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Protein in eggs

Eggs are an excellent source of natural protein and are also relatively cheap when compared to other high-protein foods such as meat. On average, a medium-size egg contains around 6.4 grams of protein which makes up around 12.6% of the overall edible portion.

Although protein can be found in both the egg white and the yolk, the yolk actually has a higher concentration of protein than the white - but as there is more white in the egg, this means the white provides more protein overall.

Why is protein good?

Protein is one of the essential nutrients that every person needs to maintain a strong and healthy body. Protein is needed for the growth and repair of all body cells and tissues, which even in adults are being broken down and re-built every day. At a cellular level, protein is involved in numerous essential processes, helping to regulate our metabolism and important systems, such as immune function. Protein can also be used to provide energy to the body.

The amount of protein needed varies depending on factors such as age, sex, body weight etc, but the amount required for an average adult is around 50-60 grams a day.

Eggs are an important source of high quality protein. On the evaluation scale most commonly used for assessing protein, egg protein is at the highest point, 100, and is used as the reference standard against which all other foods are assessed. This is because of the essential amino acid profile and the high digestibility of egg protein. When assessed against a range of different measures of protein quality (protein digestibility corrected amino acid score; biological value; net protein utilisation; protein efficiency ratio; protein digestibilty) eggs rank consistently high, even against other high quality sources of protein such as beef and cows’ milk.

12.6% of the weight of the edible portion of the egg is protein and it is found in both the yolk and the albumen. Although protein is more concentrated around the yolk, there is in fact more protein in the albumen.

As people age, the loss in muscle mass and strength (sarcopenia), increases in parallel to the rise in body fat. It had been argued that these changes in body composition are related to a decline in physical activity, but this view has been challenged by research suggesting that poor protein intake and changes in the body’s ability to utilize amino acids with age may also contribute to sarcopenia. Therefore it is possible that an adequate intake of high quality protein from sources such as eggs could help to prevent the degeneration of skeletal muscle in older people.

Egg protein is a rich source of the essential amino acid leucine, which is important in modulating the use of glucose by skeletal muscle and in facilitating muscle recovery after exercise. It has therefore been postulated that this would be advantageous to people undergoing endurance training.

In comparison with other high protein foods, eggs are a relatively inexpensive source of protein.

Find out more about nutrition in eggs.

Find out more about diet and fitness.

All information checked by an independent Registered Nutritionist/Dietitian

egg salad