Eggs are full of protein, have a moderate amount of fat and contain only a trace amount of carbohydrate, making them a perfect fit for your Atkins diet. Even though the Atkins plan allows eggs, don’t start adding them to every meal. They’re still high in harmful fat and cholesterol that could increase your risk of heart disease if you consistently consume a lot.
Eggs and Carbohydrates
During the first phase of Atkins, you can’t have more than 20 grams of net carbs daily. Net carbs are the total amount of starch and sugar carbohydrates in a food. These are the carbohydrates left behind after subtracting fiber grams. Large whole eggs have less than 0.5 gram of total carbohydrate each. Because eggs do not contain fiber, this amount is your net carbs.
Enjoy your eggs poached, fried, hard-boiled, scrambled, soft-boiled or deviled. You won’t be upping your net carb intake. By adding oil or butter to your pan for cooking, you’ll get more fat and calories, but you won’t be adding any carbohydrates to your dish. Because oil and butter are purely fat, though, the Atkins diet plan recommends keeping your serving size to just 1 tablespoon.
Consider Your Toppings
While a plain egg cooked in a little oil is a virtually carb-free entreé, if you spruce up your eggs with cheese or make an omelet with veggies, you’ll up your carb intake. One ounce of Parmesan, Swiss, mozzarella, cheddar or blue cheese each adds roughly 0.5 to 1 gram of net carbohydrates. Pile on a 1/2-cup blend of chopped peppers, onions and mushrooms, and you’ll add up to 2 grams of net carbs to your egg dish.
Saturated Fat and Cholesterol Concerns
Because eggs contain both saturated fat and cholesterol, consider limiting your egg intake while following Atkins. The publication "Dietary Guidelines for Americans, 2010" recommends having no more than 10 percent of your calories from saturated fat -- 22 grams max for a 2,000-calorie diet. You also need to limit yourself to no more than 300 milligrams of cholesterol daily. Just one large egg has over 1.5 grams of saturated fat and more than 185 milligrams of cholesterol. If you cook with a tablespoon of butter, you'll add on nearly 7.5 grams of saturated fat and over 30 milligrams of cholesterol. If you’re making an egg scramble or an omelet, skip the butter and use one whole egg and two or three egg whites. You’ll still get protein, but because saturated fat and cholesterol are in the yolk, you won’t go overboard on your intake.
- U.S. Department of Agriculture and U.S. Department of Health and Human Services: Dietary Guidelines for Americans, 2010
- Atkins: What Low Carb Foods You Can Eat in this Phase
- Atkins: How to Do Induction Right
- American Egg Board: Egg Nutrient Chart
- USDA National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference: Butter, Salted
- Dave King/Dorling Kindersley RF/Getty Images