Can eggs—yolk and all—fit into a heart-healthy sports diet? Yes! Although eggs have been given a bad rap because the yolk is high in cholesterol and has been thought to elevate blood cholesterol, the majority of healthy active people can enjoy the whole egg, yolk and all! Just go easy on the saturated fat in the accompanying breakfast foods: bacon, buttery toast, and greasy hash browns. They tend to be the bigger health culprits.
Healthy athletes with no family history of heart disease have no need to toss the yolk and eat just the white. That’s like tossing the baby out with the bath water. The yolk is nutrient-dense and an excellent source of vitamins and minerals (including iodine, zinc, iron, and folic acid) as well as many other life-sustaining nutrients.
Athletes love eggs for their high quality protein. The yolk offers 3 grams of protein and the white another 3 grams. That totals (only) 6 grams for the whole egg. Having two eggs for breakfast almost matches the 14 grams in a serving of Greek yogurt—surprising news to many of my clients who think their two-egg white omelet is a super source of protein. They need to think again; two egg whites offer only 6 grams of protein.
Eggs are also known for being satiating; that is, they contribute to a pleasant feeling of fullness. Hence, eating eggs can be a helpful addition to a weight management program. Obese dieters who ate eggs for breakfast lost more weight than those who ate a bagel for breakfast. (The egg eaters did not experience higher blood cholesterol levels.)
How about eggs for breakfast one day, Wheaties (or other whole grain cereal) the next day, and then oatmeal the third day? Sounds to me like a good plan to enjoy a variety of important nutrients in your sports diet!
Eat wisely and feel great!
For more information on a heart-healthy sports diet read Chapter 2 in my Sports Nutrition Guidebook.
Nancy Clark MS RD CSSD
Sports Nutrition Services
Nancy Clark’s Sports Nutrition Guidebook, 4th Edition
Food guides for soccer, new runners, marathoners, cyclists