Ever suffered through just plain egg whites? I will put my hand down now as I’ve done it many times. They are a great source or protein; however, they are pretty devoid of anything remotely close to any flavor.
The old timers from 70+ years ago proposed that you needed some fat along with protein for maximal results. It was heresy to toss out the yolks. I imagine that you would get clocked over the head with a freshly scrolled frying pan for even thinking about such a horrible act to muscle growth.
For years, I looked for research on egg whites vs egg with yolks only to find virtually none. I ran my own n=1 experiment, and it did seem to be a bit better eating whole eggs once I switched over. At worst, I did not get worse.
While we have a plethora for protein research, most of it is just on protein with minimal fat.
Fast forward to a brand-new study from Dr. Nick Burd’s lab (1) that looked at whole eggs vs egg whites – my kind of researcher muscle nerds. They found that eating whole eggs were superior to just consuming egg whites when looking at muscle protein synthesis (MPS – the process of stuffing amino acids into muscle).
While there are limits to the use of acute MPS, the study did show that whole eggs were better even when they were matched for protein content. It should be noted that both groups saw a bump up. Conclusion? Egg whites were not insufficient, but whole eggs were higher.
Muscle Protein Synthesis aka MPS is an acute process of inserting labeled amino acids (tracers) into the body during exercise to track where they go. While this is accurate over an acute period of time, there is some debate if these effects translate over a chronic period of time.
Researcher by Churchwell 2016 did not show an agreement between acute MPS and muscle gained during a training intervention. Even so, it is a good way to determine what factors may be worth a follow up chronic study that is much more expensive and time consuming.
Get in some protein first as both interventions did show an effect; however, whole eggs did show a greater effect. How this would affect your long term gainz is yet to be determined. In the meantime, leave the yolks in and enjoy.
Want to learn more cool nutrition tips that you can apply to your clients for better body composition and performance? Check out the Flex Diet Certification.
van Vliet S, Shy EL, Abou Sawan S, Beals JW, West DW, Skinner SK, Ulanov AV, Li Z, Paluska SA, Parsons CM, Moore DR, Burd NA Consumption of whole eggs promotes greater stimulation of postexercise muscle protein synthesis than consumption of isonitrogenous amounts of egg whites in young men. Am J Clin Nutr. 2017 Oct 4. pii: ajcn159855. doi: 10.3945/ajcn.117.159855. [Epub ahead of print]