Eggs shown to aid weight loss in older and overweight people

Two new international research studies (1,2) have confirmed how eggs can help in weight loss programmes for different population groups.  Both studies showed eggs to be of benefit in helping overweight and obese adults, including older age groups, lose weight.

The new studies support the findings of a recent analysis of the latest UK National Diet and Nutrition Survey (NDNS) data (3) which showed that women who ate eggs were on average slimmer than non-egg eaters, with a lower BMI and waist-to-height ratio.  The analysis of NDNS data for 2017 confirmed that eating eggs is associated with a healthier dietary pattern for women in the UK, in contrast to their previous association with an unhealthy diet.

“These new studies support previous research showing that the high protein content, low energy density and satiating effect of eggs can help with weight loss,” comments Dr Juliet Gray, Registered Nutritionist.  “It is timely to see this research replicated for overweight people, particularly older age groups, who are currently being advised to lose weight to help reduce their risks from COVID-19.

“Eggs contain high quality protein and a wide range of micronutrients including some nutrients of concern in the UK, such as vitamin D and selenium. They offer an affordable way to help improve overall nutrition as well as aid weight loss.  This is particularly relevant for older age groups who are overweight or obese as they may simultaneously be losing muscle as they age – a condition known as sarcopenic obesity.”

In the first new study, a randomised clinical trial (4) published in Nutrition and Metabolism, researchers from the University of Alabama at Birmingham’s Nutrition Obesity Research Center aimed to determine if a very low-carbohydrate (VLCD), high-fat diet would reduce abdominal fat and preserve lean mass without intentional calorie restriction in older obese adults and improve cardiometabolic outcomes, such as insulin sensitivity and lipid profile.   

Participants lost an average of 9.7% total fat following an eight-week, VLCD diet, including at least three eggs a day, compared to a 2% fat loss in a control group prescribed a standard low-fat diet and told to avoid eggs. They also showed improvements in body composition, fat distribution and metabolic health.

The study’s lead author Amy Goss, Ph.D., RDN, an assistant professor with UAB’s Department of Nutrition Sciences said: “After the eight-week intervention, despite the recommendation to consume a weight-maintaining diet, the group consuming the very low-carbohydrate diet lost more weight and total fat mass than the control diet group.

“We also found significant improvements in the overall lipid profile that would reflect decreased risk of cardiovascular disease,” Goss said. “Further, insulin sensitivity improved in response to the very low-carbohydrate diet reflecting reduced risk of Type 2 diabetes.

“Overall, we observed improvements in body composition, fat distribution and metabolic health in response to an eight-week, very low-carbohydrate diet.”

Goss added that this study was one of the first to test this dietary approach to improve outcomes related to obesity in adults older than age 65 — a population at particularly high risk of other diseases and in need of therapeutic interventions to improve health while preserving skeletal muscle mass to prevent or delay functional decline with age.

In the second study (5) published in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, 50 overweight or obese participants attended the University of South Australia’s Clinical Trial Facility on two separate days, one week apart. On each day participants consumed one of two breakfasts (both 1800 kJ), either eggs and toast or cereal with milk and orange juice.

Participants who ate the egg breakfast consumed significantly less energy at an ad libitum lunch meal four hours later, with intake following the egg breakfast significantly reduced compared with the cereal breakfast (4518 vs. 5283 kJ). The sensation of hunger was less after the egg breakfast and returned more quickly after the cereal breakfast, with no effects of gender or age. 

The researchers commented: “The findings suggest that satiety responses of overweight and obese are not different to non-obese participants as our study confirms findings from studies conducted in different populations. Determining which foods may help overweight and obese individuals manage their food intake is important for diet planning.”