The Truth About Whole Eggs
Should You Eat The Whole Egg
Here's a question that just came in from a Burn The Fat Newsletter subscriber about whole eggs versus egg whites. Are eggs really a dietary evil or could eggs actually be the latest "superfood?"
QUESTION: Tom, I’m really confused about eggs. I’m not even sure if youre going to be able to answer this or not, but to me and I’m sure others, it’s a very confusing and important topic. I only use egg whites because I did believe that the yolks are bad because of cholesterol and saturated fat. But with the studies coming out saying we are missing all of the best nutrients by throwing the yolks out it is very confusing. Could you please help clarify this issue and I have attached an article I got from another e-book author for your reference about what I’ve been reading, which spurred my frustration to contact you.
ANSWER:. You're right! There ARE studies showing that the egg yolk contains health-promoting nutrients. There's also evidence showing that most people don't need to worry about the cholesterol in eggs either.
It’s overly simplistic to say that foods high in dietary cholesterol such as egg yolks, will always lead to an increase in cholesterol in the blood. It’s even more simplistic and incorrect to say that the saturated or animal fats are a direct cause of heart disease.
Many other factors are involved, including the type of saturated fat, individual genetics, current health status, exercise and the big picture of what else is consumed in the rest of the diet.
Research Says Eggs Are Not Evil
Recent research has been showing that the cholesterol in eggs is handled by most people’s bodies in a way that doesn’t cause heart disease and that dietary cholesterol does not necessarily translate to increased blood cholesterol or an unfavorable ratio of HDL to LDL cholesterol.
After a recent study published in The Journal Of Nutrition, Dr. Robert Nicolosi at the University of Massachusetts said, “Our data show that eating an egg a day is not a factor for raising cholesterol.”
A study reported at the 2006 experimental biology meeting in San Francisco made similar findings. The researchers discovered that when people ate three or more eggs per day, the amount of low density lipoprotein (LDL) in their bloodstream did in fact increase as previously reported.
However they also found that the subjects actually made bigger LDL particles which were less likely to enter artery walls and build up as artery-clogging plaque.
As a result of these and similar findings, head researcher Christine Green said that a growing body of scientific evidence suggests that eggs should not be considered a “dietary evil.”
Nutritional value of whole eggs
Whole eggs have a lot going for them nutritionally speaking. The egg yolks contain a highly bioavailable source of lutein and zeaxanthin which are carotenoids that protect against cataracts and macular degeneration.
Eggs are a great source of high biological value complete protein and the protein is split almost evenly between the yolk and the white. One large egg contains 6.3 grams of protein with 3.5 grams in the white and 2.8 grams in the yolk.
Although whole eggs may appear to have been exonerated, it’s still probably not wise to suggest that anyone can eat eggs in unlimited quantities, for both health and body composition reasons.
Dr. Udo Erasumus in his book, Fats That Heal, Fats That Kill, said that in 70% of the affluent populations of the world, increased cholesterol consumption decreases cholesterol production in the body through a regulating feedback system that protects them. The other 30% of the population may not have adequate feedback, and are wise to limit their dietary cholesterol consumption.
This appears to be supported by some of the recent research that has suggested that some people are hyper responders, who do in fact experience increases in blood cholesterol in response to dietary cholesterol intake.
Unlimited egg consumption is also not wise from a caloric perspective. In a fat burning program, you need to consider calories as well as nutritional value and health impact.
Whole Eggs And Fat Loss
Eggs are fairly calorie dense, while egg whites are extremely low in calories, which is why egg whites are one of the top choices for lean protein on calorie-restricted fat loss and bodybuilding diets.
Now that this news about the health value of whole eggs is starting to become more widely circulated, bodybuilders and fitness enthusiasts have been criticized for their long held practice of throwing away the egg yolks.However, In all my years of training, even back in the late 1980’s, and 1990’s I’ve never thrown away all my yolks.
My menu plans typically contain one or two whole eggs with 8-12 egg whites. I know that’s a lot of whites, but that’s a man-sized bodybuilder meal. For non bodybuilders or people with lower calorie and protein needs, it might be one or two whole eggs and 3-6 whites.
Why not ALL whole eggs? Well you could do that, but using more whites than yolks provides the high protein without so many calories. Using all whole eggs would be more appropriate in a low carb diet, and I usually use more balanced diets with moderate amounts of natural carbs to fuel my training.
Take a look at this egg white - egg yolk comparison:
3 whole large eggs: 225 calories, 18.9 g protein, 15 g fat
8 egg whites & 1 whole egg: 211 calories, 34.3 g protein, 5 g fat
Do you see what was accomplished here? I didn’t remove egg yolks because I’m afraid of cholesterol. I removed most of the egg yolks because I was on a calorie budget and I was on a higher protein diet and I wanted more protein with fewer calories. Make sense?
Another reason that bodybuilders use liquid egg whites so often is for convenience. They can pour them from the carton right into the fry pan and they don’t have to do all that shell cracking and egg white separating.Let me leave you with a funny story.
Whole Eggs - “Better Than Steroids???
When I started bodybuilding as a teenager, I latched onto the teachings of a bodybuilding guru trainer from North Hollywood named Vince Gironda.
Gironda trained all the top movie stars back in his day including Erik Estrada, Clint Eastwood, Tommy Chong, Carl “Apollo Creed” Weathers and too many others to mention.
He was also the Trainer of bodybuilding champions such as Larry Scott the First Mr. Olympia, and believe it or not, he was Arnold’s first trainer when Joe Weider sent the budding young star to America from Austria.
Gironda had been saying from day one (back in the 1950’s and 1960’s) that the whole egg was “nature’s perfect food” and he compared them to “natural steroids.”
On some of his low carb “muscle definition” diets, he said you could eat as many whole eggs as you wanted and even scramble them in butter. He said that he had some of his champion bodybuilders on up to three dozen eggs a day!
I didn’t really understand what a ketogenic diet was at the time, but being an obedient, guru-following teenage bodybuilder, desperate for muscle, I did what he said. I ate 2 dozen (and at times, up to 3 dozen) whole eggs a day for months on end.
Well, there was no miraculous steroid-like effect, and I didn’t drop dead of a heart attack either.
One thing I did notice is that I DID NOT LOSE FAT like Gironda said I would.
The reason should be obvious: three dozen whole eggs is 2700 calories (more if you use extra large or jumbo eggs). I was at nearly maintenance calories from the eggs alone, and eggs weren’t the only thing I was eating.
Gironda, like many other low carb gurus, did not place any restrictions on calories, only on foods. Gironda was a genius, years ahead of his time, but this was one little flaw in his program:
Even on low carb diets, you STILL need a caloric deficit to lose body fat, and if you tell some people they can "eat as much protein and fat as you want".... THEY WILL!
Thus, my approach changed and I went back to more “normal” quantities of eggs and I started removing some of the yolks to keep me more easily within my caloric deficit without losing the high quality protein… but I never cut all the yolks because of their excellent nutritional value…
To this day, I still keep one or two yolks in my omelettes and scrambles… sometimes more, as long as it fits in my calorie budget.
Bottom line: Eggs are nutritious and they are a GREAT source of high-quality protein. So get crackin!
PS. One last thing. Keep in mind that the quality of the egg may depend the quality of the bird it came from. We are what we eat and the animals we eat are what they eat. This is why many health experts recommend free range eggs and or omega-3 eggs, which come from chickens fed flax-fortified feed. That will have to be a future article, because you have to read labels carefully (and sometimes read between the lines) to know what you’re getting and there are certainly more cost effective ways to get your omega-3s.
PPS For more information about body building methods of fat burning nutrition, visit the home page at: www.BurnTheFat.com
PPPS. Here's one of my favorite breakfast egg recipes. As you can see, I used 1 whole egg and 5 whites. use more yolks if you want, but the calories will be higher:
LOW CALORIE RED AND GREEN VEGGIE SCRAMBLE:
1 whole egg
Calories: 258 calories
Super nutritious (that's FOUR vegetables) and super low in calories! (add oatmeal, fruit, etc on the side if you need more calories and carbs, of course).
Tom Venuto is the author of the #1 best seller, Burn the Fat, Feed the Muscle: Fat Burning Secrets of the World's Best Bodybuilders and Fitness Models. Tom is a lifetime natural bodybuilder and fat loss expert who achieved an astonishingly lean 3.7% body fat level without drugs or supplements. Discover how to increase your metabolism and burn stubborn body fat, find out which foods burn fat and which foods turn to fat, plus get a free fat loss report and mini course by visiting the home page at: www.BurnTheFat.com
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