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Vince Gironda's 36 eggs a day diet: Is it really as good as steroids?

Vince Girondas 36 Eier pro Tag Diät: Ist sie wirklich so gut wie Steroide?

Disclaimer: This article describes extreme nutritional techniques from the golden era of bodybuilding that are not considered healthy eating from today's perspective. This description is purely informative and is not intended for imitation.

Vince Gironda once promoted this diet, which involves eating 36 eggs a day, as one of the most anabolic diets ever. He even once said that 3 dozen eggs a day were equivalent to the effect of a mild Dianabol cycle.

When this extreme form of nutrition reappeared on YouTube some time ago, it led to very controversial discussions. Is it naive to believe Vince Gironda in this regard?

Let's take a closer look at the history of this controversial diet and what science has to say about it.

The original experiment

In the 1960s, Dianabol had just appeared on the bodybuilding scene and numerous scientific articles were published regarding the effectiveness of the compound methandronstenolone (the scientific name for Dianabol) in aiding the healing process in burn victims, with these effects based at least in part on the ability of this compound to generate a positive nitrogen balance (1, 2, 3).

Then in 1975, a medical research article entitled "36 eggs per day in the treatment of severe burns" was published in the British Journal of Plastic Surgery by Hirshowitz and colleagues, demonstrating that eating 36 eggs per day allowed patients to maintain a positive nitrogen balance, which accelerated their healing process (4).

The scientists also found that even when the patients consumed up to 7,000 mg of cholesterol per day, it did not appear to affect their serum cholesterol levels. The scientists theorized that the body's high demands to use fat in patients with severe burns could help maintain normal cholesterol levels.

The doctor who made the connection

A short time later, a member at Vince's gym named Dr. T. K, Desai began experimenting with Vince Gironda's diet plans. He was so impressed with his results that he tried to understand the biochemical processes going on in his body, so he began taking his own blood samples before and after workouts. And it was Dr. Desai who pointed out to Vince Gironda that at the time three dozen eggs were being used on patients with severe burns and this accelerated the healing process of the skin with similar efficiency as the commercial steroid Dianabol.

Vince's special protein shake and the hormone precursor diet

Clearly Vince Gironda and other bodybuilders at the time had been aware of the benefits of eating large amounts of eggs for decades before this study was published.

After the study was published, it didn't take long for Vince Gironda to put one and one together and realize that if three dozen eggs a day could improve the healing process in burn victims by improving nitrogen balance, it could also have a similar anabolic effect in bodybuilders.

In his book "The Wild Physique" he wrote the following:

"The diet for the bodybuilder is in fact quite simple: the bottom line is to get the body into a state of positive nitrogen balance. This is achieved by consuming 30 to 50 grams of high quality protein every three hours to keep blood sugar levels stable and ensure a constant supply of protein to the muscles.

As raw, fertilized eggs are the best (and cheapest) source of high quality protein and can be quickly and easily digested in a mixture of half & half, they are the best source for growth and strength.

This diet will provide a satisfying feeling for the hardgainer due to the stable blood sugar levels. It is superior to the meat, eggs and water diet as you will never really feel hungry or tired.

Because it puts you in a state of positive nitrogen balance (anabolic state) through hormone precursors, it is the best nutritional program for the hardgainer. It is also known as the ultimate muscle-building diet."

Bodybuilders who have used the 36 eggs a day diet

Golden-era bodybuilders like Don Howorth, Bill Grant and Don Peters used the 36 eggs a day method to build muscle, while Arnold Schwarzenegger, Franco Columbu, Ric Drasin, Mike Katz and Rick Wayne ate at least a dozen eggs a day during the bulking phase.

In a MusceMag article, Vince Gironda wrote the following about his protégé Don Peters: "I produce men like Don Peters, who looks better today at 43 than he did when he was 20 years younger and using steroids. I'm willing to put my reputation on the line to prove that steroids are no better than four dozen fertilized eggs, 100 liver pills and 100 amino acid pills a day."

Cholesterol and fats and their effects on cardiovascular disease

The problem with the 36 eggs a day diet is that as soon as it is mentioned, someone always screams "Aren't you worried about your cholesterol levels?" If I had a dollar for every one of those statements, I'd be a billionaire by now. But let's debunk some of the myths about cholesterol at this point.

There are legitimate fears about cardiovascular disease, but its link to dietary cholesterol is no longer supported by science. A recent study review published in the journal Nutrition comes to the following conclusion (5):

"To date, extensive research has failed to support a role for dietary cholesterol in the development of cardiovascular disease. As a result, the 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans removed the recommendation to limit daily cholesterol intake to 300 mg per day."

In this study, eggs were considered part of a healthy diet even though they are high in fat and cholesterol. The view that dietary fat can increase the risk of cardiovascular disease requires further explanation.

The type of dietary fat may have different effects in the body, but may be less important as a risk factor for cardiovascular disease than a reduction in carbohydrates and processed carbohydrates.

There is evidence that a significant reduction in cardiovascular disease risk can be achieved by replacing saturated fats with unsaturated fats, particularly polyunsaturated fats (6).

Other studies suggest that saturated fats should be part of a healthy diet and can reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease (7). Research on whether saturated or unsaturated fats are actually risk factors for cardiovascular disease is ongoing.

Eggs, which are a source of dietary cholesterol, contain both saturated and unsaturated fats and have a high nutrient density. Conventional medical wisdom suggests that eggs should be part of a healthy diet for healthy people without an increased risk of cardiovascular disease.

However, if you or your family have a history of cholesterol problems, heart disease or arterial disease, then large amounts of eggs may not be a good idea.

Saturated fats and cholesterol and their impact on testosterone and muscle hypertrophy But what is the impact of fat and cholesterol compared to diets rich in carbohydrates on testosterone levels in healthy individuals?

Well, a recent study published in the journal Nutrition concluded that high consumption of processed carbohydrates - bread and pastries, sweet desserts, etc. - is associated with obesity, hypogonadism, reduced skeletal muscle mass and low serum testosterone levels - which should come as no surprise (8).

In turn, several studies have found that dietary fats can positively affect sperm quality, testicular function and testosterone levels - which wasn't really a surprise either.

For example, one study found that saturated animal fats positively affected serum concentrations of androstenedione, testosterone and free testosterone in healthy men (9). Another similar study found that low saturated fat intake was associated with reduced testosterone production (10).

This study found that men who switched from a diet with 40% fat and high saturated fat to a diet with 25% fat experienced a reduction in total testosterone levels and free testosterone levels, while a subsequent increase in fat intake to the original level caused an increase in testosterone levels.

Figure 1: Differences in testicular volume due to increased amounts of certain nutrients:


Furthermore, a higher intake of saturated fat was associated with a greater amount of lean body mass!

Several recent studies have also found that diets low in saturated fat reduced circulating testosterone levels (11).

All in all, diets rich in saturated animal fats seem to correlate with high testosterone levels.

But what about cholesterol? Does cholesterol also increase testosterone production in men? Indirect evidence suggests it does. Ketogenic diets, which are rich in saturated fat and cholesterol, led to an overall increase in testosterone levels (12). In a recent 2017 study review, the authors suggested that high cholesterol intake served as a precursor to an increase in testosterone levels in subjects following a ketogenic diet rich in fat and cholesterol - it seems Vince Gironda was right (12).

In addition, diets rich in cholesterol also appear to lead to muscle hypertrophy. Studies have shown that a diet high in cholesterol increased myofibrillar protein synthesis (muscle protein synthesis) compared to a diet low in cholesterol (13). Other studies found that higher cholesterol intake increased strength development.

A 2017 study also found that eating whole eggs increased muscle growth more than eating egg whites - another point in Vince's favor (14).

But why did Vince Gironda recommend raw eggs? To avoid damaging and oxidizing the cholesterol contained in the eggs, which can have a devastating effect on testicular health. Understanding that cholesterol is a precursor to testosterone is crucial in this context - and keeping it intact is important if you want to optimize hormonal health (15). When eggs are cooked, the cholesterol they contain is oxidized, negating the beneficial effects of dietary cholesterol.

A recent study conducted with rats demonstrated that oxidized cholesterol reduced spermatogenesis, organ weight and testosterone production, while unoxidized cholesterol showed none of these effects (16).

In summary, raw eggs provide unoxidized cholesterol that supports testicular function and testosterone production, while cooked eggs - and especially cooked egg yolks - have destructive effects on male hormone production.

The magic egg

In addition to the miracle of saturated fat and cholesterol for optimal testosterone production and muscle hypertrophy, eggs contain other wonderful nutrients that have been shown to increase muscle hypertrophy. Eggs contain natural hormones, egg albimun and follistatin.

Testosterone, androstenedione and other hormones are also found in eggs. A study that looked at the testosterone content of regular supermarket eggs found that one egg contained only 120 ng of testosterone (17). Another study using fertilized eggs found similar levels (18).

In all honesty, it is difficult to say whether this small amount of testosterone can have any anabolic effect. However, eggs contain a significant amount of androstenedione - a precursor to testosterone - and a week of 36 eggs per day is equivalent to 750 mg of androstenedione.

Although studies have shown that administration of androstenedione can increase serum testosterone levels, much higher doses than those provided by the 36 eggs per day diet were necessary.

Egg albumin has also been shown to increase testosterone levels, with whole eggs showing greater muscle-building potential.

Finally, eggs are an excellent source of follistatin, which inhibits myostatin. Myostatin inhibits the growth of muscle cells, so inhibiting myostatin with follistatin is a good idea.

In this context, it is interesting to note that supplement manufacturers have jumped on the egg bandwagon and launched follistatin isolates from fertilized eggs, which contain higher amounts of follistatin. These extracts have been shown to increase lean body mass, strength and speed in men training with weights.

Why should you follow the 36 eggs a day diet?

As Vince Gironda has already said, this is the ultimate muscle building diet. Vince has admitted that in the eighties of the 20th century, bodybuilding nutrition revolved more around the production or access to/from testosterone and other anabolic derivatives. Vince abhorred the use of steroids and preferred to rely on bodybuilding nutrition. In his book The Wild Physique, Vince stated quite clearly that the 36 eggs a day diet is designed to accelerate muscle growth and that this is the primary purpose of this diet.

In the original he said:

"A 36 eggs a day diet can give your body development a boost you didn't think possible. And you will achieve this anabolic effect naturally. In fact, I've made some of my best gains while eating three dozen eggs a day!".

How to do the 36 eggs a day diet correctly

If you decide to try this diet, here is the correct way to do it as described by Vince Gironda. To correctly incorporate 36 eggs per day into your diet, you must follow the correct protocol described by Vince in the book The Wild Physique as follows:

Breakfast : Vince's special protein drink

  • 500 ml of a 50:50 mixture of milk and cream
  • 12 raw eggs
  • 1/3 cup milk and egg protein powder
  • 1 banana

Mix 1 to 3 servings of this formula in a blender and drink it throughout the day between meals and before bedtime.


  • 1 pound of hamburger meat or other meat
  • Mixed green salad or raw vegetables


  • 1-2 pounds of steak or other roasted meat
  • Raw or steamed vegetables or salad and cottage cheese

This diet was followed for 6 to 8 weeks. One of Vince's special protein drinks is equivalent to 12 eggs per day and over time the number of these drinks should be progressively increased.

During the first and second week, one portion of this drink should be consumed per day. In weeks three and four, the number was increased to 2 of these drinks per day. During weeks five to eight, 3 special protein drinks of this type should be consumed per day.


The science suggests that Vince Gironda and Dr. Desai may have been right about the anabolic effects of the 36 eggs a day diet. Of course, more research is needed to confirm this claim.


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