Eggs are bad for you! Eating too many eggs will increase your blood cholesterol!!! Really?
A few years ago if anyone had to have a conversation with me on the topic of cholesterol and fat, I would have agreed on most of these claims. However, the truth is different. Time to bust some myths and tell you about the “Big FAT Lies”
The claims I make through my blog are based on extensive research and firsthand experience. I will not recommend or encourage anything that is popular. My objective is to make you aware of the nuances of science based nutrition and exercise facts related to the sport of bodybuilding. The pros and cons will be established and we can plan our health goals accordingly.
Now back to the “Big FAT Lies”. Let’s be honest, most of us have limited knowledge on fats and cholesterol and go by what older folks in the family have been saying. Eggs will heat you up, eggs will spoil your gut, you can’t digest more than 2 eggs and so on and so forth. Before we start discussing about whole egg benefits, lets understand fat and cholesterol.
What is cholesterol? Both fat and cholesterol belong to a larger family of chemical compounds called lipids. Cholesterol is a wax like substance found in our body. It is used to build cell membranes and brain and nerve tissues. Cholesterol is necessary for the production of bile, a fluid made by the liver that aids in the digestion of fat in the intestine. A large part(around 85%) of it already exists within us and our liver manufactures the same.The remaining is dietary, which means it is obtained from food. Common sources of dietary cholesterol are meat, poultry, seafood, dairy etc.
Now, to break this down further,
- We have LDL cholesterol, which is the bad cholesterol. Higher levels of LDL cholesterol in the blood can lead to a harmful buildup of cholesterol in blood vessels.
- And we have the HDL, the good cholesterol. Higher levels of HDL cholesterol in the blood can help prevent cholesterol buildup in blood vessels, decreasing your risk of developing cardiovascular disease.
Without complicating this any further, saturated fats and trans fat increase your LDL cholesterol which is bad cholesterol. Now why is LDL bad for you? To reiterate, it is the buildup of plaques that blocks your blood vessels which leads to difficulty in circulation of blood in the arteries. The heart in this case tries to work harder to push blood through stiff arteries which increases your blood pressure leading to heart problems.
Sources of saturated fats- beef, beef fat, veal, lamb, pork, lard, poultry fat, butter, cream, milk, cheeses, and other dairy products made from whole milk.
Sources of trans fat-Baked goods, snack foods, fried foods, margarines, and shortenings etc.
How do you reverse this? The short answer is, physical activity! Simple! when you increase physical exercise, you reduce your LDL and raise your HDL cholesterol which improves your blood circulation leading to better cardiovascular health.
Foods like nuts, olive oil, coconut oil, whole eggs, fatty fish, flaxseed etc, help to build your HDL which is the good cholesterol. That’s ’cause these foods are high in Mono and poly unsaturated fats which is good for you.
Now, a low fat high protein diet will technically do the same thing. It will reduce your LDL. However, it will not provide you with the essential fatty acids or so called good fats required to lead a healthy life and build muscle and stimulate your fat loss goals. Let me explain…. Fats are not bad. Consumption of a lot of saturated fat is bad as it increases your LDL cholesterol which can lead to cardiovascular problems. You must look to consume good fats in more quantity than the bad saturated fats to keep the HDL:LDL ratio in check and smash your health and life goals. Now, as established, essential fats are important. Eggs are considered as one of the super foods and is a great soure of Mono and poly unsaturated fats(good fats).It has health benefits galore. Let’s get down to brass tacks…..
One whole egg contains 5 gms of fat. 1.6 gms is the bad fat and the rest is good. That is the monounsaturated fats. These fats protect your heart by keeping your cholesterol levels within normal range. The other critical fact is… eggs are natural testosterone boosters (as they are high in cholesterol). What is testosterone? The hormone which helps you build muscle, procreate. You see the benefits! Your ability to produce testosterone reduces as you get older and super foods like this can help to compensate the loss. Eggs also contain essential vitamins like:
- Vitamin B12
- Vitamin B2
- Vitamin A
- Vitamin B5
and minerals including calcium, iron, potassium, zinc, manganese, folate and many more.
One whole egg has roughly 76-77 calories and 6 grams of protein. Now, looking at these benefits, you must include eggs in your daily macros. For vegetarians, there are alternative options which we will discuss in my next article.
Now, before you get your sunny side up. There is a limit to how many eggs you can eat because of its cholesterol content. The Dietary Guidelines globally recommend keeping the intake of dietary cholesterol to around 300 mg per day. One whole egg has around 187 mg, so the answer is 2 whole eggs a day. Disappointed? Well, if you’re a non-active homosapien, you should be. The good news is, if you’re someone who frequents the iron bar and lifts weights 3-4 days a week, you can eat between 4-5 whole eggs and as many egg whites without worrying about the cholesterol limit. Yes, you read that right. As many egg whites you can gobble in one sitting. They have zero cholesterol and are perfectly safe. Now the catch….. Protein builds muscle and is critical in your diet. However, your body can digest only a certain quantity of protein in one sitting. Around 30-35 gms for someone who works out with weights 3-4 days a week. If you eat more than that, the chances of it getting wasted through your back passage is quite high. For some who lift heavy and have been in the sport for a long time, they can digest more in one sitting. Again, you will need to eat first and judge what is the quantity you can digest. It’s something you need to test and experience. We fit in the former category. So, if you do the math, 4-5 whites with 2 yolks is a legendary egg meal and can be eaten first thing in the morning. I personally eat egg whites all the time. The purest and cheapest protein source. Plus, I can digest a little more protein than the average Joe as I push weights 5-6 days a week. My usual intake in a day is between 25-30 whites with 4 -5 yolks. This is paced out nicely between 5-6 meals.
So, fats from eggs are not bad. If you’re into lifting weights or any other form of sport which involves good amount of energy expenditure, eating eggs can be beneficial. Unless you have a precondition related to cholesterol or diabetes. Then you must check with your doc on the right quantity of cholesterol intake.
Few guidelines in general when it comes to eating fats.
- Choose lean cuts of meat and poultry.
- Trim the fat from meat before or after cooking
- Get rid of the poultry skin. High in fat.
- Make sure you have plenty of vegetables with less of fats which will make up for calories.
- Keep your fat intake between 20-30% of your macros. For a 2000 calorie diet it is around 50 to 60 grams.
- Choose low fat dairy products.
- Chuck the sauce and replace it with vinegar.
- Cook in a non-stick pan and use cooking spray instead of cooking oil.
- Read labels and make informed choices.
Make sure to whip up a storm the next time you hit the kitchen.
We lift, therefore we are!