Eggs are a popular breakfast staple, but are eggs actually healthy for you and should you eat them as part of a healthy breakfast? Eggs are a relatively filling, low-calorie food that’s high in protein and contains essentially zero carbs. Eggs do contain a large amount of cholesterol, but studies are unclear just how food cholesterol translates to cholesterol in the blood. You can avoid that problem by eating egg whites – they’re almost all protein and contain no cholesterol!
Swapping out high-calorie, sugary breakfast foods for eggs is a great way to reduce your calorie intake and feel more full through to lunch. Here the facts on egg nutrition, comparisons to other options, and info on the cholesterol and other content in eggs.
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Egg Nutrition Information:
There are about 72-78 calories in a raw or hard-boiled egg, which is about 50 grams. Eggs come in various sizes, so your actual eggs can be slightly more or less than this. The egg white is only about 17 calories, almost of which come from about 3.6 g of protein.
A serving of eggs is usually 1 egg, which simplifies calorie calculations!
1 large egg nutrition information (50g): 72 calories
- 6.3 g protein
- 4.8 g fat
- 0.4 g carbohydrates
- 0 g fiber
Egg Whites Only – Nutrition
Most of the fat and calories in an egg come from the yolk. Though some people do use yolks by themselves, you’re much more likely to see egg whites available – either in a dish like an omelet or sold as pure egg whites. You can separate your own eggs as well to save the calories from using only the whites.
1 Large Egg White (50): 17 calories
- 3.6 g protein
- 0.1 g fat
- 0.2 g carbohydrates
- 0 g fiber
An egg white has a quarter of the calories of a whole egg, but half the protein. It’s also essentially fat- and carb-free.
How you cook eggs matters!
The nutrition info above is the actual egg only. If you hard boil or poach your eggs, you’re not adding any additional calories as you’re only cooking in water. If you’re frying eggs, you’ll need to account for the calories in the oil or butter that you use. 1 tablespoon of oil is about 120 calories, which is more than the egg itself! If you do like fried eggs, try to use less oil where possible.
You can also make eggs in the microwave, which is quick, easy and doesn’t require oil. Microwaved eggs typically need about a tablespoon of milk per 1 egg, and you’ll want to monitor your eggs at least at first – microwave them too long and your eggs can burst!
Cholesterol in eggs
Eggs do contain a relatively high amount of cholesterol. Fortunately, all of the cholesterol is located in the yolks. You can remove the cholesterol entirely by consuming egg whites only, which are a great low-calorie source of protein.
An egg contains about 200 milligrams of cholesterol, more than some fast-food burgers! Studies have shown that people can eat up to 7 eggs per week without an increase in the risk of heart disease, but it’s unclear how much risk is involved in eating more as food cholesterol is only weakly related to blood cholesterol levels. One study found eating 2 eggs per day increased the risk of heart disease by 27%, but most experts agree that a balanced diet is important, and generally healthy people shouldn’t panic unless they’re eating much more than the guidelines.
Fortunately, by removing the yolks you can avoid this problem altogether! It’s actually relatively simple to separate yolks and whites using only the eggshell itself – here’s a guide from realsimple.com.
How eggs can benefit walkers
Eggs are a good source of quality protein, which your muscles need to recover from walking. They’re cheap and easy to cook, and make a great protein-packed breakfast that can power your morning walks. Hard-boiled eggs are easy to make ahead and store, and are a great low-calorie, low-carb snack. If you’re running late for dinner, a quick and easy egg-white omelet can be a quick and healthy dinner as well.
Eggs are carb-free, so you may want to add a slice of toast or a banana for a quick energy boost before your walks.
Calories in an egg (plus comparisons)
A plain egg has 78 calories, with about 6-7 g of protein and about 5 grams of fat. The egg white itself is only 17 calories, but still contains 3-4 g of protein. Eggs are a great inexpensive source of quality protein. If you’re worried about the calories (and cholesterol) in the yolks, you can always separate your eggs and eat the whites only. Or add a few egg whites to a whole egg to add volume and protein to egg dishes.
Compared to other breakfast protein sources, eggs are lower in calories and fat. 2 slices of bacon is about 90 calories, with 5 g of protein and 7 grams of fat (basically the reverse of an egg). A 43g serving of beef sausage is about 140 calories, and contains about 8 grams of protein with 12 grams of fat.
While fat isn’t necessarily bad, eggs give you about the same amount of protein as other breakfast options with less fat. Substituting 2 egg whites for 1 egg gives you the same amount of protein as an egg with zero fat and only 34 calories. This makes egg-white omelets or other breakfast dishes some of the healthiest things you can eat. Egg whites also don’t contain the cholesterol in the yolks, which is good for your heart.
1 egg + 1 Slice of Wheat Bread
- 150 lb walker – 34 minutes
- 180 lb walker – 30 minutes
- 205 lb walker – 26 minutes
The protein in eggs (or egg whites) can help you feel more full than you might by eating bread alone, or something like bread and jam.
Carbs in an egg
Eggs are essentially carb-free. The yolk contains the fat and half the protein, while the white contains the rest of the protein. The 0.4g of carbs in an egg are negligible.
Fiber in eggs
Eggs do not contain any fiber. Fiber is a type of carbohydrate, found in plants, that cannot be fully digested by your body. Proteins like eggs contain no fiber. It’s still important to get fiber in your diet, as it’s great for your health.
Fat in eggs
Eggs contain about 5 grams of fat, of which about 1.5g is saturated fat. All of that fat is located in the yolk, so separating eggs or buying pre-separated egg whites can cut down on your fat consumption. 2 slices of bacon have about 7g fat, so eggs are comparatively high in fat for their size. 78 calories is relatively low in calories for a serving, however, so the fact that eggs contain 5g fat shouldn’t necessarily scare you away.
Protein in eggs
Eggs contain about 6-7g protein. That’s more than 2 slices of bacon, making eggs a high-quality source of protein. Egg whites are even more protein-packed. They’re 1/4 the calories of a full egg, but are pure protein with about 3.6 g per egg white. 2 egg whites equals about the protein in one whole egg, but at half the calories (and with zero cholesterol). An egg white omelet can be a protein-filled start of your morning.
Sugar in eggs
Eggs have essentially zero carbohydrates and zero sugars (0.2g). They’re suitable for no carb and low carb eaters. If you’re looking for quick energy, you may want to pair eggs with a source of quickly available carbs – like a piece of bread or a banana.
Other health benefits of eggs
May actually reduce your risk of heart disease (by eating 1 a day)
Some research shows that eating 1 egg a day may actually reduce your risk of heart disease. Eggs do contain cholesterol, but they may serve to increase your HDL (so-called “good cholesterol”) which can have a beneficial effect. The science is still out on whether the cholesterol in eggs is a heart disease risk and if so how much, but in small amounts they may be beneficial for many people.
Eggs help you feel full
Eggs are a filling food, especially for their low amount of calories. Eggs score high on the satiety index, an index of how filling certain foods are. Compared to many breakfast foods, eating an egg (or several egg whites) is much lower in calories, but may help you feel more full longer. You’ll also avoid the sugar rush that comes from donuts, pastries or other sugary breakfast foods.
Do you need to refrigerate eggs?
It actually depends where you live! In the US, commercially sold eggs are washed and sterilized to kill salmonella bacteria on the shells. This does help to reduce the risk of salmonella (you should still thoroughly cook eggs though just in case!), but it means that your eggs will spoil if left unrefrigerated. Australia, Japan and the Scandanavian countries wash eggs in this way.
In the EU and many other countries, eggs are not pre-washed (in fact, pre-washed eggs are not allowed in the EU). While they may last longer in the fridge, refrigerating those eggs is not required. If you’re traveling, you may want to double-check whether eggs need to be refrigerated or not. When in doubt, throw your eggs in the fridge! It won’t harm them.
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