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Focus on Eggs For Runners

Eggs contain and impressive array of nutrients. They are are powerhouse of protein including branched chain amino acids, healthy fats and are packed with micronutrients.

We discuss 4 Nutrients found in Eggs and talk about how they may support your nutrient status and running performance.The 4 nutrients we discuss are:

1.    Protein

2.    Fat

3.    Choline

4.    B12 

We will outline the nutritional properties of each and consider how EGGS may be added as part of your meal plan with some menu ideas and we’ll answer some FAQs we often receive on Eggs.

(01:48)

An overview of the nutritional content of an egg. 

(04:51)

Protein content of an egg and how this may support a runner:

  • repair and remodelling of muscle
  • energy production
  • post recovery
  • nitrogen balance

 We outline recommended protein intake and how a portion of 2 eggs contributes to overall protein intake in a day.

Eggs contain all 9 essential amino acids including the 3 branched chain amino acids – leucine, isoleucine and valine which are vital role in triggering the anabolic muscle building cascade.

(11:30)

Fat Content of an Egg and how this may support a runner.

Approximately 9% of an egg is made up of fat.

Fat is a macro nutrient and a source of energy. It helps absorb some vitamins and minerals, it’s needed to build cell membranes of each cell, and the sheaths surrounding nerves. It is essential for blood clotting, muscle movement, and modulating inflammation.

For a runner the benefits of consuming healthy fats are:

•      Speeds up metabolism

•      Modulate inflammation

•      Protection against cell damage (oxidative stress) post exercise

•      Energy source – endurance athletes can become very efficient at utilising fat for energy = sparing glycogen.

•      Muscle repair

 (14:09)

The different types of fat include in an egg i.e. saturated, monounsaturated and polyunsaturated.

 (16:41)

An overview of cholesterol content of an egg and its vital role in the body.

(18:31)

Choline and how it may support a runner.

Choline is used by nerve cells to manufacture a closely related chemical called acetylcholine. Acetylcholine allows nerve cells to communicate with each other. If we translate that to our running, acetylcholine is signalling to our leg-muscle cells in your body to move and to run.

It is thought that endurance running under 2 hours or to half marathon distance does not affect blood levels of choline. However, in a study in 2013 (so quite old) found that trained athletes, running a 26 km marathon had reduced plasma choline by approximately 40%.

Some exercise scientists believe that this may be a contributor to fatigue striking near to the end of a marathon, there may not be enough choline left to keep acetylcholine in optimal supply. There’s ongoing research into whether choline supplementation before and during races will solve this potential problem.

 (22:44)

Vitamin B12 and how it may support a runner:

Vitamin B12 is required to produce and maintain red blood cells, nerves, and DNA. Getting too little B12 can lead to anemia, a deficiency of red blood cells, which can cause you to feel tired and weak.

Vegans are at higher risk of this deficiency. Signs of B12 deficiency include, extreme tiredness, lack of energy, weak muscles, a sore tongue, pins and needles and depression.

The impact of low B12 status on a runner:

•      When you don’t absorb enough B12 from your food to make red blood cells, your body’s oxygen capacity decreases, along with your endurance.

•      Some research suggests that athletes with poor or marginal nutritional status for vitamin B12 may have decreased ability to perform high intensity exercise.

•      In women specifically, higher B12 levels correlate with enhanced athletic performance. This is likely due to B12’s role in the synthesis of new cells, such as red blood cells, and to its role in the repair of damaged cells as the body rebuilds tissues.

(28:23)

 A summary of the key nutrients discussed:

Protein – provides 6.4g of protein per medium sized egg, includes all the essential amino acids including Branched Chain Amino Acids (Leucine, Isoleucine and Valine – important for triggering the muscle building cascade).

Fat – is an essential source of energy, source of energy. It helps absorb fat soluble vitamins, it builds cell membranes and sheaths surrounding nerves. It is essential for blood clotting, muscle movement, and inflammation.

Choline – is used by nerve cells to manufacture acetylcholine, signalling muscle cells to contract. Blood-choline levels appear to reduce after 2 hours of endurance running which may contribute to fatigue in marathon runners

B12 – has a vital role in producing and maintaining red blood cells, nerves, and DNA. Deficiency may impact on oxygen capacity and endurance ability.

(34:04)

Eggs are the ultimate healthy FAST Food choice. We chat about our favourite egg dishes for breakfast, brunch, lunch, supper and for snacking.

(43:52)

What if you don’t like an EGG but can eat them as an ingredient in a dish – we share more recipe ideas.

(47:59

Q. How many eggs should I eat every week? Are there any health risks if I eat them every day?

We talk about research past and present and the discuss the old out of date thoughts about eggs and cholesterol. Our summary is for most people, eating eggs a few times a week will be health promoting, however if you are at risk of cardiovascular disease you may wish to limit your consumption to between 2 and 7 eggs a week as advised by your health practitioner.

As nutritional therapists, we advise people to have a varied diet, so it’s a good idea to choose other foods as well as eggs.

(54:32)

Q. I did a food intolerance test a few years ago and was told I should eliminate eggs from my diet – should I do this forever or can I add eggs back in as I miss eating them?

Eggs are a common allergen and sometimes can be identified as a food intolerance with an IgG Test. People often will take a food intolerance test if they are concerned about investigating symptoms such as digestive symptoms, skin complaints, headaches, fatigue.  IgG antibody test will identify reactions to the food and drinks that you are consuming. Often food intolerances are linked to a compromised digestive system meaning you are not digesting foods effectively and the immune system reacts to the food and that causes the symptoms. Removing the food will help dampen down the symptoms and you may feel better. However, it’s always recommended that you investigate and resolve the digestive issues, then after a few weeks or months it may be possible to re-introduce the specific food in small quantities and monitor your reaction. So yes, try a small amount to begin with and build it up slowly, if you get the symptoms back consult with a nutritional therapist – we can help.

To clarify we have been discussing eggs as an intolerance as distinct from an allergy – if you have been diagnosed with an IgE allergy you should not eat that food again.

(57:49)

Q. Should I be concerned about cholesterol in eggs?

In past years there was a lot of discussion about the potential risks of over-eating eggs and how they may contribute to high cholesterol levels.

Research studies in the late 1960’s suggested that cholesterol-rich foods may elevate blood cholesterol and, hence, increase the risk of coronary heart disease (CHD) e.g. (Kannel et al., 1969).

It’s thought this research was weak, as it didn’t take into account other variables such as other foods eaten or pre-existing high LDL cholesterol levels.

Studies undertaken in the last 20 years have concluded that:

•      For the general population there is no longer the need to limit egg consumption unless you have (Gray and Griffin, 2009), (FSA),

•      Research suggests that one to two eggs daily can be consumed with no effect on endothelial function or total cholesterol (Katz et al., 2005).

•      However, individuals diagnosed with diabetes or hypercholesterolaemia may be at increased risk of CVD when egg intakes exceed seven per week (Hu et al., 1999; Qureshi et al., 2007).

•      Heart UK advises that people with familial hypercholesterolaemia, a genetic condition where there is increased sensitivity to dietary cholesterol, should restrict their egg intake to 2-4 eggs per week.

SUMMARY is for most people eating eggs a few times a week will be health promoting, however if you are at risk of CVD limit your consumption to between 2 and 7 eggs a week as advised by your health practitioner”

At nutritional therapist we advise people to have a varied diet so it’s a good idea to choose other foods as well as eggs.

Q. I did a food intolerance test a few years ago and was told I should eliminate eggs from my diet – should I do this forever or can I add eggs back in as I miss eating them?

Eggs are a common allergen and sometimes can be identified as a food intolerance with an IgG Test. People often will take a food intolerance test if they are concerned about investigating symptoms such as digestive symptoms, skin complaints, headaches, fatigue.  IgG antibody test will identify reactions to the food and drinks that you are consuming. Often food intolerances are linked to a compromised digestive system meaning you are not digesting foods effectively and the immune system reacts to the food and that causes the symptoms. Removing the food will help dampen down the symptoms and you may feel better. However, it’s always recommended that you investigate and resolve the digestive issues, then after a few weeks or months it may be possible to re-introduce the specific food in small quantities and monitor your reaction. So yes, try a small amount to begin with and build it up slowly, if you get the symptoms back consult with a nutritional therapist – we can help.

To clarify we have been discussing eggs as an intolerance as distinct from an allergy – if you have been diagnosed with an IgE allergy you should not eat that food again.

Q. There are so many choices of eggs to buy – what is the healthiest?

It’s key to buy the best quality to ensure the best level of nutritional value. Nutritional content of eggs really starts with healthy hens, so how they are bred, looked after and what they eat.

There is lots of information available from Industry Regulators and Reputable Suppliers, in the UK check out:

https://www.rspcaassured.org.uk/farm-animal-welfare/egg-laying-hens/

https://sunrise-eggs.com/eggs-explained/

https://www.laidinbritaineggs.co.uk/

https://www.egginfo.co.uk/egg-facts-and-figures

https://wickedleeks.riverford.co.uk/features/animal-welfare/ethical-eggs-organic-versus-free-range

https://wickedleeks.riverford.co.uk/features/environment-ethics-animal-welfare-organics/flocks-sake-what-makes-ethical-egg

In UK Eggs are classified as:

0 – ORGANIC (always free range and 6 hens per square metre of useable area and a maximum flock size of 3,000 birds

1 – FREE RANGE – hens must have continuous daytime access to runs which are mainly covered with vegetation and a maximum stocking density of 2,500 birds per hectare. The hen house conditions for free range hens must comply with the regulations for birds kept in barn systems, with a maximum stocking density of 9 hens per square metre of useable area. 

2 – BARN (In UK this means kept indoors, not as romantic as “barn” description evokes – electric light up to 16 hours a day, a barn may have 4 floors, up to 6000 birds.

3 – CAGE – In the UK battery cages have been replaced by larger, ‘enriched’ colony cages. In the UK, most of the new enriched colony cages are designed to contain between 40 and 80 birds, enabling better use of the space and giving them more room to move around the colony.

Birds tend to sleep on perches and lay eggs in nest box areas which is one of the most important behavioural needs for laying hens. When the eggs are laid they roll onto a conveyor belt out of reach of the birds to await collection.

Food is supplied in troughs fitted to the cages and an automatic water supply is provided. The units are kept at an even temperature and are well ventilated. Lighting provides an optimum day length throughout the year. British Lion Quality eggs produced by hens in cages do not use “farm” descriptions, farmyard / countryside scenes nor pictures of hens roaming freely on the egg box.

Q. How are Organic Hens Fed?

I Organic Hens are fed on non-GM grain or feed and are encourages to forage outdoors means that they get to eat a variety of plants, grubs and insects which adds variety to their diet and helps keep them healthy. Also, the routine use of antibiotics is banned by organic standards. This means hens can’t be fed ABs as a preventative measure to stop them getting ill and instead they can only be used to treat hens if they do get ill.

https://www.soilassociation.org/organic-living/what-is-organic/organic-eggs

 Q. Some Egg suppliers advertise Omega 3 enriched eggs – how do they achieve that?

It appears that farmers include sources of omega 3 such as flaxseed and chia seed in the food mix given to hens. Also, some brands advertise that their eggs are fortified with extra Vitamin D. Amounts of these specific nutrients are not listed product labels, so it’s difficult to assess how much they contribute.

Our best advice is to buy your eggs from a reputable farmer or egg supplier and that way you’ll be assured of the quality and nutritional status of your egg.

(1:10:20)

Key Take Aways

 Protein – to support adequate intake of the essential amino acids, especially the Branched Chain Amino Acids (BCAAs) may reduce the risk of injury and also support muscle recovery and repair as well as Muscle Protein Synthesis. For a runner, protein is essential for:

•      Repair and remodelling of muscle after endurance runs

•      Energy production

•      Post recovery

•      Nitrogen balance (to ensure we are not breaking down muscle faster than we are building muscle) 

Fat – is an essential source of energy, source of energy. It helps absorb fat soluble vitamins, it builds cell membranes and sheaths surrounding nerves. It is essential for blood clotting, muscle movement, and inflammation. For a runner, fat is important for:

•      Metabolism

•      Modulate inflammation

•      Protection against cell damage (oxidative stress) post exercise

•      Energy source – endurance athletes can become very efficient at utilising fat for energy = sparing glycogen.

•      Muscle repair

Choline to support the production of acetylcholine. It is important for signalling muscle cells to contact. Blood-choline levels appear to reduce after 2 hours of endurance running which may contribute to fatigue in marathon runners

B12 – has a vital role in producing and maintaining red blood cells, nerves, and DNA. Deficiency in runners may impact on oxygen capacity and endurance ability.

 We also share lots of ideas on how to add eggs into your food plan and some important insights into choosing eggs.

Related Episodes:

Macronutrients to help runners go faster and longer

Endurance Running and Immune System

Nutrition to Solve DOMS

Disclaimer:

The suggestions we make during this episode are for guidance and

advice only, and are not a substitute for medical advice or treatment.

If you have any concerns regarding your health, please contact

your healthcare professional for advice as soon as possible.

Aileen Smith and Karen Campbell met at as nutrition students (Institute for Optimum Nutrition, London) and became lifelong friends and nutritional buddies! Both have a love of running and a passion for nutrition, delicious food and healthy living.

Together they host RUNNERS HEALTH HUB. A place for like-minded runners who are looking for simple ways to support running performance, energy, endurance, and general great health.

We are excited to be able to share our expertise, experience and short cuts with you. We hope you’ll join us again. If you’d like to know more about us and She Runs Eats Performs please check out our TRAILER.

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If you’d like help from Karen and Aileen to design a personalised sports nutrition plan for your running – please contact them at hello@runnershealthhub.com

Happy Running!

Aileen and Karen

www.runnershealthhub.com