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Are Eggs a Good Source of Protein?

Health + Wellness
iStock

By Adda Bjarnadottir

Most people know that eggs are very healthy. Not only that—they're also a great source of high-quality protein.

Getting enough protein is very important for building bones and muscle, as well as maintaining good overall health.

But how much protein can you expect to get from eggs?

How Much Protein Does One Egg Contain?

The average egg contains about 6–7 grams of protein.

However, the protein content does depend on the size of the egg. Here's how much protein different sizes of eggs contain (1):

  • Small egg (38 grams): 4.9 grams of protein
  • Medium egg (44 grams): 5.7 grams of protein
  • Large egg (50 grams): 6.5 grams of protein
  • Extra-large egg (56 grams): 7.3 grams of protein
  • Jumbo egg (63 grams): 8.2 grams of protein

To put these numbers in perspective, the average sedentary man needs about 56 grams of protein per day and the average sedentary woman needs about 46 grams.

Summary: An average-sized egg contains about 6–7 grams of protein.

Protein Content of the Yolk and White

Now let's look at the protein content of different parts of the egg.

People often think that protein is only found in the egg whites, since they consist of little other than proteins (2).

The egg yolks are known to be where almost all the nutrients and fat are found.

However, in addition to these nutrients, the yolk also contains up to about half of the protein content of the egg (3).

In a large egg that contains about 7 grams of protein, 3 grams will be coming from the yolk and 4 grams from the white.

Therefore, eating the entire egg—not just the white—is the way to get the most protein and nutrients.

Summary: Both egg yolks and egg whites contain protein, although the whites contain slightly more.

Does Cooking Affect the Quality of the Protein?

The high-quality protein abundant in eggs contains all nine essential amino acids in the right ratios.

However, how much of that protein the body can actually use seems to depend on how they are prepared.

Eating eggs raw seems to provide the least amount of protein.

One study looked at how much protein was absorbed from cooked versus raw eggs. It found that participants absorbed 90 percent of the protein from cooked eggs, compared to only 50 percent of the protein from raw eggs (4).

Another study provided healthy individuals with a meal that contained either cooked or raw egg protein. It found that 94 percent of the cooked egg protein was absorbed, compared to only 74 percent of the raw egg protein (5).

This means that cooking eggs helps the protein become more digestible and more accessible to the body.

In addition, eating raw eggs carries a risk of bacterial contamination and food poisoning (6, 7).

Summary: Your body can absorb the protein from cooked eggs better than the protein from raw eggs.

Other Health Benefits of Eggs

Eggs are among the healthiest and most nutritious foods you can eat.

They are relatively low in calories, with one large hard-boiled egg containing only about 77 calories (1).

Despite being low in calories, they are a balanced source of almost every nutrient you need. One such nutrient is choline, which many people are lacking in their diet (8).

Choline is important for many processes in the body. In fact, a lack of it may affect brain and heart health and has been linked to an increased risk of neural tube defects during pregnancy (9).

Aside from their nutrient content, eggs have also been linked with numerous health benefits, including benefits related to weight loss and weight maintenance.

Eggs have been shown to promote feelings of fullness, which can help prevent you from eating too much at a time (10, 11).

This effect is especially noticeable when people eat eggs for breakfast.

Eating eggs for breakfast has been shown to cause people to eat significantly less for the next 24 hours than other types of breakfasts, without actively restricting calories (11, 12).

In one study, men who ate eggs for breakfast ate up to 470 fewer calories at lunch and dinner buffets than when they ate cereal or croissant-based breakfasts (12).

In addition to all of this, eggs are cheap and very easy to prepare.

Summary: Eggs are very nutritious and weight loss friendly. Eating eggs for breakfast may help reduce the number of calories you consume for the next 24 hours.

The Bottom Line

An average-sized egg contains about 6–7 grams of protein.

To enable your body to use as much of that as possible, it is recommended to eat eggs cooked rather than raw.

Aside from their impressive protein content, eggs are low in calories, high in nutrients and especially weight loss friendly.

Reposted with permission from our media associate Authority Nutrition.

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