One of the more annoying parts about being in the bodybuilding game is hearing about people throwing away their egg yolks and eating ONLY the white.
Why do they do it?
All the cholesterol is in the yolk so it’s bad, right?
Not a chance.
Egg yolks are a fantastic food source! This goes for everyone, but especially for the bodybuilder.
(1) A low-fat diet means low testosterone levels. You NEED to eat fat, including saturated fat from meat and eggs, to maximize your testosterone levels. I cover this more in “7 Ways To Jack Up Your Testosterone Levels Naturally“.
(2) Cholesterol promotes more muscle growth. A study showed that those with higher cholesterol levels built more muscle than those will lower levels. My guess is that this is because of its role is in the inflammation process and also because cholesterol is a precursor to the anabolic hormone testosterone.
(3) You lose half the protein of the egg when you chuck the yolk. There are 6g in a whole egg and only 3 in the white.
(4) The yolk contains 90% of the fat-soluble vitamins and essential fatty acids.
Are you concerned about heart health?
The fact is that it is the VLDL cholesterol (very low-density lipoprotein) that is the only good marker for heart health.
Total cholesterol levels tell you NOTHING at all. If anything, eggs will increase your HDL Cholesterol more than LDL, IMPROVING the HDL:LDL ratio and thereby REDUCING the risk of a heart attack.
Lowering your VLDL levels is a good thing. But how do you know if this is decreasing?
According to Dr. Robert Lustig, you know your VLDL is decreasing if your HDL cholesterol increases (good) and your triglycerides decrease (also a good thing). Typically, this is what happens when someone goes on a low-carb or glycemic-controlled diet.
The ratio of HDL to triglycerides may be the best marker we have for heart disease. That being said, eggs would be one of the best foods you could eat in this regard!
I eat over 30 eggs a week. I have done so for many years and will continue to do so in the future.
If you are eating a low-fat/low cholesterol diet and your muscle gains are non-existent, you know what you need to do!
If you want to know about recent research into the cholesterol, saturated fat and heart disease link, read my recent article “Saturated Fat: Not Guilty As Charged!“. (There are plenty of articles on this subject on my blog if you do a search.)
Here’s just a quote from that article. Dr. Krauss who conducted a meta-analysis of studies on the supposed link between saturated fat and heart disease said…
“A meta-analysis of prospective epidemiologic studies showed that there is no significant evidence for concluding that dietary saturated fat is associated with an increased risk of CHD or CVD”….“It’s the carbohydrate that appears to have most of the effect when it comes to dietary influences. Increasing saturated fat does not appear to reduce the benefits of limiting carbohydrate.”
To be honest, I’m convinced that in decades to come, the “lipid hypothesis” will be on the scrapheap. People will marvel at how it gained such widespread acceptance when there was no concrete evidence to support it.
Modern diseases are caused by modern eating habits. NOT by foods we’ve eaten since humans came on the scene like red meat and eggs.
But then again, I could be wrong. Maybe a high carb/sugar diet and statin drugs are the answer. 😉
P.S.here are 10 more reasons to eat whole eggs . Good book on the subject: The Great Cholesterol Con
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Loved the article, Mark. I never throw out the yolks. I have some friends who do. I’ll be sure to send them to this post.
I eat the whole egg but I gotta disguise it somehow. Embryos freak me out.
I have been telling my dad to buy egg whites because i am scared of the cholesterol. I’m 10% body fat and 145 pounds and 15 years old. my dad was like chlolesterol is good for you you’re still young i was like no but after he is right ll. so mark no need for egg whites??? and God you eat so many eggs a week lol over 30 thats like 4 or 5 a day 😀
I have been eating loads of whole eggs as part of a healthy diet for over 25 years, never had any problems, my test levels are still very high, body fat is very low and I build muscle easily, in the past I have eaten up to 20 per day for months at a time but now I tend to eat around 10-15 per day, I always start my day with 6 whole poached eggs (slightly runny, lovely!) they are an excellent food to help keep my calories up where I need them
I would never throw the yolk out
1) because it costs money and I would never waste money! who buys food and then throws it in the bin!!!
2) because it is the best part of the egg, as you say, it’s loaded with vits and minerals,
3) I have read study after study proving that the fat is not unhealthy it acts positively in the body and causes no neg health problems, I recently read about a elderly chap who ate around 30 whole eggs most days for most of his life, he was fit lean and healthy and never even knew that they had so called unhealthy fat in them! he said he had always liked them so ate lots of them, also my wife’s granddad ate tons of whole fat un-pasteurized cream and butter all his life – he lived until 99 years old with no health problems up until he died in his sleep!
I think this issue goes back to the old myth that saturated fat is bad for us, (what complete rubbish!) man evolved on it and never had any problems for thousands of years, funny how all the health problems started with the introduction of processed junk foods and grains over the past 50 years or so!! – but then heavy marketing from the food manufactures desperate to sell heavily processed rubbish has gone a long way to confuse people over what is healthy.
I had two omelets yesterday and one today for a total of 11 eggs. Not really that hard to do and it’s a good low-carb high-protein food. Pretty versatile as well. Eggs omelet with pepperoni, mushroom, onion, green pepper, and a little cheese… yum…
There’s a documentery called Fat Head, all about saturated fat and why you need it. And how the “lipid hypothesis” is false.
But my question is, for someone who is cutting body fat or trying to maintian a low bodyfat percentage, should he be careful about how many egg yolks he’s eating?
Thanks for the awesom artictle Mark!
Don’t forget about choline. Egg yolks are one of the best sources.
Just curious – what meals go into your 30+ egg/week consumption? I have 3 eggs 4x a week (works out nicely to 1 dozen eggs each time I go shopping) and I would be hard pressed to find a way to get over 30 into my diet.
I consider eggs one of the easiest inexpensive/excellent sources of nutrition available and wouldn’t mind eating them more frequently.
I’ve been eating 42 eggs a week for more than 2 years and I totally agree with this. I don’t gain weight and lose more since I’m on a low carb eating regime most of the time. I used to be 70kg (my height is 5’3″) but now 55 kg with maybe 10-12% body fat. My annual medical check-up also said that I’m freakin’ fine.
I ate (drank, actually) 12 whole eggs a day for 6 months straight. My blood work showed my cholesterol improved. I only drink 6 whole eggs everyday now (wanted to drop a few daily calories) and I have never felt better.
Any suggestions for recipes? I eat about 20 a week and get bored of scrambled eggs and omeletes but push on through regardless. From time to time I cool Tortilla (Spanish Omelete) with potatoes and onion but there’s also about 250ml of olive oil used to fry the onion and potatoes which can’t be so good for the diet.
Hard boil a whole bunch and keep in frig. (put in boiling water for 1 minute, turn off heat, let sit for 20, take out–best way)
fry and wrap in low carb tortillia
fry up 4 slices of bacon and throw 2 eggs on them
eat them like medicine, sounds like they are
Olive Oil? That is the nectar of gods!! Where else are you going to get a ton of good unsaturated fat? Ever heard of the mediteranean diet?
I”m not super expert, but I too get bored with certain foods.
no no, keep the egg whites. they are low impact and have protein. Just crack the egg and cook it. Squint your eyes so you don’t see the squiggley. . . .heh
they have less protein though and mark just said you need the egg yolks and i dont have any i was about to buy them
@Andrew. Eat the egg whites & yolks together. Eggs are a real superfood, eat them whole.
@mark. You’re right, the yolk is the most nutritious part for sure. The CSPI (center for science in the public interest), which pushed the idea that saturated fat was bad for us, also told us that trans fats were a healthy alternative to saturated fat. They made companies change recipes to include trans fats instead of natural saturated fat. Years later they had to change their tune and try to pretend that they never recommended trans fats!
People go along with the status quo because that’s what the “experts” say. Sometimes the experts are wrong, and in this case they definitely are. Remember that this all goes back to an unchecked hypothesis from the 1950’s. Ancel Keys’ study has now been discredited. There is no evidence.
@Daniel. Why isn’t it justifiable? If it’s good for you and your body needs it, why would 7 grams be unjustifiable? It’s like saying that 6g of protein per egg is unjustifiable. Why would that be the case; it’s healthy.
You have to remember that not one single study has ever proven that saturated fat causes heart disease. However, as Dr. Krauss said, “It’s the carbohydrate that appears to have most of the effect when it comes to dietary influences.”
There are bodybuilders out there having 50-100g of carbohydrate for breakfast. Yet no-one says that that’s unjustifiable. Something’s wrong with this picture.
@Nader. “Fat Head” is a great documentary. There are clips on YouTube if you do a search. Actually, here’s the channel…
I see that the maker of the movie now has a new talk on his channel called “Big Fat Fiasco”….”Tom Naughton on how the misguided fear of saturated fat created a nation of obese diabetics.” Great stuff! Gonna watch this.
As far as cutting goes. The closer you get to the end of your cut, the lower your calories will be. Protein must remain consistently high through a cut, so the cals have to go from carbs and fat. While you can leave out a yolk or 2 at the end of a cut, there is never a time when you need to sit down to a plate of egg whites in the morning, even at 6% body fat. You might have 3 wholes and 3 whites, something like that.
@Sean. Yes I talk about choline in the article I linked to above…
@Chris R. I usually have 4 at breakfast. Then some evenings I’ll some soft boiled eggs mixed up in a cup with some butter. It’s kind of a delicacy over here. The runny yolk and the butter mixing together, mmmmmm.
@Jonard. Right on, man.
@Geoffrey. That’s actually quite typical. Good stuff.
@Rich. I just vary how I cook them. Sometimes soft boiled with a runny yolk. Sometimes scrambled. Sometimes fried with sausage and beans.
@Andrew. Eat BOTH the white and yolk. Nature put them together for a reason. To get 100% of the nutrients you need both e.g. 90% of the calcium is in the yolk, there’s another 10% in the white. Same goes for folate, B6, B12, and a whole host of other goodness. Eat them as nature intended.
one *might* want to consider eating organic or at least free range eggs if they are going to eat that many eggs. just a thought.
Hi..mark article is very intresting..i also do the same throwing the egg yolk..but now i’ll not thanks for the article..i’ll also tell all my friends who mostly do the same.
I am going to have to disagree with you on the egg yolk matter. I have been testing the cholesterol issue for a year. 2 months ago I was following the suggestions of eating the whole egg. My cholesterol went up to 260 from 164. Nothing else changed in my diet or my workouts. After this I reduced my egg yolks from the whole egg to only 1 each time I had eggs. Today, which is 2 months later, I received my cholesterol test and it is at 190.
Speaking of VLDL, I thought I’d share something that low carb dieters get hit with all the time.
I did a little research, and found out that most blood tests don’t directly compute LDL levels (it’s expensive to do so). They compute total cholesterol (TC), HDL, and Triglycerides (TG). They then apply something called the Friedewald equation to compute LDL, which says that LDL ~ TC – HDL – .2*TG. It relys on a constant ratio of 5:1 of cholesterol to TG within VLDL. Thing is, when triglyceride levels are below 100, this constant ratio does not hold up (Friedewald’s original study was for 150 < TG < 400). There has been one study that looked specifically at TG < 100, and found that the Friedewald equation overestimates LDL by an average of 13! I haven't reviewed them, but I'm sure all those studies that show that going on a low carb diet increases LDL probably show that it goes up by an average close to 12 or 13.
As for my own personal experience, I've been on a cyclic low carb diet, and lifting 3 days a week for about 18 month's now. I eat 2 or 3 eggs every morning (usually some bacon or turkey sausage as well). I had a basic life insurance blood screen done last month, and while my total cholesterol went up from a similar test I had 8 years ago (I'm 34), my HDL went from 44 to 62. My triglycerides went from 133 to 69. Yet my LDL went from 109 to 128. My doctor said my LDL was on the border of too high, and I should "monitor" it (with the likely assumption that a statin was in my future). That's what prompted me to do a little research. Suffice to say, I'll be asking for the more expensive tests in the future!
oh ok mark thanks i do eat them both i was talking about the egg whites the ones that you can buy and the yare just white they are like watery! but yeah i will eat normal eggs
@Rob. The issue isn’t total cholesterol. Like I say in the article, total cholesterol tells you nothing. Also, the study at the top of the article was stating that the higher cholesterol group gained MORE muscle.
Again, total cholesterol isn’t and actually CAN’T be the issue since a full HALF of all people that die of heart attacks have normal or low cholesterol levels.
It seems that the best case scenario is to have a good HDL: LDL ratio and low triglycerides. A diet that increases HDL and causes triglycerides to drop would be ideal. This would also be indicitive of VLDL levels decreasing, which is a good thing. So even overall LDL levels aren’t the issue. All the facts have to be known; you could decrease your total cholesterol levels and increase your risk of a heart attack.
@David. I didn’t know the Friedewald equation could overestimate LDL by an average of 13 when TG are below 100, that’s very interesting.
If you can get the more expensive tests done, do it.
Like Dr. Lustig says, the fact that your HDL went up and the TG decreased substantially would indicate that your VLDL decreased (even if overall LDL increased). In terms of heart disease, you’d be at less risk now.
maybe I shouldn’t be commenting so much, since I just started eating eggs at home thanks to Mark’s compilation of research. But. . . eggs are great if you are on the go (at work, traveling) and you need that 20 grams or so of protein at the time whatever it is that you would need 20 grams of protein (for me that’s every 2 hours on the 5-cycle thing of Mark’s.
I have heard a lot about this practice among others the fitness community. The egg is pretty much the all around great food item. A person can get so many great nutrient from it.
There are also so many great ways to consume it. You can poach it, scramble it,or cook it sunny side up. There is no reason to not consume this on a regular a basis. I know it;s great source of protein and we all need this to build muscles. So everyone should eat up!
Hey Mark. Thank you for the awesome post. I was looking fwd to it. I had apprehension on eating the Yolk stuff and has asked you on the same sometime back. This post answers it all.
Of course egg yolks are full of cholesterol. But, like many cholesterol-rich foods, they are also packed with important nutrients – especially fat-soluble vitamins and essential fatty acids.
There are so many nutrients in an egg that one a day would offer a lot more than most multi-vitamins (which are normally synthetic – so your body doesn’t even recognize them as food). And most importantly, the yolk is the part of the egg that contains the majority of the nutrients.
It’s not the yolk that’s going to get you, it’s the sitting on one’s backside reading a diet article about how bad egg yolk is for you, when you should be out enjoying yourself and burning some calories.