As this is the first contribution I have made to the Spartan Strength Newsletter, it went without question that the topic of choice would entail the incredible, edible egg. This superfood is a staple in my diet and fuels my physical and mental performance, which is why I want to share some valuable information regarding the benefits of incorporating eggs into your diet to improve health and performance.
One large egg consists of only 70 calories, yet it is packed with numerous nutrients, vitamins, and minerals. Although not a complete list, the following components are found in a single egg, high-quality protein, various fats (saturated, monounsaturated, and polyunsaturated), calcium, iron, phosphorus, potassium, zinc, Vitamin B-6 & B-12, choline, lutein, zeaxanthin, and Vitamin D.
By regularly completing strenuous and physically demanding exercise routines as a member of Spartan Strength, our muscles require a quality source of protein in order to rebuild, strengthen, and prepare for the next day’s workout. Eggs are an excellent choice for muscle recovery, as each egg contains 6-7 grams of protein, 18 different amino acids, as well as various branched chain amino acids (BCAAs) and aromatic amino acids (AAA). These proteins and amino acids are the building blocks to gaining strength, repairing muscle, and gaining fat free mass, all promoting increased metabolism and performance.
With less than 1% of our bodies being constituted of carbohydrates, the majority of our tissues are protein and fat based, with approximately two-thirds of our brain being composed of fats. Thus, regularly consuming healthy fats is a necessity for optimal health and performance. The food we consume directly influences our thought processes, emotions, and behavior. The brain’s primary source of energy are fatty-acids. The fats we consume from dietary sources are disassembled into fatty-acids, which are then utilized by neurons, the body’s “communication” cells, to build their protective sheath known as ‘myelin’. The more myelin our neurons have, the faster they can communicate with each other, therefore allowing quicker reaction times, increased strength, and speedy thought processing. Eggs contain both saturated and unsaturated fats. The saturated fats within eggs contain both Omega-3 Omega-6 fatty-acids, the two essential fatty-acids required from our diets due to the body’s inability to produce them on its own. In addition, eggs provide mono- and poly-unsaturated fats, which have been shown to improve blood cholesterol levels by lowering bad, LDL-cholesterol and raising the good, HDL-cholesterol.
A single egg provides 20% of the daily recommended intake of choline, another important contributor to brain and nerve health. Studies have shown that choline aids memory function, reducing breast cancer risk, and is critically important for brain development.
Lutein and zeaxanthin are xanthophyll carotenoids found in dark-green leafy vegetables (spinach and kale) and egg yolks. I have noticed that many members at Spartan Strength wear glasses and/or contacts due to impaired vision. These two carotenoids are primary components of eye lenses and macular region of the retina. Studies show that low levels of xanthophyll carotenoids are linked to cataract and age-related macular degeneration. Consequently, supplementing the diet with a source of lutein and zeaxanthin from egg yolks may slow the degenerative process or improve visual acuity.
Vitamin D is not only a necessity for optimal health, but is also extremely beneficial for athletes. Immune function, protein synthesis, muscle function, inflammatory response, cellular growth and regulation of skeletal muscle are all influenced by this vitamin. Unfortunately, over 77% of the general population is considered to have a vitamin D deficiency. Thusly, it is ever more important to find dietary sources of the vitamin and regularly incorporate them into your meals. Due to the fat solubility of vitamin D, egg yolks provide exceptional digestion and absorption of this important vitamin.
Eggs are versatile in the kitchen, allowing a great variety of options for you to incorporate them into meals and snacks. They can be hard boiled and ate simply by themselves or later added into other dishes. Whisking two-three eggs together with salt and pepper in a frying pan with a tablespoon of grass-fed butter is a quick and easy meal anytime of the day. An important note, however, is to cook the eggs at low-medium heat. High heat will oxidize the important proteins and fats in the egg, which is undesirable when considering optimal health and performance.
The next time you are at the farmer’s market or grocery store, swing by the egg cooler and grab a dozen or two of this superfood. You may soon notice the energizing effects at the gym and increased focus while at your job. Please, if you have any questions about the information mentioned above, don’t be afraid to ask.