Nutritious Dietary Patterns

Dietary patterns (also called eating patterns) are the combinations and quantities of food and beverages consumed over time. Consistent evidence indicates that, in general, a plant-based dietary pattern is more health-promoting than the current average U.S. diet. However, a “plant-based” eating patterns doesn’t mean only plants; pairing high-quality protein foods, like eggs, with plants is essential for the synthesis and maintenance of muscle tissue, and for achieving optimal vitamin and mineral intakes.

The 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommend three healthy eating patterns, all of which include eggs. But what are the sample eating patterns, and what are the key differences between them?

To learn more about healthy eating patterns, including those recommended in the 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines, and how eggs fit within those patterns, explore the following PowerPoint, and feel free to share it with friends!

Healthy Eating Patterns: How do Eggs Fit?

Cover Slide Image

Filter By Topic

To 2013, a Year of Nutritious Breakfasts!

We have almost survived the first week of 2013.  Hopefully you and your clients have focused on obtainable lifestyle changes for the New Year.  If you’re still looking for a goal to last a lifetime, try committing to eat breakfast.  If you are a breakfast skipper, consider making it a habit to start eating breakfast, and if you currently eat breakfast, aim to maximize the nutrition of your first meal of the day.
2013 Eggs

Breakfast has been a popular topic on Nutrition Unscrambled, as well as many other health related articles, blogs and tweets.  A breakfast that includes high quality protein, such as eggs, has shown multiple benefits including improved cognition, better appetite control,  muscle and strength building from the amino acids, as well as mind and body energy for our busy lives.  Here is a great blog post by Appetite for Health discussing the benefits of protein in the diet, particularly for weight loss.

A recent article on Epicurious that quoted ENC Health Professional Advisor, Kathleen Zelman, discussed some great breakfast tips.  A favorite quote from the article is: “She adds that there have been ’umpteen studies‘ that demonstrate the benefits of breakfast on all sorts of performance, including how children fare on tests.”  Despite the “umpteen studies,” we don’t seem to make breakfast a priority.  Let’s make a new habit and have breakfast be a priority in 2013 (and beyond).

Don’t know where to start or not sure how to talk to clients about eating breakfast?  You can use MyPlate as a guide for ideas.  The great news is that breakfast doesn’t have to take a long time to make (or eat).  Eggs are a great addition to breakfast because they are quick and easy, as well as delicious and pair well with other healthy foods. For simple recipe ideas, visit the Incredible Egg website.eggb
So here is a new challenge: show other health professionals and clients your commitment to eating a healthy breakfast that includes protein-rich options, like eggs.  You can tweet your breakfast photos at @IncredibleEggs or post them on Facebook at Incredible Edible Egg. Also be sure to add a comment about why you are committed to breakfast. Use the hashtag #eggbreakfast in your posts.

Chaotic Eating Contributes to Excessive Calories and Obesity

Today’s post comes from Dr. Donald Layman. Dr. Layman is the Director of Research at the Egg Nutrition Center and Professor Emeritus at the University of Illinois and a leading researcher studying dietary needs for protein and amino acids.

Variety may be the “spice of life” but it is also a factor leading to excess calorie intake and obesity. There is increasing evidence that the hectic American lifestyle that often leads to chaotic meal patterns combined with the almost unlimited availability of high calorie snacks and desserts plays a central role in expanding waistlines of adults.

Consuming a variety of foods is often recommended as an approach to good nutrition, but there is increasing evidence that consistency of meals and limiting variety of food choices – certainly snacks – may be important for controlling energy intake.

A recent study by Dr. Rena Wing at University of Tennessee (AJCN 95:1305, 2012) examined limiting the variety of high energy-low nutrient (HE-LN) foods consumed by adults during an 18-month weight loss study. These foods provide a lot of calories but with minimal nutrient density. Subjects were allowed to select two items from a list of snacks, desserts, candy, ice cream, breads, cereals and pastas. These two items could be consumed as part of any meal or snack throughout the study, but no other items from the list were allowed at any time. The researchers found that limiting the choices in the HE-LN categories to only two selections significantly reduced calorie intake.

Anyone trying to achieve weight loss must restrict total calorie intake; and calorie restriction creates the potential for increased hunger and desire to eat. Managing the desire to eat requires consistent meal patterns, including the types of foods, the amount of food, and the meal timing. It is unlikely that there is a single meal pattern that is ideal for everyone, however there is increasing evidence that skipping breakfast leads to increased snacking and consumption of excess calories late in the day. Consuming a consistent breakfast that contains about 30 grams of high quality protein and reduced amounts of high glycemic carbohydrates is an important factor for appetite regulation. Likewise, reducing the size of dinner is important related to portion control and total calorie intake.

Eating a variety of foods is important but a better message for adults may be to strive for consistent meals that are nutritionally balanced. There is nothing wrong with eating the same basic foods and having the same meals every day. Avoid chaotic eating and limit the variety of high energy-low nutrient foods to achieve weight management.

Fun Fact Friday: The Company Eggs Keep – It’s Up To You

Today’s post comes from Julie Rothenberg, a dietetic intern at Loyola University Chicago. She is also currently working towards her Master of Science degree in dietetics, which she plans to receive in May 2013.

JR2Julie has really been enjoying her rotation at the Egg Nutrition Center and states that her experience has enhanced her understanding of educating health professionals and learning more about nutrition research.

Happy Friday! We thought it would be a great day to talk about a phrase that we like to use at ENC.  “It’s the company eggs keep.” What does this mean?

Eggs are a great part of any meal. This is not just because they are loaded with nutrients and high quality protein, but also because they can be accompanied by a wide variety of foods. The diverse appearance and texture eggs can have, make them an ideal meal companion. This is especially helpful when preparing a colorful and assorted plate of food. Although there are many options to accompany your egg, some of them are less nutritious.  Common selections include: calorie packed bread items such as muffins or bagels, or higher fat choices like ham, bacon, and full fat cheese (usually in larger portions).

“It’s the company eggs keep.”  As you can see, there are many foods to choose from, so consider balancing your choices to promote an overall healthy diet.  You decide what to eat and you can certainly enjoy all foods, but be mindful of your choices.


To help you decide on a healthy accompaniment for your egg, you can use MyPlate. The USDA uses MyPlate to suggest a healthy and well-balanced layout for your plate at meal times.   If you are looking to improve your overall diet, SuperTracker is also a great tool.

A whole-wheat English muffin, a slice of toast  or even a bowl of oatmeal is an egg-cellent grain selection. They are filled with fiber and will keep you fuller longer. Eggs can even be in the company of various tasty vegetables chopped up and cooked in an omelet as well. Vegetables will add a variety of color and nutrients that will make for an egg-stremely healthy meal.


In addition to the options above, you can add a cup of chopped fruit of your choice. Fruits and vegetables are high in many nutrients and contain many antioxidants that are important for your body.  Add no or low-fat dairy and put it all together for a well-balanced egg-stra delicious meal!

Our website also has some great MyPlate materials, including recipes.

So next time eggs are on your plate, pair them up with a healthy mate!

Designing Your Power Packed Breakfast

Today’s post comes from Kathleen Zelman, MPH, RD. Zelman is the Director of Nutrition for WebMD, overseeing diet, nutrition and food information. Among other duties, she serves as Senior Nutrition Correspondent, writes weekly features, columns and newsletters, provides expert editorial review of diet and nutrition articles and covers national meetings. Zelman has extensive media experience, including 12 years as a national spokeswoman for the American Dietetic Association (ADA) and currently serves as one of ENC’s Health Professional Advisors.

It is no mystery that breakfast is the most important meal of the day.  After hours of fasting, the first meal of the day stokes your metabolism and provides fuel to get you going.

But does it matter what you eat for breakfast?  Absolutely, eating a donut is not going to have the same lasting effect as a meal that contains whole grains, fruit, lean protein and/or healthy fats.

Breakfasts that go the distance                                                     

A nutritious breakfast needs to include carbohydrates for fuel.  Carbs from fruit, whole grains and low fat dairy are among the most healthful options.  Choose whole fruits and whole grains that are a good source of fiber to add meal satisfaction and help you make it to lunch without hitting the vending machine.

Pair the smart carbs with lean or low fat protein such as eggs, salmon, low far dairy, nuts, soy or lean meats.  Protein aids in satiety and feeling fuller for a longer period of time, especially when consumed with foods rich in fiber and healthy fats.

But to get the real benefits of satiety, you will need to eat more protein than you are used to eating at breakfast.

Pile on the Protein

Some experts believe, when it comes to protein, more is better.  Consuming 30 grams protein per meal may be the amount necessary to promote weight loss, change body composition, control appetite and build muscle.

To achieve these benefits of a higher protein diet, breakfast is the most important meal to set up the cascade of metabolic events.  Protein balance only lasts three hours after ingestion which is why you need to consume an adequate amount at breakfast and throughout the rest of the day.

Sample 30 g protein breakfast meals:

1. Two poached eggs, one cup nonfat Greek yogurt with ½ cup blueberries and 1 tablespoon almonds.

2. Southwestern omelet with two eggs, ½ cup black bean salsa and 2 tablespoons soft goat cheese and whole grain toast.

3. One cup low fat cottage cheese and ½ cup pineapple.

Start the day out right

A healthy breakfast has the potential to set you up for multiple benefits as long as you power up your plate with plenty of lean, low fat protein at breakfast and do it again at lunch and dinner.


Layman, D and Rodriguez, N.  Nutrition Today, Jan/Feb 2009.

Layman, D. Nutrition Metabolism, 2009

Layman, D. Journal American Clinical Nutrition, December 2004