Is It Safe To Add Egg Whites To A Protein Shake Or Smoothie?
Eggs are one of the best sources of protein. They are an amazing food and contain a ton of great nutritional value. A single egg contains 78 calories, 6 grams of protein, 5 grams of fat and almost no carbs. It also contains iron, calcium, vitamins, minerals, and carotenoids. Eggs are a good source of vitamins A, B2, B5, B6, and B12. They are also high in Selenium, Phosphorus and Folate, all of which your body needs. Anyone who has been trying to gain lean muscle probably knows that eggs are a great addition to ones diet. They give you a bunch of protein and healthy fats with few unnecessary calories. If you are looking to build your physique and put on some lean muscles, eggs are a great food to help you do that.
Egg whites are also a great food for those on a paleo diet. Egg whites have almost no carbs.
A lot of body builders like to drink raw egg whites in their homemade gainer shakes. The reason bodybuilders drink eggs whites is to increase the amount of protein they are consuming. Drinking their protein is a quick and easy way to get a protein boost in their diet. This is the same reason a lot of bodybuilders are into high protein smoothies.
Why Egg Whites?
Most bodybuilders prefer egg whites to whole eggs because the whites contain most of the protein in an egg. Egg whites contain only 16 calories, yet hold four grams of protein and zero fat. This is a huge difference compared to a whole egg.
So we know that eggs are a great food to eat, but usually people eat eggs that are fully cooked.
Is Drinking Raw Egg Whites Safe?
The largest hazard when consuming raw eggs is salmonella. Every year, one million people in the USA alone get sick due to salmonella. Around 19,000 of these people need to go to the hospital, and almost 400 die due to salmonella poisoning.
Salmonella is a bacteria that is the root for a lot of food poisoning. The main symptoms of salmonella include diarrhea, fever and cramps. These symptoms last up to a week in most cases.
Salmonella is definitely a risk when eating raw eggs, just like it is when eating raw meat.
Use Pasteurized Eggs
You can avoid most of the health risks by using pasteurized eggs in your protein shakes. Pasteurization is a process in which heat is used to kill bacteria. It is very common in dairy products and juices. When food is pasteurized it is heated enough to kill many of the pathogenic bacteria, including salmonella, but the food does not fully cook. Pasteurized food keeps most of the same nutritional values as raw foods do.
If you want to consume egg whites in a smoothie or shake, using pasteurized egg whites will drastically reduce the risks involved. When handled and stored correctly, the risk of salmonella is almost nonexistent.
You should be able to find pasteurized eggs in most grocery stores. Look for the cartons that are clearly labeled as pasteurized. The eggs themselves usually have a “P” stamp on them to let you know that they were pasteurized and can be used for foods such as protein shakes and homemade mayonnaise, which uses uncooked eggs.
Some brands specifically sell pasteurized egg whites only, that way you will not have to separate the egg yolks from the whites.
Consuming pastured egg whites is safe, as long as they are properly refrigerated
Use Egg White Powder
An even safer alternative is to use dried egg white powder. You can safely store egg white powder for much longer and safe handling is much less important. Egg white powder removes the risks involved in eating raw egg whites, but it still contains all the protein and health benefits of egg whites.
The egg white powder is also cooked, which improves digestibility of the protein it contains.
Is It Better To Cook Your Eggs?
Eggs, and specifically egg whites are a great food. Uncooked egg whites are safe to eat as long as they are pasteurized. However, I almost never add egg whites to my protein shakes.
There are a few reasons for this. The first reason is I like cooked eggs. I think cooked eggs have a more pleasant texture and taste better than raw egg whites.
In terms of nutrition, there is little difference between cooked eggs and uncooked eggs. You get the same nutritional value no matter which you are consuming.
There are two other important reasons to prefer cooked eggs to raw eggs.
The amount of protein in raw eggs and cooked eggs is about the same. But cooking food does change the makeup of the food. Studies show that protein from a cooked egg is absorbed by humans much more efficiently than that of raw eggs. What this means is that when you eat raw eggs, your body is not able to absorb and use all the protein contained in that egg. In fact, about half the protein is malabsorbed.
This paper states “Egg white protein is generally considered to be less digestible than heat-pretreated egg white protein… The higher digestibility of cooked egg protein presumably results from structural changes in the protein molecule induced by heating, thereby enabling the digestive enzymes to gain broader access to the peptide bonds.” Bodybuilders eat egg whites for their high protein and low calorie values. To actually be able to consume all the protein, the egg needs to be cooked.
Another reason not to eat raw egg whites, including pasteurized egg whites is the potential risk of biotin deficiency. This is a rare nutritional disorder where the body is lacking a certain B Vitamin. Egg whites contain a high amount of avidin, a protein that binds biotin strongly. Consuming a lot of avidin will bond all the biotin to the avidin, leaving none for the human body to absorb.
The amount of avidin in egg whites is greatly reduced after the eggs are cooked.
This is not a high risk problem, and is usually cured by diet changes and/or biotin supplements. But why risk not getting enough of a B vitamin that your body needs when you can simply cook the egg whites and eat them that way?
So in conclusion, pasteurized egg whites are totally fine to drink in a protein shake, but your probably better off just cooking the egg whites or getting some dried egg white powder.