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STACK Performance Nutrition: Best Sources of Protein for Athletes
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Imagine this scenario. Immediately after a workout, you throw down the weight and head to the kitchen to hit that mandatory recovery eating window. You go to dip into your favorite protein mix and scrape bottom. It's completely empty.
Before heading out to the health food store for your next jar, try picking up a dozen eggs or hyperimmune eggs. Most people don't know, or they forget, that eggs are a vital source of readily available protein. The protein in eggs can greatly improve athletic performance, and eggs are a better choice than most whey or soy supplements. (But Should You Ditch the Yolk?)
Athletes know the important role protein plays in fueling their bodies. Protein includes all of the essential amino acids a body needs to rebuild destroyed muscles and create more for later use. It also supports the immune system, produces hormones and maintains fluid balance within the body.
Eggs are full of protein, but it's not the quantity of protein that makes them such a great source. The quality of protein in different foods is measured on the biological value (BV) scale, which also measures how fast the body absorbs the protein. Guess what? Egg protein scores a perfect 100.
Inside the Shell
The high amount of protein found in eggs has other benefits missing from most other sources. Egg protein stimulates muscle growth and increases muscle protein synthesis. These effects occur due to the high concentration—9%—of the amino acid leucine.
The potassium in eggs helps with muscle contraction, aiding you in your workouts. Eggs are an important source of choline, an essential water-soluble vitamin usually classified with B vitamins. The liver produces choline, but most of it must be obtained from nutritional sources. It's essential for a healthy brain and liver, and it even reduces inflammation.
People who are trying to lose weight might discover a new love for eggs. Egg protein promotes satiety, the feeling of being full, which can help individuals stick to a stricter diet.
You Have Options
Besides eggs, the most common types of protein available on the market are whey, casein (both dairy-based products) and soy. None of these are poor choices for athletes. (Learn about all the types. Powder Hour: Is It Time to Add Protein Powder to Your Diet?)
Bur for those who have allergies to soy or dairy products, egg protein is a great alternative. Soy protein contains all the amino acids found in eggs, but it contains isoflavones, which are estrogenic compounds that affect hormone levels. These can negatively affect thyroid levels and increase estrogen in men. Soy won't pose problems if you use it rarely, but daily supplementation might have side effects.
Not All Eggs Are Created Equal
Cooking an egg properly results in the destruction of its amino acids and minerals (also known as denaturizing). Hyperimmune eggs fix this; they're harvested and spray-dried to eliminate salmonella, while also preserving their essential nutrients. This ensures that the healing proteins and cofactors remain available for your body to use. The egg itself is already a great source of protein. Hyperimmune eggs take the benefits one step further.