Eggs for muscle growth: with or without yolk?

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Eggs are a great source of protein, that’s for sure. But should you eat the whole egg or is it better to remove the yolk – if muscle growth is your primary goal?

Key points:

1.   Eggs are healthy and relatively inexpensive sources of protein.

2.   Egg yolks, in addition to proteins, contain many valuable nutrients.

3.   Egg yolks are also high in cholesterol. That gives eggs a bad name. Wrongly: cholesterol from food has only a limited influence on the cholesterol level in the blood.

4.   Egg yolks may also have anabolic properties. Recent research suggests that protein from a whole egg increases muscle protein synthesis more than the same amount of protein from the egg protein alone.

5.   So eat whole eggs. Three a day is no problem for healthy people.


First some egg facts:

  • A (chicken) egg contains an average of 7 grams of protein. 4 grams of this is in the egg white, 3 grams in the yolk.
  • Egg yolks contain many healthy nutrients.
  • The egg yolk contains by far the most calories of the egg (about 55 kcal out of 70).
  • Egg yolks also contain a lot of cholesterol (> 200 mg). That gives eggs a bad name. Wrongly: cholesterol from food has only a very limited influence on the cholesterol level in the blood.
  • A meta-analysis comprising 35 studies shows that eating eggs, in the short and long term, has no negative impact on heart health and functioning vii ] .
  • Eating saturated fats has a much greater influence on blood cholesterol levels. Even then, in healthy individuals, the body is able to regulate the production of cholesterol.
  • Healthy people can eat three eggs a day with peace of mind.


From the above you can already conclude that it is a shame not to eat the yolk: you are missing out on a lot of valuable nutrients.

Egg yolk is bursting with vitamins (including vitamin B12 and vitamin D), minerals (including iron and zinc), antioxidants and healthy fatty acids. These are not or hardly in the egg white.

And what about the extra calories? Those should not be a problem in bulk. And not during the cut either, especially given the high nutritional value that those calories offer.

And what about the fats? One boiled egg contains about 5 grams of fat, of which 3.5 grams are unsaturated fats. Fats are indispensable in any diet. Unsaturated fats offer specific health benefits. Consumption of saturated fats on the other hand has a beneficial effect on your testosterone level i ] .

The fact that eating a lot of eggs gives you a certain testosterone boost, as is often claimed, is probably mainly due to the high amount of vitamin D in the yolk, and a bit of saturated fat. Not because of the unsaturated fats and cholesterol ii ] . Unsaturated fats are often mistakenly labeled as testosterone boosters.

Anyway, the possible positive effect of egg yolks on your hormonal balance is another reason to eat whole eggs.


But wait, there’s more… The high amount of cholesterol in the egg yolk is not only harmless, it may even have a positive effect on muscle growth!

Two recent studies by Van Vliet et al iii ] [ iv ] show that eating whole eggs stimulates muscle protein synthesis 40% more than eating egg protein alone. This with an equal amount of protein intake, 18 grams to be exact, taken immediately after training. Muscle protein synthesis is the process of building proteins in the muscles – on the one hand to repair them after strength training damage, on the other to make them bigger.

Now you would think that might be because of the extra calories and fats that the egg yolk provides. However, it is more likely that cholesterol is the decisive factor v ] . Or that it is a combination of several nutrients in the egg yolk, where the whole is greater than the sum of its parts vi ] .

The study was conducted on 10 young and trained men, after a single strength training session. Thus, only acute effects were measured; It is not clear what the long-term effect is on muscle growth.

Update September 9, 2021: A meta-analysis of all relevant research material concludes that eating whole eggs may be beneficial for muscle growth (aside from the proteins present), but that far too little research has been done to draw firm conclusions. to be able to draw [ viii ] .


Eggs are healthy and relatively inexpensive sources of protein.

Eat whole eggs, including the yolk. In addition to proteins, the yolk provides you with many valuable nutrients. In addition, egg yolk may even have an extra positive effect on muscle growth, although there is still a lack of convincing scientific evidence for this. So you are doing yourself a disservice if you only eat the egg white.

We therefore see no added value in liquid egg white, as is usually offered in bottles. Apart from the proteins you get from it, of course.

Egg yolks have been wrongly demonized for years. Although it contains a lot of cholesterol, this can do no harm in healthy people: cholesterol from food has only a very limited influence on the cholesterol level in the blood. Healthy people can therefore safely eat three eggs a day.


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