Want to lose 5 pounds? If you consult a 1977 issue of Vogue for new weight loss ideas, you might stumble upon this “wine and egg diet,” which involves (you guessed it) drinking wine and eating eggs. People on Twitter discovered the magazine issue, and the diet went viral. On the diet, you consume an entire bottle of wine every day. The catch? You aren’t really allowed to eat much food. All in all, the diet sounds like three days spent in a starving, drunken stupor.
The diet plan, pioneered by author Helen Gurley Brown in her 1962 book Sex and the Single Girl, outlines three precise meals. The book, ironically, was popular for its encouragement of financial and romantic independence for women. It prescribes a strict menu for breakfast, lunch, and dinner for three days, after which the magazine promises a loss of 5 pounds.
Breakfast is one hard-boiled egg with a glass of wine. (It’s 5 o’clock somewhere, right?) You’re also prescribed a cup of black coffee. For lunch, you get more coffee, two hard-boiled eggs — or poached, “if necessary” — and two glasses of white wine. (Now we’re talking.) For dinner, you’re finally allowed to indulge your carnivorous appetite with a 5-ounce serving of steak, paired with more coffee and the rest of your bottle of wine.
“Can I swap the eggs for another bottle of wine?” one Twitter user joked. Not unless you want to black out. But if you do follow this plan to a tee, at least you won’t let any wine go to waste.
You may think this diet sounds especially crazy — but in the 1970s, it didn’t seem that abnormal. Thirty years from now, what will people think about the fat-crazed keto diet, the meat-heavy carnivore diet, and other more modern (but still extreme) regimens?
Still, this diet can’t be good for you. First of all, you’re missing almost all the nutrients you need in a healthy day of eating. This diet sounds like a trip to dehydration station. Alcohol and black coffee suck the water right from your system. Additionally, a couple of skimpy servings of eggs aren’t going to do much to even out all that booze.
“If an intermittent fasting regimen went on a drinking binge in a henhouse, you’d pretty much have this diet,” Julie Stefanski, RDN, spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition & Dietetics, told The Daily Meal. “This random menu (I don’t even want to call it a diet) provides 1,103 calories with 43 percent of those calories coming from the alcohol calories in the wine!”
Not only is that not enough calories for an adult human — Stefanski says 1,103 calories “is roughly the amount needed by a 1-year-old baby” — but even if you’re drinking the healthiest possible type of wine, alcohol calories don’t offer much in terms of nutrition.
“Clearly Helen Gurley Brown didn’t have the benefit of reading the recent guidelines on alcohol consumption published in Lancet this year,” Stefanski said in an email. “The researchers found that less than 100 grams of alcohol per week was associated with the lowest risk of death. This suggested menu provides nearly that amount in one day.”
After three days on the diet, you’d undoubtedly have strayed far past the recommended limit.
Stefanski also noted that both wine and coffee can have laxative effects. “I can’t even imagine how awful someone would feel while trying this,” she said.
Bottom line? Don’t try fad diets, no matter how in vogue.
This isn’t the first time people have tried wacky tricks in the name of weight loss. In decades past, people tried some seriously strange regimens that they swore really worked.