Raw eggs: To eat or not to eat?
Depending on what search terms you Google, and who you spend your time around, you’ll get two VERY different answers.
Hang with Joe Bodybuilder or macro-fiends and you’ll hear “Gotta get your protein and hit those macros, so eat em’ raw!”
Hang with Registered Dietitians, scientists, or athletes with a working knowledge of science, and you’ll hear “Step away from the raw egg!”
Things get even more convoluted if you “do your homework” and look online for yourself. Googling “Benefits of raw eggs” will provide (seemingly) convincing evidence in SUPPORT of raw egg consumption. Sounds great, right?! Time to guzzle those babies down! Let’s look a little deeper; this “evidence” is primarily from outdated bodybuilding forums and advocates using personal testimonial as truth (red flags!) Maybe you’ve heard “but the vitamins get destroyed by cooking!” and “If vitamins take a hit, then it’s safe to assume that protein does, too!”
Woah woah woah, pump the breaks! Let’s not get ahead of ourselves. It’s time for some foodie science:
One egg contains about 75 calories, .6g carbohydrate, and 7 grams of complete protein, meaning it contains all 9 essential amino acids in adequate quantities (the ones the body can’t make by itself.) One egg also delivers vitamin A, D, E, and B vitamins, along with a host of other minerals and antioxidants. (I’ll save the 5 grams of total fat and 187 mg cholesterol in an egg for another conversation. Spoiler alert: Dietary cholesterol plays a negligible role in blood cholesterol).
Your body digests and absorbs significantly more protein from cooked eggs vs raw eggs:(91% vs 51%, respectively).
Raw eggs can carry salmonella. While eating a single egg isn’t terribly likely to result in diarrhea, cramps, and fever associated with salmonella poisoning, playing Russian roulette at the breakfast table isn’t my idea of fun.
Your body needs biotin, which is a B vitamin synthesized by gut microbes and found in foods like egg yolk (eggs, people!), liver, whole-grain cereal, and certain vegetables. Biotin, formerly known as Vitamin H, is needed for healthy skin, hair, liver, eyes, and nervous system function. We need biotin to metabolize carbs, fats, and amino acids (the building blocks of protein). Biotin deficiency manifests as scaly dermatitis, neurologic signs, and hair loss.
If biotin is so important for the gains (if you care) and for life in general (we all care)…then we wouldn’t want to compromise it’s function in our body! You’re thinking “Well of course not!” Actually, here’s the thing: If you eat raw eggs, you’re not doing yourself any favors. Keep reading:
Avidin binds biotin, rendering it essentially useless to the body. Let’s put that into plain English: Biotin is an essential nutrient found in egg yolks, and avidin is found in egg whites. Avidin is a glycoprotein with a high affinity for biotin; this means that avidin binds biotin and makes it unavailable for us! Luckily there’s a way avoid this complication in the first place: Just cook the egg, and presto! Avidin is denatured and it’s no longer a problem.
Let’s recap: By eating raw eggs, you:
-Don’t absorb as much protein
-Compromise one of the vitamins involved in energy production
-Increase your risk of salmonella
By cooking the egg, you:
-Avoid the consequences described above. With knowledge on your side, now you see it: Raw eggs are NOT worth the hype.
Americal Journal of Clinical Nutrition raw eggs and biotin: http://ajcn.nutrition.org/content/75/2/179.full