nutritious part of a smart, balanced diet.

raw whole eggs and cracked egg

Just as I was raised to believe that steak was unhealthy because of its high saturated fat content, I was also raised to believe that eggs were terrible for you.

Over the years however, I had some experiences which made me doubt that, even before I found out about the new research on eggs.

First, I had a friend with a disease similar to Chron’s who was on a biblical diet which restricted a lot of foods but included eggs.

This diet was the only thing that helped her to control her symptoms.

In light of that, it was pretty hard to believe that eggs were bad.

The second experience concerned a time when I got food poisoning, and came down with post-infectious IBS.

For weeks, I could hardly stand the sight or smell of food. I felt sick all the time, and just thinking of eating was revolting.

There were only a few foods during that time which I could get down without feeling worse.

They were broth, toast and eggs. In fact, I ate a lot of eggs during that time.

Given that the eggs were a rare exception to how disgusting food seemed as a whole at the time, once again I had to question the age-old assertion that eggs are somehow unhealthy.

On the contrary, they seemed vital for my healing process.

So now let's take a look at the actual nutrition information for eggs. Here's the nutrition which is contained in a single fried egg (40):

  • 90.2 calories
  • 0.4 g carbs
  • 7.0 g total fat
  • 2.0 g saturated fat
  • 2.9 g monounsaturated fat
  • 1.2 g polyunsaturated fat
  • 75.9 mg omega-3 fatty acids
  • 1077 mg omega-6 fatty acids
  • 6.3 g protein
Peeled boiled egg on wooden background

A single egg is not actually all that high in any particular vitamins or minerals.

They do contain some vitamin A, vitamin E, vitamin K, thiamin, riboflavin, vitamin B6, folate, vitamin B12, pantothenic acid, and a little bit of each of the major minerals.

The highest amount is 15.7 mcg of selenium, which is 22% of your daily value, followed by 95.7 mg of phosphorus, which is 10% of your daily value.

Eggs contain 125 mg of choline as well.

Of course, when you consider that you might be eating as many as a dozen eggs per day, you can see that you would actually get quite a bit of diverse nutrition in doing so.

​You would get a lot of protein as well.

Note that eggs do not contain any vitamin C.

Analyzing the fat breakdown, eggs do contain a higher percentage of polyunsaturated fat than steak does.

Most of the fat is however still saturated or monounsaturated, which is good.

The omega fatty acid ratio is not good news. 

As with steak, the ratio for eggs is in favor of pro-inflammatory omega-6 fatty acids, not anti-inflammatory omega-3 fatty acids.

You probably are wondering at this point about the cholesterol issue.

One egg contains 210 mg of cholesterol, which is 70% of your daily value.

Naturally, you might assume that that means that your cholesterol levels would rise if you eat a lot of eggs.

That is certainly what researchers believed for many years.

Actually, the effect which eggs have on your cholesterol is very much like that of the steak discussed earlier.

Eating eggs can reduce LDL cholesterol particle sizes while simultaneously giving your HDL a boost (9, 10, 11).

separating egg yolk from white

If you read through the steak section carefully, you know that those are both good things.

One comprehensive meta-analysis (12) took a look at 17 reports concerning the relationship between egg consumption and heart disease and stroke.

The sheer amount of data analyzed was quite staggering.

In all, the coronary heart disease cases analyzed added up to 5,847 in total, and spanned 3,081,269 person years. 7,579 stroke cases were examined, spending a total of 4,148,095 person years.

The study checked to see specifically whether eating one egg every day would increase the risk for stroke or coronary heart disease.

The findings were deeply reassuring - and even may point towards some previously unrecognized benefits of eating eggs.

The researchers concluded based on these findings,

" Higher consumption of eggs (up to one egg per day) is not associated with increased risk of coronary heart disease or stroke. The increased risk of coronary heart disease among diabetic patients and reduced risk of hemorrhagic stroke associated with higher egg consumption in subgroup analyses warrant further studies."

In short, not only is there no substantial evidence demonstrating that eggs are bad for your cardiovascular health, but there is some evidence which suggests that they may actually be good for your cardiovascular health.

Pros of Eggs:

1. Eggs, like steak, are high in protein.

Multiple meta-analyses have demonstrated that high-protein diets work great for weight loss.

This study (13) looked at the results of 20 different trials.

Participants eating high-protein diets enjoyed more effective weight loss.  Not only that, but it came in the form of fat. 

They lost less muscle mass than those eating lower amounts of protein. In another review study (14), the role of protein in promoting satiety was confirmed.

It was found that on average, participants who consumed high levels of protein were able to drop an additional 6.3kg - 1.3kg compared to those who consumed diets with lower protein levels.

2. Eggs are very low in carbohydrates, which makes them nutrient-dense.

3. There is ample variety in the nutrients contained in eggs (also largely true of steak).

4. Eggs contain more saturated and monounsaturated fat than polyunsaturated fat.

5. You can use eggs as a source of zeaxanthin and lutein, which are antioxidants (15).

Young woman showing eggs standing on a lawn

The linked study shows that if you eat just 1.3 egg yolks daily over four and half weeks, the levels of these antioxidants in your blood will increase by as much as 142%.

That is a really good reason to eat whole eggs, as opposed to just egg whites.

Cons of Eggs:

1. The ratio of omega-6 and omega-3 fatty acids is tipped in the pro-inflammatory direction.

2. While eggs are nutritionally dense, just one egg is only going to give you a little bit of each of the nutrients present.

Thankfully, on the steak and eggs diet, you will eat a lot more than that.

3. Like steak, eggs cannot provide you with all essential nutrients.

The Verdict: 

Eggs are nutritionally dense. Aside from the drawback of high omega-6s, they are a healthy, wholesome choice.

KEY POINT: For many years, eggs had a reputation for being high in cholesterol and bad for you.

Modern research shows us that this reputation is undeserved.

Despite their high cholesterol content, eggs appear to be good for your cardiovascular health, and a great source of diverse nutrients.

Like steak, they are high in protein, which can boost satiety and promote weight loss.

​​Component 3: Butter

The third major component to the steak and eggs diet is butter. Just as steak and eggs have been demonized over the years, butter has as well - once again unfairly.

The major complaint about butter seems to be that it is "fattening."

It should go without saying that butter is high in fat, but this does not make it fattening.

butter with questoin mark and knife

You will understand why fat is not a problem in the next section, where I will discuss low-carb, high-fat diets such as this one.

Here's the nutritional information for 1 tablespoon of unsalted butter (16):

  • 100 calories
  • 0 carbs
  • 11.4 g total fat
  • 7.2 g saturated fat
  • 2.9 g monounsaturated fat
  • 0.4 g polyunsaturated fat
  • 44.1 mg omega-3 fatty acids
  • 382 mg omega-6 fatty acids
  • 0.1 g protein

Butter also contains small amounts of vitamin A, vitamin E and vitamin K.

Beyond that, it is not particularly nutritious. Its main value is its fat content.

Some people complain that butter is too high in saturated fat. But you already know that saturated fat is not the evil we once believed it to be.

The high omega-6 ratio is problematic however.

There is also one other potential problem with butter, and it is one you are likely already familiar with from cooking.

If you try to cook butter at high heat, it has a tendency to burn.

The way to get around this is simple, and that is to clarify it. Clarified butter is known as “ghee.”

I will share the steps to making “ghee” with you near the end of the article.

butter curl on wooden sppon

Pros of Butter:

1. Butter is relatively low in polyunsaturated fats.

This actually makes it one of the healthier cooking oils available. Read more on this topic in 6 Healthiest Oils to Cook With.

2. Cooking with butter is a good way to increase your uptake of butyrate and Conjugated Linoleic Acid (CLA).

Butyrate’s anti-inflammatory nature (17) helps to balance out the pro-inflammatory omega-6 fatty acids.

It can also increase insulin sensitivity (18).

Meanwhile, CLA helps reduce fat as a percentage of body mass while exerting an anti-carcinogenic effect (19, 20).

3. Butter is quite tasty.

As with the steak and eggs, I was raised to consider it a guilty pleasure - but now I know that the guilt is unnecessary.

Cons of Butter:

1. Better compared while you are cooking, but you can prevent this by using ghee.

2. The omega fatty acid ratio of butter is pro-inflammatory.

3. Aside from its fat content, butter is not particularly nutritious.

The Verdict: 

Butter has some drawbacks, but compared to a lot of other cooking oils, it is relatively healthy.

KEY POINT: You must choose some type of oil to cook with on the steak and eggs diet, and butter is one of the healthier options available.

​The Steak and Eggs Diet is Low-Carb: Good or Bad?

I have now analyzed steak, eggs and butter individually in-depth.

You can see that the largest problem with all three foods is probably the presence of high omega-6 fatty acids, without enough omega-3 fatty acids to balance them out.

But you can also see that these three foods are fairly healthy in most other respects.

They are low in carbs, they are high in nutrition, and they provide you with a lot of fat to burn.

That brings me to the next topic I want to go over it connection to this diet, and that is its nature as a low-carb, high-fat (LCHF) diet.

Those who are not all that familiar with low-carb may wonder whether this is a benefit or drawback.

Actually, it is one of the best features of this diet, both where weight-loss and general health are concerned.

two steaks and two fried eggs in pan

Let's take a look at some of the research.

  • A LCHF diet decreases insulin levels, which promotes fat burning and inhibits fat storage simultaneously (21, 22). Obviously, this has cardiovascular benefits as well, and may be helpful for preventing or treating diabetes.
  • If you have excess water weight, you can expect that to decrease along with your insulin levels (23).
  • Eating a diet high in fat can improve HDL (24) and LDL (25) levels.
  • You can reduce your triglycerides on a low-carb diet (26).
  • By regulating insulin levels, a low-carb diet may help to reduce blood pressure (27).
  • You may experience improvements to your mood while you are on a low-carb diet (28).
  • Low-carb diets not only can produce fast weight loss results, but they can work as a long-term solution (29).
  • Want to get rid of that stubborn fat around your midriff? Low-carb is one way to do it (30).
  • Patients with epilepsy may be able to reduce their seizures through a low-carb diet (31).
  • Low-carb may support neurological health (32).

If you want to learn more about these low-carb benefits and see additional research, please see 15 Low-Carb Benefits Backed By Science.

As you know from reviewing the nutritional information I shared, steak, eggs and butter are extremely low in carbohydrates, and provide ample fat.

As such, the steak and eggs diet definitely qualifies as LCHF, and should provide some of the benefits associated with such diets.

KEY POINT: One of the main reasons why the steak and eggs diet can be effective for weight loss is because it is a low-carb, high-fat diet.

LCHF diets can provide a range of other health benefits while helping you shed unwanted pounds.

​The Steak and Eggs Diet Can Involve Intermittent Fasting: Good or Bad?

The next consideration for the steak and eggs diet is that it can involve fasting intermittently.

Whether it does or not depends entirely on your eating schedule.

wooden fork and spoon on white plate

There are variations in how an intermittent fast is defined, but the simplest definition is that if you go without food for a 16 hour period, that counts as a fast.

So let's say that you finish eating dinner each night at 7 pm.

If you eat breakfast in the morning at 11 am or later, you have succeeded in fasting.

That is actually pretty easy to do, considering how filling these protein-rich meals are.

Here's some research on the benefits of intermittent fasting:

  • Intermittent fasting can help you to lose weight (33). The linked study unearthed some other positives as well, such as an increase in HDL and a decline in cortisol. On the downside, subjects did show higher levels of LDL as well as increased blood pressure.
  • When you fast intermittently, you can burn visceral fat and improve your insulin resistance (34).
  • Fasting intermittently appears to have benefits for neurological health (35).
  • It appears that certain types of inflammation are curbed (36) by fasting.

So if you are fasting on and off through your steak and eggs diet, it appears to be a positive.

KEY POINT: Another benefit of the steak and eggs diet is that it can be used as an intermittent fasting diet.

This can provide you with some additional advantages in the areas of weight loss, neurological health and inflammation control throughout the body.

​The Steak and Eggs Diet Lacks Vegetables and Variety: Good or Bad?

This is undoubtedly one of the drawbacks of the steak and eggs diet.

You have already looked over the nutritional profiles for steak, eggs and butter, so I will not rehash all of that information here.

Obviously there are some nutritional gaps in this diet, certain nutrients and micronutrients you simply cannot get without turning to other healthy food sources.

vitamin c in hand

Perhaps the most obvious gap is the...

​Utter Lack of ​Vitamin C.

Most people were brought up being told repeatedly that they should get plenty of vitamin C in their diets. So even if your knowledge of nutrition is casual, you know just how important vitamin C is.

Vitamin C, according to this government fact sheet (37), is needed to produce L-carnitine, a number of neurotransmitters, and collagen. It also is required for wound healing, protein metabolism, and more.

What happens if you do not get enough vitamin C?

Well, your body is unable to manufacture it on its own.

But what are the consequences? Well, that gets a bit complicated.

In theory, if you consume something like the steak and eggs diet for an extended period which has no vitamin C, your body’s stores of it will be depleted over time.

If vitamin C deficiency progresses far enough, the result is scurvy (38).

You may be wondering what constitutes an “extended period” of time.

The answer is that it is not necessarily as long as you might think.

If your vitamin C stores were not the highest to begin with, you could feasibly come down with scurvy within as little as a month without it in your diet.

In fact, even if your diet has vitamin C, if it is only present in trace amounts (10 mg per day or less), you can still get scurvy inside of a month.

periodontitis and bleeding due to scurvy

The symptoms of scurvy include:

  • Fatigue
  • Malaise
  • Gum inflammation, swelling and bleeding
  • Teeth which are loose or falling out
  • Joint pain
  • Slow-healing wounds
  • Petechiae (this results from broken capillaries)
  • Ecchymoses (discoloration in the skin)
  • Purpura
  • Blotchy skin
  • Hyperkeratosis (the outer layer of your skin gets thick)
  • Corkscrew hairs
  • Anemia
  • Bone disease (in children)

Some people are particularly at risk for developing scurvy.

These include those with dietary deficiencies as well as smokers, secondhand smokers, and those with health conditions that interfere with absorption of vitamin C.

​Steak and Eggs Diet vs. Scurvy

Obviously scurvy is something you do not want to tangle with.

For this reason, the steak and eggs diet may not seem like a suitable diet for long-term use.

Then again, I did say that the matter is complicated.

Why is it complicated?

Well, think about the fact that there are a lot of people on carnivorous long-term diets who seem to do just fine.

One reason may be that vitamin C and glucose compete with one another (41).

So if you are on a low-carb diet, you may be able to get away with eating less vitamin C and still meeting your needs.

The glucose will not be there to interfere with it.

Indeed, there are indigenous tribes which have eaten this way for hundreds of years.

Consider the Inuit people for example, who eat a diet comprised of around 90% fish and meat.

You can read an interesting study (42) on this topic here from 1930.

Over the course of the study, an Arctic explorer named Dr. Vilhjalmur Stefansson and one of his expedition members both ate nothing but meat for a year while researchers studied them in New York.

Fascinatingly, the scientists reported,

“At the end of the year, the subjects were mentally alert, physically active, and showed no specific physical changes in any system of the body.”
Dr Vilhjalmur Stefansson

​Dr Vilhjalmur Stefansson

Furthermore, it is possible that one reason we need so much vitamin C on a high carb diet is because we are simply not eating enough meat.

Vitamin C assists with collagen production by providing proline and lysine, two key amino acids, with a hydroxyl group.

But as the resulting compounds, hydroxyproline and hydroxylysine, are present in meat (43) to begin with, vitamin C may not be needed to fill this role if we are eating sufficient meat.

Meanwhile, it is true that vitamin C is an important antioxidant, but eating a low-carb diet already does a great deal to reduce oxidative stress (44).

Indeed, the high amount of vitamin C typically recommended (45) cannot be considered without also taking into account its context - a high-carb diet.

So does that mean you can eat the steak and eggs diet over the long term?

Well, it is up to you to decide based on your own research and comfort level.

Personally, I probably would not eat this diet for longer than a week or two, though other people may be comfortable doing it for longer.

It is true that there is some compelling data which provides evidence that there are surprisingly few (if any) nutritional gaps in a carnivorous diet.

But a great deal more research is required to establish with certainty that this is the case for all people with all health conditions and dietary needs.

Furthermore there are no diversity of meats in ​the steak and eggs diet if you follow it strictly.

For that reason I prefer to play it safe with an “all things in moderation” approach.

If you are concerned about not getting enough vitamin C while following the steak and eggs diet, you can always take a supplement.

KEY POINT: One of the drawbacks of the steak and eggs diet is that it lacks nutritional variety, leaving significant gaps. One of these is vitamin C.

Without enough vitamin C, deficiency can lead to scurvy, which can happen in as little as one month.

On the other hand, there is some evidence that when we eat less glucose and more meat, our vitamin C needs decrease significantly.

Some people do live on a carnivorous diet and appear to do so safely.

​The Steak and Eggs Diet is Repetitious: Good or Bad?

Finally, there is a subjective consideration with the steak and eggs diet to weigh as well, and that is that it is repetitious.

You will literally have the same exact meal to look forward to day in and day out for as long as you are following the diet.

bored man resting head on empty plate

Of course, you can vary things up a little bit. One day you could have steak and the next you could have ground beef.

You can fry your eggs for breakfast and poach them for dinner.

Still, there is no denying that you may not want to even look at steak and eggs again for weeks or months after you are done.

Now, is this a good thing or a bad thing?

That is up to you. Some people really are bothered by this much repetition in meals.

Others however may not mind much or at all.

Some folks even enjoy eating the same meal over and over each day.

There is also an upshot in terms of simplicity and ease. You do not have to put a lot of thinking or planning into your shopping or food preparation.

Trying to figure out what to buy and cook holds a lot of dieters back with other plans.

This diet reduces the overall number of decisions you have to make.

Making fewer decisions while dieting could actually help you follow through.

Making responsible decisions can deplete willpower (39).

Since you have fewer decisions to make while following this diet, your will to stick with it for as long as you planned to may remain more intact.

So the repetitious quality of the steak and eggs diet may be a pro and/or a con, depending on your disposition and psychological needs.

KEY POINT: Eating the same food every day at every meal may be exceedingly boring for some people, testing their patience.

Others however may enjoy the ease and simplicity of the routine, and find it helps them to follow through on their dieting goals. 

​Pros of the Steak and Eggs Diet

  • The steak and eggs diet qualifies as a low-carb option for weight loss, providing a number of health benefits.
  • You can fast intermittently on this diet, which also has special benefits for health.
  • Steak, eggs and butter are on the whole healthy side on the whole. Even though they have some nutritional gaps, they offer surprising diversity in terms of vitamins and minerals. They are also a good source of healthy fats and protein.
  • The steak and eggs diet is the essence of simplicity. Shopping and meal planning could not be easier. This can help you maintain willpower.
  • A lot of people enjoy steak and eggs, and they go well together. If you can’t get enough of these two foods, you may be perfectly content to eat the same meal on loop.
grilled angus steak

Cons of the Steak and Eggs Diet

  • This diet is high in omega-6 fatty acids, but does not contain sufficient omega-3 fatty acids to balance out the ratio.
  • Even with all the nutrition you are getting through this diet, there are gaps such as vitamin C which you simply cannot meet without eating other foods.
  • You may find it very dull to keep eating steak and eggs over and over again. Too much of a good thing can cause that good thing to lose its appeal.
  • This is simply not a long-term diet. It is nutritionally unsustainable, so you can only meet short-term goals with it.

KEY POINT: The steak and eggs diet can be a tolerable option for fast weight loss, but it has some disadvantages which make it ​questionable and unsustainable as a long-term dieting solution.

​Who is the Steak and Eggs Diet Right For?

Could the steak and eggs diet work for you? I would recommend this diet for you if the following describes you:

  • You are in search of a very short-term diet to lose a lot of weight fast. You do not plan to follow this diet for more than a week.
  • You enjoy steak, eggs and butter, but do not think you will be utterly sick of them if you keep eating them over and over again.
  • You are looking for a diet without complicated meal plans. You want to spend as little time as possible shopping for meals, and you do not want to put a lot of thought into preparing them either.
  • You can afford to purchase enough steak for two meals every day that you are on the diet.
  • You want to pile on the protein for muscle gain ​in a non-complicated way.

Tip: Remember that fattier cuts of meat can save you money. Being as you need that fat for energy, you should think about doing this.

This diet is not right for you if:

  • You are in search of a diet that you can follow for an extended time period in order to lose or maintain weight.
  • You do not like steak and eggs.
  • Lots of repetition tends to wear on your patience.
  • Eating steak every day is not economical enough for your budget.

KEY POINT: The steak and eggs diet has a surprising amount of advantages, despite how restrictive it is. 

But its disadvantages need to be considered as well, and it is never an appropriate long-term ​optimum way of eating.


​Alternative to the Steak and Eggs Diet for Long-Term Weight Loss

Let’s say you did come here looking for a way to lose weight and keep it off over the long term.

If you do the steak and eggs diet, you might initially shed a lot of weight, but it will probably come right back when you return to your previous diet.

So how can you eat to make sure that you keep your weight at a healthy level and give your body the nutrition it needs over the long run?

There are of course plenty of different dieting options out there, but the one which I would recommend is a basic low-carb diet.

Diet Low Carb High Fat (LCHF) infographic
  • Keep your daily carbs down to anywhere from around 20-150 carbs.
  • Eat a lot of healthy fat. This will serve as your main source of fuel (just as it does on the steak and eggs diet).
  • Make sure you are getting a balanced mix of other nutrients, including protein, vitamins, minerals and micronutrients.
  • Favour foods such as meat, fish, shellfish, eggs, dairy products, high-fat sauces, healthy cooking fats and oils, spices, and vegetables. Try and lean toward vegetables that grow aboveground (those which grow below tend to be on the starchy side).
  • Eat nuts, seeds and fruits in moderation.
  • Restrict your intake of potatoes, gluten-free grains, legumes and dark chocolate.
  • Avoid the following: sugar, artificial sweeteners, margarine, starchy gluten-rich foods, omega-6 fatty acids, trans fats, “diet” foods, “low fat” foods, and artificial additives.

A low-carb, high-fat diet is pretty filling, so you should not need to worry about counting calories.

You should be able to simply eat until you are satisfied each day and still lose weight.

Here is why to consider a LCHF diet:

  • As shared previously, there are numerous health benefits.
  • You can lose or maintain weight effectively on this diet.
  • This diet is safe and healthy for short- or long-term use.
  • You get ample variety in terms of the foods you eat and you avoid nutritional gaps.
  • The diet can be easily customized to your needs.
  • You can eat a lot of the same recipes you enjoy now. You may simply need to make some modifications to them.

Need help getting started?

KEY POINT: If you like the idea of the steak and eggs diet for low-carb weight loss, but want to eat a diet which is safe for long-term use and includes ample nutrition and extensive variety, think about trying a standard low-carb, high-fat diet.

​How to Prepare Eggs

Now, let’s say you do decide to try the steak and eggs diet. 

Obviously you are pretty confined with your recipes since you are forbidden from using any ingredients other than steak, butter and eggs, but just in case you are new to cooking eggs, here are some basic ways you can prepare them.

Sunny-Side Up

3 fried eggs in pan
  1. ​Heat up a frying pan on medium-high.
  2. Put enough butter inside the pan that when it is melted, it can coat the whole pan.
  3. ​Crack your egg over the pan, taking care not to break the yolk.
  4. Some people keep cooking on medium-high, but many recommend that you turn the heat down to low at this point to avoid burning the egg.
  5. You should be able to tell on sight when the egg is finished. If there are still some parts of the white which are clear on top, you can eliminate them by scooping a little of the hot butter from the pan on top of them.
  6. Remove the egg with a spatula and put it on a plate to enjoy.

Over-Easy

  1. ​Follow steps 1-4 above.
  2. When the egg looks like it is nearly finished cooking, simply flip it over. Cook it for a moment longer, and then take it off the pan and serve.

Scrambled

  1. ​First, break your eggs into a bowl. For this recipe, let’s assuming you are using 4 of them.
  2. Pour in a quarter cup of milk. Add in salt and pepper to taste.
  3. Stir up the eggs, milk, salt and pepper so that they are fully mixed.
  4. Melt enough butter in your frying pan on medium heat to coat the bottom.
  5. Pour the egg mixture inside.
  6. Use a spatula to push the egg mixture around while it cooks. Your goal is to make sure that it is evenly cooked.
  7. Remove it when you feel it is “done,” and serve.
scrambled eggs in pan

Note 1:

Obviously you will have to skip the milk for the steak and eggs diet. This is just fine; your eggs simply will not be as fluffy.

Note 2:

Opinions seem to vary quite a bit when it comes to deciding when scrambled eggs are “done.”

Some people prefer their scrambled eggs on the gooey side, while others seem to prefer them a bit dried out.

There is no right or wrong. Just cook your eggs the way you like them.

Omelet

  1. ​Follow steps 1-5 above.
  2. Instead of pushing the eggs all around the pan as you do when you are scrambling them, instead, wait just a moment as the eggs begin to cook.
  3. Then, use your spatula to push gently around the edges of the egg mixture while you tilt the pan. Doing this should result in uncooked egg from the top making its way around the edges where it can cook and merge with the rest.
  4. When it looks like the egg is about done cooking, it is time to put in your filling, which in this case of course will be steak.
fresh omelet on plate

Note: Once again, this would usually be prepared with milk as part of the egg mixture, but on this diet, you simply have to do without it.

Preparing omelets may seem daunting if you are new to it, but you should find that it is really no more difficult (and arguably easier) than scrambling eggs.

Poached

This is one of the more challenging ways to prepare your eggs, and tends to be one of the more time-consuming ones as well.

There are actually multiple ways that you can poach an egg.

The traditional method involves dropping the egg directly into a saucepan full of water, but this is also the most difficult approach.

There's a method which you can use instead which involves placing an egg inside a cup inside your microwave.

While this is fast and easy, I have found that the results are quite unpredictable and rarely satisfactory. ​

poached egg closeup shot on white background

The third method involves using a specialized egg poaching pan.

I have found this to be by far the most easy and reliable method, so it is the one I will detail below.

  1. ​Start by pouring around half an inch of water into a saucepan that your egg poaching pan fits in.
  2. Next, turn the stove on medium.
  3. Place the egg poaching pan inside of your saucepan.
  4. Melt a little bit of butter inside each of the cups in which you will be poaching your eggs.
  5. Crack the eggs that you are poaching into the individual cups.
  6. Put the lid on your saucepan.
  7. Wait for anywhere between 2 and 4 minutes. Then remove the saucepan from the stove, and use a fork to extract the poaching pan from inside.
  8. Push the eggs out from the cups onto your plate, and season as desired.

​Note:

How long you should cook your eggs for depends on whether you want the yolk to be hard or runny.

It can be difficult to pinpoint this, so expect it to take a bit of practice.

If you have a hard time removing the eggs from the cups, it is probably because you did not grease them sufficiently before you cracked the eggs inside.

Hard-Boiled

  1. ​Begin by putting your eggs inside a saucepan. Do not crack them open.
  2. ​Cover the eggs completely with water. It should be cool or room temperature, not heated up.
  3. Raise the heat to boiling.
  4. Take the saucepan off the burner, and transfer it to one which you have not heated.
  5. Put the lid on the saucepan.
  6.  Set your timer for approximately 9-15 minutes. How long you need depends on how large the eggs are. The timing of this, like the timing for poached eggs, can be quite difficult to master.
  7. Remove the eggs from the saucepan when the timer goes off.
  8. It is now simply a matter of cooling down your eggs sufficiently, and peeling off the shells. You can then season them and eat.

KEY POINT: With these simple egg preparation recipes on your side, you can at least enjoy some degree of variety while eating steak and eggs every day.

​How to Make Ghee

Finally, as previously promised, here are some simple steps to making your own ghee at home.

This recipe makes three quarters of a cup.

ghee  in bowl

​Step 1:

Start out with any unsalted butter of your choice.

Step 2​:

Turn your stove on low heat, and place a medium saucepan on the burner. It is very important that the heat be low, otherwise, the butter will burn.

Step 3​:

Melt 1 cup of butter inside.

Step 4​:

​While the butter is melting, the milk solids separate from the clear fat.

Step 5:​

You'll notice as you are cooking that the butter will start bubbling. Continue to cook on the same low heat setting as this occurs.

The bubbles will eventually be replaced by a coating of foam, and the milks solids will begin to take on a brownish cast.

They will also start forming clumps around the edges of the pot.

Step 6​:

What around 8 to 10 minutes have passed since the onset of the bubbling, you should notice that the milk solids have taken on a golden color and are sinking.

Step 7​:

When this occurs, remove the saucepan from the stove.

Step 8​:

Pour the butter out of the saucepan and through a cheesecloth. This will strain out the milk solids, leaving only the clarified ghee behind.

Note:

Ghee does not technically require refrigeration, but putting it in the fridge can prolong its life.

When it cools down, it will turn opaque, and will become solid.

You do not need to concern yourself with this. It will turn back into a clear liquid the next time you heat it up.

Do not forget, if you do not want to go to this trouble yourself, you can purchase ghee ready-made.

KEY POINT: Following the simple steps above will help you to prepare clarified butter, a healthier alternative for cooking your steak and eggs which will not burn when high heat is applied.

​Conclusion

You now know everything that you need to in order to decide whether or not to try the steak and eggs diet.

Remember, if you do decide to try this diet for weight loss, only do so for a very short period of time. Otherwise, you take real risks with your nutrition.

If you are looking for a long-term alternative, consider a low-fat, high-carb diet which includes generous variety and nutrition.

This will help you to achieve lasting results for weight loss without sacrificing your overall health.

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  • Updated October 14, 2018

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