A healthy living blog from Marshfield Clinic Health System

Smashing egg myths: Raw eggs build more muscle

Woman cracking an egg into a bowl - Raw eggs

Eating raw eggs for protein? Your body absorbs more protein and biotin when you eat cooked eggs.

In the bodybuilding world, adding raw eggs to shakes and smoothies is considered a quick way to get more protein to build muscle.

Most people who advise against drinking raw eggs warn about the dangers of salmonella.

Avoiding foodborne illness is a good reason to cook your eggs, but it’s not the only reason. You may be surprised to learn cooked eggs offer more nutritional benefits than raw ones, said Corrie Staff, a Marshfield Clinic dietitian.

“Eggs are like a multivitamin pod,” Staff said. “There are so many benefits to eating whole, cooked eggs compared to consuming raw eggs.”

Cooked eggs are better protein sources

If you’ve been choking down raw eggs in the name of muscle gains, it’s okay to choose hard-boiled next time. In fact, cooked eggs pack a bigger protein punch.

Cooking breaks down protein to make digestion easier,” Staff said. “Our bodies absorb 50 to 60 percent of the protein in raw eggs compared to 90 percent of the protein in cooked eggs.”

The benefits of eating cooked eggs go beyond absorbing protein. Eggs contain a water-soluble vitamin called biotin that’s important for hair and nail growth, nervous system health and processing carbs. Raw eggs contain a protein called avidin that prevents biotin from being absorbed. Breaking down the protein through cooking lets our bodies absorb the biotin in eggs.

If you go raw, go pasteurized

If you choose to consume raw eggs, opt for pasteurized. Pasteurized eggs are gently heated to reduce risk of foodborne illness.

Keep raw shell eggs in the refrigerator to prevent bacterial growth. Raw shell eggs are washed to remove bacteria from the hen and the environment. The process also removes the egg’s cuticle – the thin protective layer that naturally keeps bacteria from getting inside. It’s harder for bacteria to grow on the shell when the egg is stored below 40 degrees F.

Try whey protein, Greek yogurt or soy milk in your shakes or smoothies with scrambled eggs on the side to get more protein in your diet.

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