My first recollection of raw eggs being used as a training supplement was when I first saw the original Rocky film. In the training montage, you can see an impoverished Stallone pounding a glass full of raw eggs before commencing his intensive workout regime. The rationale behind this is easy to see. Stallone was poor, and eggs are a great and cheap source of protein, vitamins, and minerals. In fact, egg yolk is one of the few foods high in vitamin D. But do we need to do this? I think not. Surely, there are better ways.
Raw Eggs & Samonella
A lot of people believe that consuming raw eggs may result in Salmonella poisoning. Although this is true, it is a relatively rare occurrence. During 2007, in Australia, only 22 people were reported to have been infected with salmonella as a result of eating eggs (Fullerton, 2008). This is a relatively low number considering the number of people that regularly eat eggs and egg products. So the issue with not eating raw eggs is not so much to do with safety.
Raw Egg Risks
The problem with eating raw eggs is actually because of avidin. Avidin is a protein found in egg white which binds very strongly to biotin and renders it unabsorbable. Biotin is a B group vitamin that is involved with cell growth, production of fatty acids, and metabolism of fats and amino acids. These processes undoubtedly all play a huge role when it comes to training, bodybuilding, and good health in general. The consumption of raw eggs, even in small quantities (1 or 2/day) over a few months may cause biotin deficiencies (Medline, 2011).
Alternatives to Raw Eggs for Bodybuilders
There are many great alternatives to eating raw eggs to ensure you are getting your protein needs. Whey protein is arguably one of the best protein sources available. Some people are happy with this product on its own and see no need for egg protein. However, if you wish to consume a variety of different proteins, simply cooking the eggs will inactivate avidin, allowing biotin to be absorbed. Alternatively there are a large range of commercial protein powders and even liquids that either contain, or are primarily made up of egg albumin (egg white protein). The beauty with egg protein supplements is that they tend to be heat treated and/or contain compounds that destroy the avidin.
Egg Proteins for Muscle
So to summarise, if you're looking for extra protein it's a good idea to ditch the raw eggs approach. Either replace it with a protein supplement, cook the eggs, or use a commercial product that contains egg albumin.
Fullerton (2008), Monitoring the incidence and causes of diseases potentially transmitted by food in Australia: annual report of the OzFoodNet Network, 2007. Communicable Diseases Intelligence, 32: 400-424
Medline (2011), Biotin. National Institutes of Health. Last updated: 11/08/2011