Updated: May 2
Like most trends in life, they come and go. Remember planking? How about the cinnamon challenge. Or remember those bracelets that were supposed to help you balance better?
So what's the deal with eggs?
The same is true with nutrition. Initially consumption of eggs were good, then they were said to be bad; avoid the yolk because there is too much fat and cholesterol! But recently, new light is being shed on eggs. Get ready, I’m about to “crack” your mind wide open!
Don't skip the yolk.
Everyone knows that eggs are a great source of protein, providing about 6-8 grams of protein per egg and containing all nine essential amino acids. But if you are avoiding the egg yolk, you’re really missing out. The yolk of eggs contains many additional micronutrients such as 40% of daily vitamin D requirements, 25% of daily folate requirements, 20% of daily selenium requirements, and other vital micronutrients such as vitamins A, E, B, iron, iodine and phosphorus. And it gets even better! Eggs are also a good source of omega-3s which are beneficial for many things including protecting our eyes, heart health and brain health.
Recently, a study published in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning compared the effects of consuming whole eggs versus egg whites after resistance training on body composition, muscular strength and anaerobic power. Results showed that body fat percentage and muscular strength were improved to a greater extent after twelve weeks of resistance training and whole egg ingestion compared with egg whites. Furthermore, an increase in serum testosterone concentrations also improved with those who consumed the whole egg versus just the egg whites. It’s important to note that the listed above improvements were not due to protein intake, as both groups were consuming the same amount of protein. Vitamin, minerals and the other non-protein components of egg yolks moderate the anabolic response and may have contributed to the results of this study.
Help or hurt the heart?
The claims that eggs cause heart disease have also been “cracking”. A major study published in 2020 in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition looked at data from about 177,000 individuals and 21 different countries and found that there was no association between egg intake and blood cholesterol, it’s components or other risk factors. It did not increase the risk of cardiovascular disease or mortality even if the subjects had a history of cardiovascular disease or diabetes. The foods that people typically eat with eggs, such as bacon, ham, sausage, butter, or cheese may contribute more to heart disease than the eggs.
Eggs can be a great inexpensive and convenient source of protein and nutrients. Plus, they are so versatile. You can scramble, bake, poach, whip and fry them! There are so many ways to include eggs into your daily meals such as scrambled eggs for breakfast, boiled eggs for a snack or added on a salad at lunch. Dinner could be an eggs and veggie sheet pan mix.
So many options
One thing that can be confusing about eggs, is the large variety of options when shopping at the grocery store. Although there are differences in color, grade, organic vs non-organic and cage-free vs rage-free, the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics reports no significant difference in the nutrition found in eggs based on their color or farming method. Any small differences in nutrition would be dependent on the size of the egg. Chickens that are fed omega-3 rich foods, would also produce a higher amount of omega-3s in their eggs. If sold at a grocery store, these eggs would be labeled “enriched with omega-3 fatty acids”. However, do keep in mind that if you are planning on making hard-boiled eggs, Grade B eggs are a good choice, while eggs with grades AA or A are better quality eggs and more favorable for baking.
What's the right amount?
So how many eggs a day should you be eating? Really, there is no set recommendation. Like most nutrition answers, it depends. There have been studies showing health benefits while consuming up to 12 whole eggs per week, and one case study from The New England Journal of Medicine even looked at an 88 year old man who consumed 25 eggs per day while maintaining normal plasma cholesterol levels! The study listed above from The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition recommends “moderate egg intake” which is about one egg per day for most people. Additionally, The American Heart Association recommends one whole egg per day as part of a healthy diet.
My recommendations as a dietitian would be one to two whole eggs per day. If you’re eating your eggs for breakfast, make it a scramble and create extra bulk by loading your eggs up with vegetables such as peppers, onions, zucchini, broccoli, mushrooms etc. You could even add some egg whites to help give you an extra boost of protein, while still getting the micronutrients from your 1-2 whole eggs.
Now that you are an “EGGspert” on eggs, adding 1-2 into your daily nutritional intake sounds like a trend that is here to stay. If you are interested in incorporating more eggs into your post Performance Syndicate Training nutrition recovery, a good place to start would be talking to a Registered Dietitian. Additionally, The Incredible Egg website at www.incredibleegg.org has some great resources on additional benefits of egg consumption and delicious recipes for anytime.
Bagheri, Reza et al. “Whole Egg Vs. Egg White Ingestion During 12 weeks of Resistance Training in Trained Young Males: A Randomized Controlled Trial.” Journal of strength and conditioning research vol. 35,2 (2021): 411-419. doi:10.1519/JSC.0000000000003922
Dehghan, M et al. “Association of egg intake with blood lipids, cardiovascular disease, and mortality in 177,000 people in 50 countries”. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 2020; DOI: 10.1093/ajcn/nqz348
Fuller, N et al. “Effect of a high-egg diet on cardiometabolic risk factors in people with type 2 diabetes: the Diabetes and Egg (DIABEGG) Study—randomized weight-loss and follow-up phase”. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, Volume 107, Issue 6, June 2018, Pages 921–931, https://doi.org/10.1093/ajcn/nqy048
Jones, M., 1991. Physiological responses to increased dietary cholesterol: The case of the egg man Kern F Jr. Normal plasma cholesterol in an 88-year-old man who eats 25 eggs a day. N Engl J Med 1991;324: 896–899. Hepatology, 14(6), pp.1291-1293.
www.heart.org. 2021. Are eggs good for you or not?. [online] Available at: <https://www.heart.org/en/news/2018/08/15/are-eggs-good-for-you-or-not> [Accessed 20 April 2021].
Crescent Henry, MS, RD, CSSD, CSCS is a Performance Dietitian working out of Washington State with seven years experience. As a U.S. Air Force Veteran and now a contract Dietitian for the U.S. Army, Crescent has seen first hand the importance of helping athletes make the connection between plate and performance.
Crescent does have a professional instagram account, battlebornnutrition_nv although she is horrible at maintaining and would be better to contact through her email at firstname.lastname@example.org.