Egg protein powder, which is usually egg white protein powder is made from dehydrated egg whites that have been processed into a fine powder. Most manufacturers use a spray drying process to produce the powder.
What’s interesting is that egg protein powder used to be the staple in most bodybuilder’s diet in the 80s. Even though some supplement companies had concentrated milk protein powder, there was no whey protein powder. So the main protein powder most fitness enthusiasts consumed was egg protein powder.
That’s because in general, egg protein powder is very high-quality protein. One scoop provides approximately 24 grams of protein, four times the amount found in one whole egg. Egg protein powder, especially when made from free-range eggs, also contains some vitamins A, B and D.
As an animal protein it is also high in all essential amino acids and a particularly good source of the three branched-chain amino acids (BCAAs), leucine, isoleucine, and valine, which are especially important in muscle growth.
What does egg protein do?
Your body requires more protein when you want to build muscle. Whereas the general recommended protein intake for the average adult should be anywhere from 0.4 to 0.5 grams per pound of bodyweight, someone looking to build muscle at the optimal rate should consume about double that.
While you can theoretically get all your necessary protein from whole food sources, consuming enough protein that way can be tricky, especially when you don’t have time to prepare high protein meals all the time.
That is why most athletes and bodybuilders use protein powders in addition to a balanced diet. So if you are crunched for time, a good protein powder can really make your life easier.
The pros and cons of egg protein powder
Whereas whey is a fast digesting protein and casein is a slow digesting protein, egg protein falls somewhere in the middle. This means egg protein will not only boost protein synthesis but also prevent muscle protein breakdown.
Low degree of processing
Egg white protein powder is naturally very low in carbs and fat. That means very little processing is needed for the end product. This makes it the perfect protein powder for anyone worried about the mechanical and chemical processing that some protein powders undergo.
Since egg protein powder is not derived from milk, it also doesn’t contain lactose. This makes it a great option if you are lactose intolerant.
It’s not a whole egg
Consuming egg protein powder is not the same as eating a whole egg. Most of the nutrients in an egg are found in the yolk, which isn’t part of egg white protein powder. Egg white, even when it’s not died is already low in anything but protein, so don’t expect to get a lot of vitamins from it.
Traces of antibiotics, hormones and other pharmaceuticals can also be present in the egg protein powder if they used factory-farmed eggs. There is no real way for you to check what types of eggs were used so I recommend you go with a reputable brand and a protein powder based on free-range eggs.
How should you take egg protein?
Your daily dose of protein supplements will depend on how much total protein you need to consume per day. Like I mentioned earlier, 0.8 – 1 gram per pound of bodyweight works as a good rule of thumb.
But keep in mind that the majority of your diet should always be based on whole foods, which applies not only to protein but all macronutrients. So try to build your diet around quality protein sources and use protein powder only as a supplement and not as a substitute.
Depending on your lifestyle, required protein intake and willingness to cook I suggest you get around a third to half (maximum!) of your protein from protein shakes.
Egg protein timing
In regards to egg protein timing you can take it taken at any time of day and with any meal. If, for some reason, you want to take it before your workout, you probably want to give it more time than whey, so at least an hour or two before you hit the gym.
Like casein, egg protein is also a good protein to take before bed. Consuming any type of protein before bed can help you get a little more recovery and muscle protein synthesis and egg protein will be digested slower than whey protein making sure you provide your body with a steady amino acid supply throughout the night.
In theory, you could also combine whey, casein and egg protein to maximize muscle growth:
Whey to achieve fast muscle protein synthesis and egg protein and casein to maintain it for a few hours, while also decreasing muscle breakdown.
But if you are getting most of your protein from whole food sources, you will have a steady supply of amino acids in the blood anyway, so the benefit of mixing the three is minimal. Try it for yourself and see if it’s worth the hassle.
Egg protein is generally very safe. There are no studies showing that protein supplementation or higher protein intake in general can lead to kidney damage or bone loss if you are a healthy adult. People with existing kidney problems should talk to their doctor first, but anyone else shouldn’t worry about egg protein side effects.