Want To Make The Most Muscle? Eat The Whole Egg!

New research shows that eating whole eggs builds more muscle than eating egg whites alone.


Selene Yeager |

Forty years ago, Rocky Balboa inspired a generation of athletes to chug (and try to keep down) three raw eggs as a way to get pure, fast-acting, muscle-building protein. But that was the ’70s, before everybody got fat-phobic and started throwing away the yolk – where all the fat resides – and just eating egg whites for muscle building and repair.

Well, guess what? Aside from the fact that he should have cooked them first (see: salmonella), the Italian Stallion was right on the money. Protein from whole eggs is vastly superior for muscle building than isolated egg whites, according to a new study.

In a head-to-head comparison published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, researchers from the University of Illinois had a small group of men perform a single bout of resistance training, which they chased with either three whole eggs or a mixture of egg whites containing 18 grams of protein. The researchers then monitored how the eggs’ amino acids entered the bloodstream and synthesised into muscle.

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Interestingly, blood samples from each group found that 60-70 percent of the amino acids were circulating and available for use regardless of which eggs the participants ate. But when the researchers looked at how muscles actually used these amino acids, they found a striking difference: The muscle-building process from whole eggs was 40 percent greater than that from egg whites alone.

Further research is needed to determine the exact factors at work, but researchers believe something in the egg yolk boosts the body’s ability to use protein for building muscle tissue.

“This study suggests that eating protein within its most natural food matrix tends to be more beneficial to our muscles as opposed to getting one’s protein from isolated sources,” lead researcher Nicholas Burd, a University of Illinois professor of kinesiology and community health, said in a press release.

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Beyond muscle-building, whole eggs are good for your overall heath. Egg yolks contain vitamin B12, which aids muscle contraction, inflammation-fighting omega-3 fatty acids, and lutein and zeaxanthin, which protect the health of your eyes.

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