Bodybuilders Guide To Eggs: Natures Post-Workout Supplement
If packing on muscle and keeping a lean physique is your primary fitness goal, look no further than your refrigerator door. That’s right, forget the expensive supplements and powders, and instead rely on nature’s perfect package of protein to help you meet your goals. Eggs are cheap, versitile, and delicious, but that is not the only reason they are great for body builders. Eggs contain many other nutrients that support health, fitness, and of course, adequate recovery.
The Gold Standard
Eggs: they’re incredible, they’re edible, and they are a great source of protein. For decades scientists have used egg white protein as the gold standard to which other protein sources are measured against. Proteins are made of “building blocks” called amino acids. There are 9 amino acids that your body cannot create itself and must obtain from your diet. These amino acids make up muscle tissues and help muscles rebuild after a workout. Because egg whites contain optimal ratios all 9 of these essential amino acids, eggs have been awarded a perfect protein quality score of 100. Each egg contains roughly 6 grams of protein, most of which is found in the egg white, while the vitamins and fat are found in the yolk (1).
There is one amino acid in particular, leucine, found in eggs, that is especially helpful to athletes. This amino acid is used on many levels of protein metabolism to help the body build and repair muscles. When combined with glucose, it provides fuel to skeletal muscles during workouts while sparing the amino acids in your muscle tissue. Furthermore, leucine amplifies the body’s signal to create new muscle tissue after a workout. Increased levels of leucine in the body are associated with better muscle recovery following both endurance and resistance training. Regular consumption of eggs and other high quality luecine sources benefit active individuals looking to put on muscle (2).
Power of the Yolk
Eggs are not just a great choice for atheletes because of the protein they contain, they are also packed with other nutrients that support active lifestyles. Vitamin A, selenium, and many B vitamins are plentiful in eggs, as well as the nutrients lutein and zeaxanthin. These nutrients have a variety of benefits including: antioxidant support after exercise, and metabolism of energy to fuel movement (3).
Omega-3 fatty acids are one of the most helpful nutrients for balancing inflammation in the body. They are especially important for active people because intense exercise can create an inflammatory response. Many people don’t consume enough Omega-3 fats, but they arefound plentifully in eggs. These fats are also what make an egg so satiating and a great food for people trying to improve body composition. In an 8-week study with women looking to lose weight, those who ate eggs instead of a bagel each morning lost 65% more body weight and 16% more body fat (4).
Another nutrient that is hard to get from dietary sources is vitamin D. One egg contains 15% of your daily vitamin D needs. Vitamin D plays a role in muscle rebuilding and recovery. People who have adequate levels of this vitamin have been shown to recover faster following a workout than people who had less in their bloodstream. In a study of active adults, vitamin D concentrations in the blood were measured prior to exercise. After performing an intense exercise protocol, muscular weakness was tested immediately and a few days after performing the intense exercise. The participants with higher levels of this important nutrient circulating in their bodies were able to exert more force (measured by performing a leg press to exaustion) than those who had lower amounts. Eating eggs as part of your muscle building plan is a great way to pack in some extra nutriton and prepare for your next workout a little faster (5).
Choline is yet another nutrient that many people don’t consume enough of, and as you may have guessed, eggs are one of the best sources. Choline is an important nutrient that is needed for a variety metabolic functions such as cell-signaling and transportation of nutrients throughout the body. Choline is also a component of the neurotransmitter acetylcholine which is necessary for brain and nervous system funcitons, including muscle control. A deficiency in this important nutrient can cause muscle damage. In a study of healthy adults who were deprived of dietary choline, 10% of the subjects developed muscle damage that resolved once they returned to a diet with adequate choline (6).
If you still aren’t sold on eggs based on their nutrient profile, their versatiliy and conveniance might tip the scale. One of the world’s easiest, healthiest snacks is a hard boiled egg. Packed away in its own portable shell, a hard boiled egg will last 1 week in the fridge after it’s cooked. Note that they should not be left at room temperature for more than two hours, so pack them in a cooler if you want to eat on the go.
Don’t stop at hard boiling, eggs can be enjoyed hundreds of different ways. Pan-frying, scrambling, baking and poaching are just the beginning. Eggs make a great addition to breakfast burritos, pitas, or Cobb salads. Try topping a burger with a fried egg, or poaching an egg in your favorite tomato sauce to serve over sourdough toast. A sheet pan of roasted sweet potatoes, mushrooms, and spinach are delicious with a few eggs added on top and broiled lightly. The egg is only limited by your imagination.
Eggs may not be glamourous, but they are a cheap, effective way to add muscle while supporting overall health and fitness. The nutrients found in eggs can help your body recover after workouts, balance inflammation, and keep your muscular system working optimally. Eggs can be used in so many different ways, experiment with different recipes and you might get hooked for life!