30 grams of protein within 30 minutes of waking up — 30 in 30 — I aim for this, but I don’t quite get there every day. It’s the within 30 minutes part that I don’t hit reliably. I do, however, get my 30 grams of protein every morning within an hour of waking up by eating 5 eggs.
5 eggs? Every morning? 35 eggs — just under 3 cartons — every week!? Am I crazy???
Yes, yes, yes… and no.
No, I’m not crazy. I am, however, taking my new health regimen very seriously. I’m also not buying what I call factory-eggs, the ones laid by poor, abused chickens in battery cages. I buy free range eggs laid by small flocks tended to by Amish farmers just 150km from Toronto.
That means I spend about $20 per week on eggs.
So why is this not crazy?
First, let me address the health element. It’s not crazy and it won’t kill me because (a) studies show no direct link between cholesterol consumed from whole foods and blood serum cholesterol, and (b) eggs are whole foods, not cholesterol bombs wrapped in crunchy shells, which means you get a lot of different nutrients along with the cholesterol… that same cholesterol which the first part tells you doesn’t actually increase your blood serum cholesterol.
Here’s something from Wikipedia … I don’t want to spend the time right now to actually dig up the source articles for this, but you can verify it yourself:
Biosynthesis of cholesterol is directly regulated by the cholesterol levels present, though the homeostatic mechanisms involved are only partly understood. A higher intake from food leads to a net decrease in endogenous production, whereas lower intake from food has the opposite effect”
What this means is, the more dietary cholesterol you take in, the less cholesterol your own body makes. The less dietary cholesterol you take in, the more your own body makes. Cholesterol is made by your own body — about 75% of it, in fact — and there are a lot of factors that determine whether your body produces not enough, too much, or something just about right.
Bottom line: the cholesterol in eggs will not cause high blood cholesterol. The human body is not that simple.
So why eat all these eggs anyways? Why that 30 grams of protein in 30 minutes thing?
Proteins satisfy your appetite. Food isn’t just fuel. Food isn’t just amusement and entertainment either — although I freely admit this is my favorite part of food. Food sends messages to your body, and what kind of food you take in, what kind of nutrients you get, tells your body different things.
Here’s something from the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition — yeah, to keep those of you who don’t like Wikipedia from grousing too much:
[…] protein is more satiating than is fat, and previous studies have shown that protein is more satiating than is carbohydrate. Moreover, diets with a fat content fixed at 30% of calories produce more weight loss when high in protein (25% of energy) than when normal in protein (12% of energy).
Or how about this one, also from the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition — no, I’m not their fanboy, they just happen to publish studies relevant to this topic:
Satiety-involved factors are sensory, cognitive, metabolic, hormonal, and neural (26–28). Concentrations of
circulating nutrients, insulin, glucagon, and cholecystokinin, and oxidation of macronutrients (18) probably participate in the satiety process
The idea here is that proteins first thing in the morning tell your body, hey, everything’s good in life. There’s good food to be had, you’re getting the nutrition you need, there’s no sense in eating tons of stuff to compensate or to save up for a rainy day right on our doorstep.
You are telling your body that all is well and that it can just relax when it comes to consuming and using energy. This is why, in layman’s terms based on my layman’s understanding, protein right off the bat works to satisfy your appetite and reduce your drive for food, food, more food throughout the day.
Plus, eggs are tasty and have a lot of good nutrition in them.
So now let’s get to the next part…
Let me address the part of going for free range eggs. Why spend the extra money on free range eggs laid by hens that actually go outside, run around, scratch around, peck here and peck there? Why not save a bit of money and get regular eggs or the free run cage-free eggs? I have two reasons. The first is a matter of nutrition. The second is a matter of right and wrong.
Chickens can only put nutrients into the eggs that they have already eaten themselves. The more varied the diet, the broader the natural range of nutrients they’ll put into the eggs. A chicken will obviously still survive and lay eggs if it’s missing a little of this or that, but the bottom line here is that if it’s missing something from its diet, it’s going to be missing from the eggs. So a chicken that runs around on grass for half the year — eating little bugs and worms, eating whatever else chickens eat out there — it’s going to be getting a much broader range of nutrients than a chicken raised on pre-fab feed mix of cheap grains.
Then there’s the matter of how we treat animals. Yeah, we’re going to kill them to eat anyways, but so what? That does not give us license to mistreat them throughout their lives. Chickens cooped in battery cages are deprived of everything that makes a chicken’s life a chicken’s life. They are turned into egg-laying machines with behavioral and psychological dysfunctions.
F***, let me put you in a coat closet for the rest of your life — with three other people in there with you — and see what happens.
It’s not a pretty picture. It’s cruel. It’s inhumane. It’s also unnecessary.
So that’s why I won’t go for standard eggs. Now what’s wrong with the free-run cage-free eggs?
Free run and cage free means the chickens are not stuck in battery cages. That’s an improvement, but it doesn’t mean they’re still a lot better off. Cage free means they live in a barn of some kind and a whole whackload of chickens are crammed in together.
So instead of me cramming you into a coat closet with three other people, it’s like me cramming you into a packed concert hall and keeping you there for the rest of your life.
It’s a little better, but it’s still a far cry from the environment where you would like to be and where you should be.
It’s better, but it’s still not right because the chickens still do not have the space and environment to do what they are supposed to do. Scratch here and there, peck here and there, flap their wings around, run a bit, sandbathe a bit, all those nice things that make a chicken’s life a chicken’s life.
For just a little more money — about ten cents an egg — I can get eggs from chickens that have been allowed to be chickens, to roam on grass whenever they want, to run around, to scratch in the dirt, to bathe in the dirt, to be out in the real world.
What does this all mean?
I eat five eggs a day because I believe it’s good for my health and is a part of my weight reduction and weight maintenance regimen… and I enjoy the taste of eggs.
I buy free range eggs — “small flock eggs”, in fact — because I want the eggs I eat to be as nutritious as they can be, from chickens that have been treated properly. You could sum this part up by saying “happy chickens give better eggs and better meat”.
Five eggs a day is part of what I do to kick ass. You don’t have to do the same thing, but think about it. Think about what changing your breakfast pattern might do for you. Think about what upping your protein intake might do for you. Think about how you’d like to get that protein.
Until next time… have fun out there and kick ass! (Humanely. And only kick human ass. It’s not fair to pick on other animals that can’t kick yours back.)