The Incredible, Edible Egg!

EggswebPeople have many beliefs about eggs. Some think they are bad for you and will raise your blood cholesterol levels, whilst others think they are a meatless superfood. Here’s the facts about eggs, and how they can be a part of a healthy athlete’s diet…

Eggs are protein packed- an average sized egg contains ~7 grams protein per egg. This little package comes as a complete protein source, which means they contain all the essential amino acids your body needs to use for muscle and tissue recovery, adaptation, and growth. This makes eggs a fantastic choice for a vegetarian diet where most plant-based proteins are incomplete.

Eggs contain ~5-7 grams of fat per 80-90 Calories, which mainly comes as unsaturated fatty acids. This small amount of fat is ideal for absorbing the fat-soluble vitamins eggs contain in their yolks. The egg yolk contains vitamin D (a fat-soluble vitamin), which is essential for absorbing calcium which is primarily used for building and maintaining healthy bones. Vitamin D also blocks the release of parathyroid hormone which acts to resorb bone tissue, making them brittle and weak. Research indicates this essential vitamin also plays a role with muscle function and the immune system. The egg yolk also contains vitamin B12, which is needed for keeping a healthy metabolic and nervous system. Vitamin B12 is an essential vitamin needed to live, but is limited in a plant-based vegetarian and vegan diet. Eggs are a great solution obtain vitamin B12 rather than relying on supplements. Eggs do contain a small amount of cholesterol, which can contribute to high cholesterol levels when eaten with other foods that are high in saturated fat and cholesterol. Someone people with a family history of high cholesterol levels should limit their total daily consumption of eggs.

How many eggs should I eat in one day?
To maintain a healthy diet, eating 2 eggs per day is safe and can contribute high quality proteins to a meatless diet.

EggswebsizeWhich type of egg should I buy?
Eggs come in many colors, sizes, shapes, and treatment. They are generally classified and labeled by the treatment of the hens, and are as the following:

a) Organic = typically free to roam indoors and outdoors
b) Free-range = free to roam indoors and outdoors
c) Indoor and/or cage-free = free to roam indoors only
d) “Enriched caged” = Large cages used to hold hens typically indoors
e) Hormone-free = hormones not used in the hen’s feed, which can apply to all treatments above
e) Unspecified = typically caged in small cages and unable to roam freely

Small cages used to hold hens are now illegal in some countries like Europe, but the large cage holding methods are still permitted in Europe and the UK.

Which ones should you buy?
First, buy the best you can afford. Look for local, free-range organic eggs. Training during the local farmers markets? No problem! Search the natural grocery stores for high-welfare high-quality eggs, or contact a local farmer to hold a dozen eggs until you can pick them up at the farm. Better yet, plan your training ride to go by the local farm and bring the eggs home in a backpack!

What’s the best way to cook eggs?
Eggs are fast to cook, fantastically versatile, and need minimal added oils to result in a healthy post-training or post-race dish.

poached eggHere a few methods to try:
~ Poaching– Heat a pot of water and bring to a slow boil. Add a pinch of mineral sea salt. Crack an egg close to the water and drop the raw egg into the water. The egg white will quickly firm, and the yolk will slowly turn harder. Use a large slotted spoon to remove the egg from the water when the egg is bobbing and the yolk has almost cooked completely through. The yolk will continue to firm after you remove it from the water. Place the poached egg on top of a toasted English muffin, rice, polenta, or grits. Serve with steamed or sautéed veggies on the side.

Fried Eggs~ Frying– the most common way to cook eggs. In a frying pan, heat a small amount of butter, coconut oil, grapeseed oil, vegetable oil, or olive oil over low/medium heat. Crack an egg close to the pan, and drop the egg onto the pan. Place a lid on the fry pan to create a steam cook method. The egg cooks more quickly and doesn’t need as much oil- perfect for the time-limited cyclist! Try a fried egg on top of mushroom risotto, quinoa with sautéed mustard & collard greens, or the classic topper to think cut toast for a pre-ride meal.

Scrambled Eggs~ Scramble– The fast mix method of cooking eggs and a perfect opportunity to add some veggies! In a large fry pan, heat a small amount of butter, coconut oil, grapeseed oil, vegetable oil, or olive oil over medium heat. Sauté chopped onion and mushrooms until the onion is translucent and mushrooms are soft. Remove the veggies from the pan. Add a pinch of chopped garlic and pinch of salt. Sauté for about 20-30 seconds before cracking an egg close to the pan, and drop the egg onto the pan. Use a spatula to move the broken egg all around the pan, heating it through until it’s almost stiffened but still moist. Add the cooked onion and mushrooms, along with a handful of chopped spinach. Mix until combined and the egg is cooked through. Season to taste with salt, pepper, or fresh salsa…

Any method you use to cook eggs, enjoy the versatility and ease with which you can create nutritious, delicious meals quickly!

We want to hear from you- tell us your favorite egg dish on the WCA facebook page or blog.

SarahWeberHeadShotwebsizeBest of Health,
Sarah Weber, RD, LD.

Resources used:
Egg Nutrition Center Organization
Nutrient Content of One Large Egg

Read more…. Why eggs are healthy – by Jamie Oliver