What's the most anabolic bodybuilding substance you can get your hands on? If you answered "food" you're absolutely correct. That's right food, because without a good supply of quality food in the right proportions, and of the right kinds, all the training or supplements in the world won't do you a bit of good.
For the purposes of this article I will not be explaining all the in's and out's for each of the different food groups or their compositions such as carbohydrates, fats, proteins, vitamins, and minerals, but instead will focus on what many consider to be the highest quality food protein known to man in the entire world - chicken eggs.
Bodybuilders have long since known the importance of egg protein for building muscle, and based on the essential amino acids eggs provide, egg protein is second only to mother's milk for human nutrition and is the "Gold Standard" to which all other protein sources are compared. ( Essential amino acids are proteins that are required for normal health yet are not produced naturally by the body and are therefore only made available through diet )
It's safe to say, bodybuilders often consume massive quantities of eggs daily and as an example of just how valuable egg protein is to the bodybuilder's diet, I present for your consideration a portion of the off season diet currently being used by Top Ranked Professional Bodybuilder -Jay Cutler.
Mr. Cutler normally eats anywhere from 600 to 700 grams of protein daily with his main sources coming from fish, Nitro-Tech(tm), and egg whites. In total, Jay consumes 11 meals and over 3 dozen eggs daily:
Meal 1: 10 egg whites, 2 whole eggs, 1 bagel, 1 cup oats, 1 cup black coffee, 1 serving of Nintro-Tech, plus supplements.
Once again, this is just three meals out of eleven but I wanted to point out that with these three meals Jay is eating 35 egg whites and 4 whole eggs daily. That's almost 40 eggs per day in the off-season while he's dedicated to packing on muscle. Obviously, Jay believes strongly that egg protein (especially egg whites) is essential to his bodybuilding success and is therefore a large component of his nutrition plan.
Personally, I can't imagine what it must be like cracking 35 eggs, separating the whites from the yolks, cooking, eating, and then having to clean up the mess... every single day, but this is a great example of the kind of dedication and "diet smarts" it takes to be a champion and in contest ready condition, Jay Cutler competes on stage at a massive and shredded 255 pounds!
Though not everyone who eats egg whites in these quantities will rise to the top of his or her sport, Jay's opinion is in no way unique as eggs are considered by sports nutritionists to be an indispensable protein resource for bodybuilders, power lifters, athletes, fitness enthusiasts, low carb dieters, vegetarians, and countless others due to a complete amino acid profile that's necessary for human consumption and their incredibly high biological value.
When the biological values of various protein sources were determined and indexed egg protein was the standard that all others were compared to. The scale is based on a total score of 100 which represents top efficiency (BV equals the amount of nutrients available in a food or supplement that can be efficiently and effectively utilized by the body)
Whole egg 93.7
As you can plainly see, eggs obtain a nearly perfect score. Additionally they contain all the essential amino acids (histidine, isoleucine, leucine, lysine, methionine, phenylalanine, threonine, tryptophan and valine) plus the other nine non-essential amino acids in a pattern quite similar to the amino acid profile the human body requires. Egg protein is considered to be a "complete" protein.
Not only are eggs popular because of their nutritional benefits but also because eggs are used in thousands of recipes ranging from the basic hardboiled, fried, scrambled, and egg salad sandwich to rich high brow cuisine such as cakes, souffles, meringues, and crepes - the list goes on and on...
As true as all this is, even nature's most perfect "real food" bodybuilding protein comes with a few caveats that are worth understanding.
EGG WHITES and EGG YOLK
Egg white, or albumen, makes up approximately 2 thirds of an egg's liquid weight and contains more than half the egg's total protein, niacin, riboflavin, chlorine, magnesium, potassium, sodium and sulfur. It also contains very little carbohydrate and virtually no fat or cholesterol and is low in calories; a perfect source of quality protein for dieting or for building muscle without adding bodyfat and are excellent in helping to preserve muscle mass during contest preparation.
In contrast, egg yolks contain the majority of the fat and cholesterol found in a whole egg. It also doubles the calories verses using the egg white alone. When trying to gain muscle mass these extra calories may not be such a bad thing - but not at the risk of adding unwanted body fat.
Your body produces all the cholesterol it needs naturally and in most cases does not need additional sources. Dietary excess of too many calories, too much fat, and high intakes of cholesterol often leads to an increased risk of cornonary heart disease. In such cases, egg yolks are usually restricted while egg whites are given a "clean bill of health" and can be used as often as one wishes.
RAW verses COOKED
One of the problems of consuming egg whites in the large quantities essential to a bodybuilder's diet is the need to separate the whites from the yolks, cook them, eat them, and then having to clean up the mess. This must be repeated over and over, day after day, requiring a lot of work and time.
Because of this, many people have turned to eating or drinking their eggs raw. This still doesn't eradicate the problem of separating the whites from the yolk and even more of a concern is the possible exposure to salmonella bacteria poisoning and avidin/biotin toxicity.
In the United States the risk of salmonella is actually quite low - but the risk does exist. Salmonella causes headache, diarrhea, deep abdominal cramping, vomiting, fever, chills, and dehydration. In extremely severe cases it may even be life threatening. If nothing else other than a few days of illness, it is a very unpleasant experience and will do much to throw you off of your training and result in a loss of muscle tissue. Of course none of this is a very good trade for a little bit of convenience.
Not only does the salmonella risk exist but there is another factor to consider - avidin. Avidin is a glycoprotein (enzyme) present in raw eggs that reacts unfavorably with biotin within the human body. This interaction results in a toxic effect similar to a gross vitamin B deficiency and largely prohibits the body from actually digesting the "raw" egg white. Eating a raw egg is a waste of time, effort, and protein - not to mention it's also dangerous due to the potential for exposure to salmonella and the avidin/biotin vitamin B like deficiency.
So we're back to square one... separating, cooking, and cleaning. However, there's one more point I'd like to make - high heat through cooking can denature the egg white protein and therefore hinders these valuable amino's from being used by the body to their fullest. Most of the protein will be digested but not all.
EGG WHITE SUPPLEMENTS
Ok, so we have a bit of a paradox - one of the very best high quality and complete protein sources for the human body yet there is a convenience hit when having to shell, separate the yolks from the sought after whites, cook (with a small nourishment hit) consume, and then clean everything up.
Enter the egg white supplements which are designed with the hope that they'll provide all of the benefits with few if any of the drawbacks.
The first attempts have been in the form of egg white powders. While not completely bad, the powders have some drawbacks such as being stinky and are often loaded with additives. As an example, here's a portion of the ingredient list from the label of a major manufacture of powdered egg white:
Ingredients: Egg Albumen, Fructose, Natural & Artificial Flavors, Lecithin, Aceulfame Potassium, Aspartame (Phenylketonurics: Contains Phenylalanine).
The biggest concerns being the Fructose, the Artificial Flavors, and the Aspartame. I'm all for convenience and quality protein, but I also believe good health should be as much a goal as building the perfect body.
The other form of egg white supplement comes in a pasteurized liquid. In my opinion this is the best way to go in all respects having both convenience and quality - often being able to mix easily into just about any drink you can imagine (including whey protein shakes) and are great in cooking recipes as well.
However, like everything else, not all are the same. Just like in the example above, most liquid egg whites found in stores are loaded with additives such as: cellulose, guar gum, preservatives, and others. Often these are added to cut costs and to assist a long self life. Warning: this should give you a small hint at how long some of these products remain on store shelves before being sold.
That being said, there are some extremely high quality products available that are fresh and contain no additives. If wanting to go the liquid route, just look for pasteurized liquid egg whites that are pure... that is containing no additives and those that guarantee freshness, quality, and satisfaction. (You can find full details of where to obtain the best egg white product on the market today here)
Egg whites are natures most perfect real food protein source for the human body. They digest slowly providing an ananbolic environment that last several hours and are ideal for packing on muscle, dieting (or retaining muscle during cutting cycles/contest prep) and are simply a great food for general health. In small quantities they are relatively easy to prepare and can be used in thousands of tasty recipes.
When eating egg whites in quantity the convenience issue may become a large stumbling block and this is where supplementation really shines. Whether powder or liquid - Just make sure to read the label, avoid the junk, and look for the purest grade possible.
Simply stated, egg whites are a fantastic natural protein solution for bodybuilding nutrition success. For more information please visit Egg Whites International
Disclaimer: This article is provided for informational purposes only and is not meant to substitute for the advice of a qualified physician or other medical professional. Before starting any diet or exercise program consult a qualified medical professional. Information and statements contained herein, regarding dietary and food supplements, have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration, and are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease. The information contained herein is not for diagnosing or treating a health problem or disease.