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Veteran sports dietitian: Eggs a common thread in elite athletes' regimens

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

By Dave Ellis 
Registered dietitian
President of Sports Alliance Inc., and creator of Fueling Tactics
Learn more at www.daveellisbio.com

During my 35-plus years of fueling athletes, I’ve had the pleasure of working with every level of sports, from the developmental program for USA Hockey, to the collegiate ranks, and with all of the professional leagues.

My name is Dave Ellis, and I'm a veteran sports registered dietitian who lives in Colorado Springs and travels coast-to-coast implementing high-performance fueling solutions for some of most progressive teams in the U.S.

While the needs of athletes change over the course of their careers, there is one common dietary thread I’ve witnessed; eggs. And what better time to draw attention to this icon of clean eating and its rightful place at the table of healthy living than on World Egg Day (Oct. 13).

I’ll take this opportunity to also stress that the egg isn’t just a food for the athletes – as I’m fully aware that most of the people reading this are not aspiring Olympians. The egg is a powerhouse of nutrition from which everyone can benefit.

For starters, eggs provide one of the highest-quality proteins of any food available, with one egg offering more than six grams of protein (13 percent of the recommended daily value). The protein quality in an egg is actually so high that the scientists often use eggs as the standard for measuring the protein quality of other foods. The density of essential amino acids in eggs also helps build and maintain lean mass, muscle. 

The protein in eggs provides a steady and sustained source of energy compared to low fiber carbohydrate sources. Eggs also provide varying amounts of several B vitamins also required for the production of energy in the body, such as thiamin, riboflavin, folate, B12 and B6.

Supporting the growth of young athletes, gaining lean mass for college athletes and helping pro athletes hang onto lean mass over the course of a long season are all benefits that draw athletes to eggs over the course of their careers.  Eggs are the ultimate recovery food for resolving muscle soreness.

Eggs can even make other healthy foods more beneficial, as they increase absorption of powerful antioxidants, including vitamin E and lutein.

And amazingly, one egg contains all of the nutritional benefits listed above, and yet has only 70 calories, allowing you to feel full longer, which is critical in maintaining a healthy weight. Eating eggs for breakfast has been proven to reduce hunger and decreases calorie consumption throughout the day.

One of the drawbacks often associated with eggs is the risk of cardiovascular disease. However, research actually has shown eggs have heart-protective qualities, including one recent study published in the Journal of the American College of Nutrition that found a daily egg intake led to a 12 percent reduced risk of stroke. Other research found that eating one to three eggs per day resulted in increased levels of high-density lipoprotein, also known as the "good cholesterol," as well as an improved blood lipid profile.

In fact, since mounting evidence has shown dietary cholesterol doesn't negatively affect heart disease, recent recommendations from the American Heart Association, American College of Cardiology and American Diabetes Association don't limit egg or cholesterol intake, which is a change compared with earlier guidance from these organizations.

Bottom line; during my 35 years on the job, the benefits that eggs bring to athletes of all ages are obvious, and they can play an important role in your health as well.

This amazing food leaves us no shortage of things to celebrate as we come up on another World Egg Day this year.

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