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Whole eggs or egg whites?

Okay friends, I got an email question the other day about why I eat egg whites instead of whole eggs, and it fits into our protein theme for the week so I wanted to address it. If you follow me on insta, you’ll notice I eat egg whites alot (almost every morning). So…why?

First off, what are the benefits of egg whites?

Egg whites are high in protein, which is hard to find in breakfast foods. Half a cup of uncooked egg whites has 15g of protein, which compares to about 5g in 1/2 cup of uncooked oatmeal or 2g in 1/2 cup of Cheerios. Even protein-packed Greek yogurt, which is a another good breakfast option, has 10g in 1/2 cup.

In addition to being high in protein, egg whites are also low-calorie. The majority of calories in an egg white come from the protein, and there are minimal calories from fat or carbs. If you’re looking for a naturally high-protein/low-calorie option for breakfast (or brinner if you love breakfast foods like I do), egg whites are one of the best.

Now, what about the yolks?

The yolk of an egg holds the majority of the egg’s calories (80 calories total in an egg:  65 calories in the yolk, 15 in the egg white). Most of the calories in the yolk come from the fat content.

In terms of protein, one whole egg has about 6g (4g comes from the egg white), so you would need about 2.5 whole eggs to total the protein in half a cup of egg whites. Those 2.5 eggs would put you at about 200 calories vs. 60 calories for the half cup of egg whites. Either way it’s not a ton of calories, but if you add mix-ins to your eggs (like cheese or meat) or want a side of toast or fruit, the calories can quickly add up.

On the other hand, if your goal is to get more nutrients, don’t get rid of the yolk! The yolk holds the majority of the good stuff outside of protein, including vitamins, phospholipids (major component of cell membranes), and antioxidants.

Yolks get a bad rap because of cholesterol, which studies have shown is not a totally valid argument. Egg yolks have cholesterol, yes, but very little of that cholesterol is actually absorbed into the bloodstream since eggs have no trans fat and very little saturated fat. According to the Mayo Clinic, “Most healthy people can eat up to seven eggs a week with no increase in their risk of heart disease…this level of egg consumption may actually prevent some types of strokes.”

So, what’s better- eggs or egg whites?

If you’re eating for fat loss, I would recommend egg whites. The trick, though, is to make sure you’re getting nutrients from other sources since you’re cutting out the nutrient-rich yolk. Consider mix some veggies into your egg whites (like broccoli or spinach) so you can add some extra vitamins.

If you’re focused on getting the most nutrient-dense foods, whole eggs are the way to go. When I don’t have an egg white carton and need to use whole eggs, I definitely use the yolk because I just hate throwing all that good stuff down the drain. If I have both whole eggs and egg whites, I’ll use a combo (1 egg + 3 egg whites).


You bet your bum I did not throw away this one! #triplets

Side note:  Awhile back I looked up what the companies that make cartons of egg whites do with the leftover egg yolks…I was pleasantly surprised to learn that they re-purpose them for salad dressings, ice cream, mayo, etc. AND they use the shells for natural soil fertilizer 🙂

I choose to eat egg whites most of the time for a few different reasons. First of all, I like to have a quick, high-protein, post-workout meal in the car on my way to work to help with muscle recovery. Since I avoid supplements and protein shakes I need to make sure I’m getting enough protein from the foods that I eat.

I always make egg muffins at the beginning of the week during meal prep. The quick prep on Sunday is worth it because I look seriously forward to my post-workout breakfast on weekdays. And finally, the last reason I choose egg whites is pretty simple… I actually prefer the taste. Yolks don’t sing to my tastebuds.

So the verdict is that every part of the egg has value, you just have to decide what you want from it.

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