Egg protein is derived primarily from egg whites and is a complete protein, providing adequate proportions of all of the body's required (essential) amino acids.1 It is highly ranked for protein quality and digestibility,2 and is relatively high in branched-chain amino acids, which are used primarily to make and repair muscle tissue. Egg protein is sometimes used in protein supplements and protein-enriched foods.
Egg protein contains a compound called avidin, which is well known to interfere with the absorption of biotin, a B-complex vitamin.3 Ordinarily, people who eat eggs are not exposed to enough avidin to have a significant impact, and avidin is also neutralized with heat. However, those who eat raw egg whites on a daily basis or people using large amounts of egg protein supplements might need to be concerned. Because of this issue, some egg protein supplements are heated during processing and are promoted as "avidin-neutralized."
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This supplement has been used in connection with the following health conditions:
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Egg protein may help build muscle and improve post-exercise recovery in athletes.
Some protein supplements (particularly from whey) have been linked to increased muscle building in athletes and more efficient repair of muscle injuries after exercise. The branched-chain amino acids in egg protein appear to be well used by muscle tissue after exercise, but researchers found that athletes taking 20 grams of egg protein or more after a workout were not able to use all of the protein and instead increased the excretion of protein breakdown products by the kidneys. In another study, supplementing with 15 grams of egg protein per day for 8 weeks did not have any effect on muscle mass or function in adult female athletes. A preliminary study found that post-exercise fatigue was unaffected by up to 20 grams of egg protein prior to exercise in long-distance runners.
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People with high blood pressure might be able to lower their blood pressure by using egg protein.
During the digestive process or hydroysis, egg protein is broken down into short amino acid chains. Some of these small peptides have been found to inhibit angiotensin I-converting enzyme (ACE), while others act as antioxidants in the blood vessels. These actions could lead to blood pressure reduction and improved blood vessel function.
In a study looking at overweight people with high blood pressure, taking three 20-gram servings of a protein supplement containing egg, pea, soy, and milk proteins was associated with blood pressure reductions compared to people taking a supplement with the same calorie content made with maltodextrin (a carbohydrate). After four weeks, systolic blood pressures were 4.9 mm Hg lower and diastolic blood pressures were 2.7 mm Hg lower in the protein group compared to the carbohydrate group.
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Egg protein may reduce appetite and help induce weight loss.
High-protein diets have been shown to help prevent and treat obesity. Researchers have found in a number of studies that, compared to eating carbohydrates in the morning, eating an egg breakfast is associated with appetite reduction and reduced calorie intake that could lead to weight loss in overweight and obese people. A mid-day egg meal has also been found to induce more of a sense of fullness than a carbohydrate-rich meal. How egg protein compares to whole eggs and to other protein supplements for reducing appetite and calorie consumption is not yet known.
How It Works
How to Use It
The ideal intake of egg protein has not been determined, but a typical serving of egg protein powder is 30 grams and provides about 20 grams of protein.
Where to Find It
A typical egg has about 13 grams of protein, most of which (about 11 grams) is found in the white portion. Some egg protein extracts have limited amounts of other nutrients such as cholesterol, fats, and phospholipids. Most egg protein supplements are simply dried egg white powder, and a 30-gram serving typically provides about 20 grams of protein. Hydrolyzed egg protein has been broken down into small amino acid chains through enzymatic processing, and may have a slightly higher protein content than dried egg white powder. Egg protein may be found in protein supplements, high-protein food bars, and meal replacements powders.
While protein deficiency is a problem in many parts of the world, it is uncommon in the developed world, since protein-rich foods like meat, fish, dairy, eggs, and legumes are generally abundantly available. There is no such thing as an egg protein deficiency.
Interactions with Supplements, Foods, & Other Compounds
Egg protein contains a compound called avidin, which interacts with biotin, a B-complex vitamin and prevents its absorption. Avidin is neutralized with heat. Unprocessed egg protein supplements may contain significant amounts of avidin and long-term use could cause a biotin deficiency.
Interactions with Medicines
Eggs cause allergic reactions in some people. The symptoms of an egg allergy range from digestive upset or a mild skin rash to a life-threatening constriction of the airways. People with egg allergies should avoid all forms of egg protein.
Because raw egg protein can cause biotin deficiency, people taking egg protein supplements long term should consider supplementing with biotin. Symptoms of biotin deficiency can include skin, hair, and nail changes; loss of muscle function; and seizures.
1. Lemon P. Beyond the zone: protein needs of active individuals. J Am Coll Nutr2000;19:513S-521S.
2. Hernandez M, Montalvo I, Sousa V, Sotelo A. The protein efficiency ratios of 30:70 mixtures of animal:vegetable protein are similar or higher than those of the animal foods alone. J Nutr1996;126:574-81.
3. Rodriguez Melendez R. Importance of biotin metabolism. Rev Invest Clin 2000;52:194-9. [in Spanish]
Last Review: 03-24-2015
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The information presented by Healthnotes is for informational purposes only. It is based on scientific studies (human, animal, or in vitro), clinical experience, or traditional usage as cited in each article. The results reported may not necessarily occur in all individuals. For many of the conditions discussed, treatment with prescription or over the counter medication is also available. Consult your doctor, practitioner, and/or pharmacist for any health problem and before using any supplements or before making any changes in prescribed medications. Information expires December 2018.
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