Eggs are considered a very-high protein source due to their complete amino acid profile and ease of digestibility. While many people consume whey protein or other animal-based proteins post-exercise to maximize training adaptations, eggs rank equivalently high on the PDCAAS score, which is a method used by the FDA and WHO to measure protein quality.
A study by van Vliet and colleagues previously demonstrated that whole-egg ingestion increased myofibrillar protein synthesis to a greater extent than egg whites following an acute bout of lower-body exercise. A new study by Bagheri et al compared the effects of post-exercise whole eggs and egg whites ingestion on muscle cross-sectional area, body composition, and strength during 12 weeks of resistance training.
30 resistance-trained males participated in this study. Subjects were randomly assigned to a whole-egg or egg white group. The whole-egg group ingested 3 whole eggs immediately post-exercise, while the egg-white group consumed 6 egg whites.
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The researchers collected 3-day food records before and after the study to assess the total calorie and macronutrient profile of each subject’s diet. Importantly, there were no significant differences at either time point between groups.
Throughout the study, subjects performed a full-body, periodized resistance training program 3 times per week, for 12 weeks. Training sessions were divided into “light” (3 sets of 12-14 reps), “moderate” (3 sets of 8-10 reps), and “heavy” (3-5 sets of 3-5 reps) days. Volume and intensity were gradually progressed throughout the program.
The researchers found that the whole-egg group increased quadriceps strength and reduced body fat % to a greater extent than the egg-white group. Additionally, the whole-egg group tended to experience a greater increase in lean body mass, and both groups increased quadriceps cross-sectional area to a similar extent.
Therefore, both protein sources likely result in comparable strength and body composition improvements when total daily protein intake is the same, but whole eggs may be slightly superior.