You may be wondering if eggs for runners are good for performance. This post will tell you everything you need to know about eggs for running.
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If you’re an egg lover like me, you may be pleased to know that eggs for runners can be a wonderful dietary choice for your training, and one of the best breakfasts for runners, especially after a run.
Eggs fit into many different dietary patterns.
Although if you follow a plant-based or vegan meal plan for running, you may be omitting eggs in your diet, in which case, you’ll want to find replacements for nutrients that eggs offer for running.
Are Eggs Good for Runners?
Eggs are a staple in a variety of cultures and diets, and for good reason.
This nutrient-dense food is naturally gluten-free, and is packed with protein, healthy fats, vitamins and minerals that support many of the body’s systems.
Beyond this, many of these nutrients benefit runners specifically.
For example, eggs are a good dietary source of Vitamin D. Between the high-impact nature of running and the toll of exercise on the body, meeting vitamin D requirements is especially important for runners in order to maintain bone and muscle health.
Failure to do so might result in injury, and long-term vitamin D deficiency is linked to the development of diabetes, osteoporosis, and multiple sclerosis.
Nutrients in Eggs
Because of their nutrition content, eggs are a great example of what to eat after a marathon or race. Here’s what they offer.
- Protein – Each egg contains about 6 grams of complete protein, meaning it contains all amino acids in an ideal ratio.
- Fat is an important part of an athlete’s diet and necessary for athletes’ health. In eggs, the fats are concentrated in the yolk, and are required to absorb some of the fat-soluble nutrients in the yolk, like vitamins D and E. Further, fats provide energy to the body, are a component of cell membranes and neural sheaths, and support blood clotting, muscle movement, and fighting inflammation.
- Vitamin D – Vitamin D is famous because its primary source is bodily exposure to sunlight, and it is not found in many foods. However, with about 45 IU per egg, eggs are richer in this nutrient than most dietary sources. Consumption of at least 600 IU vitamin D per day promotes bone and muscle health.
- Choline – Choline is a mineral found in eggs that is crucial in the production of acetylcholine, a neurotransmitter. Acetylcholine signals muscles in the body to contract, resulting in movement. When choline is depleted, the production of acetylcholine comes to a halt, and fatigue occurs. In one study performed on distance runners, completing a marathon can deplete plasma choline by up to 40%, correlating with significant muscular fatigue. In light of this, runners should be intentional about consuming sufficient choline through eggs and other sources.
- Vitamin B12 – Vitamin B12 is also key to preventing fatigue during exercise. Vitamin B12 is required to produce red blood cells, so deficiency can decrease an individual’s oxygen capacity, which leads to decreased ability to perform high-intensity or endurance exercise. In addition, vitamin B12 is also required for healthy neural function and manufacturing of DNA. While the effects of vitamin B12 deficiency are clear, the positive effects of adequate consumption are also backed by research. Sufficient vitamin B12 levels in women are linked to enhanced athletic performance.
While carbs and protein are important to fueling, vitamins and minerals are, too. Eggs do not contain carbohydrates, which are an important part of performance.
Since eggs are high in fat and void of carbohydrates, many low carb and keto proponents may include many eggs in their diets.
While low carb running and training may be helpful for metabolic flexibility, it should be practiced as it can lead to some gut issues and a high-fat diet may not be palatable for all people.
The same goes for keto and running.
Eggs for Building Muscle
Eggs are a good source of leucine, the branched-chain amino acid responsible for muscle building.
Protein for runners is important for muscle repair and remodeling following workouts. It helps to promote long-term muscle health and recovery.
The amount of protein an athlete needs will depend on their caloric intake and activity levels.
According to the International Society of Sports Nutrition position statement, protein intake of 1.4 – 2.0 g/kg/day for physically active individuals is not only safe, but may improve the training adaptations to exercise training.
Eggs can be a great food source for muscle building when eaten post-workout in an appropriate and adequate diet, and when paired with proper strength training.
If you are eating enough calories to support muscle growth, then adding more protein can be helpful in building up lean mass, paired with strength training.
Incorporating an upper body workout for runners and strength training a few times per week is important also.
How Long Do Eggs Take to Digest?
Since eggs are high in protein and fat, they are very satiating. This is great for keeping you full and your blood sugar stable throughout the day.
Depending on how many eggs you have and what you pair them with, they may take a few hours to be digested.
Since they take longer to digest, they aren’t the best pre-workout food source.
The best times to include eggs are after workouts or at mealtimes. The high protein content makes them better for post-workout fueling than pre-workout fueling when muscle breakdown is occurring.
Post Workout Egg Recipes
Though consuming carbohydrates are also important following a workout, convenient protein sources for athletes are often harder to find.
Furthermore, fat consumption should also be timed after workouts, to prevent an upset stomach or runners gut.
Fat is not a “quick” source of energy, unlike carbs, which can be more readily available before a workout.
For the perfect post-workout refueling, whip up three eggs however you prefer, and pair them with a couple of slices of toast, some potatoes, or some pancakes.
This balance of carbohydrates and proteins will enable prime muscle building and glycogen repletion.
If you’re looking for new ways to incorporate eggs into your post-workout fueling, consider trying many of our favorite post workout egg recipes on our sister site.
- Healthy Turkey Sausage Breakfast Casserole with SweetPotatoes
- Healthy Skillet Breakfast Scramble
- Veggie SweetPotato Egg Casserole.
- Mushroom and Asparagus Quiche
One reason that eggs for runners may get a bad rap is due to their cholesterol content.
Eggs have relatively high levels of dietary cholesterol, which has raised some concerns about long-term health consequences of regular egg consumption.
However, consumption of dietary cholesterol does not significantly increase blood cholesterol levels, so eggs are completely safe to include in one’s diet.
In 2020, Harvard researchers analyzed up to 32 years of follow-up results from three observational studies and found that moderate egg consumption (defined as up to one egg per day), is not associated with cardiovascular disease risk overall.
If you have familial hypercholesterolemia or have been diagnosed with high cholesterol, limit consumption of eggs to 3-4 times per week.
But, you do not need to cut them out of the diet completely. Instead, focus more on limiting saturated fats.
Color of the Egg
Another common myth is that brown eggs are more nutrient-dense than white eggs, but shell color simply reflects the breed of the chicken that laid it and has no impact on taste or nutrition.
While shell color doesn’t matter, free range eggs do tend to contain higher levels of omega-3 fatty acids and vitamin E, which can decrease inflammation and prevent cell damage.
This may be helpful to runners, however, important to consider there are also other omega-3 dietary sources as well.
Despite this, laws that designate what chickens are considered free range are not strictly outlined or enforced, so if consuming free range eggs matters greatly to you, consider purchasing your eggs from a local farmer.
All in all, eggs for runners are a great dietary choice. Make sure to have them AFTER your run versus before. And make sure to spread your protein intake throughout the day!
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- Campbell, B., Kreider, R.B., Ziegenfuss, T. et al. International Society of Sports Nutrition position stand: protein and exercise. J Int Soc Sports Nutr 4, 8 (2007). https://doi.org/10.1186/1550-2783-4-8
- Drouin-Chartier JP, Chen S, Li Y, et al. Egg consumption and risk of cardiovascular disease: three large prospective US cohort studies, systematic review, and updated meta-analysis.BMJ. 2020;368:m513. Published 2020 Mar 4. doi:10.1136/bmj.m513