The anabolic effect of whole eggs

The legendary trainer of champions Vince Gironda once said that three dozen real (fertile) eggs a day have “the same anabolic effect as steroids”. Frank Zane believed him. Larry Scott believed him. Even ARNOLD himself believed it. So our distant bodybuilder ancestors ate eggs until the researchers started hightailing it on cholesterol. They had to choose – biceps or heart (and they chose not to eat eggs, although they found all sorts of “vitamins” for biceps).

And for long, long years both jocks and chubby commoners had to enjoy faceless and joyless protein omelets. Half a century later, however, scientists had the courage to admit their mistake: cholesterol is not that bad, and yolks are not the devil’s invention. Ordinary people began to indulge in egg products again. Bodybuilders, on the other hand, have continued to ditch the yolks, now because of religious worship of calorie intake. Whole egg may be full of vitamins and minerals, but it also has fat, and fat is a calorie. You’re going to lose your abs!

Maybe this study will change their minds. An international team of scientists (Iran, Canada, USA) found that eating whole eggs increases testosterone levels, promotes strength and reduces the percentage of fat.


What they did

  • They selected 30 young men who trained with iron and randomly divided them into two groups.
  • The first had three eggs immediately after training, the second had six egg whites (i.e. both had about the same amount of protein).
  • The experiment lasted for 3 months, with all participants training 3 times a week. And what did they find out?

Clearly such a study would benefit anyone, but the achievements of the ‘whole-egg’ group were significantly better in a number of ways:

  • Lower percentage of fat
  • More lean body mass
  • Higher blood testosterone levels
  • Higher anaerobic power

It has not yet been possible, however, to extract the magic ingredient from whole eggs. Eggs may have provided the body with arachidonic acid, which plays a major role in testosterone production in testicles. This alone could lead to a reduction in body fat and an increase in muscle mass and anaerobic power.

Although the authors of this work did not focus on mTOR observations, a number of other studies have found a positive effect of yolks on this signalling pathway and associated anabolic processes. In addition, whole eggs contain more nutrients (vitamins, minerals, phenols etc.), which may also help increase muscle protein synthesis.


So to eat or not to eat? That’s the question.
Obviously, the benefits of whole eggs outweigh any potential harm of calories from fat. Does that mean you can safely eat them without fear of elevated cholesterol and other horror stories? In another study on the diets of residents of 50 countries (including those where there are a lot of eggs), they unexpectedly found “a neutral association between egg consumption and health”:

It is well known that cholesterol from food has little effect on cholesterol levels in the body (including “bad” (LDL) cholesterol).
Phospholipids from eggs increase “good” cholesterol (HDL).
The same phospholipids have a double effect on inflammation: they decrease in obese people and slightly increase in underweight people.

Substituting eggs (i.e. protein) for part of the carbohydrates in the diet improves the blood lipid profile, reduces blood pressure and the risk of CVDs.

Egg yolks are high in lutein and zeaxanthin, polyphenols with strong antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties.
All that remains is to clarify this scientific “very many eggs”: we are certainly not talking about consuming thirty pieces a day, but residents of some countries caught up in the scientists’ analysis manage to eat up to a dozen several times a week. And nothing (bad)!

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