The Best Source of Protein, Unscrambled

Acouple of eggs on a cloth with the caption "The Best Source of Protein, Unscrambled."

What’s first, the chicken or the egg? That’s a no-brainer – the egg. Well that’s the answer if we are talking about which is the best source of protein for muscle gain. And these days a lot of people are talking about it.

Egg Protein – Unscrambled

If you’re looking for a good source of protein without meat, the egg is a well known nutrition powerhouse. Each one contains 11 vitamins and minerals, is a rich source of omega-3 fatty acids (the good fats), and is rich in antioxidants.

But it’s the protein found in egg that packs the biggest punch. In fact, egg protein is the common reference for which other proteins are measured against. This is because egg protein has a Biological Value (BV) of 100. Put simply, this means that almost 100% of the protein (there is some margin for error) is utilized by the body, which promotes the fastest possible lean muscle gains. Whey protein also has a BV of 100, whilst casein (milk) and beef protein have a BV of 80.

Is It Bad to Eat the Egg Yolk?

An egg cracked open with the yolk visible.

Personally, I say no, it’s not bad. But there are two sides to the coin.

The egg yolk contains almost half the total protein, the vast majority of vitamins and minerals, as well as the essential fatty acids. Big tick. But the yolk also contains cholesterol, which has got a pretty sticky reputation. The jury is still out on whether dietary cholesterol is bad or not.

The evidence suggests the effects of egg cholesterol on our serum (blood) cholesterol is minimal, especially when compared to health benefits of the other nutrients in the yolk. In any case you can chuck the yolk and just eat the egg white – but know that you’d be throwing out almost half the total protein in the egg. Sort of defeats the purpose.

How Do Eggs Compare to Other Protein Sources as the Best Source of Protein?

Various sources of protein including cheese, eggs, meat, and salmon.

I’ve compiled a list of popular protein sources for fitness folks, comparing Cost (Table 1) and Calories (Table 2). The amount of protein is the constant – serve sizes that provide about 20g of protein (which is generally the amount your body can absorb at any one time).

Table 1. Cost

Food Amount Protein (g) Energy (Calories) Cost (USD)
Milk Powder (skim) 60g 22 210 $0.40
Egg (whole) 3 eggs 19 212 $0.74
Milk (skim) 20 oz (600mL) 22 215 $0.76
Whey Protein Isolate 17g 16 70 $0.90
Beef, poultry, seafood (raw) 120g 25 153 $1.86

Table 2. Calories (energy)

Food Amount Protein (g) Energy (Calories) Cost (USD)
Whey Protein Isolate 17g 16 70 $0.90
Beef, poultry, seafood (raw) 120g 25 153 $1.86
Milk Powder (skim) 60g 22 210 $0.40
Egg (whole) 3 eggs 19 212 $0.74
Milk (skim) 20 oz (600mL) 22 215 $0.76

You can see above that a whole egg is one of the cheapest sources of protein available. Skim milk powder can work out to be much cheaper, however the main protein is casein, which is not absorbed as well as egg protein.

The bottom line is if you’re aiming to bulk up and increase muscle mass, you need extra calories and the best protein. Whole eggs tick all of the boxes, are inexpensive, and full of other nutrients for optimal health.

The above table shows that whey protein isolate will provide you with the most protein for the least calories, and also at a low cost as well. Whole egg provides a much higher amount of calories, almost all of which are coming from the healthy omega-3 fatty acids.

  • To get the most out of eggs, eat them after your train (the sooner the better).
  • Cooked over raw. They make a light & healthy afternoon snack.
  • Choose organic free-range eggs where possible, rather than caged (although the nutritional value is the same).
  • If you are aiming to bulk up and increase muscle mass, go for the yolk to get the extra calories and protein. The yolks are also packed full of nutrients such as vitamin A, vitamin E, vitamin B12, and folate.
  • Egg-breath is not cool, brush your teeth

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  • Egg and whey are on the same level in terms of biological value, so both are very effective after exercise. I prefer egg as it is a natural whole food source, whereas whey supplement is processed and refined into a powder.

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