Egg Resources for Health Professionals

ENC serves as a resource for health professionals in need of current nutrition information to share with their patients.

Below are various tools available for professional education and/or to be shared with consumers.

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Refueling After Exercise

In a recent blog post, I mentioned the growing acknowledgement of the importance of protein for physical performance. Much research published in recent years suggests that protein, long downplayed as a key nutrient for better performance, may play a larger role than previously thought.

But what about post-exercise? What should an active person consume after a hard workout to re-load and replenish, to minimize tissue damage, and to restore energy stores for the next workout? Once again, newer research is pointing to protein (as a part of a carbohydrate/protein blend of nutrients) as a key to recovery.  Much of the research performed in the 1970s through the 1990s pointed to carbohydrate as the principle nutrient for exercise recovery, and I don’t mean to minimize the benefits of carbs for active folks. However, many studies now indicate that a mixture of carbs and proteins (some say a 3:1 mixture of carb:protein is best, though the exact ratio is still open to debate) can more quickly convert an individual from the catabolic (or tissue breakdown) state that occurs during exercise to an anabolic (or tissue build-up and repair) state that is preferred during exercise recovery.  High protein shakes and products of that nature are preferred by many athletes after a hard workout. They are convenient and they will provide carbs and protein. But one shouldn’t forget “real” food either. Peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, chocolate milk and hard-cooked eggs are starting to gain favor with athletes as well. Products like these taste great, they’re familiar to most folks, and they deliver additional micronutrients (vitamins and minerals) that can aid in tissue recovery.

Some food for thought whether you’re a seasoned athlete or a new exerciser seeking to make fitness gains while minimizing risk of injury and overuse.

National Egg Salad Week

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One would think I’d be tired of eggs by now but, the funny thing is I’m not. In fact, I kind of tired of chicken but because eggs are so versatile, they can be used in so many ways without repeating the same preparation. I love to read recipes that aren’t too complicated and suggest ways to use leftovers in creatively. One such list of recipes can be found athttp://www.dietsinreview.com/diet_column/04/5-ways-to-use-leftover-easter-eggs/ which offers suggestions about ways to use the leftover eggs from Easter egg celebrations. How brilliant that every Easter is followed by National Egg Salad Week! Even better, that this works for the leftover eggs from Passover as well.

Protein and Breakfast

Like most registered dietitians, I struggle to keep up with scientific developments. So much is controversial and hard to discern the effects of independent variables. I attended the “Great Debate” held years ago at USDA in Washington D.C. where the high carbohydrate diet pattern and the low carbohydrate diet pattern were hotly debated. Poor Dr. Atkins who saw the value of a lower carbohydrate intake in his patients was ridiculed for not having published his clinical findings. However, when the successful findings supporting a low carbohydrate intake began to be published doubters still doubted the findings. I think he was on the right track but the real story is low carbohydrate, high quality protein.

It is easy to feel comfortable supporting the benefits of a high protein breakfast. Susan Dopart in her blog suggests that eating a strong protein breakfast within an hour of waking up can increase your metabolic rate, lower insulin resistance and stabilize blood sugar for the rest of the day. One thing I know from personal experience is that eating an adequate amount of high quality protein at breakfast keeps me from being hungry much longer than the bagel or cereal breakfast I had been consuming daily.

This is very useful when I am traveling for business or exhibiting at conferences and can’t be sure when I will be able to take a lunch break. I am not insulin resistant but have a family history of diabetes and I can feel when my glucose levels are low. High quality protein like that in eggs, milk, cheese and yogurt is my way of keeping an even temper and focus on my activities and preventing myself from eating too many calories or undesirable foods that lack nutrients. This was also demonstrated by researchers at University of Connecticut in a study of  “Eating protein-rich eggs for breakfast reduces hunger and decreases calorie consumption at lunch and throughout the day” published in the February 2010 issue of Nutrition Research. Researchers found that men who consumed an egg-based breakfast ate significantly fewer calories when offered an unlimited lunch buffet compared to when they ate a carbohydrate-rich bagel breakfast of equal calories. Ratliff, J., Leite, J.O., de Ogburn, R., Puglisi, M.J., VanHeest, J., Fernandez, M.L. (2010) Consuming  eggs for breakfast influences plasma glucose and ghrelin, while reducing energy intake during the next 24 hours in adult men. Nutrition Research, 30, 96-103.

I think it’s time to move on from the high carbohydrate dogma that dietitians were trained to promote and see the value of high quality protein especially at breakfast both for the satiety it provides and the muscle synthesis signaling that helps maintain muscle mass.

Protein for Peak Performance

For many years, athletes were advised to consume very high levels of carbohydrates, with little attention placed on the amount and timing of the protein they consumed. Personally I was very much a proponent of this sort of regimen for athletes. I worked in the sports nutrition arena for years, and provided diet and exercise advice to many professional and college athletes.

But times change, and the science supporting carbohydrate as the near-exclusive domain of athletes has changed as well. I’m not suggesting that carbs are no longer considered a key substrate for athletes; quite the contrary, carbohydrates provide the quick energy that athletes need, and they allow athletes to use their other energy substrates (fats and proteins) effectively. But newer research indicates that athletes need more protein than previously believed; about 1.5 to 2 times as much. As we learn more about the role of amino acids as messengers in various metabolic pathways, we’ve come to appreciate the need for protein to provide ample levels of these amino acids to promote, among other things, optimal muscle growth and repair. And newer studies suggest we won’t achieve ample amounts of particular amino acids (e.g., leucine) on RDA-levels of protein. Further, on  a more applied note, studies such as those by John Ivy at the University of Texas and others have indicated that an appropriate ratio of carbohydrate to protein (somewhere in the neighborhood of 3:1 carb:protein) may be better at enhancing post exercise recovery than consuming carbohydrate alone.

Here is an article that serves as a basic primer on some of the newer research on protein and exercise. While some of this work is in preliminary stages, and we still have more to learn about the effects of various substrates on exercise performance, suggesting that athletes increase their protein intake a bit (largely through food) is sound advice. Carbohydrates are still important, but the role of protein in physical activity should not be underestimated.

Experimental Biology – Washington, D.C.

I just returned from the Experimental Biology meetings, which were held in Washington D.C. Experimental Biology is one of the largest biology/nutrition research meeting of its kind in the world. It’s an excellent way to stay abreast of current research, a good deal of which will ultimately lead to tomorrow’s health and nutrition recommendations.

At this year’s meeting the Egg Nutrition Center sponsored a symposium on dietary cholesterol. The key issue we delved into at the session was the true health implications of dietary cholesterol, and whether or not the cholesterol that we eat is as harmful as many health care professionals have been suggesting for the past 50 years or so. I was pleased to chair the session. Our four presenters were Dr. Penny Kris-Etherton from Penn State University; Dr. David Katz from Yale University, Dr. Maria Luz-Fernandez from the University of Connecticut; and Dr. Kasey Vickers, a post doctoral research fellow from the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI) at the NIH. All four are well published, acknowledged experts in the areas of disease prevention, nutrition, cholesterol metabolism and health.

Among other key points, Dr. Fernandez brought up the fact that the original dietary recommendation for daily cholesterol intake (<300 mg/d) was based largely on extrapolations from animal studies and human epidemiologic data, and that few studies have actually demonstrated significantly adverse health effects when cholesterol is consumed in that range. Dr. Katz made similar assertions, and he indicated that his research has shown that higher than average daily cholesterol intake does not have negative effects on the vasculature or on other markers of cardiovascular disease, even in patients with existing coronary artery disease.

Our ultimate goal is to generate a manuscript based on the presentations that we submit for publication to a medical journal sometime in the near future.

The symposium generated a lot of spirited discussion and questions from the researchers in the audience. All-in-all, it was an informative and enjoyable session that I was happy to have had the opportunity to participate in