Protein is a macronutrient and a vital foundation for bones, skin, muscles, tissues, and blood. It contains amino acids, which are the building blocks of cells. Protein comes from many different sources, including beef, fish, eggs, diary, nuts, seeds, and legumes. The amount of protein you need each day varies by weight, caloric intake, and activity level. According to the USDA, the recommended daily allowance of protein is determined by a simple equation:
Weight in pounds divided by 2.2 = weight in kilograms Weight in kg x 0.8-1.8 gm/kg = protein grams
Egg and whey protein are two of the most popular proteins. You get egg protein by consuming whole eggs or egg whites, or egg protein powder. Whey protein is obtained through dairy products or from powder.
But which one is better for you? Let’s compare.
Egg protein is a great quality protein that is popular with athletes and bodybuilders. Before egg supplements were available, they would drink raw egg whites or eat dozens of eggs at a time. Egg protein is often called the “perfect protein” from the “perfect food” because eggs contain all of the building blocks of life, including protein, essential fats, vitamins, minerals, and good cholesterol.
Whey protein is an excellent quality protein that is extremely popular with the fitness world. It is isolated from whey, which is the liquid byproduct of cheese manufactured from cow’s milk. Whey protein contains a full spectrum of amino acids that are in the perfect concentrations for optimal performance.
Protein quality is measured by two important values. The first is digestibility, which is the measure of the efficiency of digestion and absorption by the body. Second is the bioavailability of protein, which is measured by its biological value. This refers to the amount of protein retained when it is absorbed by the body for use by muscles and tissues.
Both egg and whey protein score very high on biologic value because they are used by the body very efficiently. The biologic value of egg protein is 88. It is absorbed by the body a little slower than whey protein, which has a biologic value between 130 and 160.
Proteins perform many different and important functions in the body. They are involved in vital chemical reactions, they transport and store nutrients, and they provide structure, defense, and regulatory support to the body.
High quality proteins like egg and whey perform these functions optimally. One of the more obvious ways to gage the results of these proteins in action is to notice how well muscles grow and recover from exercise after eating these proteins. Exercise depletes protein stores quickly. Re-fueling with egg or whey protein feeds the muscles, building them up and allowing them to recover quickly from the stress of exertion.
In addition to the benefits protein provides for active muscles, protein also enhances both hormonal and cellular functions. In addition, the immune system is very responsive to protein’s antioxidant effects.
When you diet, both egg and whey proteins are useful because protein balances blood sugar levels, unlike carbohydrates, which causes blood sugars to fluctuate. Well-balanced blood sugar levels help you control weight and appetite, maintain consistent energy levels, and burn fat. Both egg and whey proteins are available in a convenient powder form as a nutritional supplement.
Egg protein is low in calories and has a quality amino acid profile. It is best to get this type of protein by eating eggs as opposed to using an egg protein powder supplement.
Whey protein is the fastest absorbing protein and contains a full spectrum of amino acids and branch chain amino acids. There is no whole food that can match its performance. It is ideal for use before and after workouts to get the best results.
There are some things to consider when you choose which protein is best for you.
Both egg and whey protein may cause food-related allergies in certain individuals who are sensitive to animal or dairy products. Usually the digestive tract suffers due to an inability to break down the protein.
Some people with a natural tendency towards high cholesterol need to be especially careful of eating whole eggs. Egg whites contain more protein than egg yolks while the yolks have most of the cholesterol and fat. This is not so bad considering most of the fat is essential or good fat. When eating eggs, be sure to limit the yolks to one or two a day (or none at all if at risk for high cholesterol) and eat more egg whites.
Eating too much protein--more than 30 percent of your daily caloric intake--can be harmful. It can put body systems and organs, like the kidneys, under unnecessary stress. Ideally, protein should make up approximately 15 percent of your total daily caloric intake, according to the RDA. A diet consisting of 1,800 calories per day requires that about 270 calories should come from protein. Plan carefully and don’t sacrifice too many carbohydrates for protein.