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Trying to overhaul an individual’s entire diet can often be an arduous task. Sometimes a more achievable aim is to modify a particular component of the diet, such as sugar or protein intake, or simply changing the makeup of a particular meal. With this in mind, the findings of a recent study on the simple effect of a egg-based breakfast versus a bagel-based breakfast are very intriguing.

Published by researchers from San Diego State University in the 2015 March-April issue of the Journal of the American College of Nutrition, the study involved otherwise healthy untrained individuals between the ages of 18-351. The relatively small group of 25 was split in two and in addition to the specific breakfast regimes, both groups had to participate in supervised resistance training 3 times a week over the 12 week course that the study ran for.

The researchers were essentially testing what effect resistance exercise would have on risk factors for chronic diseases and how this would be affected by eating a egg- or bagel-based breakfast.

With their relatively high cholesterol content, eggs have been somewhat unfairly vilified by health authorities such as the American Heart Association. This is despite new evidence showing that cholesterol levels have little to no bearing on heart disease risk2 and egg consumption doesn’t seem to unfavourably affect cholesterol levels3. On a positive note, eggs are a good source of many important nutrients like folate, riboflavin, selenium, choline, vitamin B12, and fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E, and K4. And as bodybuilders, we can’t fail to mention that eggs are a great source of high-quality protein.

On each occasion participants performed resistance training before breakfast. Each breakfast was matched for calories, but naturally differed in macronutrient composition, with the egg-based breakfast being 43% carbohydrates, 25% protein, 32% fat and the bagel-based breakfast being 68% carbohydrates, 17% protein and 15% fat. To ensure compliance throughout the study, participants were able to select their breakfasts from various predetermined menus. However, the egg-based breakfasts always contained 2 eggs and the bagel-based breakfasts always included a 9-cm-diamteter bagel and the selected options always produced the specified macronutrient distribution above.

The researchers tracked a number of recognised chronic disease risk factor measures such as blood lipids, blood pressure, blood glucose, and insulin sensitivity. As expected, both groups experienced a significant increase in strength, but there was no meaningful difference between the two groups. Concerning the blood markers, plasma triglycerides was one major risk factor that decreased significantly only in the group consuming the egg-based breakfast. It’s worth noting that plasma triglycerides (i.e. levels of fat in blood) are considered a more sensitive marker of risk for heart attack than high cholesterol levels5. On the flipside, the bagel-based breakfast group experienced a decrease in insulin sensitivity compared with the egg-based group. Insulin-sensitivity is one of the most important markers of an individual’s risk for diabetes and obesity. Any increase in insulin sensitivity means insulin function is compromised, ultimately leading to high blood sugar and associated risk for type II diabetes.

The study is yet another refreshing validation that there is very little scientific evidence to support adverse health effects from moderate egg consumption. Being such a versatile food, this is great news for egg lovers.

  1. Clayton ZS, et al. Influence of resistance training combined with daily consumption of an egg-based or bagel-based breakfast on risk factors for chronic diseases in healthy untrained individuals. J Am Coll Nutr. 2015 Mar-Apr;34(2):113-9.
  2. Harcombe Z, et al. Evidence from randomised controlled trials did not support the introduction of dietary fat guidelines in 1977 and 1983: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Open Heart. 2015 Jan 29;2(1):e000196.
  3. Rong Y, et al. Egg consumption and risk of coronary heart disease and stroke: dose response meta analysis of prospective cohort studies. British Medical Journal. 2013;34:e8539.
  4. Ruxton CHS, et al. The nutritional properties and health benefits of eggs. Nutr Food Sci. 2010;40:263-279.
  5. Volk BM, et al. Effects of step-wise increases in dietary carbohydrate on circulating saturated fatty acids and palmitoleic acid in adults with metabolic syndrome. PLoS One. 2014; 9(11): e113605.
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