Both egg yolks and whites are sources of dietary protein. However, the nutritional value -- including the amount of protein -- differs between the yolks and whites of eggs. Regardless of whether you choose the yolk, egg white or whole eggs, adding eggs to your diet can help you meet your daily protein needs. One whole egg contains about 6 grams of protein.
Whites vs. Yolks
Egg whites contain slightly more protein than egg yolks. One large egg white contains 3.6 grams of protein -- compared with 2.7 grams of protein found in egg yolks, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Nutrient Database. Although egg whites are a source of dietary potassium, the yolks are rich in vitamin A, phosphorus, iron, zinc and vitamin D.
Although eggs are a good source of protein, egg yolks are high in dietary cholesterol, which increases your risk for heart disease when consumed in excess. The USDA notes that while egg whites are cholesterol-free, egg yolks contain about 184 milligrams of dietary cholesterol in just one large yolk. For this reason, the University of Maryland Medical Center suggests limiting whole eggs to four weekly. However, if you choose egg whites instead of whole eggs or egg yolks, you don’t have to limit your eggs to just four per week.
Daily Protein Needs
Eating egg whites, yolks or both will help you meet your daily protein requirements. The Institute of Medicine suggests men eat at least 56 grams of protein daily and women consume at least 46 grams per day. However, if you’re an athlete you may require up to 0.91 grams of protein per pound of your body weight daily, which is equivalent to 164 grams of protein per day for a 180-pound individual.
If you’re not a fan of egg whites, egg yolks or whole eggs, you have plenty of other high-protein alternatives to choose from. For example, 1 cup of low-fat cottage cheese provides about 28 grams of protein, 3 ounces of grilled chicken breast contain about 27 grams, 3 ounces of lean ground beef provide 21 grams and 1 cup of low-fat yogurt contains about 13 grams of protein, according to the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.
- USDA National Nutrient Database: Egg, White, Raw, Fresh
- USDA National Nutrient Database: Egg, Yolk, Raw, Fresh
- University of Maryland Medical Center: Protein in Diet
- Institute of Medicine: Dietary Reference Intakes: Macronutrients
- Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition: International Society of Sports Nutrition Position Stand: Protein and Exercise
- Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics: Strength Building and Muscle Mass