We’ve all heard about the importance of protein intake, especially if you are into sports. Protein supplementation in combination with resistance training has come to become synonymous with strength and muscle gains (Borsheim, Tipton, Wolf, & Wolfe, 2002). Protein and amino acid supplementation can cause increased strength even at rest (Bohe, Low, Wolfe, & Rennie, 2001; Bohe, Low, Wolfe, & Rennie, 2003).
Recommendations for daily protein intake are 1-2g/lb of bodyweight. However, anecdotal evidence points towards young athletes loading up on protein very much in excess of the recommended dosage (Rodriguez, DiMarco, & Langley, 2009).
Commonly used proteins are commercially available whey protein and BCAAs (branched-chain amino acids). However, egg whites, milk, chicken breasts and red meat also serve as great sources of natural protein and have been by ‘strength athletes’ since time immemorial.
How Is Egg Protein Different From Other Proteins?
Egg protein has a biologic value (BV) of 1. What that effectively means is that egg protein is the best protein for human consumption as far as absorption and digestibility are considered. So much so, that the BV of 1 is used as a reference point to compare the effectiveness of other proteins – only whey protein has a better BV value than egg protein. Furthermore, egg protein continues to be one of the cheapest sources of good quality protein.
What’s more, it is packed with nutrients (Harper, 1978) and is a great source of BCAAs – which induce a maximum skeletal muscle anabolic response (Glynn et al., 2010).
Effects of Egg Protein on Muscle Mass
Supplementation with egg white protein may provide numerous training benefits; these are:
• Changes in body composition – increase in fat free mass (FFM) and reduction of fat mass (Hida et al., 2012)
• Prevents muscle breakdown associated with resistance and ensures reduced soreness and earlier recovery
• Increase in 1RM (one repetition max. efforts) (Josse, Tang, Tarnopolsky, & Phillips, 2010; Schmitz, Hofheins, & Lemieux, 2010)
• Increase in muscle strength (as stated above and reflected by increase in 1RM) correlates well with muscle hypertrophy (Hida et al., 2012)
To conclude, although whey protein is considered the gold standard of protein supplementation, egg white protein is still be a very good and cheap source of proteins.
Bohe, J., Low, A., Wolfe, R. R., & Rennie, M. J. (2003). Human muscle protein synthesis is modulated by extracellular, not intramuscular amino acid availability: a dose-response study. J Physiol, 552, 315-324.
Bohe, J., Low, J. F., Wolfe, R. R., & Rennie, M. J. (2001). Latency and duration of stimulation of human muscle protein synthesis during continuous infusion of amino acids. J Physiol, 532, 575-579.
Borsheim, E., Tipton, K. D., Wolf, S. E., & Wolfe, R. R. (2002). Essential amino acids and muscle protein recovery from resistance exercise. Am J Physiol Endocrinol.Metab, 283, E648-E657.
Glynn, E. L., Fry, C. S., Drummond, M. J., Timmerman, K. L., Dhanani, S., Volpi, E. et al. (2010). Excess leucine intake enhances muscle anabolic signaling but not net protein anabolism in young men and women. J Nutr., 140, 1970-1976.
Harper, A. E. (1978). Methods for assessing amino acid requirements and the effectiveness of alpha-keto acid analogs as substitutes for amino acids. Am J Clin Nutr., 31, 1678-1687.
Hida, A., Hasegawa, Y., Mekata, Y., Usuda, M., Masuda, Y., Kawano, H. et al. (2012). Effects of egg white protein supplementation on muscle strength and serum free amino acid concentrations. Nutrients., 4, 1504-1517.
Josse, A. R., Tang, J. E., Tarnopolsky, M. A., & Phillips, S. M. (2010). Body composition and strength changes in women with milk and resistance exercise. Med Sci.Sports Exerc., 42, 1122-1130.
Rodriguez, N. R., DiMarco, N. M., & Langley, S. (2009). Position of the American Dietetic Association, Dietitians of Canada, and the American College of Sports Medicine: Nutrition and athletic performance. J Am Diet.Assoc., 109, 509-527.
Schmitz, S. M., Hofheins, J. E., & Lemieux, R. (2010). Nine weeks of supplementation with a multi-nutrient product augments gains in lean mass, strength, and muscular performance in resistance trained men. J Int Soc Sports Nutr., 7, 40.