There are always a few foods that are stocked up in my house. There is always chicken breast in the freezer, milk is in the refrigerator and protein bars are in the pantry. The other thing that is in the house all the time is eggs. Our house goes through a lot of them very quickly. I like to keep them stocked because they are a great source of protein, but they are really great cook up in a pinch. They are also great for whatever fitness goal you are looking to reach. So this next article in the muscle building food series will cover eggs.
Good Source of Protein
There may be an ongoing debate on whether the chicken or the egg came first, but there is no debate on whether or not eggs are a great source of protein. There is about 6.3 grams of protein in each egg. The protein is a complete protein and has a very high biological value. The egg’s biological value is so high that it is commonly used as the baseline for which all other foods are measured. The biological value of protein is a measure that determines how well the body will utilize the protein in building muscle. The higher the number the better it is. Eggs have a biological value of 100, with only whey protein having a higher rating with a value of 104.
Loaded with nutrients
Eggs are a good source of many nutrients which include riboflavin, folate, vitamin B6, B12, D, and E, iron, phosphorus, and zinc. Some of these nutrients, like zinc and riboflavin, are important in helping the body repair tissue and build muscle. Folate and vitamins B6 and B12 help to metabolize amino acids.
High in fat
So with the great quality of protein and many nutrients, there had to be some trade-off or everyone trying to get in better shape would be eating eggs 24/7. Well as you probably already know, the big knock against eggs is the fat content.
For some people the fat content is a great thing. If you are trying to lose weight with a low-carb diet plan, most of your calories should be coming from fat.
The traditional weight gain plan is with high carbs and low-fat though so if that is what you are in to, you may want to limit the amount of whole eggs you eat.
Each whole egg has 5 grams of fat. With only 6.3 grams of protein to balance that off from, it’s not really a great ratio. 63% of the calories are coming from the fat. 5 grams is not a lot of fat, but when you are eating a lot of eggs it adds up. It can especially add up for those trying to put on size.
Of the 5 grams, 1.55 grams of it is from saturated fat. Again not a whole lot by itself, but when eating a meal with multiple eggs it can add up pretty quickly. The USDA recommends adults get between 20 and 35 percent of their calories from fat and less than 10 percent from saturated fat. Based on this recommendation, someone eating a 2,000 calorie diet should get between 44 and 77 grams for fat, but less than 20 grams from saturated fat.
Saturated fat by itself is not necessarily a bad thing though. Problems usually arise when people eat saturated fat along with too many carbohydrates, especially sugars.
High in dietary cholesterol
One egg has 212mg of dietary cholesterol. The longtime recommendation for cholesterol was to get less than 300mg of dietary cholesterol per day.
Eating one egg gets you pretty close to that number alone, but eating 3 eggs at a time like most people, shoots that number through the roof.
The 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans changed things and set no upper limit for dietary cholesterol but still advised limiting saturated fats, thus limiting cholesterol.
The real question about cholesterol though is, does it even matter?
Recent studies have shown that dietary cholesterol consumption does not increase risk for coronary heart disease. Clinical studies have also shown that more than 2/3 of the population does not show a considerable rise in blood cholesterol after an increase in their dietary cholesterol. 85% of your blood cholesterol is manufactured by your body so only about 15% comes from the foods you eat and studies have also shown that blood cholesterol is more effected by saturated fats and trans-fatty acids like trans-fat or hydrogenated fat.
As far as building muscle though cholesterol may be good thing since it has been shown to increase testosterone production. This can be a good thing for both men and women though since testosterone aids in building muscle.
The benefits of Egg Whites
So when everyone started to get concerned about dietary cholesterol and wanted to keep it low, the best solution was to use egg whites (or an egg substitute.) Egg whites have no cholesterol and almost no fat. This can be a good or bad thing depending on what you are aiming for with your macros.
Each egg white has 17 calories and 3.6 grams of protein. So with egg whites your calories are a lot lower and all the calories are pretty much from protein. Having the calories lower are good for burning fat and having a food that is mostly protein is good for building muscle so what can be bad about that. Well taking out the yolk also takes out 2.7 grams of protein from the egg and virtually all of the nutrients.
If you are going low-carb with your foods, you may not want to eat the egg whites alone since you may want the increased ft to compensate for the lower carbs. So there is some good and some bad about eating only egg whites and this is something you need to consider when planning your meals.
Omega-3s in Eggs
Omega-3s are essential fatty acids that play a role in reducing inflammation throughout the body and lowers your risk for heart disease. These aren’t directly related to building muscle, they are great health benefits so I thought I would mention them.
Not all eggs are good sources of omega-3s though. Hens that are fed a diet of grass and insects produce eggs with more omega-3s than hens that are fed corn and soybeans. Some farmers are also supplementing the hen’s diets with flax and canola seeds which further increase the omega-3s in the eggs. Some brands even include fish oil in the diet of the hen.
While omega-3 eggs do not contain a lot of omega-3s, their addition is a good benefit. If you buy omega-3containing eggs, note that they are only in the yolk, so if you are eating the whites only it would be better to save your money and buy the normal eggs.
So like most foods, there are benefits and drawbacks to eating eggs.It really depends on what your goals are and what you are wanting from the eggs.
This changes depending on what my fitness goal is but I am currently using 6 egg whites and 2 whole eggs. This way I don’t get too many egg yolks at a time, but I also increase the amount of protein in the meal. I usually scramble them, but sometimes I make an omelet with some vegetables in it. The nutritional breakdown for eggs in that ratio give me around 33 grams of protein, 10 grams of fat (3 of which are saturated,) and there are about 242 calories.
Compare that to 4 whole eggs which would have about 24 grams of protein, 20 grams of fat (6 grams of saturated fat) and around 280 calories.
What you end up doing will really depend on what you are trying to accomplish. Someone who is trying to reduce their body fat may want to eat less total eggs but use whole eggs to get the fat and nutrients but eat only a few to keep the calories down. Someone who is trying to bulk up and needs more protein may want to eat a lot egg whites in addition to whole eggs to increase their protein without increasing the fat.
What you do will ultimately depend on your goal, but at least you know the benefits and potential drawbacks of this great food. Either way, eggs are a great food for muscle building and fat loss and can be incorporated into any nutrition plan.