A healthy way to eat eggs for bodybuilders and athletes

Eggs are a constant source of research and differing opinions because they are such a staple food for millions of us, but much of the information written about eggs is focused on the average person and only looks at topics like cholesterol that relate to the heart. disease, or simply how many calories are inside the shell. In the world of bodybuilding, eggs represent a chance to pack on protein and build muscle, so what we really want to know is how effective they are at building muscle. But eggs are also made of both yolks and whites, and trying to understand the pros and cons of each can be more complex than trying to put Humpy Dumpty back together.

Here’s how M&F takes a deep dive into what eggs mean for bodybuilders and athletes, considering how many eggs we should be eating and what we should be doing with the yellow stuff.

Why are eggs so important to bodybuilders in the first place?

Guoda Karoblyte has a degree in food and human nutrition, a master’s degree in diabetes, and is currently studying for a Ph.D. in nutrition and metabolism. He also runs The Metabolic Kitchen Instagram account. Karoblyte says he sees metabolic foods as those that have a positive impact on metabolism, and he says eggs fit the bill because they provide protein for muscle and tissue growth. Plus, he says eggs are nutrient-dense and offer plenty of vitamins and minerals. The yolk itself is high in vitamins A, D, E, K and, like the egg white, is also high in many B vitamins, including B12; crucial for cell metabolism, formation of red blood cells and nerve function.

Eggs are a source of protein, and can therefore be beneficial for body composition, says Karoblyte. High-protein diets stimulate muscle growth and promote fat loss, which benefits metabolic health.

What are the benefits of egg yolks for bodybuilders?

For decades, bodybuilders and those who want to look ripped have kicked the yolk to the curb in an effort to cut the calories associated with the yolk. Based on a medium-sized egg, the white contains about 15 calories, while the yolk has a relatively hefty 52 calories. Those who studied Bro Science felt that because the egg white is high in protein (10g per 100g) and is larger in volume, they could afford to discard the yolk even though it is actually higher in protein (16.4g per 100g). (source: ) In order to increase the problem of egg yolks, researchers in the 50s began to make assumptions about the cholesterol content.

Researchers were trying to figure out what exactly causes heart disease, explains Karoblyte. The hypothesis was that cholesterol from food would increase the levels of cholesterol in the blood, which would accumulate in the arteries and cause plaque build-up (through a process called atherosclerosis). I completely agree with this view that eggs should be avoided to reduce the risk of heart disease. In fact, this recommendation is so outdated that even current dietary guidelines no longer list cholesterol as a nutrient of concern. We now know that dietary cholesterol has little effect on blood cholesterol, since most of our cholesterol is produced in the liver. The whole conversation about what causes heart disease is also much more complicated than cholesterol clogging the arteries, because there are many different risk factors involved.

While so many people still malign egg yolks because of their cholesterol content, many studies have actually found that whole eggs have a positive effect on blood lipids, raising levels of the good HDL cholesterol. While cholesterol is a food that has gotten a bad rap, for bodybuilders it is essential and required to produce anabolic hormones. Macauley Owen has an MSc in Sports and Exercise Nutrition. He is also a professional boxer with a record of 6-0-0. For him, the whole egg is king. Our bodies need fat for body functions to work efficiently, he tells M&F. Fats play a major role in transporting vitamins and maintaining hormone regulation. Also, since the majority of the fats in eggs are unsaturated, the benefits come from things like the anti-inflammatory effects and the increase in membrane fluidity, leading to increased sensitivity to muscle protein synthesis after consuming omega-3 fatty acids. The only time I would take the yolk out of an egg is when I am restricting my calories to a specific weight class. In this case I would have 3-4 eggs but halve the yolks included. This eases the burden on my calorie goals while still consuming a high-quality protein source and getting in a small amount of healthier fats.

Can eating eggs raise our testosterone levels? Both egg whites and yolks have been shown to increase testosterone, but the yolks more so. One study found that men who consumed three whole eggs per day for 12 weeks, combined with a weight training program, had increased testosterone levels compared to a group that ate six egg whites instead, explains Karoblyte.

Testosterone is an important hormone for muscle growth and strength, but Karoblyte points out, surprisingly, the higher level of testosterone in the egg yolk did not result in more muscle mass compared to the egg white group. Work is ongoing in this limited area of ​​research, but serves to demonstrate the value of both the egg white and yolk in muscle building.

How many eggs can we eat safely?

In 1968, the AHA recommended limiting whole eggs to no more than 3 per week because of the high cholesterol content of the yolk, says Karoblyte. Of course, such a recommendation seems laughable now. Bodybuilders are downing eggs like they’re going out of fashion and legends like Jay Cutler say he ate up to 140 egg whites a day, no small feat in the days before bottled liquid egg whites!

We have no studies that show that eating more than the typical 2-3 eggs per day leads to no health risks in the long term, but there is also no good research that suggests that it is unsafe to go over this amount, says Karoblyte. My mantra is to assume whole foods are innocent until proven guilty, so putting a limit on how many eggs we consume is not defensible. It’s not like there’s a hard limit on ultra-processed foods, so why would there be such a specific recommendation for one of the most nutritious foods out there? However, I wouldn’t advise everyone to go crazy with their egg consumption, as I’m an advocate of keeping protein sources varied. Still, eating larger amounts of eggs can certainly help people meet their protein needs. 25-30g of protein per meal is a good goal for most people, which is about 4-5 eggs. This should be one of many meal variations.

It is also important to note that eggs can increase concentrations of LDL cholesterol (the bad cholesterol) in some people (called hyperresponders), and high LDL is suggested to be a major culprit in the development of heart disease. However, egg yolk consumption raises the good HDL cholesterol proportionally, keeping the LDL:HDL ratio (a much better predictor of heart disease than LDL concentrations alone) unchanged. As previously mentioned, egg consumption also increases the size of LDL particles, making them less likely to stick to artery walls.

So why do we hear about studies linking eggs to heart disease and diabetes so often in the media? The studies cited in these clickbait articles are called observational. Using this type of design in nutrition research comes with many shortcomings, and these types of studies can only detect associations, and not what actually contributes to poor metabolic health. An important issue with observational research in nutrition is healthy user bias, meaning that individuals who avoid foods that are considered unhealthy (like eggs have been for so many years) also engage in many other healthy behaviors (such as exercising more, sleeping better, managing stress) . ), which makes the interpretation of the results very difficult.

Crack the case for eggs

There you have it. Eating both the egg white and the yolk can increase testosterone levels with current data suggesting that the resulting muscle mass is about the same from eating a whole egg compared to the egg white. This is likely due to the fact that while eggs help with testosterone levels, there are many factors at play that will determine your overall hormone and muscle status. While keeping the yolk will result in you consuming more calories, data suggests that it’s a great way to add additional vitamins and healthy fats to your diet, and is perfectly safe to eat at a level of at least four to five eggs per day, and probably much more depending on your own nutritional needs and individual tolerance. You may never reach the quantities that Jay Cutler consumed, but cracking open a few more eggs should probably add to your performance in a big way.

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