By Jason Fowlks
Whenever we think of diet food, there’s always one food everyone likes to incorporate into their daily menu at some point: EGGS! But for some reason, people still believe that the whites are good for you, and the yolks are bad for you. One reason for this is because at one time, it was believed that there was a correlation between dietary cholesterol and an increase in blood cholesterol. However, recent studies have proven this to be false. Blood cholesterol is produced by the liver, so when you consume more dietary cholesterol, your liver just produces less, and conversely, when you consume less, your liver just produces more.
Another belief is that there is some link between saturated fat and an increased risk of heart disease. However, recent studies have shown that saturated fat is NOT associated with an increased risk of coronary heart disease, stroke or coronary vascular disease. The real causes are actually chronic stress levels, and the over-consumption of vegetable oils and processed carbohydrates (a.k.a foods that come in a box or bag). So let’s get out of the “fat-phobic 80’s” mindset and into the more nutritionally-educated modern day.
All that being said, I’m not trying to say that all of you out there who still do the “whites only” (no pun intended) thing are doing it all wrong. I’m just stating the latest facts and my own opinion on the matter. If egg whites alone are working for you, by all means, stick to what’s working, just be aware of what you’re throwing out.
Yes, everyone knows that egg whites are a nearly pure source of protein, containing almost 100% of their calories from this macronutrient, with virtually no fats or carbs. So, when you’re looking to consume a whole-food source of strictly pure protein with few calories, it’s hard to beat egg whites. However, if you’ve been consistently avoiding the yolks, you could be missing out on a lot of good stuff.
Whole eggs contain more calories and micronutrients that come along with the yolks. All of the fat-soluble vitamins (A, D, E, K) in eggs are found in the yolk, along with calcium, zinc, iron, lutein, and choline, which is responsible for brain health and cell function. In addition, the yolks contain B vitamins for energy, healthy fats (omega-3 fatty acids) and, oh yeah, that much maligned word – Cholesterol, which, by the way: 1) our livers produce anyway when we don’t consume enough, 2) is found in every cell membrane in the body, 3) is responsible for the production of bile acids, which help digest fat, and 4) is responsible for the production of hormones such as testosterone (and who doesn’t want to produce more of that!). Egg yolks also contain almost as much protein (~2.5g) as the whites (~3.5g) per egg. So a person looking to achieve 30g of protein from egg source would have to consume 8-10 whites as opposed to only 5 whole eggs.
So when you’re seeking protein and nutrients on a low-carb diet, choose whole eggs over egg whites. Whole eggs are still a very low-calorie food, despite the fact that they contain more calories from fat than they do from protein. Keep in mind also that DIETARY FATS SLOW DIGESTION, thus slowing protein absorption, allowing it to stay with you for longer. Whole eggs also have a better amino acid profile to help support cellular growth and protein synthesis, which leads to better, more efficient results (especially with us athletes looking to build and retain muscle).
When your goal is to get in strictly pure protein quickly, choose egg whites, but at all other times of day go with whole eggs. Or do what I always recommend..mix whole eggs with egg whites to meet protein requirements and provide a broader range of nutrients, without going overboard on the calories.